Okay so I’ve seen some posts around tumblr talking about biphobia/bisexual erasure regarding Willow’s character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Buffy is my favourite show. Always has been, always will be. But, as a bisexual myself, I totally get that people watching the show now might have a problem with how Willow’s sexuality was handled. I mean, I do too - as much as I love Willow and Tara’s relationship (really, I do - they’re my FAVE), it does hurt a little that as soon as she started dating Tara in season 4, the show began to refer to her as gay, seeming to disregard and invalidate Willow’s previous serious relationship with Oz, with whom she had undeniably been very deeply in love. When Willow discloses to Buffy what she feels for Tara, she indicates that she has fallen in love with her, not that she is a lesbian, and avoids categorizing herself. To me, anyway, this all implies that Willow is bisexual and that the show was actively avoiding calling her that. And this is a problem for me.
Not only was Willow and Tara’s relationship one of if not the first long-term same-sex female (“lesbian”) relationship on mainstream U.S. television (a MASSIVE deal for queer representation, by the way), but their relationship was (for the most part) an overwhelmingly positive one: soft, caring, affectionate, and consistently supportive. Also, as characters, Willow and Tara were neither over-sexualised nor de-sexualised (although an on-screen kiss didn’t happen until season 5, I suppose in an attempt to avoid major criticism). A very important and positive model of a same-sex female relationship. I know that watching the show now, over ten years after it finished airing, we see problems with the queer representation in the show, but in 2000 when Willow’s relationship with Tara first began it was a pretty extraordinary thing to be shown on mainstream television and I am forever grateful for that!
I think we have to watch the show with an awareness of its context. Queer representation in mainstream television (although it is still very far from being perfect) has come a fair way since then, but that was one of the first big steps and even now there is extremely little bisexual representation in television. If the show were being made NOW, of course, I’d expect that they would have handled Willow’s sexuality a little differently (stating outright that she was bisexual, for example) but this was nearly 15 years ago.
So, try and be fair.