Pride is a tricky time for a lot of bisexual people. Many have spent a lifetime between two worlds. Not hetero enough to fit in with the straights while at the same time not feeling like we have the right to exist visibly in queer spaces. It’s one of the reasons why it took me so long to publicly out myself as bisexual. The stigmas attached to my identity were intense to deal with so for a long time I just… didn’t. It’s possible I might have never come to terms with who I am had it not been for Nightwing’s ass.
Until 2018 I appreciated comics from a distance. Sure, I read grocery store Archie digests and my brother’s floppies but I didn’t start a regular pull or collecting trade paperbacks until my close friend and writing partner of seven years died of cancer that August. He and I had been the editorial team at a website dedicated to RPG video games, and as much as I still enjoyed gaming, I couldn’t write about it anymore. It felt wrong without him. So, I left that website to explore comic books.
Finding comics as an adult is hard because there are so many barriers to entry. Understanding character lineages and general continuity was a challenge that I spent the bulk of that year trying to wrap my head around. At a surface level I rationalized that I had to invest time up front to understand the medium before writing about it, but in reality, I was trying to obscure the pain and frustration of my day-to-day life.
Not long after my friend’s passing, I lost my full-time job in human resources and went through a career freefall, not sure if I ever wanted to continue in that field. My ADHD was untreated, and I was smoking cannabis on a daily basis to cope with an overactive brain. I would abuse alcohol to numb the senses. Shamefully, I shifted too much responsibility on my spouse. Not long into my severance period I developed a prolonged depression, which honestly made me feel like a total mess on top of a shit father to my then one year old son. Comics were my only escape.
The problem with escapism is that at some point you have to stop running. Compartmentalizing problems only works for so long, and comic books are surprisingly adept at tapping into real life issues as I learned after picking up Nightwing’s Rebirth run.
Of the many things I tucked away within myself, my attraction to men ranked pretty high. I knew on some level I had always been attracted to men but my expression was held back by a deeply internalized bisexual stigma. Was I just confused? Was this just a phase? I knew for a fact I was attracted to women but was I just being greedy or slutty or indecisive? Should I feel shame over my marriage to a woman? Biphobic questions like these haunted me for about 20 years before Nightwing’s ass made me confront the truth.
I mean… look at it. It’s magnificent. Sculpted to perfection.
When I started reading Tim Seeley’s Nightwing: Rebirth it was a revelation. The former sidekick had always been in fantastic shape but this was a run where DC’s artists really leaned into the bubble-butt. Not necessarily in an objectifying way, more as a distinct feature of Dick’s hot bod. A distinct feature I couldn’t ignore as it was slapped over almost every panel for over 30 issues.
When you’re inundated by butts that pick away at your repression defenses at some point you need to step back and ask yourself what’s going on. I had a lot of conversations with myself, my spouse, my therapist, and at some point it, became obvious. I’m bisexual. I’ve always been bisexual. And that was okay.
Finally finding a sense of pride in my identity created a domino effect in my life at large. I began taking medication regularly, changed careers, started running again, and eventually I became the proudly sober bisexual I am today. In an odd way, Nightwing’s ass stopped me from running from myself. Which led me to giving less of a damn about what other people thought and in turn to become less judgmental of others as well.
This year I am proud to be visible during Pride. I feel no shame over who I am or which butts I might be attracted to. Defeating that internalized stigma is probably as liberating to me as the skin tight spandex feels to Nightwing. Happy Pride.