Warning: this article contains spoilers for Supernatural seasons 1 through 11.
We’ve all done the homework. We’ve screencapped every eye flicker, every smile, every jaw clench. We’ve catalogued, archived, and tagged the fleeting moments; memorized facial tics, voice cracks, and lip quivers. We’re not obsessed (okay, debatable). We’re just on the prowl for bisexual Dean Winchester. And, turns out, he’s pretty easy to track down.
Bisexual Dean is everywhere. But most fan references to his queerness focus on his relationship with Castiel, the Angel of God who appears in season four. Fair enough – the sexual chemistry between them is hotter than a yellow-eyed demon in Hell. But I’m more interested in the quieter moments from the earlier seasons – the ones that prove Dean’s bisexuality has existed all along.
In season one’s “Hell House,” Dean gets visibly flustered when Sam emerges from the shower with nothing but a towel and glistening pectorals. The look on Dean’s face is not so much an “oh look, my little brother has muscles now” than a “oh shit, what fresh hell is this hot specimen.” Yes, we all know they’re brothers. And so does Dean – he quickly averts his eyes in a tizzy.
(I can’t be the only one who read this scene as sexual – the implication being that Dean hurries into the bathroom to “clean the pipes.”)
In season two’s “Bloodlust,” Dean becomes emotionally intimate with fellow hunter Gordon Walker. In a private moment, when he finally broaches the topic of his father’s death, Dean says, “Can’t talk about this to Sammy. You know, I gotta keep my game face on. But, uh, truth is I’m not handling it very well.”
Up until then, the only person we’ve seen Dean be vulnerable with (outside his immediate family) is Cassie Robinson, an important ex-girlfriend. This immediately places Gordon, someone he’s just met, on the same level as a woman with whom he’d had an intimate relationship. Bisexual, biromantic, Dean.
Again, in season two’s “Croatoan,” when Dean tries to leave town during the viral outbreak, he is stopped by an older man who asks him to get out of the car. After lots of eye-flirting, Dean says, “Well, you are a handsome devil, but I don’t swing that way, sorry.”
Sure, Dean. We believe you. Especially when you say it in that tough-guy voice. “I don’t swing that way” is a phrase Sam would never feel compelled to say. In fact, Dean’s constant masculine posturing throughout the series is what first caused me to read his character as bisexual. Whenever the boys are mistaken as lovers, Sam shrugs it off, but Dean gets defensive. Sam remarks on this in season two’s “Playthings:”
Dean: “Of course, the most troubling question is why do these people assume we’re gay?”
Sam: “Well, you are kind of butch. They probably think you’re overcompensating.”
Sam has a point. By all intents and purposes, Dean is the ultimate “man’s man.” He’s a rugged, demon-fighting, sexually voracious, smack-talking dude who oscillates between rocking out to Air Supply and severing a vampire’s head with an industrial chainsaw. But he’s bisexual too. And it matters.
To my knowledge, there are no bisexual characters as stereotypically masculine as Dean is in Supernatural. In a world where gay men on television are Jack McFarlands and Kurt Hummels (although they’re wonderful too), representation of a “butch” bisexual man is important. But the unfortunate fact remains that the Supernatural producers still shove Dean’s queerness to the margins. He never talks about his bisexuality, physically acts upon it (other than the aforementioned eye-fucking), nor engages in any sort of “questioning” behaviour. (I’m still waiting for the scene where Sam walks in on Dean watching gay porn and eating pie: “I like the cinematography!”)
Like the Winchesters, we’re hunters. But we’re not hunting the supernatural. We’re hunting for queer representation. And sometimes it seems that, no matter how clearly we see it, from a strictly “canonical” perspective, the ghost of Dean’s bisexuality is still wandering around hospital hallways and spelling out I-A-M-B-I on Ouija boards. But seriously, fuck “canon” on this one. Because there are a million examples of Dean’s queerness (NSFW). Like I said, we did the homework.
Dean Winchester is bisexual. Always has been, always will be. And a hoard of hungry hellhounds couldn’t scare me into thinking otherwise. Because Dean’s bisexuality matters to me. For many reasons. For every time I caught sight of my crush in the high school locker room. For every time I wanted to make the first move but didn’t for fear of being clocked in the face. For every time I didn’t see a queer male TV character who looked and acted like me.
I am Dean Winchester and he is me. In all our glorious, masculine, non-traditional bisexuality. And when I watch him, I matter.
A Butchy Bisexual who does swing that way.
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