I cannot believe I’m actually about to say this. I can’t believe I even have to… but here goes:
PEOPLE OF THE LGBT COMMUNITY – PLEASE STOP SHITTING ON STRAIGHT PEOPLE.
Ah, there, I said it, like ripping off a band-aid.
Before you immediately jump on the offensive and say something to the effect of “Not all men!” I would like to make it clear that I know it’s not all of us. I know plenty of people who aren’t. But unfortunately, it is a trend I have noticed recently, and I just wanted to open a dialogue on it. I understand that this disclaimer will not stop people from cursing my name and getting angry in comments, but I just thought I’d explain a bit first. So! Onwards!
Look, I get it – we’re finally in a place where we feel we have a voice. We can stand up and say, “NEVER AGAIN” and that is amazing.
But that never gives us the right to suddenly turn around and start doing to them what some of them still do to us, especially as most of them aren’t doing anything wrong, and many of them are our ALLIES. We still have a long way to go, but we’re at an objectively fabulous time in Queer History: Pride and pride parades are massive all over the world, more countries are legalising gay marriage, RuPaul’s Drag Race is huge, Trans rights are being championed, and there are more gay relationships and queer characters on screen than ever before. It’s actually the reaction to two TV shows that made me want to write this: Supergirl and The 100.
So I’m going to break this down into sections. SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SUPERGIRL, THE 100, GOOD WIFE AND X-FILES.
1. TOXIC GAY FANDOM
I love Supergirl. It’s cheesy, bright, powerful, emotional, and fun, and for someone like me, it’s amazing to have a near constant source of positivity to latch onto. I also love “Karamel” the ship of Supergirl (Kara) and Mon-El. Aside from just being gorgeous human specimens, the characters just seem genuinely in love and have a fairly well-written romance.
There are people in the fanbase who support other romances for Kara – for example those who ship her with James Olsen, or Winn Schott, or notably Lena Luthor, and I get it. While I don’t personally want them together, I get the appeal, and as a bisexual woman, I love the idea of more lesbian couples on screen.
However, what I do not love, is the people who have taken an aggressive stance against Mon-El. I’m talking about the people who are calling their relationship abusive.
As someone who grew up in a household with an abusive, emotionally manipulative father, who grew up watching him serial date and screw up every relationship he entered, I find the idea of Mon-El’s behaviour coming even close to abusive to be viscerally upsetting. Because I know what an abusive relationship looks like – I’ve lived it – and Karamel is NOT one.
I could list off every single criteria for an abusive relationship and refute each and every one, then compare it to something like Twilight (which ticks every single box) but this blog does that pretty well: http://spotlightmonster.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/supergirl-stop-calling-mon-el-abusive.html
No, see, I need to talk about how harmful it is for us to be doing this: to be labelling any relationship that you don’t support as being abusive, simply as a way to write it off. This behaviour is displayed most aggressively by people in the LGBT sides of fandoms, and in this example, those people who ship SuperCorp – Kara and Lena. And this isn’t to spite those fans – I also love the idea of their pairing, and I don’t think there are enough gay couples on TV, but I know that realistically it won’t happen, and I’m perfectly content with that. Hell, even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t sneer at other people’s opinions simply to make myself feel better.
I understand – people get very affronted by differing opinions, especially if the show doesn’t write a storyline that follows what you wish it to; I personally was beyond furious that John Watson emotionally cheated on Mary, but I am not the showrunner, and so I had to fume quietly about that in my bedroom until 3am.Of course, this isn’t just happening in the Supergirl fandom – it has also shone through in Once Upon A Time, where people publicly shun the CaptainSwan (Captain Hook and Emma Swan) relationship as a way to make their own coupling seem more legitimate, as well as shows like Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries, Doctor Who, Sherlock, and pretty much any fandom with a rabid fanbase.
As someone who’s lived through emotional manipulation and aggressive behaviour, I find it incredibly difficult to open up to anyone, and I often find emotional solace in TV relationships. When written well, they become a beacon of hope; if Captain Hook can find a happy ending with Emma Swan, maybe I can find my own? It might seem silly to those of you who grew up surrounded by healthy, emotionally satisfying relationships, but I, and many others, didn’t.
Mon-El is introduced as a selfish, arrogant prince of a cruel monarchy, and when he arrives on Earth, he behaves as such – because he’s never known anything different. When he meets Kara and Winn and Alex and J’onn, he eventually comes to realise that he can be something different: he can be better. Mon-El and Kara grow together and become more tolerant of each other’s backgrounds and beliefs, and eventually fall in love, and that is not something to scoff at, no matter how much you wish Kara was in lesbians with Lena.
2. BI-ERASURE & REPRESENTATION
The 100 is one of my favourite shows, largely because it’s a really well-written apocalyptic drama with compelling characters and fantastic storylines. At least a tiny part of my love for the show, however, comes from the portrayal of Clarke: an openly bisexual woman in my age bracket. The best part is, it’s not discussed. She never had to sit anyone down and say,
“I like both… what do you mean I have to pick?! It’s not selfish, it’s my sexuality… of course we exist!”
Until Clarke, every character I’d seen who realised they liked girls, from that point forward, was just labelled a lesbian. Which is perfectly fine! It’s fantastic that lesbians became more and more accepted in novels and TV. But it just confirmed to my adolescent brain that even among queer representation, I was still a misfit: an outcast. Now I don’t think I have to tell you how INCREDIBLE it is to look at a screen and finally see yourself looking back, after a lifetime of feeling underrepresented. And from Clarke’s first kiss with Lexa, I finally watched a character who made me feel understood on every level.
I came to the show at the start of season 4, which means I watched the other 3 all in one go. It also means I wasn’t in the fandom when Lexa first died. I remember the uproar – I have a tumblr account. So, I knew about her death before I started watching, and maybe that plays a factor in my mixed feelings, I don’t know… I don’t like season 3, but it’s not because of Lexa’s death, it’s because the whole season feels a little out of step with the rest of the show. Lexa was killed off because Alycia got another job – it happens. I remember fuming in my seat when the same thing happened to Will Gardner on The Good Wife because the actor wanted to try new things.
I shipped Clexa, but Lexa died, and now we move on.
That being said, I’ve shipped Bellarke (Bellamy and Clarke) from almost the second the series started. So, when so many people rage-quit the show after Lexa’s death, I was understanding, but still a little upset. It’s unfortunate and unfair that it fell under the “bury your gays” trope, and even worse that it felt like a carbon copy of Tara’s death in Buffy, and of course it was also frustratingly underwhelming: she should have gone out FIGHTING like the warrior she was!
But why was the show so abruptly tossed aside by the LGBT community when it still perfectly represents a bisexual woman?
But why was the show so abruptly tossed aside by the LGBT community when it still perfectly represents a bisexual woman?
When the season 5 trailer dropped recently, there was a huge group of people that immediately rose up against it, still citing Lexa as a reason to hate the show, despite Alycia leaving more than TWO YEARS AGO. Fighting a show that they actively haven’t watched in over two years, for something that happened that long ago, for the sake of a death that was never intended to be a social decision, and only happened because Alycia was leaving (her words: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/the-100-lexa-dies-alycia-debnam-carey-boycott-fear-the-walking-dead-1201735453/) is insane to me.
Just because Clarke is in love with a man again doesn’t make her sexuality automatically invalid. The fan reaction reminds me of this interview with Anna Paquin from four years ago:
Larry King: "Are you a non-practicing bisexual?"
Anna Paquin: "Well, I am married to my husband and we are happily monogamously married."
King: "But you were bisexual?"
Paquin: "Well, I don’t think it’s a past-tense thing."
Now I’m not throwing everyone under the bus – that would be hypocritical of me – but can you see why the fan behaviour after Lexa’s departure might look a little like Larry King in this interview?
CLEXA FANS WHO LEFT: “You’re with a man now, so it doesn’t count anymore.”
CLARKE: “I beg your pardon, but could you kindly fuck off please?”
3. BI vs. LESBIAN
One of the first moments I remember realised I liked both girls and boys was watching The Mummy movies. I was sitting there, watching the opening scene, thinking,
“Holy shit, Brendan Fraser is so attractive!”
Then I did a double-take when I found myself looking at Rachel Weisz and also thinking,
“Holy shit, Rachel Weisz is so attractive!”
That doesn’t mean I need that character to be canonically bi, or lesbian, although I do love reading fanfictions and scrolling through fanart. I’m not suddenly going to put two middle fingers up at Rick, just because I think that Evie and Anck-Su-Namun would make a fabulous power couple.
I love lesbians. I’m gonna be honest, I love women in general. And men. And transgender and non-binary people. *cough* Im bi! *cough* Just in case I hadn’t made that clear…
However, sometimes I don’t like how possessively some lesbians on the internet cling to things – I’d like to marry the (bisexual!) Gillian Anderson as much as the next girl, but that doesn’t mean I suddenly want Scully to be gay or even Bi. She’s a CHARACTER. Who was created over 20 years ago! We don’t have the right to repossess her any more than straight people can claim Kurt Hummel. It’s easy to forget that Mulder and Scully are what truly kicked off the fandom/shipping revolution in the age of the internet, but we’d do well not to forget how important they are.
There are people actually pissed off that Mulder and Scully look like they might get some semblance of a happy ending this season… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
I SAT THROUGH 9 SEASONS, 2 MOVIES AND 2 ADDITIONAL SEASONS, JUST WAITING FOR THE DAY THAT CHRIS CARTER WOULD FINALLY GIVE THEM THEIR HAPPY ENDING, AND YOU’RE GONNA BITCH ABOUT IT? TAKE THAT TOXICITY TO THE DUMP AND SET IT ON FIRE!
(***The ending is actually kinda terrible, now that I've seen it, but that has more to do with crappy writing than it does with Mulder and Scully.)
Additional PSA: You should watch X-Files, it’s great! There are a couple of shaky seasons and 1 particularly mediocre movie, but it’s well-worth your time.
I’m NOT talking about people harmlessly imagining or wanting Scully to be gay: I think that’s great. I’m talking about people who are doing it TOXICALLY, belittling anyone who wants Scully to end up in a (straight) relationship with Mulder, just as those in the SuperCorp belittle the very idea of Kara in a straight relationship, by any means.
I know this probably all seems very petty and small to someone who doesn’t see where I’m coming from, but when you’re finally in a place where you understand yourself, and you feel the tiniest bit represented, and both halves of your identity seem to be rejecting you, it just reminds you how far from the norm you feel. As if I needed any more reasons to feel confused and alone.
And look, I know it’s not a problem for just me, or even for just my letter of the acronym; Trans people are having a hard time getting their voices heard and acknowledged in the Queer community as well, and so are a variety of people in the extended acronym (LGBTQIA+). This is just something that I’ve been noticing more acutely since the 100 Season 5 trailer dropped – people rising up in opposition to a show they abandoned OVER TWO YEARS AGO, just for the sake of being hateful.
The whole point of Pride is to stop spreading hate and start spreading love and acceptance and togetherness. So, can we please put down the pitchforks? Straight people aren’t villains simply because they’re straight, just like we were never abominations just because we’re not.
I can be a bisexual woman and marry a man. That’s not forsaking my queer identity, it’s embracing who I am. The queer uprising is built on a foundation of love – I can no more pick and choose who I fall in love with than Clarke can. So please,
STOP SHITTING ON STRAIGHT PEOPLE. IT’S NOT HELPING.