Queer film enthusiast Atreyo Palit investigates internalized homophobia and biphobia in Billy Eichner’s feature film Bros. Consider Billy Eichner’s character, Bobby, throwing shade on the gay community as his manifestation of homophobia being born from entitlement. In part one, Palit discusses Bros’ portrayal of internalized homophobia, and in part two, he digs deeper into Bobby’s biphobia.
In my previous article on Universal’s gay rom-com Bros written by Billy Eichner, I discussed how the protagonist Bobby, played by Eichner himself, could be homophobic and how his romantic interest Aaron shows signs of deeply internalized homophobia. I also mentioned that the brutal honesty about phobia within the queer community you can find in Bros isn’t just restricted to internalized homophobia. It is a big enough issue to deserve its own conversation, and I did that in my previous piece. But there are many more ways in which queer people hurt other queer people, and one of those issues, biphobia, is also explored pretty deeply through the character of Bobby.
“…’You want to put Lincoln back in the closet?’ That is glaringly biphobic.”
Bobby may not be homophobic and could just be discriminating against gay men based on his privilege and stereotypes, but he’s biphobic for sure! He’s the executive producer of the first National LGBTQ+ History Museum in the film, and he’s part of the planning committee. The committee is diverse, including trans women, non-binary people, lesbians, and a bisexual man, Robert (Jim Rash). Now, it’s introduced as a jest, but Robert keeps insisting that the museum make an exhibit about bisexual people. The comedy is found in the way he fights with the other members about it. The final exhibit is the main source of conflict among the members of the committee. So, one of them wants to make an exhibit about lesbians in the army, one of them wants a queer wedding exhibit, Robert wants one on famous bisexual people, and Bobby wants one on Abraham Lincoln. Wait, Abraham Lincoln? Yep, Abraham Lincoln! Turns out, there’s circumstantial evidence in the form of letters to other men that suggest there could have been homosexual relationships in his life. Robert interjects, saying that maybe he was bi because his relationship with his wife was allegedly happy, and he had four kids with her. Bobby gets annoyed at that, and I can only describe his behavior as gatekeeping.
There’s another moment in the film where Bobby gets angry at people’s reaction to the idea of the Lincoln exhibit. The team had warned him that people would boycott the museum if he tried to tell people that Abe Lincoln was gay, but he had insisted on keeping the exhibit. Now, that is an admirable stance because if we always shut up when we were afraid of being boycotted, queer people wouldn’t have enough recorded history even to make a museum! But this is where I have a problem with his reaction – When Robert reminded him that Lincoln wasn’t gay to start with and that if they even made the exhibit, it should mention that he was bi, Bobby got angry and blew up, saying “You want to put Lincoln back in the closet?” That is glaringly biphobic. No, he said Lincoln could be bi, not that Lincoln belongs back in the closet. If gay representation is the only queer representation you care about, I don’t want you executive producing an LGBTQ+ History Museum! First, acknowledge that bi-erasure is a real thing and then stop being complicit in it, and maybe I’ll have your back again. Also, stop always making fun of the very gay men you claim to support! Oh, and the bi-phobia doesn’t stop there. Freddie Mercury, now confirmed bisexual, is also subject to his disdain. He claims the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, which is a biopic of Freddie, takes “a story about one of the great gay icons and make(s) it about that one time he maybe had sex with a woman.”