What I Want, the First Post in Honor of Gay Pride Month
Fair warning, this post will involve profanity, wishful thinking, and a fair level of ranting. And maybe some self revelations.
This post is geared towards LGBT representations in literature. This encompasses all literature. From novels to television, movies, comics, and games. From literary mainstream to science fiction, fantasy, soaps, and so on. I’m going to touch them all, and discuss what I would like to see going forward.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m as well versed in the representation of LGBT characters and issues in fiction as I would like to be. For some time, I did toy with the idea of studying LGBT literature as a focus. But I never got too deep with that flirtation. Largely because I’m a very picky reader (read I’m a fucking harsh critic).
So, I’m not claiming that what I’m going to say is the truth. Maybe there are LGBT characters that I want to see, but I just haven’t discovered them yet. And hey, if you readers can point me to great literature (of all kinds), you have my thanks in advance.
The question, I guess, is what do I really want? What do I want to see and read? Without talking out my ass or playing too much of a what if game, let the ranting begin!
I’ve gone on record that, for me, Glee is an unwatchable, poorly written mess (now let me qualify by saying, the show just is not for me). But, is Glee not the “gayest show on television” (unfortunately, in my opinion)? And is not Kurt Hummel one of the (current) paragons of LGBT representation? Argh!
You see, I don’t think Glee is nearly as progressive as it likes to think it is. The show does argue for tolerance from bullying and criticizes the most egregious forms of homophobia. But are Kurt and Blaine treated with a marked difference than the straight characters? And are Santana and Brittany treated more as titillation than anything else?
I don’t fundamentally dislike Kurt’s character. In fact, I rather like it. My problem is that most of his storylines, to my limited knowledge, piss me off. The infatuation with Finn is, to me, nothing less than homophobic (and given that the other major characters exhibit similar infatuations should be called out). I could go on complaining, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll give some ideas of narratives I’d like to see (either for Kurt or some other character).
I’d love to see Kurt confront institutionalized homophobia in a way that he never expected. What if his rejection by NYADA had more to do with his sexuality rather than the lame excuse he was given? Remember, while Broadway isn’t as homophobic as Hollywood (on an industry level), there is likely to be a notable institutional level, regardless. I mean, seriously, Kurt will struggle to achieve his dreams because of his sexuality. I’d like to see that struggle. Also, I’d like to have seen a much better pre college story line (one of my pet peeves is the one university trope). Does Kurt have other options? What are they? Finally, I’d like to have seen Kurt lose some of his sexual reticence. Could he not have several love interests (rather than what is almost certain to happen)?
It took me some time to figure out what my problem with Shameless was this season. I just don’t like Ian’s relationship with Mickey. I just don’t like them together. I’d rather see Ian with someone else. But there isn’t much that I’d necessarily change.
Let’s move on to science fiction and fantasy (in many forms). In recent years, the representation of LGBT has improved immensely (not to say that this is a new phenomenon).
The presence of LGBT characters in comics has exploded in the past ten years to an amazing level. Though more can (and should be done). The Big Two have made tremendous strides introducing new LGBT heroes and supporting characters. And creator owned comics? Very impressive strides.
The issue, though, is how those characters are handled. Some are handled very well (like Alan Scott and Batwoman) while others are handled very poorly (Bunker). I think that is the struggle that lies ahead.
When it comes to books, the culture is changing in a much more progressive way. Hopefully, this trend continues. I haven’t read as much as I would like. But I’m making a commitment to seek out and read more SF with LGBT characters.
Now when it comes to film and television, the level of representation is a mixed bag. Several prominent shows have LGBT characters (Game of Thrones, Spartacus, Teen Wolf, etc.) But, again, I’d like to see more. And I’d like to see these characters raised to a level of prominence rarely seen before.
What pisses me off, of course, is, despite the progress made, the increased level of representation is so fragile. Last year was perhaps one of the best when it came to LGBT characters. But next year bodes ill with so many shows with LGBT characters canceled. How is that to be combated?
The more I think about it, the more I am sure I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. The best way to get the types of representation one wants is to do it oneself. Either through creative endeavors or activism. One should never settle for the status quo.