In honor of Celebrate Bisexuality Day, also known as Bisexual Visibility Day, we delve into the rich tapestry of literature that celebrates sexual fluidity. These books span the past century and illuminate the evolution of bisexual storytelling. From groundbreaking classics to contemporary young adult romance novels and candid memoirs, they shed light on a significant yet often overlooked majority within the LGBTQ community.
Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando: A Biography” (1928)
Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando: A Biography” stands as an early example of how the fantasy and sci-fi genres have explored bisexuality. The novel follows the titular hero, inspired by Woolf’s muse Vita Sackville-West, on a journey through time and gender. Orlando’s exploration of love and art across Europe, first as a man and later as a gender-nonconforming woman, challenges conventions and offers a timeless narrative of sexual fluidity.
James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room” (1956)
James Baldwin’s queerness is a recurring theme in his literary works. In “Giovanni’s Room,” Baldwin delves deep into questions of sexual and racial identity. Set in 1950s post-war Paris, the novel follows David, an American expat, as he grapples with his attraction to men. Baldwin’s exploration of love and desire in the nightlife of Paris confronts the complexities of self-discovery.
Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Lestat” (1985)
Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Lestat” expands upon the intricate relationships of her “Vampire Chronicles” series. It delves into the early connection between Louis and Lestat, describing them as the “first vampire same-sex parents.” Rice’s narrative explores the passionate and tumultuous relationships that shape these immortal characters.
Ernest Hemingway’s “The Garden of Eden” (1986)
Ernest Hemingway takes an unexpected turn with “The Garden of Eden,” a posthumously published novel that diverges from his typical literary style. Set in the French Riviera, it follows a newlywed couple who experiment with gender, polyamory, and same-sex relationships. This departure from Hemingway’s usual themes offers a unique perspective on sexual exploration.
André Aciman’s “Call Me By Your Name” (2007)
André Aciman’s “Call Me By Your Name” portrays the intensity of first love. Set in the 1980s in Italy, the novel tells the story of Elio’s infatuation with an American writer. Their passionate romance unfolds against the backdrop of a vividly depicted summer. Aciman’s work, adapted into an award-winning film, explores the complexities of desire and identity.
Roxane Gay’s “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body” (2017)
Roxane Gay’s memoir, “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body,” offers a raw and personal account of her experiences as a queer Black woman. It delves into her struggles with trauma, overeating, and the impact of sexual violence. Gay’s narrative sheds light on the challenges faced by bisexual women and the need for recognition and support.
These literary works, spanning a century of exploration, highlight the diversity and depth of bisexual storytelling. They contribute to a growing body of literature that reflects the multifaceted experiences of the LGBTQ community.
Alice Oseman’s “Heartstopper” and Casey McQuiston’s “Red, White & Royal Blue” (2019)
Alice Oseman’s “Heartstopper” and Casey McQuiston’s “Red, White & Royal Blue” offer modern narratives of LGBTQ romance. “Heartstopper” explores the blossoming romance between two classmates in a U.K. boys school, while “Red, White & Royal Blue” delves into a passionate relationship between the son of the U.S. president and the second in line to the British throne. These novels, along with their upcoming adaptations, continue to contribute to the visibility of LGBTQ stories.
Haley Jakobson’s “Old Enough” (2023)
Haley Jakobson’s debut novel, “Old Enough,” addresses a significant yet often overlooked aspect of coming-of-age trauma. The book follows Savannah, a bisexual college student, as she navigates the challenges of her identity. It explores the impact of nonconsensual experiences and the complexities of friendships strained by painful memories.
In celebrating Bisexual Visibility Day, these literary works remind us of the power of storytelling to illuminate the diverse experiences within the LGBTQ community. They serve as a testament to the evolving landscape of bisexual representation in literature.