So…About the Bisexuality Thing

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It has been mentioned–perhaps ad nauseum–that Magnus is bisexual. In fact, he identifies himself thus:

“Isabelle snorted. ‘All the boys are gay. In this truck, anyway. Well, not you, Simon.’

‘You noticed’ said Simon.

‘I think of myself as a freewheeling bisexual,’ added Magnus.

‘Please never say those words in front of my parents,’ said Alec. ‘Especially my father.’

‘I thought your parents were okay with you, you know, coming out,’ Simon said, leaning around Isabelle to look at Alec, who was — as he often was — scowling, and pushing his floppy dark hair out of his eyes. Aside from the occasional exchange, Simon had never talked to Alec much. He wasn’t an easy person to get to know. But, Simon admitted to himself, his own recent estrangement from his mother made him more curious about Alec’s answer than he would have been otherwise.

‘My mother seems to have accepted it,’ Alec said. ‘But my father — no, not really. Once he asked me what I thought had turned me gay.’

Simon felt Isabelle tense next to him. ‘Turned you gay?’ She sounded incredulous. ‘Alec, you didn’t tell me that.’

‘I hope you told him you were bitten by a gay spider,’ said Simon.

Magnus snorted; Isabelle looked confused. ‘I’ve read Magnus’s stash of comics,’ said Alec, ‘so I actually know what you’re talking about’ A small smile played around his mouth. ‘So would that give me the proportional gayness of a spider?’

‘Only if it was a really gay spider,’ said Magnus, and he yelled as Alec punched him in the arm. ‘Ow, okay, never mind.”

~City of Lost Souls

I had to quote the whole thing because it’s adorable. The spider thing. ANYWAY…

I actually imagine that Magnus is omnisexual. Recall the old joke, “I’m try-sexual: I’ll try anything once.” That’s how I feature Magnus’s sexuality. He’s 400 years old, and lives in a constantly changing world fully of every kind of creature imaginable. He’s open-minded. He’s immortal–one way to survive immortality is to be open to all kinds of experiences. And let’s face it: I think he just enjoys sex. I mean, who doesn’t?

So he’s not restricted in his passions by a person’s gender. In fact, I see no problem imagining that Magnus would get involved with anyone anywhere on the gender spectrum–I think calling him BI-sexual actually limits who he actually is. He appreciates binary men, women, and all the wonderful genderqueer, gender neutral, and every possible permutation in between.

The discussion I’ve seen around lately that I’ve found a little disturbing is that some folks insist that Magnus’ characterization as a “freewheeling” bisexual is feeding into a persistent stereotype that people who like both genders are automatically sluts. Which…has always struck me as ridiculously stupid, but then, most stereotypes are.

Now, I’m only one bisexual woman. I can’t speak for everyone…or even anyone else but myself. I think this reading of Magnus being a “slut” because he’s bisexual, and therefore a perpetuation of that nasty stereotype is being incredibly hyper-sensitive. First of all, lets not be slut-shaming, here. There’s nothing wrong with adults enjoying sex–a lot of sex. If I was 400 years old, I suspect my “numbers” might shock people with more conservative sensibilities too.

My head canon about Magnus’ sexuality and amount of lovers is this: besides the desire for new sensation, and an open personality willing to experience many things, the fact is that Magnus’s youth was a pretty tragic one, without much love or affection. Before his warlock marks manifested, his parents apparently cared for him as any parents would. But when his powers did manifest, the results were horrific.

Not only did his family immediately withdraw their affection, they not only rejected him outright, calling him horrible names, but his mother killed herself because of what she felt about Magnus. His father tried to drown him. When he escaped that nightmare–imagine the trauma of a 10 year old who has lived a fairly normal life up to that point going through such a thing–he was forced to seek shelter with the Silent Brothers. Who, if I understand correctly, are not exactly warm and fuzzy. There probably wasn’t a great deal of nurturing for young Magnus, who had just had his world collapse and his heart crushed. His sense of self mangled.

One of many ways a childhood devoid of the affection and love a kid needs to thrive manifests is often a desperate search for that love in other places. Drugs, alcohol, criminal behavior, all kinds of unhealthy ways to fill the hole a lack of a devoted family leaves. Another is serial monogamy, or hyper-sexuality. The former is going constantly from one romantic relationship to the next, often overlapping rather than being alone in between. Hyper-sexuality is seeking an “excessive” amount of sexual interaction (which, imo is a value judgement, but in psychology, hyper-sexuality is something like addiction, in that it begins to effect other aspects of the person’s life.).

I think, to some degree, Magnus is fundamentally lonely. He doesn’t have a strong foundation of family love to shore him up. He’s a sensitive person, however hard and blase he might try to be. He tells Alec that he has closed himself off from feeling anything for the last century because he is tired and broken from his constant search to fill that terrible hole in his heart where his family should be. He wants to be in love, and more, he wants to be loved. He’s starving for it. So for many years, he was, as the old 70’s song said, “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Because wow, if Camille isn’t a wrong place, I don’t know what is. And when he thought that search futile, sex just became another thing to do to keep from becoming completely bored.

Eternity is a long time when you’re alone.

Then, there is also the possibility that Magnus’s reputation is exaggerated. He doesn’t strike me as a guy who would correct legends about him that made him look cool or powerful, and we all know that The Clave is not exactly a reliable source of information about Downworlders. What if Magnus is not the “Lothario” that he is portrayed to be by Hodge, Robert, and Maryse (unreliable narrators if I could ever think of any), or that he bragged about himself. Magnus may not even be willing to admit his loneliness, or its causes, to himself, although at his age I doubt he’s not aware of it.

So… is Magnus perpetuating the stereotype that just because bisexuals enjoy people of both/all genders, they must lust after everyone (because, after all, we can’t possibly have, I don’t know, standards or anything)? Or is Magnus a tragic character who is deeply misunderstood–and oh yeah, identifies as bisexual?

I suppose like much of canon, it’s open to interpretation. But for myself, I can’t take offense at Magnus’s characterization. It just makes sense to me the way I understand it.

Oh, and yes, I do have a degree in Psychology. Two, in fact. Thanks for asking! 😉

P.S. A lothario is “a man who obsessively seduces and deceives women.” Which…no.

 

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