Bisexual+ characters are busting out of the closet on TV lately, but they're doing it in their own way. These characters came out in an atypical manner — or, at least, complicated the typical coming out story, while some skipped the whole "coming out" thing entirely. It's refreshing to see diverse examples of bisexual+ characters coming into their own while thwarting the normative oppression of coming out.
Coming out is simultaneously a queer rite of freedom and a constant burden. For some, coming out in a traditional sense isn’t even an option because it’s unsafe, while others perhaps don’t want to constantly label themselves. There are any number of reasons. For bisexual+ folks, this process can be even more complicated because people tend to project either heterosexuality or homosexuality onto bisexual+ folks based on the gender of the person with whom they are in a relationship. There’s a constant need to either come out or have your identity erased. From personal experience, I can tell you it’s frustrating and nerve-wracking constantly correcting people’s assumptions or having to specifically delineate the ways in which I am bisexual. That’s why it’s really exciting to see bisexual+ characters coming out and not coming out in truly diverse ways on television.
I’m not saying all of the characters below are great representations of coming out, or even of bisexuals, but these varied coming out stories offer an opportunity to think of what it means to create space for people to come out however they'd like.
Clarke Griffin, The 100
Fearless powerhouse and leader of the Sky People, Clarke Griffin earns the name WanHeda, which translates to the Commander of Death. The name is fair, though, because she kills a lot of people. Throughout The 100, Clarke shares a mutual attraction with both male and female characters and for a short time shares an intense relationship with Lexa, the commander of the unified Grounders. After Lexa’s controversial and problematic death, Clarke is devastated, but eventually finds comfort with Niylah, a beautiful trader Clarke protects.
Clarke never announces or labels her sexuality, but her attraction to more than one gender is apparent. Not only is she bisexual, but she’s also a fully formed female character. She makes tough calls that ruin people’s lives and while saving others. She was also the first lead bisexual character on The CW. Additionally, the killing off of Lexa, in a sad double whammy of the Bury Your Gays and fridging tropes, resulted in a huge groundswell of frustration among LGBTQ+ viewers and, eventually, led to the development of ClexaCon, a conference for LGBTQ fans and content creators.
Grace Choi, Black Lightning
Though we’ve yet to see it on-screen, in the DC comic books, Grace Choi is a metahuman with super strength, durability, and healing. On Black Lightning, she has played a fairly minor role so far, but she has been a memorable character. Grace and Anissa, aka Thunder, are immediately attracted to one another, as they bond over comic books at the library where they meet. Sometime later, when they walk out of the bar where Grace works together, Grace casually mentions that she’s bisexual before the two are attacked by homophobic thugs. Don’t worry. Anissa saves the day.
What’s fantastic about Grace is that she is independent, a great supporter of Anissa, and knows exactly who she is. Being bisexual isn’t some big thing Grace has to reveal to Anissa—it’s just a part of her. It’s refreshing to see someone use the word "bisexual," and it’s even more refreshing to see Grace come out without really having to have a big deal coming out moment. Perhaps she’s so comfortable because Anissa is also a queer person, but perhaps this is just who Grace is. Black Lightning has been renewed for Season 2, so here’s hoping we get to see more Grace being her badass bisexual self.
John Constantine, DC's Legends of Tomorrow
John Constantine fights beasties that crawl out of Hell and other dimensions. He brings a laissez-faire attitude to his dark work and makes the world a safer place by sacrificing whatever, or whoever, he deems necessary. Hey, nobody said Constantine was a hero. In the comic books, Constantine’s been out since 1992, but when it comes to his appearance on television, it’s been a different story.
Unlike other characters on this list, Constantine’s coming out story is more about the decisions made by the show’s creators than those made by the character himself within the narrative. Daniel Cerone, one of the executive producers of Constantine, kept Constantine in the closet, callously saying that maybe Constantine could explore his sexuality “20 years from now.” In the Arrowverse, where Constantine has appeared on both Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, Constantine has been flirting with, well, everyone, and it’s nice to see him get his bisexual groove on. He’ll be a mainstay in Legends of Tomorrow’s Season 4, where we’ll get to see him continue to be his glorious, cocky self.
Toni Topaz, Riverdale
Pink-haired, spunky Toni Topaz joined the Riverdale gang in Season 2. She’s a badass Southside Serpent and high school student. She become fast friends with Judhead, providing the moral support he needs after undergoing initiation as a Serpent. While he and Betty are on a break, Toni and Jughead make out in Jughead’s trailer and wake up together the next morning. As they share breakfast, she acknowledges that Jughead is not over Betty and adds, “Besides, I’m more into girls anyways.”
Toni’s coming out reminds us that bisexual folks come in many flavors. Some of us are more attracted to one gender than another. Some of us go through phases where we’re attracted to only one gender. Some of us are just the coolest teenage girl on the planet. Toni is an exceptional friend to many, and later goes on to be a wonderful girlfriend to Cheryl Blossom.
Sara Lance, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow
Almost no one gets to come out just once. And Sara Lance is no exception. The first time we see her come out, she kisses the gorgeous and deadly Nyssa Al Ghul, a bisexual assassin who has come to find Sara and take her back to the League of Assassins. A few years, and a whole different show later, Sara is confronted by her father’s doppelgänger from Earth-X, a Nazi-dominated version of our own reality. He asks her why she allies herself with the metahumans and the other undesirables. The group has just learned that one of the interned men is there because he is gay, and so Sara responds, “Because I like men and I like women.”
One of the amazing things about Sara is that she is consistent and outspoken about her bisexuality. It’s an important part of who she is, but it’s not all that she is. She’s a leader, a martial arts expert, and has survived even her own death. There’s just something beautiful about seeing a woman be funny, powerful, sexy, and bisexual all at the same time.
Waverly Earp, Wynonna Earp
When we meet Waverly Earp, she is holding a gun about to shoot her sister for making out with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, hilariously named Champ, takes Waverly for granted. In walks Officer Nicole Haught, who is indeed... well, hot. Waverly’s whole world tilts and she tries to reaffirm her straight identity by pushing further into things with Champ. We don’t have to wait too many episodes for Waverly to realize how badly she wants Nicole, and then the rest is adorable history as these two lovebirds make a heaven out of the hell that is the Ghost River Triangle.
While traditional coming out stories can get tired, Waverly’s is adorable. She so genuinely wants to believe she’s straight and denies her attraction to Officer Haught, but once she figures out who she wants, she also bravely dives in head first. There’s so much to love about Waverly—but her willingness to be true to herself is definitely at the top of the list.
Rick, Rick and Morty
He may be morally ambivalent, but Rick Sanchez is also the most intelligent man in the universe. Well, and all the dimensions. He also happens to be extremely open sexually. His most serious relationship that we see in Rick and Morty, and the narrative implies in his life, is with the entity known as Unity, a hive being who infects a species and then helps them live in total harmony. Sure, the species loses all independence, but it turns out the ones they choose are usually better off for their presence. When Unity and Rick are together, they are a codependent mess. They also have intercourse in many different combinations, but with Rick always at the center. Eventually, Unity realizes Rick is their poison and breaks things off—Rick’s self-obsession sexually reflects his self-obsession generally.
There’s something awesome about the fact that Rick’s pansexuality is worked into the show as a Trojan horse. Here’s this regular, ridiculous science fiction cartoon show about a toxic genius that is hilarious and appeals to audiences in ways that are, frankly, alarming. But, then there’s this episode where Rick expresses his sexuality very openly and without shame. At the same time, the show doesn’t give us a sunny view of Rick—he’s still the same vainglorious jerk. He just happens to be a pansexual jerk.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.