Is Ben Bisexual?

Here’s a very cool interview from the examiner.com’s national bisexual writer, Sheela Lambert.

When she sent it to me, I had an interesting reaction. The reason she wrote about the book is Ben’s “Bisexuality.” I thought: Wait. Is he bisexual? And who gets to decide?

This isn’t a criticism. It’s simply a question about labels and how they work. And what constitutes bisexuality, I guess.

To me, I suppose Ben falls on that continuum. But you could also say he’s straight except for when he starts to have strong feelings for his best friend, Rafe. Or you could decide he’s on the road to gayville and he’s currently in denial.

What do you think? Would you label Ben? What would that label be? And should he need to be labeled at all? 

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10 Responses to Is Ben Bisexual?

  1. Jane says:

    I feel as though Ben is bisexual. I got that internalised feelings sort of “vibe” from him.

  2. yvan stone says:

    I think he is actually gay, it is just that he was too afraid and scared to admit it because it was something new to him and he didn’t know how to handle it

  3. Cuong Tran says:

    I am so puzzled by Ben’s sexuality and what Ben and Rafe’s relationship means now that the bubble around it has popped; that’s why I was so disappointed when I got to the ending (not that it was bad; the whole book was excellent) – I was just so curious to discover who Ben was going to become and I felt his journey was only just beginning.
    And also because I’m gay and I think I fell in love with Ben, and now my heart’s broken. (I stopped breathing during those scenes with Rafe and Ben lying together on the floor, on their beds, in the same bed – this is one of the most romantic novels I’ve ever read!)
    I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL! I LOVE YOUR WORK!

    • bkonigsberg says:

      I am smiling reading this, because I am currently exploring this exact issue. Is Ben bi? Is he gay? Is he straight? Questioning? What’s the meaning of those labels, and is it possible that a person can defy labels and just be somewhere on a continuum? All very interesting questions. I promise you there will be answers! Coming!

  4. Ron says:

    Ben? Not gay. I’ve been with straight guys (they identified as straight and that was fine with me) and some just wanted to find out more, some were confused and a few were just intoxicated. I’m sure one or two may have actually been gay too.
    Reading about Ben’s story made me really feel bad for some of those men in my low ago past.

  5. Nikki R says:

    I don’t know whether i’d say Ben is bisexual, as he only seems to have homoromantic feelings towards Rafe. He seems to be demisexual, perhaps, because his feelings for Rafe are associated with their friendship. It is possible, as well, to have feelings for someone of a different gender than your sexuality, being one person, while still keeping your sexuality intact. It all depends on where they go from this point.

  6. alicespaceymageean says:

    Hey,

    So I’m still reading ‘Openly Straight’ (on page 254), and decided to google about Ben and bisexuality and found this blog post.

    (I realise this is pretty late, seeing as the other comments are from 2014, but I hope this is read by somebody and isn’t just me talking to the void–although that’s fun too, sometimes.)

    With how far I’ve read so far, I think Ben is a great example of someone who’s discovering/exploring their bisexuality. The book talks, in passing, about heteronormativity which is something bi people go through too but, I suppose, in a slightly different way. There’s a lot of different circumstances, and bi people too get that assumed straight unless out (and then sometimes still assumed straight because what, bisexuality isn’t a thing?! You’re just confused/experimenting or really just gay and not all the way there yet. 🙄)

    But with Ben I feel like he’s always thought he’s straight because that’s been the only option he’s felt he’s had. Like, he doesn’t feel like he’s gay, because he’s never had that connection with guys before (or maybe he has and just ignored them/written them off as intense bromances) and because the view tends to be “you’re either straight or gay” being bi was never given as an option.

    Here we come onto labels! Sure, it’s fine not to label yourself, or feel like you’re just queer, or don’t really care, or are just open to whatever. That’s great, each to their own, if someone feels this is best for them then why argue? Sometimes people do get too caught up with labels…

    …but not really so when that label is bisexuality.

    Like it’s cool if someone who experiences multiple gender attraction says that they don’t do labels. What I find less cool, and I know it’s something other bi people feel too, is that the no labels, um, label is always given to the character who would otherwise define themselves as bi. (Getting back onto books, fiction and media here.)

    Like, if you could name 10 openly bi characters in TV shows, books, other media, where they 1) openly say they’re bi 2) shut down people/show irritation when they’re told it’s just a phase bla bla bla, then please send me the list because I need to get on that.

    If you’re having trouble to immediately think of something, I hope that my point is made for when it comes to labels and bi people.

    You see, I like the label of being bi. Like Ben, I had a journey too of discovering my sexuality. Not straight. Not gay. But something else. Bi. When I started identifying as bi, and I think labels are useful to help with self identification, a whole new world was opened up to me. I’m not saying it wasn’t there all along whether or not I used the label, but I am saying that the label of being bi helped me belong.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, the whole book explores whether labels are needed or not and what happens to people, sometimes, when they’ve been assigned/taken a label. Should Ben be labelled as something? Do we have the right to label him as anything? Well, seeing as there is a lack of well developed bi characters in YA books I guess it would be nice for a character to come out as bisexual, and saying so, at some point in the story.

    It would be nice to be represented, and have our stories shown, and told that we matter in literature too, instead of always being told that labels don’t matter, why are you getting so hung up on it?

    Labels matter to those who identify with them. It’s an equally as important way to feel, and it’s a way that’s not really represented for bi characters in anything.

    To bring this comment to a close, and it went on longer than I meant it to, Ben is bi to me. I see myself in Ben. I understand that struggle of not feeling one or the other, and then not knowing that there’s an entirely different way that he could be. That being bi isn’t being half straight and half gay but it’s own identity.

    It’s amazing how often people seem to forget what the B in LGBT stands for.

    Ben is bi, and I’ve got to be honest (lol) I’m going to be disappointed if he doesn’t identify that way at the end of the book. Even though I already know he won’t, because no character ever does even when they experience things that link so closely to what a bi person’s coming out journey could be.

    So yeah TL;TR labels are important to bi people because bi erasure is a thing and we hardly ever get a character who goes on a journey that’s similar to our own and then identifies as bi.

    Brought to you by your not-so-local bitter bisexual who wants a list of 10 YA books where a character comes out as bi and sticks to that label.

    Cheers.

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