I am angry. I seem to be that way a lot lately, for varying reasons. Yesterday (and this morning), it was because of TV.
You’re shocked. I know. I hope you are sitting down.
Specifically, it was because of Supergirl. No, not because they killed another queer lady (they didn’t). No, not because of my distaste for Kara’s storyline this season (I do have that, but that wasn’t the case). No, not because of the lack of Cat Grant on my TV (next week!).
It was because of a response to an article that the always-insightful Bridget Liszewski wrote over at The TV Junkies. The article was about queerbaiting and the relationship between Kara and Lena. Just go read the damn thing. It also has a definition of queerbaiting, should you be finding this article because I posted it on Facebook (family/hometown friends) and not on Twitter (my people) and not know what that is.
Someone tweeted a response to her that said a Kara/Lena relationship would “take away” from the already-established, canon queer relationship of Alex and Maggie. This is not the first time I’ve heard a version of that argument, and to say it makes no sense to me is like me saying I’m not a big fan of the current administration. Minor understatement.
Anyway, when I read this (in the parking lot of a Dunkin’ Donuts, because it was doughnut day and I only bring the very best to my coworkers), I immediately saw red and almost rage-licked the frosting off of a metric shit-ton of doughnuts.
This is a watered-down, fandom version of the argument that gay marriage will take away from “traditional” marriage. (News flash — it hasn’t, it didn’t, and it won’t.) Also, anyone who attended my wedding would agree that it was pretty fucking traditional, except for the fact that no one signed the marriage license with their penis. Or whatever it is men do. I don’t know.
It really doesn’t get more basic than this.
So, I apologize if this is new information, but in real life, there can be more than one queer couple in any group, and more than one queer person in any friend group. Or at a party. Or at a restaurant. Or basically anywhere except maybe the RNC. But probably even there.
I’m just going to wait to let that sink in.
Next, if there are more than one of us, it doesn’t take anything away from anyone else’s existence, no matter their sexuality.
Okay, now that I’ve dropped those shocking facts, I’m going to move on.
I have written a lot about representation and the value of seeing people like myself on TV, and it’s great. We have come such a long way even if there seems to be an unspoken, unwritten rule about not making a show “too gay.” And then comments like this come along, and I’m reminded of how far we have to go.
When several thoughtful, articulate responses were given to the original dissenter, they eventually (metaphorically) threw up their hands and said, “Whatever. I guess my opinion isn’t valid” or something like that, mentioning that they “had rights, too.”
EQUALITY AND REPRESENTATION AREN’T ABOUT TAKING SOMEONE ELSE’S RIGHTS AWAY.
EQUALITY AND REPRESENTATION ARE ABOUT EQUALITY AND REPRESENTATION.
IF EQUALITY AND REPRESENTATION FEEL LIKE OPPRESSION, LOOK IN A FUCKING MIRROR, BECAUSE THE PROBLEM IS YOU.
So LGBTQ+ representation is okay if it’s just a little bit, huh? It’s okay if there’s just one person/couple? Is that how it works? Do you only have one gay person/couple in your life? If you meet a new one, does the old one have to leave? If this applies to you, I’d love to know because I think it’s time for me to leave your life and make room for the next one.
Do you have any idea what it’s like to walk into a room and immediately feel out of place because you stick out like a sore thumb? If not, might I recommend being gay, nerdy, and fat in a small Catholic high school in West Virginia? Just kidding, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. And then you think, “Oh, it will get better,” because high school is the Hellmouth and it gets better, right? And then you go to a fall festival with your wife in Ohio in 2016 and everyone fucking stares at you and you think, “Better not hold her hand, because I don’t want to get beaten up.”
Do you know what it’s like to hear, “Oh, my kid remembers your wedding because of the doughnuts and the centerpieces. And not because it was…different”? It hurts. A lot. Because in my mind, the doughnuts and the centerpieces were the things that stuck out, because the two people getting married were just two people in love and who cares about our gender (because gender is a social construct anyway).
Way more memorable than lesbians.
There is a constant undercurrent of low-key, casual homophobia that queer people encounter in their everyday lives. A handful of examples:
- people wondering “who the guy is” in a queer-lady relationship (neither of us is the guy)
- assuming that I would like an episode of something just because it features a same-sex couple, especially reality TV (FALSE)
- assuming I would like someone just because they’re gay (just because you’re queer doesn’t mean you’re not an asshole)
- a man making a casual comment about my appearance and how it’s…causing an excited reaction (uncomfortable on so many levels and has happened more times than I can count)
- Chris and I being treated like we are literally just “gal pals” and not a regular married couple who are more than just friends (this manifests itself in A LOT OF WAYS)
- having to explain why going to a country with anti-gay laws doesn’t really work for us, vacation-wise
- explaining why saying something is “gay” in a negative way is bad, and then having to defend yourself when you do
So, another same-sex relationship on a show wouldn’t take away from the one that’s already there. If anything, it gives it even more validity, because it’s approaching the normalcy of the everyday life we lead. We are still fighting homophobia every single day. It’s just more subtle than it used to be.
In conclusion, don’t be a dick, people. Think before you speak.
And watch Supergirl. Sanvers is magical, but if I looked at my “friends” the way Lena and Kara look at each other, Chris would immediately drag me to couples’ therapy to repair our marriage, and rightfully so. SuperCorp is real, and the writers have a responsibility to its gay following not to jerk us around.