Today is National Coming Out Day. I officially came out years ago, and (let’s be honest) unofficially way before that with all of that flannel I wore. Anyone who has ever read this blog knows that it was a rough process for me. Growing up, I felt alone. I thought that no one could possibly feel the way I felt, and I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it. It led to some dark times for me, but I eventually accepted and embraced who I am. I wish I could go back in time and tell this girl that it does, in fact, get better.
One of the roughest things was that I felt like I had no one to talk to about it. I almost kind of did once, that time my “friends” started a rumor about me that I was gay. I introduced myself to a friend of a friend with “I’m Monica, and my friends think I’m gay.” Her response? “I’m Beth, and I don’t care.” (Still friends, by the way.) But after that rumor was shut down, I shut down about it. No sense drawing attention to the thing that almost ruined (and ended) my life.
One of the great things about the internet — and, yes, there are many awful things, but so, so many great ones — is that, no matter what community you want to be a part of, you’ll find it. And with lesbian spaces disappearing, that’s more important than ever.
I recently went to Fan Expo in Canada, expressly for the purpose of going to a panel on “Wynonna Earp.” I made some new friends who convinced me to watch “Carmilla,” a Canadian webseries about lesbian vampires sponsored by a feminine-hygiene company. Let me just say right off the bat that one of my favorite things about it is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I watched the first few episodes, and it was…okay. I found Laura rather annoying, to be honest. But the character of Carmilla was interesting, and I always love a tall ginger butch. But I kept watching. And watching. And ended up binging the series in about 36 hours and then watching Act 1 of season 3 as soon as I got home from work the day it came out, even though it meant staying up till 2:00am.
(And calm down, Creampuffs — Laura grew on me.)
Though it isn’t perfect, “Carmilla” does some important things — things that seem even more meaningful after what I’ve seen in the past month. Afterellen, a website that was so important in so many lesbians’ lives, is effectively shutting down. It will exist as an archive but with very little new content. And from what I’ve seen, the new content it has is lesbian clickbait and nothing like what it used to be. It’s kind of like if white men wrote about what they think lesbians would want to read about. Except they’re so, so, so wrong, because we are more than “check out this hot lesbian sex scene!” Disappointing.
I read a lot of tweets — and had a lot of conversations — about it, and it’s clear that I’m not the only one who felt this way. Afterellen was one of the first places a young lesbian could “go” and feel welcomed. Feel like they weren’t alone. Feel like someone else felt the way you did and that what you felt wasn’t wrong. I know that society has come a long way since 2002 and that there are other places a 15-year-old queer girl can go, but losing this — it hurts. This one, especially in its heyday, was special.
The lesbian bars I went to in my 20s are gone. The gay bookstore where I spent my first dollars on LGBTQ books is gone. Safe spaces for lesbians are slowly disappearing, and that makes “Carmilla” and “Wynonna Earp” even more important.
On Twitter today, National Coming Out Day, I keep seeing messages from folks and accounts involved with both of these shows tweeting positive messages about us queers. And each time, it makes me tear up.
In a world where queer safe spaces are disappearing and male showrunners are saying that live-tweeting is “a garbage idea perpetuated by garbage people,” (a quote from Jeremy Slater, the showrunner of “The Exorcist”), “Carmilla” and “Wynonna Earp” get their audience. The casts are amazing, and the interaction with fans on social media is matched by few other shows. “Carmilla” is made up of almost entirely LGBTQ characters, and to say that’s a rarity is an understatement. And unlike “The L Word,” at least for me, they’re much, much more relatable.
For a person who feels like they do not belong — a feeling that is perpetuated by men who have no idea what it’s like to live in a world where all of the things are catered towards them — these shows are everything. Everything.
“Wynonna Earp” has straight-up changed my life, and it would have made me feel loved, accepted, and “normal” if it were around when I was 16. It has renewed my interest in TV, in writing, in reading (sure, it’s fanfic, but whatever — some of it is really good!). It has also brought so many amazing women into my life that I met through the show and through Fan Expo, including the friends who encouraged me to watch “Carmilla.”
As for “Carmilla,” that show is for those of us out there who always felt like they didn’t belong. It’s hilarious, entertaining, sexy, witty, and lesbi-riffic.
Thank you, Canada, for bringing these things into our lives. Thank you, “Wynonna Earp” and “Carmilla,” for creating and being those safe spaces that queer girls desperately need. With these shows and these fandoms, I have found people who accept, embrace, and celebrate me for my love of women and love of TV. Being accepted for all of who you are — gay fangirl AF right here, thank you very much — is an amazing feeling. Amazing.
So happy Coming Out Day, friends and random readers. Be the you that you want to be. The you that you need to be. Because you are loved for you who are. You are loved not just in spite of who and what you love, but because of it. If you need to watch something that makes you realize you are not alone, watch these shows. If you need a safe place to feel accepted, enter this fandom. You will not regret it.