Actress and True Blood star Anna Paquin was subjected to extremely ignorant questions about her bisexuality from media heavyweight Larry King, however she quickly took him to task for his fundamental misunderstanding of her sexual orientation.
The interview questions on Paquin's sexuality were absolutely cringeworthy, but represent a common narrative from straight individuals. First King asked her if being married meant she was a "non-practicing bisexual," which visibly threw Paquin for a loop. She explained that, of course, she is now in a committed, monogamous relationship with her husband, but it's clear from her expression that she was trying to maintain her composure when confronted with an absurd question. Unfortunately, King didn't take the hint, asking "But you were bisexual?" to which Paquin responded:
Well, I don't think it's a past tense thing. Are you still straight if you are with somebody? ...If you were to break up with them or if they were to die, it doesn't prevent your sexuality from existing. It doesn't really work like that.
Paquin had previously come out as bisexual in 2010, and married her True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer and the two now have twins. For too many people, this would "remove" her from the category of "bisexual." Clearly she's heterosexual because she's "permanently" attached to a man! A man she married! With whom only she has monogamous sex! They even produced children!
Bilge. And another b-word: bi-erasure.
The most obvious form of bi-erasure, of course, is the idea that one cannot be bisexual at all. That one is either homosexual or heterosexual, and any "wavering" is simply based on confusion about one's sexual orientation. This is bad enough. However, there is a far more subtle and insidious form of bi-erasure—the idea that bisexuality, while real, is some sort of phase which disappears once one "settles." King's line of questioning, which assumed first that bisexuality is a set of actions rather than an internal identity and sexual orientation, then assumed second that it was bisexuality was an identity Paquin had then but does not have now. Except bisexuality is as real as homosexuality or heterosexuality (or asexuality or pansexuality, for that matter, and the latter differs from bisexuality in very fundamental ways which make the two quite different). While sexuality does sometimes change, this is not evidence for sexuality's inherent mutability. Paquin can no more change lose her bisexuality than King can lose his heterosexuality.
The section of the interview on sexual orientation wrapped up with King and Paquin discussing the amazing changes in American perceptions of LGBT rights, with King asking the actress if she could account for the sea change. While out, Paquin is not an activist or a social scholar, and she admitted to King that she wasn't really qualified to answer. She did say that growing up on movie sets meant that she saw a bit of "everything" and that her own attitudes are probably in part influenced by the fact there "there was no stigma attached."
Watch the entire interview below via Hulu:
Image/Video via ORA/Hulu.