Fandom: The Magicians (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Quentin Coldwater/Eliot Waugh
Characters: Quentin Coldwater, Eliot Waugh
Additional Tags: Bisexuality, Bisexual Erasure, there's a reason for the 'b' in lgbtq, carrot wine, intimacy issues, no one made them do it, Eliot are you listening - no one made him do it, policing queerness in a soft and self-destructive way, two percent opium in the air
Series: Part 2 of Mind Over Time
Quentin thrusts his hands into his hair, undoing the loose tie he's been wearing lately -- his hair off his face looks great on him -- and the fine threads spill over his fingers. Eliot doesn't know what it says about him that Quentin in agitation is as much of a turn-on as Quentin thirsty to suck his cock or Quentin focused on solving a problem, but, well, there it is.
I ran into Gins' post on Quentin and bisexuality while searching for anything to feed the waiting-for-next-episode beast. I have a lot of feelings about it, as a bisexual queer person who has experienced bi erasure. [Frequently.]
Set during 3x05, "A Life in the Day", in the period between Quentin making his move on Eliot and Arielle and Quentin becoming a thing.
I have a lot of feelings about bisexuality! From lived experience as a person who identifies as bisexual secondary to identifying as queer. Up through college, while I was very involved in the LGBTQ+ community on campus -- president of the GSA kind of involved -- I tended to skirt away from identifying my own sexuality. This tended to get interpreted as "templemarker is a lesbian!" which I just sort of... let happen. When I did use the term "bisexual" there would always be a kind of side-eye, like my relative gayness was being assessed; and while I am comfortable enough with the use of "bisexual" today, it never quite felt like it fit -- sure, I was interested in men and women, but I wasn't all that concerned about the biology of those men and women; and while gender fluidity certainly existed when I was a teenager in the early aughties, it hadn't been fully realized in the queer community as I knew it.
"Pansexual" felt like an aspect of my D&D character build, like it was part of a cosplay I'd put on to go nerding around with friends. [Please note that I have no problem with the term, or concept, or the use of the term by anyone else for their own identity; it was used by dear friends in college, with respect. It just didn't work for me.]
It was only after I'd been out of undergrad for a couple of years, around the time I started grad school, that I started actively and purposefully using "queer". It just felt right. It was what I'd been using online, when talking about myself and my identity. I was living in the Ireland & then UK for several years, and while it falls upon many a lip as a slur it felt easier to use it in the land of Oscar Wilde. I grew up, and was educated through college, in rural Appalachia; "queer" was nearly always a slur, even amongst the LGBTQ+ community, even when we collectively adopted the "Q" at the end of LGBT.
These days I start and finish with "queer". Depending on the company and the need for specificity, I'll go further and say "bisexual" -- because it still holds true for me. I'm interested in both men and women, I don't have an opinion about the biological aspects of the men and women I'm interested in, and gender fluidity makes obvious and intuitive sense both to me personally and in terms of my interest in other people. "Trisexual" sounds like a sex toy based on a three-wheeled bike, and English is mediocre to actively hideous at affirming not-duality in language. "Queer" works best; and fuck the world that tries to police my usage of it as an identifier.
All this to say -- between the period where I began translating my !!!!! level of interest in the Magicians from excited text messages to a friend to fandom online, I never once read Quentin as anything but bisexual -- and queer, of course, but rather spefically bisexual as an identity marker in the way I've encountered my cishet men friends and colleagues apply the term bisexual to themselves. It was a real shock to encounter the apparently persistent idea that "No, Quentin is really straight! See all that Alice kissing!" I mean. What? That is functionally absurd and tautologically inaccurate. That's "I kissed an Eliot and I liked it" straight-washing. That's effectively inserting queer baiting where there was none.
Like -- I don't need the show to have Quentin stand up on a podium (because he's short!) and announce to the PK cottage, "I AM A BISEXUAL MAN". Frankly, his bisexuality -- while brilliant and fascinating -- takes a real backseat to my interest in his depression, the framing of him as a disabled person, and the fact that Jason Ralph managed to transform a character I actively loathed and mocked aloud in the company of my dog as I suffered through The Magicians novel into -- my stars, I can't believe this -- my favorite character on this show. My favorite character! Quentin! When I have Margo! What the fuck!
But I will ruthlessly defend Quentin's bisexuality, on Tumblr or in comments or in fanfiction.
Thus, "All That's Known", a dense vignette of dialogue and Eliot's twisty Dorian Gray-like portrait of a mind full of affectations. (To state the obvious: Eliot is the fucked up portrait. His persona is Dorian Gray.) I am remarkably pleased with it: for all that it's under 750 words (which is still three pages! huzzah Stephen King!) it did everything I was thinking about and more.