Why I Made My Character Bi
The Character Defines Himself
Mason adopted this identity fairly organically. As much as an author is responsible for deciding who and what a character is and isn’t, there are certain characters that simply tell you who they are. Mason is one of those characters; he was quite insistent on the bi identity and label. It felt natural to write him that way, and unnatural to try and write him any other way.
Showcasing a Wide Array of Characters and Identities
Some people might accuse Slapshot! of tokenism—that I’ve included a bi character simply so I can use the LGBT label for my writing, or simply to have one “rep” of each category. That’s not my aim with the series, certainly. I’m much more interested in exploring the realm of human sexuality, across the entirety of the spectrum. I’m not writing to be “inclusive,” although I certainly believe that Slapshot! will and should be inclusive, partly because of its scope and the cast of characters. There’s huge variation in the human population. Slapshot!, as a microcosm of that, should reflect a number of different sexual identities.
One of Many
So Mason is the first bisexual character in the series. Right now, he’s the only one, but he won’t always be. That’s because I don’t want Mason to be the only representative of bisexuality in the book. People could easily accuse Mason of embodying all the bad tropes about bisexuality. The other part is that, in a universe of this size, one bisexual character simply isn’t realistic.
In keeping with trying to present the scope of human sexuality, I don’t want Mason to “represent” bisexuality or bisexuals in the Slapshot! universe. He’s being bisexual in his own way. Other characters will embrace their identity or reject it, and will act on it in various ways. Not everyone enacts being straight or gay or lesbian the same way, so bisexuals won’t enact their identity the same way.
What’s the Point?
So why make Mason bisexual? As I said, he could easily be accused of being a stereotype, a walking, talking trope of all the misconceptions and assumptions about bisexuals. After all, people often see bisexuals as overly promiscuous, unable to commit to one partner or another. They brand bisexuals as confused sluts who can’t make up their minds.
But bisexuality isn’t without its critics. Some people even allege that a true“bisexual” identity doesn’t exist. Bisexuals, they argue, are those who are either straight or gay and simply haven’t decided yet. If a self-proclaimed bisexual ends up in a heterosexual relationship, critics will say they were straight with homosexual tendencies, or they were just confused or going through a phase. Critics apply same logic to those bisexuals who end up in gay relationships. The person was gay all along, but was clinging to hope they were heterosexual or simply wasn’t ready to come out and embrace a gay identity.
Occupying Contested Ground
Bisexuals occupy a very contested slice of the sexuality spectrum. I wanted Mason to represent that struggle. Mason is incredibly confident and comfortable with himself, and even in his identity. He argues with people about who and what he is. He does get tired of it from time to time.
Mason’s actions, however, attest to his desires—he is sexually attracted to both men and women. He has little issue dispensing with traditional notions of heterosexuality or homosexuality. While he labels himself bisexual, Mason is simply being Mason. His sexual promiscuity isn’t necessarily linked to his identity as a bisexual male—he’d still be a slut if he were straight or gay.
Mason’s fluidity with gender roles is also due more to his confidence in his own identity and self, his own masculinity, than any sort of notion that he might be vacillating between two choices. He doesn’t adopt stereotypical sex roles for his interactions with either men or women; again, he simply being Mason.
A Flawed Character, Certainly
People can critique Mason as a bi character. He’s a bad representative of bisexuals, a harmful stereotype, a poor role model in many ways. I wanted him to be bi because I think he also embodies some positive notions about being bi. He’s comfortable in his own skin and his identity, and I think that’s probably the most important factor of Mason’s bisexual identity. In that sense, I feel he does have some very positive attributes.
As I said, though, he’s not going to be the only bi character forever—we’ll see other representations and models of bisexuality which, I hope, will help bring the message to the fore: Everyone must be true to themselves. The performance of an identity should and does vary from person to person. Mason performs his bisexuality one way. I hope that, despite his shortcomings, there can be something positive seen in the way he confidently takes up the identity, owns it, and performs it the way that suits him.