Howdy, folx! Welcome to another edition of Queer Tested, Teacher Approved! This month, we’re celebrating some of the best disaster bisexuals in young adult media. I often identify with the term “disaster bi,” and it’s used lovingly tongue-in-cheek here.
QTTA disaster bi criteria
All right, so yes, this article is first getting published during Bisexual+ Awareness Week, which is a week that aims to raise awareness and acceptance of identities bisexual and beyond (pansexual, fluid, unlabeled and queer, etc.). But, since there are so many characters under the bi+ umbrella that I can dedicate a whole article just to disaster bis (unlike my nonbinary baes), I’mma do that this go. So, keep an eye out for future celebrations of pan characters, unlabeled characters, and the like! I gotchu, fam!
The characters on this list explicitly identify as bisexual in text or have been clearly labeled by their creators. Also, all these delightful disaster bisexuals are main characters who have fully developed lives beyond their sexuality, harmful stereotypes and tropes. They do all positively radiate disaster bisexual energy, though.
Without further ado (beyond my customary spoiler warning), let’s hop to it!
Beatrice “Bea” Rosaria
Our first disaster bisexual is Bea from the webtoon Brimstone and Roses. She doesn’t always make the best life choices. But then again, who hasn’t summoned a demon to make their ex-girlfriend jealous? Bea makes a suspect deal with
the devil Lazareth and lands herself a roommate from Hell (literally).
Bea’s pretty confident true love is the only thing that’ll get her out of her hellacious contract, and we follow her on a series of tough dating challenges. Things get even more complicated when Bea and Laz (who’s biromantic and asexual, bi the way) start to feel the feels. Brimstone and Roses is in the middle of its second season, so we’ll have to wait to find out what happens!
Content warnings: Anxiety, biphobia, depression, emotional manipulation/abuse, flashing images, gore, violence.
The Rules Series by F.T. Lukens
All Bridger wants is the GTFO of his small town (#BisexualAngst). But going out of state for college (to Florida, of all places) costs money that he and his mom don’t have. So, Bridger finds himself landing an after-school job that turns out to be way more than he bargained for. Myths? Magic? Sasquatches?
All that stuff’s real. And Bridger is caught right in the middle of it. Along with his best gal pal and the boy he
maybe-kinda-sorta-no-definitely-nooo likes. I’ve only read the first book, The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic, so far, but Bridger’s self-doubt and need for parental acceptance shot me right through the heart.
Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales
Darcy Phillips is just your average high school junior. Except she has a side-hustle anonymously running a dating advice service out of an empty locker. The trouble is, Darcy’s not so good at figuring out her own love life. She’s had a long-standing crush on her best friend, Brooke, who does not reciprocate (mainly because Darcy never does anything about her desire).
But then, when Darcy realizes she might be falling for a boy, it sends her into a tailspin. Can you still call yourself queer if you’re in a straight-passing relationship? Yup, Perfect on Paper dives into internalized biphobia, bi-erasure and how that can mess someone up.
Humaira “Hani” Khan
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Hani is a Muslim Irish girl of Bengali heritage who goes to an all-girl Catholic school. Her white friends are racist and queerphobic in a micro-aggressive way that increasingly grows macro. Hani and Ishu‘s fake-dating trope ends where we expect it to, but that’s not the point since the journey is a fresh take. And it’s nice to see a book so unapologetically specific, in this case: queer, Muslim and Bengali-Irish.
The way that Hani and Ishu (whose sexuality isn’t defined) have to navigate the very white-Irish world around them is so lived-in. The book uses Bengali words (of multiple dialects) that my Kindle doesn’t know, so I could only make educated guesses about the meaning of certain things. But I loved that. These were Hani’s and Ishu’s experiences, and I can only relate so far, you know? But that doesn’t make the story any less fun or interesting.
CW provided by author: “This book contains instances of racism, homophobia (specifically biphobia and lesbophobia), Islamophobia, toxic friendship, gaslighting, and parental abandonment.”
The Bold Type, portrayed by Aisha Dee
The Bold Type is about three freshly-graduated women who work at a fashion magazine. They go through all the drama, though the show highlights some of the publishing industry’s realities. But I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that The Bold Type didn’t do Kat dirty.
Dee herself has detailed what was wrong with the storyline where Kat, a bisexual biracial Black woman, dated a very conservative white Republican. That said, in the show’s first season, when Kat jumped headfirst into a relationship with Adena (Nikohl Boosheri) — her first time with a woman, my heart sang.
Honestly, a lot of the disaster bisexual within Kat feels more like the show just throwing storylines at her instead of an inherent character trait. Still, this list feels incomplete without her.
Leah Burke & Abigail Suso
Creekwood Series by Becky Albertalli
Leah Burke and Abigail Suso are two sidekick characters in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and neither is out as bi in that book. But that sure changes in Leah on the Offbeat (the book is from Leah’s POV, so we don’t learn quite as much about Abby). Leah doesn’t have an easy life, which has left her with a massive chip on her shoulder, and it’s interesting to see that play out.
The book delves into some hard questions, like why wouldn’t you come out to your best friend, who’s gay? What’s it like to be part of multiple minority groups? Leah on the Offbeat is such a salty-sweet, honest follow-up that frankly deserves to be just as famous as its older brother.
A kid’s cartoon with bisexual finger guns!? Sign me up! The Owl House is excellent for so many reasons. One of those being that Luz is a short-haired Dominican-American girl who wears a cat hoodie. Basically, instead of heading off to some “summer camp,” Luz starts working for a witch and attending a school for witches. AND SHE GETS A GIRLFRIEND.
A lot can be said (and has) about the fact that Disney repeatedly introduces its “first gay character,” but it seems that Luz may be the first bisexual lead in a Disney TV series. And creator/EP Dana Terrace fought pretty hard to make that happen.
Our next disaster bisexual is Magnus Bane, a warlock who has lived for like 500 years but perpetually looks 19. He’s also the only character who appears in every single Shadow Hunters novel. Magnus is snarky, magical, super fashionable and a hopeless romantic.
He’s also right about 99.999̅ percent of the time. The best books for Magnus content are The Bane Chronicles (co-written by Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson), a collection of short stories about Magnus’s adventures before the 2000s, and The Eldest Curses trilogy (co-written by Clare and Wesley Chu), which chronicle his adventures post-2000.
CW: Abuse (child/family), alcohol abuse, ableism, anxiety, cheating, cults, death, death of family members, incest, graphic violence, kidnapping, memory manipulation, miscarriage, misogyny, pandemic, queerphobia, racism, self-harm, sexual assault, sexual content, suicide, torture, war.
Miles Hollingsworth III
So, in all its iterations, Degrassi has always done pretty well with depicting a spectrum of sexuality. I don’t think it was until Miles, though, that they nailed the disaster bi in its most accurate form. Miles is a spoiled, mean rich white kid with an abusive dad, and his parents view his bisexuality as “acting out,” and in general, most people around him don’t take it seriously.
His boyfriend is pretty biphobic, something I’m glad the show had the guts to portray. But the Miles storyline that got me is in Degrassi: Next Class. Miles’s boyfriend is in a coma, and while he’s in the said coma, Miles finds comfort in the arms of a blue-haired girl — then writes a play about it.
The Bright Sessions, voiced by Andrew Nowak
The Bright Sessions is tremendous fun, but if you’re a therapist/in therapy, it might annoy you at times for its lack of realism. Not the superhero part, the part where the treatment is awful. Mark is one of the gang of “Atypicals” (basically super-powered humans) and also happens to be their therapist’s little brother.
Poor Mark’s got a lotta trauma: he was experimented on by the government, in a coma for two years and then had alcohol abuse disorder. His central romance in the first series ends mostly due to issues created by the trauma he and his girlfriend have gone through. And that’s … refreshing? Sad, but refreshing.
The Fever King by Victoria Lee and SaraDeek
So The Fever King is both a webtoon and a novel duology. I’ve read the webtoon, but I plan on reading the novels now! So, imagine it’s like 100ish years in the future, and somehow climate change hasn’t destroyed the world. And instead of the USA as it is now, there’s a bunch of littler countries in its place.
Also, there’s a pandemic (no, not that one) that either kills you or turns you into a witching, i.e., a witch. Noam is a newly orphaned witching at the beginning of The Fever King, and to survive, he’s gotta learn who he can trust. As with most dystopic stories, there’s not an easy answer. Also, this is one of those worlds where sexuality isn’t a big deal, but xenophobia sure the frick is.
Nathan Copeland & Cameron Haynes
Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley
Deposing Nathan is not a light read, nor is Nathan himself very likable, but y’all, I read this book in one sitting. Nathan’s unlikeable in that I-love-this-character kind of way. The way Nathan lies to us, lies to himself and lies to Cameron is painful but compelling.
Nathan’s friend, Cameron, is also bi, and that friendship is comp-li-cated. It’s easy to empathize with both characters, even when they’re crappy to each other. For some, faith can be a wonderful thing, but for others, it can tear them apart, limb from limb. The way religion and sexual exploration and violence intersect and come to a head in Deposing Nathan is all so natural.
Even though Heartstopper deals with some tough stuff, like mental illness, disordered eating and coming out, I can’t help but sum up the series as uplifting? It feels kinda like a big ole hug. Even though Nick is a year ahead of Charlie Spring (basically the one out kid in their high school), they still have a class together (because Britain) and are seated next to another.
Sparks fly, and Nick realizes he doesn’t want to be in Charlie’s friend zone. That’s new for him. But Nick doesn’t go through too much #QueerPanic and very quickly accepts he’s bi. Most of Nick’s and Charlie’s story is about actually being in a relationship, which I feel like isn’t something we get to see enough of.
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Our last disaster bi is Tanner Scott. Tanner and his family recently-ish moved to Provo (check), Utah, from Palo Alto, California. Being out in CA was NBD, but here in Utah? Well, at least Tanner’s home’s a haven. Unlike the home of his would-be boyfriend, Sebastian Brother, who is part of a very devout Mormon family.
There are so many times you’ll throw your book down with a, “Oh, Tanner! what are you doing?!” in that second-hand embarrassment, watching a horror movie unfold sorta way. Everyone in this book makes poor decisions after poor decisions, but it’s all in the name of love. But do Tanner and Sebastian get a happy ending?
Content warnings (also, even though Tanner and Sebastian are 18 and 19 respectively, Sebastian is employed by Tanner’s school, so … ).
There you have it, folx. Sixteen disaster bisexuals to read, watch and listen to! Who did I miss? Do you agree with my assessments?
This article was originally published on 9/22/21.