Callie Torres came into our lives in the 19th episode of Grey’s Anatomy’s second season. Despite leaving the show 10 seasons later, she still has a home in so many of our hearts.
I’ll be the first to admit that it took me a little while to truly warm to Callie. It was a slow burn that grew stronger with each season and soon enough, she became one of Grey’s Anatomy’s best and most loved characters.
Whilst she was already special, she started to have a much greater impact on fans in season 4 (and 5 especially) when she begun to explore her sexuality. This started with Erica Hahn, where a few comments by those around them led them to explore their spark. Callie continued to sleep with Mark Sloan which made her realise that she was bisexual. Although, she didn’t claim that identity at the time. Eventually in season 5, Erica Hahn packed her bags and Callie was left with a very new outlook on life.
Callie’s journey to understanding and accepting her sexuality provided us with some incredible moments. Most notably were the scenes with her father and her relationship with Arizona.
Arizona Robbins arrived at a point in Callie’s life where she needed her the most. Meeting for the first time in the bathroom of Joe’s, Arizona wanted Callie to know that she’s heard what people were saying about her around the hospital. She reassures her that “the talk is good” and gives her the confidence that things are going to get better, saying “there will be people lining up for you”. Callie laughs at the thought and asks “you wanna give me some names?”. Surprisingly to Callie, Arizona then kisses her before leaving her with the iconic line “I think you’ll know.”
From that one moment, a beautiful relationship was born. Throughout the seasons ‘Calzona’ went on to experience their fair amount of highs and lows. Their love and journey is one that has resonated hugely with fans over the years. Not only did Callie and Arizona help many women around the world acknowledge their own identities, they provided hope and reassurance that a love like theirs was possible.
In the early stages of their relationship, Callie’s father arrived and wasn’t at all happy to see that she was dating a woman. After giving her an ultimatum, she decided to cut him off. He turns up again in S6 and attempts to “pray away the gay”. His disapproval and blatant homophobia, based on his outdated religious beliefs, comes to a blow and Callie is left devastated. In an incredibly touching scene, Arizona decides to confront him by sharing her own experience with her father. She says that rather than rejecting her, he asked “are you still who I raised you to be?”. After hearing those words and seeing how much Arizona clearly loves Callie, his outlook changes. By the end of the episode he makes amends with his daughter and accepts her for who she is.
So many queer coming out stories in TV end with rejection. It’s a tired and painful trope that we really don’t want to keep on watching. Although Callie’s father was initially unaccepting, seeing him change his outlook and give her the support she deserved was everything.
One of the many things I adore about Callie’s arc is that she never once tried to push down who she was. She knew what she wanted, she knew what she deserved and she never settled for less. Callie wasn’t always perfect, but who really is? Over the years she’d built tough walls around her and on the surface seemed unfazed. But, behind that front was someone who was often very vulnerable. Despite having survived so much trauma, she never lost her strength. She’s a badass bisexual, a devoted mother and a superstar with a scalpel.
All of the magic that she emitted was because of what Sara Ramirez brought to the table. It was evident from the very beginning that Sara cared just as much about doing Callie’s story justice as the fans did. Being bisexual herself, she always understood the importance of positive representation for the LGBTQ+ community and has never stopped being an advocate.
Bisexual representation in TV has always been a big talking point. Although things are slowly improving, for a while it was lacking. There’s a number of very tired stereotypes that are all too often played into. Thankfully, Callie Torres was on our screens long enough to prove how it should be done. Whilst some shows don’t even let their bisexual characters say the words “I’m bisexual”, Callie owned them.
Callie Torres is the longest running LGBTQ+ character in television history. Not only is she the longest running, but I strongly believe she is the best.
Sara gave us 239 episodes of Callie Torres and left an ever lasting impact on Grey’s Anatomy. That’s a void that has been missing ever since.
So to Callie and to Sara; thank you for giving us 239 episodes of excellence.