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  • Willow was originally straight

    Willow doted on Oz when they were together. They had a monogamous, heterosexual relationship, except for Willow's brief fling with Xander, which she hugely regretted because she hurt Oz so much. After Oz left Willow she was utterly crushed and not looking for a lover.

  • Willow realises that she can have a relationship with a woman

    She starts a friendship with Tara because they both practice magic. This progresses for several episodes until Tara shows that she has a romantic interest in Willow. At this point it seems as though Willow realises she can be attracted to women and thinks "Yeah! Why not have a relationship with Tara?" and reciprocates. Willow doesn't seem to be aware that she can be attracted to women until this moment.

  • Willow is now a monogamous lesbian, not bisexual

    Willow reassures Tara several times during their relationship that she is gay, she is a lesbian and she is not attracted to men. How did her relationship with Tara change her sexual orientation, instead of expanding it? Or, why is Willow now a lesbian instead of being attracted to both women and men? She can still be monogamous if she is bisexual. It doesn't mean that she changes between gay and straight each time. I'm looking for an in-universe explanation because I guess that a bisexual character would have been even more controversial than a lesbian character at the time.

My definitions:

  • Straight/heterosexual: Only attracted to people of the opposite sex
  • Lesbian: A woman who is sexually attracted to women but not sexually attracted to men
  • Gay/homosexual: Someone who is only attracted to people of the same sex
  • Bisexual: A man or a woman who is attracted to both men and women
  • Monogamous: Having no more than one romantic interest at a time

When I am in a relationship I still find some people attractive, I just choose not to act on it because I only have monogamous relationships. Although I am heterosexual, if I was bisexual I would still be attracted to both other men and women, even though my partner would be only one of those.

  • Have a read of these interview quotes. You'll get a new perspective on her relationship with Tara, at least from the POV of those running the show – Valorum Jan 9 '16 at 1:57
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    Just a note that who you are attracted to is not a choice - Willow did not make a conscious decision to 'turn gay', she recognized that the feelings she had been developing for Tara were romantic, not simply friendly. Following that, while in a committed relationship, she didn't pursue other relationships. While I'm sure your question was phrased in what could be seen as an offensive manner by accident, not malice, correcting that phrasing could alleviate the downvote parade you are experiencing. – Jeff Jan 9 '16 at 2:07
  • @Jeff I completely agree. What wording is attracting the downvotes? Tell me and I'll fix it. – CJ Dennis Jan 9 '16 at 2:12
  • @Richard Thanks for the link. None of the comments are later than mid-2000 and Willow says many times during her relationship with Tara that she's not attracted to men, or that she is a lesbian. There is no on-screen suggestion that Willow could be bisexual, only Alyson Hannigan's interview comments. – CJ Dennis Jan 9 '16 at 2:27
  • I don't think "monogamous lesbian" is the term you were looking for. Monogamy means having a single partner. One could be a non-monogamous lesbian (having multiple female partners). – varradami Jan 9 '16 at 3:27
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Probably because of the prejudices attached to being bisexual.

I agree that bisexual seems the best term for Willow - not only is there the relationship with Oz, I seem to recall several indications of her being attracted to Xander. That makes it less likely there was no attraction or that she was only pretending. Ending up with Tara just makes it seem like she is attracted to both, not that her past attractions get retconned away.

It is possible that Willow uses her terms deliberately, to avoid certain stereotypes and expectations. You note she uses the term lesbian to reassure Tara of her lack of interest in other partners, and the stereotypes of being bisexual include being greedy, lusty, that they are always being attracted to both genders, and expectations of unfaithfulness. These stereotypes may also influence the out-of-universe reasons for the choice of terms.

It is also possible that Willow was not aware the term should apply to her. If she was confusing her desire for monogamy (that is, buying into some of the stereotypes and finding they didn't apply) with lack of attraction. Or if she was only attracted to those she cared for (ie, demisexual) and was not attracted to anyone else while she was with Tara, but only noticed lack of attraction to men because of her confusion. Or even had a strong preference for women (once she noticed), and thought the term bisexual meant no preferences either way.

The other possibility is, I seem to recall her character had a tendency to run from extreme to extreme. From being addicted to dark magic to being the whitest witch, from relying on technology to using magic for everything, from being a follower to wanting to control everything. It could simply be that once she realized it was an option to be attracted to women, she ran to the extreme and declared herself a lesbian instead of finding a middle ground.

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    I just remembered a season 7 episode where Dawn, Buffy, Willow and Anya fall under the love spell of a magic football jacket. While under the spell Willow says her love is the strongest because she's willing to overlook that the mutual object of their affections is a man/boy. Later, she decides to cast a spell to turn him into a girl, but is interupted. This reinforces that she was being portrayed as solely lesbian, not bisexual. – CJ Dennis Jan 9 '16 at 23:50

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