When Cody Lawrence beamed into living rooms across America, he brought the LGBTQ community with him.
Lawrence wore a bisexual pride flag pin on his lapel while competing in one of the last episodes with longtime host Alex Trebek. Trebek died of cancer earlier this year.
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“I had an ephemeral platform for the evening, and I find we can use all the visibility we can get, because Bi-Erasure is a real phenomenon,” Lawrence wrote in a Medium post published after the episode aired. “Erasure is still a major problem both outside and notably within the LGBTQ+ space.”
The show’s sharp-eyed fans noticed his pin and social media quickly filled up with kudos for the out contestant’s quiet stand on behalf of bisexual people.
“I wore my pin on Jeopardy! because it’s a powerful symbol to show you that we exist,” Lawrence wrote. “WE EXIST.”
In 2019, former contestant John Presloid won America’s heart and some serious cash after casually mentioning his husband while declining to bet big on a Daily Double.
“My husband would kill me,” he said as he smiled brightly and the audience chuckled.
Presloid, who has been out for years, told LGBTQ Nation that “nobody who knows me personally was surprised at all by my statement.”
“The reaction was so much bigger than I thought it would be.”
Presloid pointed out former contestant Louis Virtel who, after becoming internet famous for giving a big circle snap after winning a Daily Double himself in 2015, admitted that his biggest regret was being recognized as a gay man from stereotypes, but never actually saying he is gay.
“If you watch the show, I’m slamming around on the buzzer with a wrist flicked up to heaven,” Virtel said. “I snapped my fingers at the camera during my introduction; I snapped again with full In Living Color gusto after I responded correctly on a Daily Double. Before the closing credits, I posed like Linda Evangelista with a ladylike arm in the air.”
“It all felt fantastic and organic, a reflection of my obsession with the show. But I hate, hate, hate that I didn’t just say ‘I’m gay’ on air.”
“That kind of stuck with me,” Presloid told LGBTQ Nation. “I’ve noticed that gay people can immediately recognize me as gay, but a lot of time straight people are surprised. So I kind of liked the idea of just dropping it casually, like a straight person would mention his wife.”
“I didn’t want to make it a ‘reveal’ or some shocking secret, but just a matter of fact thing. ‘Oh yeah, by the way, I’m gay too. Let’s keep playing this game’.”
I’ve always been bisexual and first became aware of it when I was 10. It wasn’t until age 26 that I started expressing my truth openly. Everyone should be able to come out on their own terms but #BiErasure made that more difficult for me.
— Cody Lawrence (he/him/his) (@cody___lawrence) December 9, 2020
I immediately recognized the pin and was so excited!! I told all my friends and they were too! I was watching with my parents and we were all rooting for you! It filled my heart with such joy to see you up there so proudly providing bisexual representation 💜
— glennby !! (@glennnnby) December 9, 2020
Awwwh thank you! Really happy you felt seen.
— Cody Lawrence (he/him/his) (@cody___lawrence) December 10, 2020
I was so excited to see your pin! And then you got the first question too and I pumped my fist in the air! 💗💜💙
— Bethany (@therealbglad) December 9, 2020