"A Tale of Two Cities, Made of Cola"

Cola Glass

The other day I asked my wife suddenly “What’s the third cola?”

I explained that I was trying to come up with an analogy for bisexual invisibility. Some people assume everyone they see is straight, unless they look gay. Others would look around the carriage and think “Straight, gay, straight straight, gay, gay, god knows”. But few people look at a stranger and when they think “Straight” or “Gay” actually mentally add “or bisexual”, especially not to both cases.

It’s like Coke and Pepsi, I said. The big two are so well marketed that everyone assumes there isn’t a third.

She pulled a face then. “Don’t use that as an analogy for bisexuality! Other colas are disgusting – no-one likes them! You thinking of supermarket colas, right? Weird stuff. Marks and Spencer own brand cola. Tesco Value.”

I laughed and suggested Tab. Coke and Pepsi are so popular that people forget there are other brand names, that have followings, have fans, thousands and thousands of them.

But this is the thing – people forget to list them. Worse, it doesn’t occur to them that it’s a list, or that the list can be longer than two. If it’s not Coke, it’s Pepsi, and if it’s not Pepsi it’s Coke. It’s the same with sexuality – people aren’t forgetting the third (and fourth and so on) from the list because they’ve been brought up to not think of it as a list. It’s a pair. It’s one or the other.

Female partners are ignored if a man has a male lover. If a prominent politician is suspected of having a same-sex affair, the question “Is he gay” is deflected with “He and his wife have always seemed a perfectly happy couple.” It’s not that people are deliberately not asking “Is he bisexual?” – the question doesn’t occur to them at all. You’d rather have Dr. Pepper?

Media tropes feed into this – “The gay man who gets married in order to hide his sexuality.” It’s like changing the label on the cola – it’s still one of the two.

Much later, still wondering if it’d make a good analogy, I looked up online the cola wars. Turns out the big two are actually now Coke and Diet Coke. Pepsi is the third cola.

But I think I’d shy away from suggesting the big two sexualities were Straight and Diet-Straight, or even Gay and Diet-Gay.

So maybe I won’t make a soda analogy, I’ll just write about how I’m not going to.

The following two tabs change content below.

One Response to "A Tale of Two Cities, Made of Cola"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *