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9 Books to Read on Celebrate Bisexuality+ Day

by  | September 23

Today is Celebrate Bisexuality+ Day, a day to acknowledge the challenges to and resiliency of the bi+ community––including people who identify as pansexual, queer, fluid, and more. More than half of the lesbian, gay, and bi+ population is made up of individuals who identify on the bi+ spectrum, yet our representation is seriously lacking. Across all popular media, potentially bisexual characters are often reduced to stereotypes, such as their sexual orientation being considered a phase, or as their being oversexualized, or as their being hungry for attention, or as their simply not liking labels. Preferring not to put a label on one’s sexual orientation is completely valid, but can we please have a character actually say the word “bisexual” every now and then? Our representation is getting better, but we still have a long way to go.

In honor of Celebrate Bisexuality+ Day, here are five of my favorite books featuring proudly bisexual main characters (plus four honorable mentions).


Bonus Video: If you like Jackson’s reading recommendations, don’t miss this video on pronouns (and how to use them correctly) in honor of his new book, Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place.


An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

by Hank Green

Imagine grappling with your romantic life at the same time that you are going viral and being handpicked as the representative of humanity by mysterious alien robots. In An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, April May accidentally stumbles on a mysterious sculpture, which turns out to be one of many planted around the world by an alien race. When she and her friend Andy make a video about it, it goes viral overnight, and April essentially becomes the spokesperson for this global crisis. As she contends with newfound international fame (described in a refreshing, nuanced way only someone who has been at the heart of online video culture since its nascence like Green has can), April struggles to hold her personal relationships together. She’s openly bisexual and has some love interests both men and women, but one thing that stands out so achingly realistically is the decision by her publicity team to present her as a lesbian because audiences don’t respond as well to someone being bisexual. Ouch. It stings because it’s true. Green, a straight cis man, worked with bisexual women sensitivity readers to get the tone right, and speaking as someone who, like April, has also worked in the media industry in New York City as a twenty-something bisexual person, I can tell you he got it spot-on.

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Red, White & Royal Blue

Red, White & Royal Blue

by Casey McQuiston

The book everyone has been talking about this summer, Red, White & Royal Blue follows the story of Alex Claremont-Diaz, First Son of the United States, as he comes to terms with his bisexuality and campaigns for his mom’s re-election for a second term as the first female president––all while falling in love with the Prince of Wales. No big deal. Like many books in the New Adult genre, Red, White & Royal Blue does not shy away from discussing sexuality in frank terms. At one point, in a televised speech to the nation, Alex delivers the line, “I’m the First Son of the United States and I’m bisexual.” Reading that, my heart leapt imagining a day when that might happen in our world, when bisexuality will be so proudly and specifically called out by the White House. With ample references to Harry Potter, Hamilton, and Star Wars, alongside a fairly diverse lineup of characters, McQuiston has had millennial readers eating out of the palm of her hand. Exhibit A: I read this book in one day, and it’s not short. I could not put it down.

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Historical fiction usually gets a pass from me on failing to explicitly use the word “bisexual,” because the word either didn’t exist in that era or it wasn’t yet popular enough for the characters to have identified with it. In The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo we get to see the main character grapple with the confusion caused by her not having a word or concept to describe her feelings—but, because the novel is framed by the character being interviewed at an older age in present day, we’re also treated to her confident, adamant self-identification as bisexual. My favorite line in the story comes when someone assumes her to be a lesbian because of her attraction to a woman, and Evelyn spits back, “Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box.” The novel bounces back and forth between Evelyn Hugo’s glamorous, scandalous life in old Hollywood and the contemporary perspective of Monique Grant, a budding journalist in New York City who has been tasked with writing Evelyn’s biography. It’s cinematic, engrossing, and has far more intrigue than you’d expect at first glance.

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River of Teeth

River of Teeth

by Sarah Gailey

Did you know that in the early twentieth century the United States Congress considered importing hippos to breed as both a new meat source and as a solution to the invasive hyacinth in the Louisiana bayou? The plan was abandoned (I can’t imagine why), but Sarah Gailey imagines a reality where Congress actually went through with the plan in this turn of the century novella. Featuring a diverse cast of characters led by bisexual British hopper (aka a hippo cowboy) Winslow Houndstooth, River of Teeth is a refreshing example of how, if you’re already presupposing your characters are riding on the backs of hippos, then having queer and nonbinary characters treated just as normally as everyone else is not going to break the suspension of disbelief. Oh yeah, did I mention there’s a nonbinary love interest? THERE IS A NONBINARY LOVE INTEREST. Be prepared for an off-the-wall read, and you’ll love joining Houndstooth, Hero, Adelia, Cal, Archie, and their hippos as they attempt to take down the most corrupt enterprise on the Mississippi River.

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Constantine

Constantine

by Ming Doyle, Riley Rossmo (Illustrator), James Tynion

If you’re a comics or graphic novel fan (or just a fan of the brooding, sarcastic, chain-smoking con man archetype), you can get your bisexual representation fix with DC Comics’s iconic John Constantine. I particularly recommend Constantine: The Hellblazer, which was reintroduced as part of the 2016 DC Rebirth and is hailed as featuring the most open Constantine ever. (His “coming out” was in the original Hellblazer comics in 1992 with an offhand line.) In Constantine: The Hellblazer, we see him flirt with women and even have a short, tragic relationship with a man. An occult detective visually modeled off Sting, with a dark, edgy persona but ultimate desire to do good, Constantine is a ready-made heartthrob that we bisexuals are very pleased to call our own.

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Shades of Magic Boxed Set

Shades of Magic Boxed Set

by V. E. Schwab

✨Honorable Mention

While Prince Rhy isn’t explicitly labeled in the series, V. E. Schwab (herself bisexual) has confirmed that she always intended his blasé attraction to all genders to be read as bisexual. She’s even gone so far as to say all characters should be assumed queer unless stated otherwise. Now that’s a literary analysis I’m here for.

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The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

by Alexis Hall

✨Honorable Mention

A queer, transgender intergalactic veteran John Watson–like character joins forces with a pansexual woman of color, reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, to solve a case of blackmail in the city of Khelathra-Ven, and they are besieged by pirates, vampires, mad gods, and more along the way. That was all the introduction I needed to immediately check out The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall and it did not disappoint.

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Fledgling

Fledgling

by Octavia E. Butler

✨Honorable Mention

If you want to add a little spookiness to your reading, what with October just around the corner, try this Octavia Butler classic Fledgling, featuring a bisexual 53-year-old vampire with amnesia navigating her new life in the body of a young girl.

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The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

by Mackenzi Lee

✨Honorable Mention

Henry “Monty” Montague embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe alongside his younger sister, Felicity, and his best friend (and secret crush) Percy. Despite the societal norms of the day (and his father’s intense disapproval), Monty is unabashedly attracted to people of all genders, which leads to plenty of hijinks, as well as serious conflict and self-examination throughout their trip.

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