Today is September 23, which kicks off Bi-Visibility Week! Bi-Visuality Week is a week that celebrates the people around the world who identify as bisexual. This is important because bisexuals tend to be overlooked or chastised in both the straight and LGBTQ communities. In honor of this week, we at The Theatrical Board would like to explore topics that relate to or analyze the intersections between bisexuality and theatre.
I’d like to take you on a journey today. I struggled for the longest time trying to accept my sexuality, and only recently came to terms with it. I came out as bisexual when I was 23. The road that led me to do that was winding with many twists, turns, doubts...and plenty of showtunes.I’d like to share that timeline with you. There were so many Broadway shows, songs and characters that I clung to that helped mold me into the proud bisexual woman writing this piece today. I’d like to share my journey with you in hopes that it might help any of you out there who may be struggling the way I did, and as a way to reflect on just how far I’ve come.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Okay, so this one probably shouldn’t count because it didn’t do anything for me regarding my sexuality, as i was a clueless thirteen year old. However, it was the first Broadway show I had ever seen, which introduced me to the wonderful world of theatre. The theatre community played a huge part in my coming to terms with my sexuality and becoming comfortable with the bisexual label. So it’s here because without this show, I wouldn’t have the community.
This show changed my life in many ways, but it was the first show where I saw homosexuality portrayed on stage and discussed in depth. I was, at the time-a tender age of 19- questioning the possibility that I might be queer, but once that realization dawned on me later in life, I looked to Rod as a comfort character. His journey to accepting himself was (and is) an important part of my journey to accepting myself.
My love for this show knows no bounds. Not just because the show is great (which it is, when you’re done reading this go watch it on Netflix!) but because I met some of my favorite people through this show, most of whom I’m still friends with today. Newsies solidified my place in the theatre community at a time (again, 19) where I was the most vulnerable with myself. I had met queer friends in high school, and I had crushes on boys and girls by this point, but none of that ever made me feel like I could be queer. It wasn’t until I met the lesbian couple I now call my friends (that I met through Newsies) that I really started opening up to the part of me that was interested in women.
I know this show is about a lesbian, but hear me out. Once I started focusing on the part of me that liked women, I thought maybe I was just suffocating the lesbian in me all my life. Maybe too many years of Catholic school or too many straight couples in movies made me think that men were the only option. There’s this stereotype about how bisexuality is just the bridge to being a lesbian. I thought I was just trying to cross that bridge. But seeing this show made me realize that the feelings I had for men were just as valid as the ones I felt for women. I yearned for a “Ring of Keys” moment of my own, something to switch a lightbulb on in my head to let me know what was going on. I wasn’t gay. And I wasn’t straight. At 22, I had no idea what I was.
IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU
Once again, a story about lesbians. But this one didn’t have the same effect on me as FUN HOME did. This show was the first time I had seen a woman of color on stage. Sure, I’d seen queer women of color on television and in movies (shout-out to Joanne from RENT) but seeing that kind of representation on stage right in front of me made me cry because I’d never had that before.
HEAD OVER HEELS
I know, there’s a long break in-between musicals here. Let me fill you in. I still saw a bunch of theatre between It Shoulda Been You and Head Over Heels. Nothing that really had an effect on me regarding my sexuality, though. Head Over Heels was the first show I saw about queer women after my long road to self-discovery. Seeing that show gave me a sense of pride that I hadn’t felt before at a show. Because I was finally proud of who I was.
P. S. I know a lot of these shows feature lesbian characters but that’s all I really had in terms of queer women on stage. So if Broadway would be so kind as to provide me (and my fellow bisexuals) with some quality representation, I’d really appreciate it!
(Photo credit: Musical Theatre International, Broadway.com, Matthew Murphy,
Joan Marcus, Sarah Kruwich)