This dreamy summer romance movie is an absolute treat. The tension building between the two main characters, Oliver and Elio, is painfully conveyed, and the subsequent blooming romance will send you whirling back to your giddy youth.
I loved every minute of it. What I am not loving is the aftermath when discussing it with my gay friends. I’m not mad because they hadn’t thought about the idea that Oliver and Elio were bi, it’s the fact that they are actively pissed off at the concept.
Them being bi is absolutely a reasonable and logical conclusion to make about the characters. My question to the eye-rolling gays right now is, why does this bother you? I’ve had friends say “Don’t take this away from me” and “they wanted to be together and couldn’t because they are gay”.
O.K – please listen: NOT BEING ABLE TO BE WITH SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS BISEXUAL EXPERIENCE. Finding it difficult to come to terms with who you are is a bisexual experience. Hiding a romance is a bisexual experience. Feeling shame is a bisexual experience.
I am not going to discuss the ins and outs of why they are bi, there are articles that have done that and are very good. This is my point: Consider why you want to argue that with me? Why do you want them not to be bi? Why does it offend you so?
It is a film where the sexual orientations are not defined, therefore the label of gay is put on it by interpreting the behaviour. So, we’ve already had to make assumptions. My point is not whether I can say 100% certainty that they are bi, it’s that if we are left to interpret behaviour then the conclusion is that they are bi.
If you google Call Me By Your Name and bisexual you will find think pieces on this, and the bi-erasure in the rhetoric of this movie. I am not the first to point this put. (and I am fairly late to the game as well.)
If you google just “Call Me By Your Name” you’ll find many articles about this gem of a flick. But unless they are specifically pointing out the bi erasure, I have yet to find an article which mentions the word bi or bisexual, or pansexual, or polysexual. Why is that? Why does a bi narrative only exist within lamenting the lack of a bi narrative? I am aware I am currently adding to this phenomenon right now.
Even the Wikipedia page: Gay is mentioned 22 times, and bisexual is not mentioned once. Time and time again I have engaged in a sort of self-flagellation by clicking articles about the movie, and control+F for “bisexual” and feeling a sting as my browser dings a tone to suggest you are not real.
Look, I get it, sometimes people just use gay as shorthand, or mean it to apply to any same-sex romance. Some people don’t like the word queer which has been very useful as a broader term. But again, that’s not my complaint, my complaint is the active rejection of this as queer or bi, it must be gay.
I ask lets stop dancing around the word bisexual just because you don’t like it. There is a stigma because it is not used, it is not used because there is a stigma. Things are not either gay, straight or “I’m not really into labels”. Sometimes things are bi. Call it by its name.
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