Let's Take A Moment To Appreciate Stephanie Beatriz

Stephanie Beatriz, an Argentinian-American actress, is best known for her role as Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Rosa Diaz is a tough, serious, badass cop. Her aloofness often ads to her humor, with lines like, “You two just need to bone,” delivered with a straight face. Rosa is iconic for a number of reasons, from the fact that she’s by far the most badass character on the show and a woman, to being a really amazing portrayal of a Latina woman, to being bisexual.

 

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with bisexuality in Hispanic cultures, so let me give you a quick summary: generally, Hispanic parents/families are pretty old school, which can make coming out extremely difficult. In the episode where Rosa comes out (“Game Night,” season 5 episode 10―spoilers alert!), her parents react rather negatively. Her dad tells her, “Mijita, when you called this dinner, you were so nervous that we were worried you were going to tell us that you’re gay,” to which she replies, “Guess what? Your worst fears are true. I’m not straight, I’m bisexual. And I don’t care what you think about it,” before storming off. Later, while her parents are still trying to avoid the truth, Rosa tells them that she might marry a man, and she might marry a woman because she’s bisexual. Her dad tells her, “There’s no such thing as being bisexual.” The episode ends with her dad apologizing, saying he wants her to feel like she can tell him anything, even if he might not understand it all, and that he loves her and accepts her for who she is. Her mom, however, “might need a little more time,” and they end up canceling family game night indefinitely. When the squad finds out, they show up at Rosa’s apartment with pizza, beer, and games, and shower her with love and support. Captain Holt tells her, “You should be very proud of yourself… Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place.”

 

I’m telling you all this for a few reasons. One, as a bisexual Hispanic woman myself, this episode was everything to me. I laughed. I cried (a lot). I saw myself represented in a way I have never seen myself represented before. I fell in love with Rosa Diaz (in a gay way and a not gay way, hello), and I was incredibly excited to see her story progress.

 

So you can imagine my euphoria when I found out it wasn’t just Rosa. Stephanie Beatriz herself is a bisexual Hispanic woman, and when the writers asked her if she would be comfortable with Rosa coming out as bisexual, she jumped at the chance. Since then, Beatriz has been a lot more open about her sexuality, attending a Pride Parade and getting married. A hot topic of interest with bisexual people is what gender they will inevitably end up with―and let me say for bisexual people everywhere: it’s none of your goddamn business. It’s often thought that if a bisexual woman ends up with a woman, she’s a lesbian. If a bisexual woman ends up with a man, she’s heterosexual. (Feel free to insert any gender in these places.) When Beatriz married Brad Boehlefed―a man―she talked a lot about how marrying a man didn’t change her sexuality in the slightest. A bisexual person is a bisexual person, regardless of the gender identity of their partner. This may seem like a small thing, but to a young bisexual person, this is incredible. It’s validating. It’s a reminder that we can be who we are and we never have to doubt ourselves.

Even after Beatriz married a man, she assured the world she will be “bi till she dies.” In response to this, Kiddbell collaborated with Beatriz to make a number of “bi til I die” merchandise. They made t-shirts, pins, and water bottles to tell the world that bisexuality isn’t being half straight and half gay, it’s simply being. And regardless of what gender we end up with, we are still bisexual. Twenty percent of every purchase goes towards the Trevor Project, an organization that works to provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ and questioning youth. Beatriz has posted pictures of herself proudly wearing bi til I die t-shirts, and while it’s incredible to know she collaborated with an organization to make the shirts, it’s also amazing to know she wears it, believes it, and owns it.

 

Beatriz was largely involved with the writing of Rosa’s bisexuality. The writers of Brooklyn Nine-Nine wanted to make sure they were accurately portraying bisexuality and avoiding hurtful stereotypes. Beatriz helped write the scene where Rosa comes out to her parents, making sure to include the, “Bisexuality isn’t real,” “It’s just a phase,” “You’ll grow out of it,” lines. The goal here was to show how bisexuality is viewed by people who don’t understand or aren’t willing to understand. Beatriz did an amazing job at juxtaposing it with the reality of bisexuality, which is that it’s normal.

With season six of Brooklyn Nine-Nine being picked up by NBC, Beatriz made it clear that she wanted Rosa to kiss a girl on screen. In season five, we heard Rosa was dating girls, we saw her flirting with a girl, but we never saw her in a relationship with one, let alone any affection being shared. Being fully aware of bi-erasure and the aggressive misrepresentation of bisexuals in media, Beatriz made it clear that she was pushing to have Rosa not only in a relationship with a girl, but kissing a girl and showing their relationship on screen. This is a huge deal. And guess what? Beatriz delivered! Season six, episode eleven (“The Therapist”), Captain Holt and the audience are introduced to Jocelyn, Rosa’s girlfriend. She’s only on screen for about a minute (a minute I have watched repeatedly since the episode aired), but in that minute, she meets Captain Holt, Rosa calls her “babe,” and they kiss. Stephanie Beatriz said she would, and she did. I’m incredibly excited to see her story with Jocelyn progress in the healthy, beautiful way I know Beatriz will ensure.

Photo from NBC, Hulu ​

Stephanie Beatriz is a role model for a number of reasons. For me, her bisexuality and Hispanic roots allow me to see myself and people like me represented on screen in a way that I’ve never seen before. Beatriz is honest and open about her life, ensuring that people like her know others are out there, and that we belong. People like Beatriz are the reason bisexuals won’t sit back and let misrepresentation run wild. We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re valid. And perhaps most importantly, we’re not going anywhere.