As I write this, I think this is the first time I am writing an article where I am open about my bisexuality.
This was something I realized as a teenager, but I went back inside the closet thinking that maybe it was just a phase. It wasn’t until last year that I slowly acknowledged it and it’s been an interesting journey. One of the things that I’ve been doing is obsessively looking up famous bisexual people. I went to sites like Bi.org or the Wikipedia database to look for people who were bi like me. I looked for stories with bisexual characters. I looked for resources on the doubts I had about myself.
So when I heard about Bi Visibility: A Bisexual Anthology, I wanted to read it. Created by Kat Calamia, whose reviews I used to read voraciously on Newsarama, it promised a selection of bi-themed stories, ranging from the mundane to the more fantastical. And while I will admit that I was ambivalent about the anthology, as I felt the stories may not be something I find relatable, I was wrong.
Ever since I came out as bisexual, I struggle with the notion that I am not someone worthy of that space. I was unsure as to whether I conform to certain ideas of how a bisexual person, or in this case, a brown bisexual person like me, should be in terms of what their tastes are. By the end of the day, I realized that it doesn’t really matter how I present myself; what matters is that I should be the best version of myself. As silly as that may sound, it is true. There is no singular vision of bisexuality and that’s the intention behind the anthology; to show the identity as one that is multifaceted.
An anthology works best with the range of stories being told and Bi Visibility follows that. The anthology doesn’t just rely on the identity of having that range; the stories are excellent in how they tackle certain aspects of bisexuality with a reassuring honesty, centered around relatable situations. While I haven’t been in the situations presented in the stories in a literal sense, I have grappled with the questions that the stories deal with. And while I find all of the stories to be well-written, there were two stories that felt personal to me; “LGBTQ-RPG” and “The Bi Card.”
What I appreciated about the aforementioned stories is that there is a whimsical feel to them. I won’t get into the details, but what I appreciated is how writers Jimmy Gaspero (“LGBTQ-RPG”) and Hailey Rose-Lyon (“The Bi Card”) used the premise to delve into those truths about bisexuality. And I know that there’s the temptation to read the scenes and reiterate that the themes of the story are commonplace and that everyone knows the “solution” to the questions about bisexuality that the stories address, but I think that’s why it works. Because while I like to think that I am familiar enough with my identity to talk about it, I am also aware of the fact that I still have a lot to learn. Even if I may know the “answers” in these stories, that doesn’t necessarily take away from the enjoyment and the feeling of reassurance I got from them. And I can imagine that for someone who’s struggling with their identity, these stories have a lot of value.
In terms of the aesthetic, or the “look,” I think the stories look beautiful. In accommodation with the wide range of stories being told here, the artwork is clean and crisp. Having a different artist on each story solidifies the individuality of each of the stories being told here, whether that be the cartoony fantasy book-esque aspect of Beck Kubrick’s art in “LGBTQ-RPG,” or Sarah Stern’s colors with Phillip Sevy’s artwork in “My Voice” (another excellent story), which gives it an almost pulpy sci-fi feel. This harkens back to my aforementioned point about bisexuality being multifaceted. In other words, I think it’s a good presentation of the intricacies and the nuances of the “bisexual experience.”
Of course, with the range of stories about bisexual people, there is an umbrella that unites all of them and that would be Taylor Esposito’s lettering. Regardless of the story being told, there is always a consistency to it that fits the story. It’s adaptable and it’s readable without compromising on its style. In a way, the lettering is almost symbolic of the collective aspect of the bisexual experience; it’s a space where people like me can share our stories and we’re united by our identity.
And finally, while I do wish there were more stories being told because there’s a vast potential to explore further aspects of bisexuality, I am also aware of the fact that this is an unfair criticism, as it is not up to a set of people or one person to tell such a story, as that would be impossible. This anthology has done more than enough to provide readers with a wide variety of stories that address the bisexual experience and it speaks to a need in the comics industry, and perhaps the media industry as a whole, to have more stories about bisexuality.
Because we are gonna be here for a while and we will not be going away.
Check out and support the Kickstarter campaign for Bi Visibility: A Bisexual Anthology here before it closes on September 30th, 2021.