the neighbourhood - single (she’s your little baby, she’s my soulmate; i don’t want you to worry, she’ll be so safe) | oh wonder - technicolour beat (i feel life for the very first time, love in my arms and the sun in my eyes) | billie eilish - ocean eyes (i’m scared; i’ve never fallen from quite this high) | oh wonder- sharks (standing on the world outside, caught up in a love landslide, stuck still, colour blind, hoping for a black and white) | broods - heartlines (and i won’t let go cause i want you close) | frank ocean - thinking about you (it won’t ever get old, not in my soul, not in my spirit) | olivver the kid - the woods (we walk down to the ocean, your sarcasm heavy laden on me; your eye contact leaves a message, my love stacked on top of the trees) | lorde - a world alone (i feel grown up with you in your car… i know it’s dumb)
Is there any other evidence of Barry being canonically bi?
There’s no real “Evidence”, no.
However, if you examine the show through a queer lens and take subtext into account, I think there’s some indication of mutual attraction between him and Eddie, him and Len, him and Oliver, and maybe other hints besides.
To preface, before I go into that, it’s important to note that Barry is (wonderfully so) a character who sometimes eschews traditional gender norms. He cries and wears his heart on his sleeve, is sometimes the one being saved by his lady love (like he’s the one saved by true love’s kiss in 3x17 [Duet]) and has a body type that isn’t the muscle-bound huge-armed male power fantasy we’ve come to associate with male superheroes.
So we have to take that into consideration when we consider Barry. Is he just a feminist and emotionally self-aware dude who is comfortable enough with himself to eschew gender norms, or does he have an actual attraction to more than one gender (and in this case, looking more specifically at whether he’s attracted to men and male-aligned folks). Let’s see if we can figure out if he’s just comfortable in his own skin or if there’s any attraction going on.
First, taking the easiest example, let’s look at how he sometimes negotiates his relationship with Eddie. Although not inherently romantic, we’ve got Barry thinking flowers are the right gift to get Eddie in the hospital.
There’s some guilt and layers to Barry being worried about Eddie here, and it is a very sweet thing for Barry to do to bring him flowers, but it’s still atypical.
There’s a lot more that gives us something more concrete to work with though. Like the scene between him and Eddie where Eddie is trying to help Barry get out his anger and he’s holding the punching bag for Barry, and the “harder” line?
If you take off straight goggles (which is basically how you put on a queer lens), this becomes a lot more… charged. The way Eddie starts stripping right there for Barry to watch, pectorals pronounced? The way Barry glances down at Eddie’s body? The smirk when Eddie tells him to hit it harder?
I’ll include this example too, mostly because it made me laugh so hard:
(Barry only shifts away from Eddie after Eddie pushes for more space, note).
And of course, what I think of as one of the more telling examples, Barry’s fantasy world / daydream in which Eddie and looks at him like he hung the freaking moon:
Eddie’s admiration is important to Barry, like very important. And obviously there is survivor’s guilt and layers to that, but just freaking look at Eddie’s expression. That’s Barry’s fantasy expression for how he wants Eddie to look at him. Awed. Admiring. In love.
So okay, queer lens, some indications of Barry being attracted to Eddie.
(For the record and as a bit of an aside, early in the show, Cisco also compliments Eddie and how attractive he is when Barry’s basically staring at Eddie with Iris at the bar. There’s tons of canon “evidence” for Cisco also being like, super bi. The way he compliments Eddie and “Jay” (Hunter)’s bodies and forms, the Chronicles of Cisco episode where he talks about Captain Cold’s blue eyes being mesmerizing. Cisco is Not Straight.)
Barry’s response to Hartley’s flirting doesn’t give us much.
Because he mostly just looks a bit put upon by it? Doesn’t flirt back, but he doesn’t say anything disparaging either. And we know that the actors weren’t unaware of how close they were standing in the earlier scene, based on the blooper reel:
(here’s the actual scene:
kind of intense, huh?)
Then of course there is the tension between Barry and Len which becomes especially palpable in 1x22. But there’s a flirting sort of lean to how Len asks for a ride back to town in 1x16 after the woods scene, and how close Barry gets to him to threaten him about not hurting anyone Barry cares about.
Then of course there is the space thing here:
If you want a reference, preferred interpersonal distance among acquaintances in USA is ~2 feet. This is far more of the “intimate” distance category (Sorokowska et al. 2017). Barry gets weirdly close to Len at times (and like I pointed out above, got weirdly close to Hartley).
(Not that Len’s always complaining based on his own expressions…)
Moving on more.
Barry and Oliver’s relationship could be interpreted as mentor/mentee, older/younger brother, or just friends. But there’s also an easy flirting-type bent to do it, a lot of the time.
(Look at these dorks and tell me they’re not flirting, honestly).
Look at how Barry looks at him. (Is this even canon? Is this a blooper? Or is Barry’s crush just that obvious?)
Then you’ve got Barry being distracted by Oliver’s arms and then both unable to suppress smiles because again, they practically can’t help but be a step away from flirting one with another at all times?
And look at how Ollie looks at him ffs. You’d have to pay me to convince me that Oliver isn’t trying to reel in thoughts of the things he’s tempted to do to Barry right here.
(They have a lot of chemistry; it’s part of why the crossovers always work so well).
Anyway, it’s clear Barry admires Oliver a lot and is eager to introduce him and talk him up.
(Barry, honey, your crush is showing. Even Iris isn’t as obvious about her crush on Oliver).
And like, this been since Barry was introduced to the DCTV canon. Pretty sure his crush on The Arrow predates his crush on Oliver.
(There’s some moment in this episode where he mentions how wonderful and handsome Oliver is so of course Felicity is in love with him. It’s written to sound jealous and downtrodden but he’s basically there acknowledging how attractive he thinks Ollie is).
And then this line, I mean.
I’m sure there’s a straighter way to say that…
So, in sum, looking across a few of his dealings with other men in the show, particularly men a few to many years older than him who don’t fit a parental role but instead challenge him? Especially men with broad chests and large shoulders? Barry displays some signs that we can take as attraction to these men, if we’re willing to set aside the heteronormative lens and put on a queer one.
None of this is conclusive, of course, and there are straight men who are going to display the traits Barry is here. But note that none of this is about, say, hugging men (like dragging Oliver in for hugs) and eschewing toxic masculinity by talking about his feelings. And it’s so much more than just complimenting these men. So none of this is coming from a place of “if you aren’t embodied toxic masculinity then you’re inherently queer”.
It’s about how he looks at them and their chemistry, the way they flirt, the way he embeds himself into the space of men, using challenge as an excuse to get right up and personal with them. The line between “heart thumping from fear-stress” and “heart pumping from attraction-arousal” is a crazy thin one, so thin it can be misinterpreted by people about their own emotions, and they misattribute fear as arousal (Dutton and Aron 1974).
So… I think a queer reading of Barry is a pretty valid one. I truly read him as bi and have from season 1.
As well as written poetry, it is important to look at spoken word, or slam poetry, because it allows trans authors to convey their poetry in an even more tangible way. Having an audience present works to reify the ideals of community and solidarity. Underlining unity is powerful, both within the trans community and for the purpose of coalition building, moving toward support that goes beyond the art world.
In the introduction to the Transgender Studies Reader,
“(De)Subjugated Knowledges,” Susan Stryker discusses the language of
gender and the ways in which material determinism permeates Western
culture. She states, “The relationship between bodily sex, gender role,
and subjective gender identity are imagined to be strictly,
mechanically, mimetic – a real thing and its reflections” (Stryker 9).
Transgender studies challenges this idea, focusing on social
construction through language and cultural narratives.
three of these poems interact with this idea of sex, gender roles, and
gender as it is experienced being lumped together. Such a fabrication
leads to the assumption of other individuals’ gender identities, as the
person doing the assuming attempts to make sense of an expression that
does not fit their binary philosophy.
“How to Love Your Body in 10 Easy Steps” by Ollie Schminkey
It is immediately clear in the first few lines that this poem grapples with mental health, as Schminkey’s first step involves unhealthy eating habits: “eating less will make you feel as if you have control.” They also talk about binding in unhealthy ways in order to “trick yourself into feeling complete.” Without societal acceptance and the supposed stability of the gender binary, the search for control of the self and self-image can manifest in potentially dangerous ways.
Schminkey describes the impact of rejection, “Man, woman, whatever./You are the whatever.” Outside of the binary, people are essentially dehumanized and labeled deviant. This creates a hostile environment where dysphoria may take its root. The poem continues, “Do not call it what it is/do not call it transgender/do not say dysphoria/just say depression, no qualifier” (Schminkey). Calling it dysphoria is to recognize a problem stemming from
society and normative standards of gender expression, beauty, and so on. With this poem, however, Schminkey calls attention both to the condition of dysphoria and to its silencing.
“Ritual” by Muggs Fogarty
Fogarty talks about material determinism extensively in this poem. “What parts of you are heavy with fluid?/which direction do your shirt buttons button?/where do your glands swell?” These lines refer to the ways society writes gender on bodies without asking, only concerned with fitting physical appearance into socially constructed category. They use repetition to signify the numerous instances they have been asked for their name assigned at birth, as if the listener hears their poetry and continues to ask, looking for “gender lies,” some trace of inauthentic expression (Fogarty).
When referring to binding their breasts, Fogarty declares, “I was so afraid others would notice their absence, especially if they had never noticed mine.” This makes more powerful the message the poet is delivering, that bodies are more valued than the minds, expressions, and identities that they hold. Especially in reference to the commodification and objectification of women,this poem is relevant to trans studies in its critique of society’s attention to the presence or absence of certain anatomical characteristics in determining gender judgments.
“A Letter to the Girl I Used to Be” by Ethan Smith
In this poem, Smith reconciles the memory of himself and his dreams growing up with the reality of his current life and the ways in which those dreams have shifted. He begins by addressing his former self – using his name given at birth. This serves as a way to separate himself wholly from the person he was before transitioning. He speaks of memories told to him by his father which he does not remember, but moves on to discuss family, which complicates the narrative of the poem. As he describes beginning hormone therapy, Smith expresses, “I thought about your children, how I wanted them too.” His desire for children is separate from his gender expression, yet the way that bodies are looked upon by society produces a dissonance, dysphoria. In order for his body to fit within norms for his experienced gender, he no longer retains the ability to produce life, something that had been precious to him. In saying this, Smith removes trans bodies from a pathologized and objectified space and focuses on a future oriented one, where trans-identified people express the desire for new families of their own. He validates that struggle and represents narratives different from the fight for recognition in one’s current family, which is usually the only family related issue discussed in such a context.
At the end of the poem, after telling of his former struggles with mental health – “In therapy you said you wouldn’t make it to twenty-one. You were right” – and coming to terms with his gender expression, Smith provides an optimistic viewpoint. He affirms there was and still is a place for the memory of himself growing up, ending with “P.S. I never hated you” (Smith).