James W. Hicks, M.D.

Bisexuality in Fiction

In Media on August 23, 2010 at 8:16 pm

It should not be surprising that the complex reality of sexual desires are captured in some of our best novels.

One of my favorites is Vikram Seth’s 1986 novel, The Golden Gate, which defies all expectations by being incredibly enjoyable in spite of being set in rhyming sonnet verse. Believe me, you have to try it! The book tells the story of several young adults in San Francisco, including Phil, a man who has been left by his wife and is raising a young son, who finds himself falling in love with another man. Phil could be described as open-minded and flexamorous, but his lover is restrained by his religious beliefs that homosexual acts are sinful. The book is a beautiful celebration of the attitudes of the Bay Area in the 80s and 90s.

As Meat Loves Salt, by Maria McCann, is a historical novel set in England during Cromwell’s civil war against the crown. The author not only renders the speech, smells, and tastes of the period convincingly, but also the sexual possibilities in a world before the invention of “gay” and “straight.” The two main characters are both men who are unquestionably bisexual (without thinking of themselves in those terms) in both their physical desires and romantic attachments. The book is stunning, haunting, upsetting, erotic, and an utterly convincing artistic rendering of the expression of bisexual desires in a previously unfamiliar cultural context.

And of course, the international best-selling Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larrson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the last of which came out in English just this year) features an ambisexual, computer-hacking heroine. The series is now being rendered in movies, with fierce speculation about which Hollywood acress will play Lisbeth Salander.

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