Welcome to the twelfth article in our Pride series for the month of June! Each day we will be highlighting a different LGBTQ+ character who we think is a great example of representation, dynamic characterization, and overall badassery. Check out the rest of the series here.
If you have ever caught an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, there’s a good chance you have seen Dr. Calliope “Callie” Torres. This is because out of the 317 episodes of the show, she’s been in 239 of them. Why is that special? Because Callie is also bisexual and those 239 episodes make her the longest running queer character in television history!
I was ecstatic to hear this because Callie is the first character I ever really connected with after coming to terms with my own bisexuality. There was a woman who was struggling with the realization and not knowing how best to process it, even going so far as to cheat on her first girlfriend with a man. Watching her journey to accepting herself as bi was both heartbreaking and beautiful. Once she made it there though, she owned it. She was very adamant about the fact that she was indeed bisexual. In a world experiencing so much bi-erasure, that was huge for me. It also gave us one of the best quotes ever:
Not everything is puppies and rainbows, though. Seeing Callie come out to her father was so real and devastating. He disowned her and completely cut her off in every way. It is a fear so many in the community have, but thankfully she had the support needed to get her through it. He did eventually accept her, but I wonder how often that is truly the case in reality. Regardless, it was incredibly authentic.
When it comes to Grey’s Anatomy, relationships within the hospital are the biggest plot points. This design allowed us to see Callie as relationships were built or ended with both male and female characters over the years. Her marriage and divorce from George O’Malley, her one-night stands with Mark Sloan, her relationship with Erica Hahn, the marriage and divorce from Arizona Robbins. All of these were integral relationships that helped shape her decisions. My favorite relationship situation will always be with Callie, Sloan and Arizona. Having a baby and learning to be a parent is hard enough. Doing so with three people, two who are a same-sex couple with relationship issues, might have seemed impossible. The show was able to present three people working together for the best interest of a child. After Mark was killed, the relationship between Callie and Arizona working together as parents was stressed, but they did what was needed to make it work, at least until it didn’t anymore. Sometimes the best thing for a child is for the parents to no longer be together.
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There is so much more to Callie than her sexuality though. For starters, she is a certified badass! She goes for what she wants with a fierce determination and doesn’t let anyone or anything hold her back. That is easily demonstrated by her choice of career. She is an orthopedic surgeon, which has the lowest percentage of women in any surgical specialty at less than four percent. It takes a woman with a strong character to break the mold and make steps into a male-dominated field and Callie certainly has that. In addition to being a BAMF ortho surgeon, she’s a mother of a beautiful baby girl that is her world. She’s been shown as a girlfriend, a wife, and been a friend for many of the other characters. She is a deep and complex character that has been through the ringer and came out on top.
I want to take a moment to mention the actress who portrays Callie, Sara Ramirez. After hearing too many stories of violence against the LGBTQIA+ community, including the horrific events that unfolded at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, she decided to come out, identifying as bisexual and queer. I cannot even begin to explain how much this means to me, personally. It’s one thing to be an average person and say, “I’m bi,” and hear the disapproval or, even worse, the disbelief that it’s even an option. To have someone like Sara come out and bring exposure to bisexuality, to say that it is real, brings a sense of validation. Ever since, Sara has continued to be an advocate and avid supporter for and of the LGBTQIA+ community. We are extremely grateful for all her efforts.
Callie and Sara both created a positive lasting impact on the LGBTQIA+ community. We’ve seen the struggles, the challenges, but more importantly the love, support, and acceptance.
Do you have a character spotlight suggestion? Leave it in the comments down below!