There's a gushing article by Helen Lewis on writer Russell T Davies in this week's New Statesman. RTD, as he's apparently known throughout the magical world of the media, has done lots of things.
There's Queer as Folk. It's been ages since I saw that, so we'll leave that for a bit.
In 2001, he bounced from Queer as Folk into another gay drama, Bob and Rose. It might be my favourite of Davies's work, simply for the unlikeliness of its subject matter as raw material for a romantic comedy. Bob (Alan Davies, in maximum puppy-dog mode) is a gay man. Rose (Lesley Sharp) is a straight woman. They fall in love.
Davies was attracted to the story because he was tired of TV executives trying to get him to write a more conventional tale: the midlife crisis of a married man who realises he is attracted to other men. But writing it forced him to overcome his own prejudices. "A friend of mine fell in love with a woman, and the prejudice that he faced from us gay men – and from me, I didn’t believe it for a second, I thought he was mad, I thought he was having a nervous breakdown, I thought he wanted children, I thought she wanted his money."
He and his friends were "vile" about the relationship – "we’d meet each other on trains and sit there bitching about him" – until he finally sat down with the man and had an honest conversation. A bit drunk, at two in the morning, he asked him all the intrusive but fascinating questions that swirled around: how did they have sex? Was he still attracted to men? What happened when a hot guy walked in the room? "And he answered it all: he answered it all with 'love'. He simply loved her."
Again, though, some of the most vitriolic reaction came from the gay community. Davies tells me that ITV had to call the police over threats from men in Brighton. "I think they were just two men in a bedsit, but they called themselves a campaign." He laughs, because in 2001 sending death threats to a public figure was a relatively time-consuming and rare occurrence, rather than the work of a few seconds and the click of a button. "Vile letters, so women-hating, the worst I’ve ever seen,” he says. "This is what they said: 'if a woman came between me and a man, I would turn her inside out through her own slit.' That’s… wow."
Rabid misogyny and biphobia from the gay community isn't so surprising for some of us…
And it's been a while since I saw it, so I can't remember if Bob ever did get to identify as bisexual.
Then there's a mention of Brokeback Mountain where, apparently, the actors playing bisexual men each had a "gay role".
But looking at his writing
there’s gayness everywhere: the single line that reveals Lesley Sharp’s character in “Midnight” is a lesbian; the outrageous camp of John Barrowman’s Captain Jack
.. that would be the 'bisexual as fuck' Captain Jack, wouldn't it?
The nearest we get to criticism is a line that
most of Davies’s peers believe that he should have refined the scripts of his 2015 series Cucumber harder. The show, which again focused on gay lives (or rather, given the changing times, LGBT lives)
I'm not one of his peers, but the thing that should have been done with the Cucumber scripts is change the fucking appalling treatment of bisexuality via its portrayal of its bi characters.*
It's going to be interesting to watch his latest, A Very English Scandal, on the Jeremy Thorpe / Norman Scott affair. I'm still not sure what Thorpe identified as, but it's surely impossible to deny that a twice-married father who effectively took over a year out of his political career to mourn the death of his first wife was bisexual in terms of attraction as well as behaviour.
But does the B word get mentioned anywhere in an article covering him, Bob, Captain Jack, Cucumber and the rest?
No. That B in 'LGBT' quoted above is literally the nearest we get to saying 'bisexual' in the whole four thousand plus words. Despite the utterly "vile" biphobia from RTD, his friends, and the rabidly misogynistic gay men in Brighton, 'biphobia' is never mentioned either.
This is what erasure looks like.
I see that Lewis's law is an eponymous law taken from her observation that "the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism". Who shall we name the observation that, 'never mind the fucking comments, any article with this level of bisexual erasure justifies bisexual activism' after?
* I really will re-watch it before posting more so I don't miss any of the horror, but:
— Bi Furiosa (@BiFuriosa) February 12, 2017