written by Beth, staff member, Captain William Spry Public Library
The B in LGBTQ+ stands for bisexual. Sadly, this letter doesn’t often get the attention that it deserves. There are many harmful stereotypes and the very real effects of bi erasure—in society at large and queer communities as well. Those with non-monosexual orientations (not being attracted to only one gender) are often viewed with suspicion; they’re going through a phase, confused, greedy, probably actually gay, probably actually straight, more likely to be unfaithful, etc. While sexuality is fluid, these ideas are really harmful to the bisexual community, and that’s a shame.
Bisexuals make up a huge part of the LGBTQ+ community—50% in fact—but often feel left out in both queer and heterosexual spaces. When they’re in a queer presenting relationship, bisexual people are discriminated against as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. When they’re in a straight presenting relationship, they become considered straight and are no longer welcome in many queer spaces. They—we—are erased. The L and the G are not the only letters in the acronym. Are you the B in LGBTQ+? I see you.
Here are 10 books about bisexuality and/or with bisexual representation.
This non-fiction anthology collects essays from all over the world about the bisexual experience. It covers a wide range of topics, including bisexuality at various intersections, such as class, race, and disability. Here you’ll find personal stories about the particularities of bisexuality, like coming out, finding community, navigating relationships, and more. Hearing these stories right from bisexual voices gives fellow bi people validation and understanding they don’t often find elsewhere and gives other-identified people a better understanding.
In this powerful illustrated novel, Vivek Shraya draws on Hindu mythology and contemporary Canadian life to create a compelling love story. Growing up, the nameless main character has the label “gay” thrown at him like an insult. He struggles to come to terms with his own desire, the way the world polices it, and the way he polices it himself. Even in the queer community, there are certain boxes you’re supposed to fit in—dress a certain way, go to certain places, love certain people. Compared to the world he knew before, he thinks he can fit in here. But then he meets and falls for a nameless woman, and once again his sexual identity is thrown into question. This is a beautiful, intersectional love story and coming of age story.
Trista Mateer is a bisexual poet, and Honeybee is her first traditionally published collection. Honeybee is touching, honest, confessional poetry at its best. One of the poems found inside is called “Notes on biphobia.” It’s quiet, and sad, and raw, and encapsulates the exhaustion biphobia and bi-erasue can cause non-monosexual people.
This gem is a story told in dual timelines and perspectives. Evelyn Hugo, a la Marilyn Monroe, was one of the great actresses of Hollywood’s golden age. Now aging, she decides to give an interview—something she hasn’t done in a very, very long time. She chooses Monique Grant, a veritable no-name in the business. It begs the question, why her? But Monique isn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Evelyn’s mysterious and eccentric life story unfolds as she speaks to Monique. Monique, like everyone else, wants to ask Evelyn the husband question—seven husbands, and none of them stuck! But the answers may not be something Monqiue is expecting. Is she ready for the responsibility of the truth?
The world we live in is obsessed with social binaries; one or the other. Male or female, gay or straight, masculine or feminine. But the world rarely works out that way. Both essay and memoir, informative and personal, Go the Way Your Blood Beats challenges the binary of sexuality. Using bisexuality as a frame to discuss sexual fluidity and non-monosexuality, Amherst challenges the idea that sexuality can be placed neatly in one box.
In the 1950s, US expat David is living in Paris. He’s just recently engaged to his fiancee, Hella, but right now she is in Spain. While David and his friend are at a gay bar, he meets an Italian bartender, Giovanni. Soon, the two are having an affair. This leaves David grappling with his sexuality as he considers both Giovanni and Hella. Giovanni’s Room explores male same-sex desire and is lauded as one of the best gay (ahem, bisexual) novels.
This young adult novel deserves a place on every summer reading list. It’s the summer before senior year, and, like every other year, Lou and her best friend Seeley are going to spend it working at Magic Castle Playland, the local amusement park. This year, Lou is still dreaming after Nick, the pirate, and Seeley is trying to get over breaking up with her girlfriend. Not only that, but the park’s owner has announced this year will be its last. Can Lou find love and save the park while dancing in a hot dog suit?
A story driven by character, Holding Still For As Long As Possible is about the lives of three twentysomething millennials living in Toronto. Josh is a paramedic and trans man; Amy is his ex-girlfriend and aspiring filmmaker getting by with her parents wealth; and Billy, a former child star, is struggling with extreme anxiety. These three friends–with childhood memories defined by 9/11 and the SARS epidemic—are wrapped up in each other’s lives, baring their hearts over text message and drowning their sorrows in booze.
Bi is an accessible non-fiction primer for those looking to get a little deeper into queer, especially non-monosexual, activism. It may not be the lightest of reads and touches on theory and academics, but Eisner does a great job introducing the subject matter. She expertly busts myths and draws out the serious personal and political implications they carry. Want a bisexual revolution? This book will certainly help point you in the right direction.
Eliza is a busy mother, wife, and florist. When she’s not working or taking care of her sons, she’s cleaning the house. The only time she has to herself is in the pool for her twice weekly swim. She’s happy, for the most part. One day at the pool, she meets someone in the change room. The Amazon. A gorgeous woman who enthrals Eliza. Soon, things between them become steamy. Eliza knows that technically she is having an affair. But how can something that feels so right be wrong?