If we’re being truly honest, bisexuality is probably equally as ridiculed or dismissed by the queer community as homosexuality is by the straight community.
Bi The Way is a documentary that seeks to challenge that.
By interviewing a host of bisexual youth —focusing especially on five young people ages 11 to 29 —as well as academics, sex specialists and the American every(wo)man, the film seeks insight into bisexual acceptance in America.
According to co-director Brittany Blockman, the film’s genesis came to her as she watched the television show The OC.
“When Mischa Barton’s character started making out with this girl, I was shocked,” recalls Blockman, “because you would have never seen Brenda and Kelly making out on 90210.
“I wondered, ‘When did girls making out with their friends on mainstream teen shows become acceptable and even cool?’
“I did a little research and found that a lot of mainstream teen shows were featuring bisexual main characters,” she continues. “I saw that the rise in bisexuality in TV represented what was going on in peoples’ lives —reflective of a paradigm shift in sexuality —not just indicative of another bisexual-chic moment.
“I wanted to make a movie that explored what real people were doing, to look at something that was everywhere and yet described to be nowhere at the same time.”
In the film, co-producer Josephine Decker and Blockman get in a car and travel around the country to get a sense as to whether bisexuality is still considered a fad or phase by society, or if it is being increasingly treated as legitimately as other forms of sexuality.
It is surprisingly refreshing to see the level of acceptance from all types of Americans interviewed in the film, most notably from the younger members of straight society. Blockman says finding people to talk to was easier than the directors had ever imagined. “I think we live in a very sex-saturated society but we don’t get to have very constructive conversations about sex that often —exploratory conversations where you get to share those honesties,” she notes.
“As more people talk, make films and write about it, it is actually tapping into something that allows people to say, ‘Oh thank god it’s not just me!’ People are dying to talk about it,” Blockman adds.
Ironically, perhaps the most contentious quote about bisexuals in the film comes from sex writer Dan Savage who says, “I meet somebody who is 19 years old and he tells me he’s bisexual and I’m like, ‘yeah right,’ and doubt it. Come back when you are 29 and we’ll see.”
That cynicism does not surprise Blockman. “I knew that people who were more rigidly defined would perhaps have more negative things to say about other people; straight people have actually experimented and discovered that their sexuality is more fluid perhaps than they even let on,” she contends.
In the end, Blockman and Decker hope their documentary —which has appeared at South By Southwest’s film festival and the American Film Institute’s Silverdocs festival —will give people a more positive perspective on the possibility of further bi-acceptance and change.
“I think people will grow up with a much more open-minded view of all this, and I hope that translates to political leaders being really open-minded,” says Decker.
“I’m very optimistic that we’re heading in a really very exciting direction, one that is accepting and also one that is exploratory.”