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Sara Ramirez Reflects On How They Became A Bisexual Icon On Grey’s Anatomy

Sara Ramirez as Callie Torres on Grey's Anatomy
(Image credit: ABC)

When it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, the “B” is often overlooked in movies and television and as Sara Ramirez’s Dr. Callie Torres said it best in Grey’s Anatomy, “It’s a thing, it’s real… it doesn’t mean ‘badass.’ OK, it kinda does, but it also means ‘bi.'” The actor impacted television when the network television character opened up an often overlooked narrative before Ramirez later came out as bisexual and nonbinary in the public eye. Following the character’s exit from Grey’s Anatomy, Ramirez is reflecting on their journey. 

Sara Ramirez’s latest role is in HBO Max series And Just Like That…, which continues the Sex and the City story. The character of Che Diaz allows Ramirez to push their impact even further by becoming the first nonbinary character within the Sex In The City-verse. As filming the episodes for the revival went on, Ramirez remembered how Callie Torres allowed them to become a bisexual icon. 

The reveal that Callie was attracted to women came ten years before Sara Ramirez would come out to the world, and Ramirez shared to Glamour how the narrative came about on Grey’s Anatomy in the first place:  

As the years went on, I said to [creator Shonda Rhimes], ‘I’ve never seen a bi character played on TV—not in a way that embraces bisexuality… I thought, Here's my chance to speak up. So I did. And Shonda said, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’

Callie's relationship with Arizona was a major pop culture moment following Callie Torres' plotline with T.R. Knight’s George O’Malley in prior seasons. While it took some time for the actor to be out and proud, at the time of Grey’s Anatomy, Callie Torres allowed Ramirez to use their voice in a different way. As Ramirez shared: 

There’s this pressure when you’re in the public eye to disclose everything about yourself, and I felt immense pressure around coming out publicly, but I wasn’t ready. For me, this was kind of the safest way for me to represent.

Sara Ramirez came out publicly as bisexual in 2016 during a speech as the 40 to None Summit, when they described themselves as a “multiracial woman, woman of color, queer, bisexual, Mexican-Irish American, immigrant.” And in 2020, Ramirez shared their gender identity is non-binary, with they/them pronouns. 15 years after Ramirez began their run on Grey’s Anatomy, the actor remains grateful for the “progress” the show achieved with Dr. Callie Torres. In their words: 

We enlisted GLAAD as we continued to unfold this storyline in a way that felt like it was honoring the tenderness and vulnerability around a character like Dr. Callie Torres, so a lot of her journey was not like mine. And I was okay with that. The thing I’m most proud of is that we weren’t really going for perfection; we were going for progress. Back in 2007 or 2008, that was progress. The context and the culture at that time was very, very different from how it is now. I’m just really glad that we touched on a nerve for people and inspired a lot of bisexual, pansexual, and gay people to understand their own sexual orientations through this particular person’s journey.

During the interview, Sara Ramirez also shared that they are “absolutely” on board to reprise the role of Dr. Callie Torres should the “stars align in a way that makes sense.” Grey’s Anatomy is currently in its 18th season on ABC, with Torres' last episode back in 2016 after a ten-year run on the series.  

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