Even as we’ve barreled straight into 2019, a year that many have already lovingly labeled 20biteen after living through the year known as 20gayteen, I couldn’t help but reflect on 2018 and what a long fucking year it was.
If you ask anyone, they’ll tell you that this long ass year was a whirlwind of news events. Some good. Some bad. Some big. Some small. But lately, I’ve found myself thinking about the nature of the news.
In short, my mind has been all over the place thinking about the various ways that, well, queer folx won 2018 in the news. Despite all odds. And the queer folx I’m referring to right now are specifically bisexual and pansexual folx. Contrary to our regularly scheduled erasu—excuse me, programming, 2018 was a HUGE year filled with watershed moments of bisexual and pansexual representation, awakenings, and straight up pop culture moments. So much so that if I included them all, I would probably run out of space.
So instead of doing that, let’s just discuss ten of the biggest pop culture moments in which bisexual and pansexual folx shined in 2018:
1. Jane The Virgin’s Petra Solano is Revealed to be Bisexual
Full disclosure: I’m am 100% behind on Jane the Virgin.
Part of it is because I genuinely fell behind due to all the good content that is available on TV. Part of it is also because Gina Rodriguez makes my ass itch. I know, I know. That makes me such a terrible gay, right? You’re probably right…but that’s not the point. The point is, despite my being behind, I was still able to keep up with the show loosely via Tumblr.
As I was doing this, I noticed that the show’s creative powers that be were teasing a possible attraction between the extremely complex Petra Solano and the empathetic as well as extremely smooth Jane Ramos played to perfection by Rosario Dawson—particularly through dreams. Fans and stans alike obviously shipped the pairing, especially because it would mean that Petra does in fact get to end up with a Jane, even if it is not the Jane of the show’s fame. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t really expect anything to actually result from the teasing. Muthafuckas have been content to queerbait all year long—looking at you, Star Wars—and for years before that. Which has, of course, left us with trust issues when it comes to representation and with the expectation that there will only be a tease, but no follow through.
And boy, was I wrong.
Calling Petra and Jane’s subsequent romantic realization and welcomed coupling a mere act of “follow through” would be tame in my opinion, but man, what a follow through it was. It’s unclear whether the two will actually stay together, but I hope they do. Mostly because they are so damn cute and also because this marks the show’s second time handling the matter of bisexuality with kind and extremely smart hands (the first time being Adam Alvaro who was previously Jane Villanueva’s male bisexual love interest).
2. Alyson Stoner Pens One of the Best Coming Out Op-Eds I Have Ever Read in My Life
Many of us know her as “the little White girl from all the Missy Elliott music videos who could dance.” Many of us also know her as the little sister from Mike’s Super Short Show and as a bona fide Disney channel star and alum.
Whatever the case, when you hear the name Alyson Stoner, you pay attention. And no one was paying more attention than us when Alyson Stoner penned a strikingly poignant op-ed in Teen Vogue about coming to terms with her new, open, and extremely complicated sexuality.
It’s hard to some up that iconic op-ed in mere paragraphs, but if I had to do so, I would say that it so succinctly and lovingly summed up the struggles of coming to terms with one’s sexuality not only in the glaring eye of the public, but also under the glaring eye of the church and religion. Ex-evangelicals (like myself), current evangelicals, and even folx of other faiths who identify as gay, bisexual, pansexual, or merely queer know the extreme pain of navigating religions and religious people who declare that you are on the highway to hell for something that you really can’t even control.
And maybe don’t even want to.
Stoner delves into these complexions with sheer bravery and proudly declares that she is “attracted to men, women, and people who identify in other ways and that she can love people of every gender identity and expression” and thus cemented her op-ed as one of the greatest and most poignant coming out stories I have ever seen.
3. Janelle Monáe Throws A Big, Pansexual Ass Party With Dirty Computer
People who know me are probably sick of me going on and on about the fabulously talented, ferociously gifted, fiercely beautiful and wonderfully weird musical icon known as Janelle Monáe.
And to that I say…you’re about to get even more tired.
This was a big year for Monáe. Not only because she debuted her third studio album Dirty Computer to endless critical acclaim and commercial success, but also because she continued to feed her incredibly vibrant and burgeoning film career….in addition to coming out as pansexual in Rolling Stone the day before Dirty Computer dropped.
If you’ve followed her captivating career thus far, you will understand how huge this declaration was and the impact that it had. The latter is important too, because said announcement upped the searches for the word “pansexual” by like a bajillion percent (okay, so I made that percentage up, but still) and I know first hand how many people were able to bravely come to their own romantic and sexual realizations just because of that announcement.
And of course, the album itself was nothing to sneeze at. Dirty Computer, and the “emotion picture” that accompanied it, served as a vivacious and brash celebration of Blackness, queerness, and everything in between.
And it could not have picked a more perfect year to do that.
4. Tessa Thompson Gets Candid About Her Sexuality
Tessa Thompson also had quite the year herself.
After appearing in critical and commercial smash Thor: Ragnarok as the famed Valkyrie in 2017, Thompson entered 2018 with a bang by appearing as Monae’s female love interest Zen in Dirty Computer, then starred alongside Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry To Bother You, reprised her role as Bianca in Creed 2, and starred alongside Chris Hemsworth in the upcoming bisexual fever dream known as Men in Black: International.
So. She didn’t really have to bless the bis and the pans with any more of her awesomeness, but she did exactly that in June when she so candidly revealed to Net-A-Porter that “she is attracted to men and also to women” and that sometimes she can take the freedom at which she is able to express as much granted because of her wonderful family and the fact that she could bring anyone home and there wouldn’t have to be a discussion.
It was another huge cultural moment for bisexual and pansexual folx everywhere and Thompson recognized its levity. And I am eternally grateful.
5. Rapper Lady Leshurr Proudly Declares Herself Pansexual
It has always been a tough game navigating the musical landscapes of hip-hop and rap when you are not a cishet Black man. I imagine it is doubly hard when you are a Black woman. And quadruply hard when you are a queer Black woman.
But even with this in mind, Rapper Lady Leshurr proudly came out as pansexual back in September, detailing that “she is just happy she does not have to hide anymore” because she is free.
Folx were already in a proud tizzy, but they were even prouder when she informed the masses that another queer icon, songstress Kehlani, had introduced her to the term through her tweets and that after much research, she found it to be a great fit.
It was another example of 20gayteen being the incredibly complex year that kept giving us very warm and celebratory queer ass moments like this.
6. Big Mouth’s Jay Bilzerian is Revealed to be Bisexual
I have never been shy about speaking on how bisexual and pansexual representation in popular media and general pop culture tends to skew heavily female…and mostly nothing else, if it all. I also not been shy about discussing the precarious and unique ways in which bisexual and pansexual men face unrelenting discrimination for exercising love and sexuality that is anything but rigid (and defies societal constructs on masculinity and male sexuality). It’s why Adam’s reveal in Jane the Virgin was such a big deal and why I went absolutely apeshit when I came across video game character and Beck doppelgänger Zig Ortega earlier this year.
This made the surprisingly nuanced and expertly crafted reveal that Jay, of Big Mouth fame, was bisexual extremely fascinating to watch. Now to be clear, I don’t recall him ever explicitly using the word bisexual (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). And I also acknowledge that some may find his portrayal as a newly bisexual boy to be “problematic”, particularly because of his sex-crazed and sexually deviant portrayal thus far (I mean, seriously. The kid fucks anything, with impunity, including inanimate objects like pillows).
But as we all know, sexuality isn’t some cut and dry thing and it can also be very messy to figure out—which is what Jay learned firsthand after he kissed Matthew (the only openly gay kid at his school) during a riveting game of “truth or dare.” What we then saw and heard were familiar narratives about having to choose one gender over another and how as someone who identifies as male, one is automatically written off as gay for doing so.
However, much like many other characters on Big Mouth, Jay refuses to be boxed in, and declares in the crudest, but ultimately Jay-est of fashions that “a mouth is a mouth” and that he cannot be bothered to pick just one and that he’s absolutely into all of it.
Big Mouth continues to get a lot of things right and you can now add the coming out story to that long and fabulous list.
7. The “Blue Wave” had a Bi Ripple
After the midterm elections, all anyone could talk about was the huge blue and rainbow waves that swept the nation. And with good reason, too. Because not only had the country just elected the largest class of incoming female politicians to date, but they had also just elected the largest incoming class of LGBTQIA+ candidates to office thus far. And said candidates included Kyrsten Sinema, who made history as the first bisexual woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
This history-making moment came after an extremely tight and nerve-wracking senate race in Arizona. Many news outlets had preemptively crowned Republican opponent Rep. Martha McSally as the winner in the hotly-contested race, but Arizona’s slowpoke-ass voting system managed to whisper “psych!” as Sinema gradually inched closer and closer to her eventual win. It was a stunning and welcome upset and one that was sweetened by the fact that Sinema is not only Arizona’s first female senator, but also its first Democratic senator to be elected since 1995.
Y’all know how much I hate firsts (it’s 2018 for crying out loud), but even I couldn’t help but be proud of a moment like this. (Even if McSally has been appointed to Arizona’s other Senate seat, replacing the late John McCain.)
8. Black Lightning’s Grace Choi and Anissa Pierce FINALLY Hook Up
It feels like Black Lightning fans, DC fans, and queer fans alike have been waiting an entire millennium for canonical lovers Grace Choi and Anissa Pierce (Thunder) to finally make it official. And it’s been quite a wild ride too, considering that their relationship literally embodies a Katy Perry song (think “Hot N Cold”), with Anissa routinely leaving the relationship on cold, rather than hot. So, imagine the collective scream that was let out when Anissa and Grace finally hooked up on the show when—MAJOR SPOILER ALERT—Anissa found out that Gambi had mysteriously (can you tell that I don’t believe it) died?
Like with Jane the Virgin, I was very behind on this show, but I damn sure made sure to catch up in time to watch this hot ass couple do their thing. It also was mad important to me, with Grace being bisexual herself and with said hookup taking place between two extremely attractive and complicated women of color. For far too long, queerness has been portrayed in media and pop culture as a purely “White” thing. So any narrative that deviates from what is extremely Caucasian is a narrative that is for me and the people.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Grace and Anissa will actually enter a relationship (Grace gets real with Anissa and checks her for how flaky she’s been), but either way, you have my attention, as well as probably the attention of all bi and pankind.