What are your favourite books featuring bisexual main characters?
AM Leibowitz: For young adult, I love Out of Order by Casey Lawrence. It’s told in an unusual style, using flashbacks. The main character’s bisexuality is central to the plot, but it’s not a coming out story.
For a male protagonist, I like Torque by Charley Descoteaux. There’s also an asexual character and a trans woman, and it’s a polyamory story.
For a female protagonist, Vow of Celibacy by Erin Judge is outstanding. It’s not a romance; it’s a work of literary fiction, and it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.
In your opinion, what does positive bisexual portrayal in literature look like? What tropes need to be avoided?
AL: This is really subjective, but for me, I want a character who is well-rounded. I don’t want lip service paid to their bisexuality–I want it reflected in who they are as a person. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “all that’s required is for the character to identify as bisexual” yet then have them simply move through their world as though they were gay or straight, as though none of their experiences are unique to being bisexual. I’d like to see less focus on fitting bisexuals into gay or straight romance boxes and more emphasis on how we navigate being outside those lines.
As for tropes to avoid, I think gay-for-you is both biphobic and homophobic, and I’d like to see it avoided. It’s not reality–it’s a fantasy some people mistake for what it’s really like to come out or come to an awareness of attraction that isn’t straight. Other than that, it mainly depends on how well the author understands bisexuality as a complex identity rather than simply trying to avoid tropes.
What do you hope the future brings for bisexual books?
AL: I hope we see more bisexual authors writing specifically for our community rather than writing bi characters who fit into lesbian, gay, or straight paradigms. I also hope to see bisexual romance which doesn’t seem to be aimed at bisexual mythbusting for gay and straight folks. In general, I would love if gay, bi, and trans books were more geared toward the communities about which they are written. Lesfic has done this beautifully, being reclaimed from the straight male gaze. It’s time the rest of us could say the same.