Bisexual Erasure

When I read the first chapter of Walking with Shadows, I was almost completely sure that Adrian was bisexual. While he’s arguing with Ada, Ada asks him if he is gay and he tries to avoid the question. He tells Ada that he loves her, and he mentions how “meeting [Ada] changed a lot for [him]” and when Ada finally pushes him for an actual answer he says that he was, and that “being gay was my past and when I met you all that didn’t matter anymore and I loved [her]” (19-20). To me, this came across as a person living in a society where bisexuality is not considered to exist. This is a trope in a lot of Western media, too – someone who has had either only straight or only gay relationships ends up in a relationship with a person of a gender different than they usually date and then it is said that their sexuality has “switched.” This bi erasure in Western media has only recently begun to be addressed (such as in shows like Bones and Orange is the New Black). I was surprised at first that a bisexual character would be the first non-straight main character in an African novel, and then later on in the first part Adrian insists to his siblings that he is gay, for once actually using the word “gay” to describe himself.

I’m wondering what you all think. Is Adrian gay or bisexual? He says that he is gay, but if he was raised in a culture where even homosexuality was abhorred as much as it is, the resources and information about bisexuality may not be readily available. Maybe he does consider himself bisexual but finds it too hard to try to explain that to other people who already find homosexuality hard enough to accept. Also, what does the erasure of bisexual identity and identities other than homosexuality and heterosexuality mean for queer people in Nigeria and other homophobic societies?

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Posted on November 13, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Bisexual Erasure.

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