In recent years, people have wanted to see more television that reflects their own lives, as well as the lives of people around them. As a result, LGBTQ+ representation on television has skyrocketed with an explosion in quality and variety, allowing for greater visibility and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.
One such show is The 100. The post-apocalyptic series has always portrayed diverse and outspoken characters, especially women, since its debut. But in season two, the series took character representation to the next level when it introduced two bisexual characters — Clarke and Lexa. The 100 marked such a milestone in LGBTQ+ representation that it helped me discover and come out as bisexual.
In the episode, "Bodyguard of Lies," Clarke and Lexa share a kiss after a brief argument, and eventually in season three become lovers. And, although those two characters getting together in and of itself wasn't anything special, the fact that The 100 chose to use sexuality as part of character development rather than as a story device was mind-blowing.
Survival is everything on The 100, but Clarke and Lexa didn't need each other to survive. That's why there were no obvious signs that indicated they were LGBTQ+. Because of Hollywood's portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters being skewed in the past, I often associated LGBTQ+ people with specific traits and characteristics. The 100 helped me to realize that I shouldn't automatically assume anybody's sexuality because anybody could be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Seeing Clarke and Lexa also allowed me to become more open-minded about my own sexuality. Until I saw The 100, I never thought I could be bisexual since I never showed any "stereotypical" signs that I thought indicated bisexuality, besides actually liking both girls and guys. My fashion style, interaction with girls, and personality never elicited a presumed "bisexual" message that I thought existed — which opposed traditional female codes ‚ so I thought it was just a phase. The 100 made me realize otherwise.
The 100's LGBTQ+ representation also helped to dismantle several inaccurate myths about those within the bisexual community. With so many LGBTQ+ shows only portraying limited representations of the community, countless sexualities and genders are often stereotyped due to the lack of representation and awareness. For the longest time, I internally struggled with whether I was actually bisexual because although I liked both girls and guys, I didn't have a 50-50 divide on attraction. Clarke and Lexa helped me to realize that this was a misconception about bisexuals.
Because Clarke and Lexa's sexuality didn't evolve the plot in any way, but instead made them more realistic and complex characters, there was no larger discussion that confirmed or denied the sexuality of these characters. Neither character explained their sexuality and how it shaped and defined them over the years. Their sexuality was no big deal. Just like how it should be in real life.
By not spending countless episodes explaining or justifying the sexuality of LGBTQ+ characters to normalize them like so many shows do, The 100 reminded me that people's sexuality only makes up a small aspect of who they are. This realization was huge for me, as I often feared my sexuality would define me if and when I came out as bisexual.
Lastly, The 100 opened up my eyes to the fact that in order for people to view the LGBTQ+ community the same way that the view the straight community, they need to be portrayed on TV as not just a representation of their sexuality, but instead for their experience as complex individuals. If LGBTQ+ characters are seen as special or controversial on television, they're going to be treated as such in real life. With there being no judgment, self-doubt, or reservations about Clarke and Lexa, The 100 showed me how broken society is for stigmatizing and discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community. Realizing this, I became fueled to advocate for LGBTQ+ equality, even before I fully became a part of the LGBTQ+ community myself. Overall, The 100 has helped me to not only learn about the LGBTQ+ community, but embrace my own sexuality.