Clexacon, the annual convention dedicated to improving the portrayal of LGBTQ women in media, hosted almost one hundred panels over a three day period. Artists, writers, actors, producers, and their fans gathered in Las Vegas the first weekend in April to talk about stories made in our own image. For those of us who couldn’t attend this year, Tagg presents a sampling brought to you in a four-part Panel Highlights series.
Lauren Shippen (writer, The Bright Sessions) moderated “Bisexual Representation in Media,” with panelists Stephanie Beatriz (actress, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Caryn Hayes (producer/writer, Entangled With You), Nicole Pacent (actress, Anyone But Me), Chelsea Steiner (director/writer/sex educator), and Eden Treviño (Digital Producer, The Real).
The panel discussed a number of bi-specific issues: the first bi media icons the panelists ever saw, the pros and cons of bi-sexual vs. pan-sexual, the difficulty of finding where we belong in the larger queer community, and how we would like to see ourselves portrayed in media moving forward.
Of course, no discussion of bisexual representation in media gets far without mentioning negative stereotypes. Shippen commented that the same tropes plaguing the media also infest the lived experience of many bisexuals. Hayes, in responding to the “Eventually You’ll Pick Your Side” stereotype, pointed out, “There is no finish line here.”
Beatriz described how she fought to keep the word “bisexual” in the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” episode “Game Night,” where her character came out. “I was like, ‘You have to keep this word in! You don’t understand, this is the whole thing right here.’” In the final cut of the episode, the word bi or bisexual was used thirteen times!
When asked how to realistically portray bisexual characters, Treviño responded with an impassioned, “Go talk to people who are like that, and ask their stories. You’ll be surprised at how authentic it is.” Steiner, a member of the Writer’s Guild of America, reminded us, “Even professionals in the industry are struggling with how [to] make these characters… We’re just people. I just don’t want to read a script that says, ‘She woke up bisexually and had a bisexual breakfast and walked out to the tune of her bisexual song.’”
Pacent grabbed the mic eagerly when an attendee asked about bisexuality and non-monogamy. She acknowledged that while relationship style and sexuality are two very separate things, “we can’t be afraid of the crossover.” Beatriz recommended creators give examples of the conversations had by people detailing that crossover. “Let us hear that,” she said. “If we’ve never been witness to it, then we don’t know what it is.” Shippen encouraged content creators to engage with these difficult conversations for more genuine representation.
To hear the whole recording of this panel, head to Clexacon’s YouTube channel. Visit us online at TaggMagazine.com to follow the ClexaCon Panels Highlight Series.