Why Rosario Dawson’s “Coming Out” Matters

Rosario Dawson Belatina Latinx
Photo Credit IG @nadege_winter

Because bisexual visibility is still a subject we need to address.

Talking about identity and sexuality from a platform created after more than 100 films and television episodes, more than a privilege, is a responsibility. And it seems that Rosario Dawson has it very clear.

During an interview with Bustle, the actress, mother, and activist talked about her career, the people who have accompanied her along the way, and her recent arrival to the political spotlight with her current partner, New Jersey Senator and former presidential candidate Cory Booker.

“It’s the first time I felt like I had to be responsible about my choice of love, which is a challenging thing to do,” she says. “If you fall in love, you fall in love. But there’s another aspect I had to consider: what this meant in [putting] a microscope on my family and particularly on my daughter.” Dawson adopted her daughter Isabella, now 17, in 2014. “But in each other I think we found our person,” she adds.

But her relationship with politics is much longer lasting.

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In 2004, Dawson made headlines for being arrested at a protest against President George W. Bush; she supported the candidacy of Barack Obama in 2012 and Bernie Sanders in 2016. She has also co-founded the organization Voto Latino, a 15-year initiative that seeks to mobilize the vote of the Hispanic community in the country.

However, it was her post on Instagram during the Pride Month celebration in 2018 that caught the attention of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Happy pride month! Sending love to my fellow lgbtq+ homies. Keep being strong in the face of adversity. Loud & proud,” she wrote, giving the impression of making a subtle public coming out.

“People kept saying that I [came out]… I didn’t do that,” she said to Bustle. “I mean, it’s not inaccurate, but I never did come out come out. I mean, I guess I am now.” 

“I’ve never had a relationship in that space, so it’s never felt like an authentic calling to me,” she added.

But is that really necessary?

The struggle for the visibility of the bisexual community is a deeply debated issue, among those who believe that the absence of absolutism in taste is directly proportional to the lack of a solid and consolidated identity.

Since the 1990s, the structuring of bisexual theory, as well as bisexual politics, has emphasized the elision of this identity by the queer community and its academic branch.

For anthropologist April S. Callis, “although queer theory is dedicated to the deconstruction of the naturalized binary of heterosexual and homosexual, bisexuality, which seems to aid this deconstruction by its very existence, is rarely a topic of interest or inquiry for queer theorists.”

This is due, in part, to the need for queer theory, for example, to be built on absolute rejection and to distance itself from any point “in between.”

“Groups like Queer Nation practiced a ‘politics of provocation, one in which the limits of liberal tolerance [were] constantly pushed,'” writes Callis in her article Playing with Butler and Foucault: Bisexuality and Queer Theory.

In 2014, as a result of the first large-scale government survey on sexual orientation and identity in the United States, the NHIS found that only 0.7% of Americans identify themselves as bisexual. 

Two years later, a survey cited by CNN said bisexuality was “on the rise” in the country, with 5.5% of women and 2% of men identifying themselves as bisexual.

This is not, however, a “surge” of cases or a cultural contagion syndrome, as some sometimes argue. It is about visibility, education, and understanding of the broad spectrum of sexuality, away from extremisms on both sides.

That is why voices like Dawson’s are fundamental to understanding that, when it comes to diversity, seven colors are not enough.