The Dearth of Bisexual Literature: a guest post by A.J. Walkley

If you type “bisexual” into, the first hits that are returned are blatantly erotica. In fact, some of the terms used to describe the titles on the first page are “gang bang,” “strap-on,” “group sex,” “hot tales” and “seduction.” Imagine happening upon these books as a teen, slowly coming to terms with your own bisexuality, and in search of a book that explains that you are normal and everything you are feeling is natural.

I don’t know about you, but those aforementioned terms wouldn’t make me feel more secure.

The one title on that first page of Amazon books regarding bisexuality that might suffice is Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu – a title that is more interview-based than literary. One title among hundreds is still not very reassuring.

If you perform a Google search for “bisexual fiction,” believe it or not, you are redirected to a search for “lesbian fiction” instead.


Where the heck are all the bisexual novels and how is one supposed to find them?

When I was coming to terms with my own bisexuality back in college, almost a decade ago, I had nothing to turn to in the form of literature. As a lifelong reader, this was very troubling to me. Books had always been not only a way to escape reality – which can be harsh for anyone grappling with that proverbial “closet” and when to come out of it – but also a way to learn about myself. I longed for a character that experienced what I was experiencing.

By the time I graduated, I still had not found the literature I sought so, what did I do? I decided to write it myself.

Queer Greer is the account of a teen who moves to a new school in a new state with her family and starts to fall for two people – one male and the other female. The title character, Greer MacManus, experiences much of the same scenarios I personally experienced from the Prologue, in which she has her first homosexual encounter while just a child, through her realization that she is not straight and all of the implications that come with it.

I know my book is not the only book out there for bisexual teens; these books are out there – even if they are less prevalent than strictly gay male and lesbian fiction – but they are not the easiest to locate.

Even more so, when a supposed bisexual title emerges, those who identify as bi are reticent to accept it for fear that the end result is that the bisexual character in the book will eventually choose one partner or the other, essentially deciding that bisexuality for them was just a time of transition and they are actually completely homosexual; or that it was a period of experimentation, only to find themselves in a heterosexual relationship when all is said and done.

In fact, during my campaign to publicize Queer Greer, I found this very reaction when I reached out to several bisexual groups via Facebook. A member of one automatically assumed my title character was really gay before reading the book and blasted me for promoting a truly “lesbian book” to their bisexual community. There were several back-and-forth messages before they came to believe that, no, at the end of the day my protagonist is a bisexual coming to terms with that identity.

While I was irritated at the beginning of this debate with this particular group, doing my own research into the matter has made me realize why they would have had such forceful skepticism about my book. I understand their frustration. Unfortunately, I don’t see book selling sites like Amazon or Barnes and Noble changing the way they classify sexual “minority” based books any time soon, if at all; the titles that do include bisexual characters being mixed in with the larger LGBT landscape of literature.

Unless the book is titled something very obviously bi – like Jacqueline Applebee’s Bisexual Men or Michelle Houston’s Bi-Sexual: Tales from the Wildside – it is bound to get lost in the shuffle.

I’ll leave you with a list of books (in no particular order) that tackle bisexuality and are worth a read:

Male bisexuality

  1. A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham
  2. Both Sides of the Fence by M.T. Pope
  3. Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez
  4. Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez
  5. Franky Gets Real by Mel Bossa
  6. The Two Krishnas by Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla
  7. Krakow Melt by Daniel Allen Cox
  8. Pride/Prejudice by Ann Herendeen

Female bisexuality

  1. Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest) by Stieg Larsson
  2. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg
  3. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
  4. Complementary Colors by Kate Evans
  5. The Correspondence Artist by Barbara Browning
  6. PINK by Lili Wilkinson
  7. Torn by Amber Lehman
  8. Arusha by J.E. Knowles

A.J. Walkley is the author of Queer Greer and Choice. She is currently writing her third novel, Vuto, inspired by her experience as a U.S. Peace Corps health volunteer in Malawi, Africa. Follow her on Twitter @AJWalkley and Facebook at

Link to buy Queer Greer:

(A.J. Walkley should be stopping by the blog to answer any questions you have today, and one commenter will win an ebook copy of Queer Greer!)

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26 Responses to The Dearth of Bisexual Literature: a guest post by A.J. Walkley

  1. I’m working on a novel (trilogy), not sci fi or erotica or fantasy, about a man who at various times in his life identifies as straight, gay, and bisexual, from childhood to death.

    I am looking for any other novels that attempted to do the same and haven’t found any. Am I gong to be the first? It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it :D

  2. Pingback: Finding Bisexuals to Relate To: Media Portrayals | A.J. Walkley

  3. Pingback: The Dearth of Bisexual Literature – Spanish Translation | A.J. Walkley

  4. maddox says:

    There are a few other YA books (alas, usually labeled as gay) which have secondary characters that are either out as bi, or more likely are in the “I prefer no labels” camp. Even in the books you’ve listed, sometimes bisexuality isn’t explicitly addressed, so it falls prey to be interpreted as the character was “really gay all along” or something of the sort. (As an aside, I do find the bisexuality in sci-fi as a trope quite annoying – it’s usually only the women who are bi, hmmm – and I don’t usually include it in my list.)

    This kind of invisibilizing or blurring of identities reminds me of those characters (or even historical real people) who are not explicitly labelled as transgender or trans identified, and are then claimed by both the trans and lesbians as belonging to that particular community. The most recent move “Alfred Nobbs” comes to mind as a particularly great example of this.

    Thanks for the interesting discussion. I’ll definitely be adding this book to my pile.

    • ajwalkley says:

      Thanks maddox! Can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

    • goodlesbianbooks says:

      … those characters (or even historical real people) who are not explicitly labelled…

      Sappho being a marvellous example of that. Probably had relationships with men AND women :D Possibly-gay historical figures are so difficult to figure out; you can never tell if they married because they liked BOTH genders or because society expected them to.

  5. Lisa Jenn says:

    Another YA title with a bi/pansexual main character is VERY LEFREAK, by Rachel Cohn, and Brent Hartinger’s series that begins with GEOGRAPHY CLUB has an important character (Min) who is bi. But yeah, it’s pretty sad that it’s so hard to cobble together a list. I think things are changing, in YA anyway, but it’s slow going.

  6. Lawrence says:

    I just think you are pretty cool

  7. The Dark Soul series by Alexander Voinov features a bisexual main character (Stefano Marino). Also, his latest book (with Amy Lane) called Country Mouse features a bisexual protagonist as well. And if I can mention my own, my novella Prohibited Passion has one of the main characters (female) as bisexual. I’ll also mention Tiffany Reisz’s upcoming book The Siren, as her main character Nora Sutherlin is somewhat bisexual as well.

  8. Cara says:

    Carey’s latest sequels to her Kushiel books, the Namaah’s trilogy, also feature a female protagonist who has sex and romantic relationships with both men and women; and her books Santa Olivia and Saints Astray have a primary relationship between two women who are de facto bisexual.

    Aside from what’s been mentioned already, anyone have recommendations for good treatments of bisexuality in fantasy? Particularly, female bisexual protagonists (or at least major PoV characters in books with ensembles) who don’t lean too hard one direction?

  9. Wow! Thanks for doing this. I’m 43, endured being ostracized and one unofficial bashing for being not straight in the 80’s and shunned and ostracized for my less than perfect adherence to Gay Totalitarianism in the 90’s. I was part of the Bisexual group that used to meet at the Then New York ‘Gay and Lesbian’ Center who were catching unbelieveable heat for the audacity to want to change the parade to LBG parade……we didn’t consider transgenders yet. In 1997 I lived a reclusive monastic life and in 2003 boy did I get a shock when going to the Gay and Lesbian Center to see if my little 12 person group was still there and causing trouble……to find the parade name not only got changed, but the center, all the literature like ‘Out’ magazine to LBGTQ. It’s time to back up the label with intelligent relationship depictions of the human lives of us. I’ll contribute to this genre! I’ll start including a Bisexual character regularly in my Choreopoems (verse plays….another genre I’d like enhanced). Hey check out my website for the Poem Bisexualia….written in 1999. I’ve matured a bit since then….but It makes a basic point. Site up in a month.

  10. Francis says:

    Tanya Huff’s books have a lot of great LGB characters, but that’s the only author I know of who has a lot of bi characters. I want to be a writer of fantasy novels one day and I know I’ll include many LGBT characters, particularly the underrepresented B and T (I’m bisexual and genderqueer myself) :)

  11. sijansa says:

    i know it’s not fiction but I still found Women and Bisexuality by Sue George very good/informative and it’s more about theories than bi any other name which you mentioned above

  12. I highly recommend Malena Watrous’s novel “If You Follow Me”, about a same-sex couple, two young American women teaching English in rural Japan. It’s a good novel on its own merit, and the main character is bisexual.

  13. ajwalkley says:

    Thanks for chiming in, everyone! Your comments are great so far. I’m happy to see we have even more options out there than I included on my list for bisexual literature. Keep ’em coming! :-) AJ Walkley

  14. One of the two main characters in my fantasy Mayfly Requiem is bisexual (Dia, the narrator’s twin sister ). I also have two works in progress with gay or bisexual characters, and the eventual love interest of one narrator is intersexed. I don’t generally draw attention to it, it’s just there as a natural part of the story. Sometimes they are persecuted, but mostly they are just left alone to live like the normal people they are. The theme rarely comes up in fantasy, unfortunately. I would think any fantasy race would have its share of LGBTQ members.

  15. I think this book would and is a good conception of bisexual situation. The struggles, thoughts, fears etc and more secretive and most are trying their best to start expressing themselves. Rather other people see as bisexuality as a “confused” person and in the end they will decide what sex to stick with but not the case. There is more than just assumptions. One thing I never understand is people telling me that my sexual orientation is “hot” (most of this are guys) but I think I might understand why they think it is… perhaps they fantasize about things but the truth, (with respect with all different kind of people) just because one is bi, doesn’t mean they will do sexual activities at the same time with two different gender. it is an emotion just like straight people have. There are more truth and facts behind what others’ think.

  16. SeattleRobin says:

    I’m happy to see Complementary Colors by Kate Evans on your list. I stumbled over it accidentally a couple years ago and think it is beautifully written. Because it’s from a very small publisher that, as far as I know, does not specialize in LGBTQ books it doesn’t get nearly the exposure it should.

    For science fiction fans, a four book series that I’ve always liked is the Starfarers Quartet by Vonda N. McIntire. Several of the main characters are bi. The ebooks are available for a very reasonable price at Bookview Cafe.

    Goodlesbianbooks mentioned Tanya Huff and I’m a huge fan of hers. For anyone into urban fantasy I highly recommend The Enchantment Emporium and its sequel, The Wild Ways. The main character in both books (different character in each) is bi.

  17. goodlesbianbooks says:

    A lot of stuff by Tanya Huff works on the ‘everyone is bi’ assumption; the ones that actual have a main, actively bi character are the Blood books (male vampire detective stories), Sing the Four Quarters (female, has both male and female lovers – a lot of the books in that universe assume bisexuality), and The Fire’s Stone (has a male bi, gay male and asexual female! All viewpoint characters).

    Everyone mentions Kushiel’s Dart, so I will too :D
    The Mortal Engines series by Phillip Reeve has a main female character who falls in love with both a girl and a boy (in different books).

    About A Girl by Joanne Horniman has the lead falling in love with a bisexual girl; it doesn’t end too well, but it’s there.

    Hey, Dollface by Deborah Hautzig has a main character who likes boys, but is also struggling with a possible attraction to her best friend (it was written before bisexuality was really considered; they end by deciding that Labels Are Unhelpful).

    Quite a few of the nominally gay/lesbian ya books actually have bisexual characters these days, but they’re often the love interest, rather than the main character, and it’s generally not a big deal, or hard to spot without reading the books.

    • goodlesbianbooks says:

      Thinking it over a bit more, it’s not that there aren’t any books with bisexuality; it’s the books with *main, active* bisexual characters that are hard to find. A LOT of scfi and fantasy books go with the bisexual-as-norm trope.

  18. philoserine says:

    Thank you so much for the info on Queer Greer, and especially for the lists of books– I work at an LGBTQ/women’s center and we always get requests for more bi-focused novels. It will be really useful!

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