Snails & Oysters: The Bisexual Perspective on … “Buffy” and “Glee”

Welcome to the inaugural edition of AfterElton.com’s bi-weekly bisexual column. It’s quite an honor to represent my fellow bisexuals and I hope I do right by you! It’s 2011, after all, and it’s time we bi folks stepped out of the shadows and asked politely to be recognized. This column is here to give us a voice and to show others what the world looks like when glimpsed through the eyes of someone who likes both snails and oysters.

If you get that reference, you are both awesome and a dork. If you don’t, it’s from a scene cut out of the original Spartacus movie. To paraphrase…


This scene was cut from the theatrical release because it was too racy!

With that out of the way, let’s begin!

We’ve come a long way, baby. We really have. But we still have quite some ways yet to go because for many gay and straight people bisexuality is still some strange fringe group, assuming they believe in bisexuality at all. But the mere fact that the word “bisexual” is now occasionally brought up on TV tells me that at least some writers/producers out there accept that we do, in fact, exist. Which is an improvement.

Ten years ago, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the much beloved Willow — as played by the incomparable Alyson Hannigan — ended her relationship with her male high school sweetheart and entered into a sweet, loving relationship with a woman named Tara. I absolutely loved Willow’s romance with Tara (played by the equally delightful Amber Benson) and it remains a groundbreaking pop culture moment in GLBT visibility for the gay community.


I loved these two so much

But it was stolen from my peeps, yo!

I don’t know why, but Buffy-creator Joss Whedon had Willow declare herself to be “gay now” after falling for Tara, as if she had suddenly flipped a switch. Why wasn’t she bisexual instead of a lesbian? Whether it was because Joss himself does not believe in bisexuality, or if it was just an easier pill for the TV execs to handle, or simply because Whedon felt it was too tough to explain bisexuality to the viewing audience, I don’t know.

What I do know, however, is that pre-Tara, Willow clearly loved Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and had done so for years. She loved him so much, and was so physically attracted to him, that she betrayed her first boyfriend’s trust by having an affair with Xander. I also know that Willow loved Oz (Seth Green) so deeply, that she was nearly destroyed by his leaving.

That isn’t to say she couldn’t have had feelings for women all along. I’m only saying it cannot be denied that she had at least a moderate interest in boys, too. Yet, once she became involved with Tara, she never looked at another guy again.

The imaginary switch had been flipped.

But I don’t believe that is true. From where I sit, Willow was never actually gay. She was bisexual. But that word was never mentioned in the course of the show and most viewers today remember Willow as one of television’s best lesbian characters. To be fair, there are some articles referencing the fact that she might be bi, but they are far outnumbered by the references to her as a lesbian.

There could be any number of reasons for this, but as a bisexual person, I definitely noticed the misrepresentation of her character. There was even a small tinge of feeling excluded, as if the show was saying it was okay to be gay, but not bi and that people who feel attracted to both genders are obligated to choose one over the other.

I usually try to avoid getting offended by fictional representations of young women slaying monsters, but I admit, Buffy left me with a slight sting from being shut out.

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