LGBTQ rights advocates are applauding a young “Jeopardy!” contestant for using his appearance on the game show this week to make a powerful statement about bisexual erasure.
Tuesday’s episode of “Jeopardy!” ― which had been taped prior to host Alex Trebek’s Nov. 8 death ― featured Cody Lawrence of Sherman Oaks, California, among its contestants. The 28-year-old editor wore a small Bisexual Pride flag pin on the lapel of his blazer during the show. The flag’s design features three stripes in pink, lavender and blue.
The pin did not go unnoticed by “Jeopardy!” viewers, who praised Lawrence’s gesture on social media. “It filled my heart with such joy to see you up there so proudly providing bisexual representation,” one person wrote. Added another, “I am a very proud bisexual man and I teared up when I saw your pin!!”
In a series of tweets Tuesday, Lawrence opened up about his decision to wear the pin on national TV. In doing so, he said he was aiming to make a statement about bisexual erasure. Also known as bi invisibility, the term refers to those who question or deny the legitimacy of bisexuality.
In a blog post on Medium published Wednesday, Lawrence spoke at length about how bi invisibility impacted him directly as a bisexual man.
“Sometimes I feel gaslighted, like I shouldn’t believe my own sexuality because some of the community-at-large doesn’t respect or acknowledge it,” he wrote. “But then I remember … it’s my truth. You can’t change facts. So yes, I wore my pin on ‘Jeopardy!’ because it’s a powerful symbol to show you that we exist.”
During his lifetime, Trebek was an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights. Hence, it’s no surprise that Lawrence was not the first LGBTQ contestant to used “Jeopardy!” as a platform to express their authentic self.
In 2015, footage of writer and TV producer Louis Virtel snapping his fingers during his appearance on the game show that year went viral. Shortly after the broadcast, Virtel said he wished he’d been able to say that he was gay on the air, but was proud to have hinted at his sexuality through his mannerisms, including the so-called “sassy” snap.
“As a kid growing up in the suburbs who venerated everything about ‘Jeopardy!’, I would’ve loved seeing an expressive gay contestant own his homosexuality as well as the buzzer,” he said at the time. “I’ll never get that chance again, but I take some comfort in having exhibited my sexual orientation through a few glaring clues.”
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