Ranting on Representation: Frustrations with LGBTQ Characters
This is a rant. During the course of which, I may write something stupid (or wrong). If I do, please let me know in the comments.
For many of you who read this blog, you know that I’m very interested in how GLBTQ characters are depicted in literature. Usually, I’ve limited myself to just discussing LGBTQ characters in genre (sf, fantasy, and comics). For this post, I’m going to spread out and discuss issues of representation outside of genre, too. So, what’s my beef?
I don’t like Glee. I think the writing is atrocious and the vision schizophrenic. The only reason why I’m interested is because Kurt Hummel is one of the most important GLBTQ characters on television today. Kurt Hummel, love him or hate him, represents a zeitgeist change in how LGBTQ characters are represented.
You see, Kurt Hummel is one of the rare GLBTQ characters who have sustained importance to a show. Especially given the genre. I mean, Victorious, set in a performing arts high school in Los Angeles, has no LGBTQ characters that I know of. Seriously?
But. Kurt Hummel could be a great character, instead he is damned to the hells of narrative tropes. Among other things.
While I have issues with some of Kurt’s season one story, it seems to me that season one was his greatest moment (plus maybe the first half of season two) as a character. Even if it does incorporate a reversed standard coming out narrative (which I loath). Following that, Kurt’s major stories involve his saccharine relationship with Blaine (which did have potential for some interesting stories, I will admit, just never happened) and a demotion to GBFF for Rachel (how insipidly stereotyped can you get- I hate the GBFF trope, by the way).
Another thing that bugs me about Kurt Hummel is his inexplicable lack of “sexiness.” Even though he damn well is. Why he is depicted as a delicate flower just seems stupid. I don’t get it. Let him go through a sexy phase! (They won’t though).
And finally, what the hell is up with the lack of a gay community on the show? I get that Lima is a small city, but it ain’t a hick town. There are three major cities (including Columbus) within less than a three hour drive. There has to be more than just Scandals, damn it. Is this a case of “but not too gay”?
Ian Gallagher (US Version)
In many ways, I much prefer the “anti Kurt Hummel” Ian Gallagher from the US version of Shameless. Now, I do have issues with him as well. For one thing, I really don’t get why he hasn’t come out yet. Hell, most of his family knows he’s gay already. And Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is history. So why? Unless it’s just not his time.
But what I especially like about the Ian Gallagher character is that there is no fear in showing his sexuality. For me, I believe that it is important to have the courage to show gay male sexuality. Even if it is on network tv.
Bunker (Teen Titans), Alan Scott (Earth 2), and Wiccan and Hulkling (Young Avengers)
I don’t know if this came from an interview or just hearsay, but I think that Scott Lobdell mentioned that when he pitched Bunker, he was told to not make him “too gay.” What does that mean? Now, I haven’t kept up with Teen Titans. So far, I think Bunker has only come out to Wonder Girl. But that is about it. And somewhere, he has a boyfriend conveniently in a coma. So no romantic action (unless said boyfriend doesn’t actually exist).
It took gumption to recreate Alan Scott as an out gay man. The kiss between him and Sam is just amazing. But (spoiler alert) Sam dies in that same issue. So no romance for Green Lantern for a good long while.
What would happen if Wiccan and Hulkling ever broke up? I don’t know. They’ve been together so long that they’re practically inseparable. And it still took them nearly eight years to get an on panel kiss! Seriously? Hopefully the new Young Avengers series won’t shy away from some Wiccan and Hulkling love scenes.
This Post has gone on too long
I think I should conclude with how I want LGBTQ characters to be represented. I want to focus on giving them narratives. Narratives in which they stand on their own. Not being tied as a GBFF with perhaps some narrative crumbs. I want to see arcs devoted to them, not see them easily become disposable. I want to see them become great characters who just happen to be GLBTQ. But I don’t want that aspect to be completely neglected either. I want fully human characters that aren’t afraid to show who they are.