From oversexualization and being the neutered best friends to complete invisibility, people of color are often denied the multidimensional agency of their white queer counterparts.
There are characters here and there, but very few series are designed or centered around non-white queer folk. Additionally, people of color are rarely afforded the opportunity to head an entire program. Who wants to see that, right? Here, we’re going to acknowledge series germane not only to Queer people of color but, by proxy, to people in the LGBTQ community more broadly.
Noah’s Arc was the first scripted television show for the newly cemented, queer-focused network, Logos. It premiered in 2005, right after George W. Bush used his opposition to gay marriage to win the 2004 presidential election. Noah’s Arc redefined the way we tell stories of non-normative queer people.
Created by Patrik-Ian Polk, an openly gay black film director and writer, Noah’s Arc followed the lives of four queer men of color: Noah, a sensitive writerly type working in Los Angeles as a screenwriter; Ricky, a promiscuous Latinx man who owned a clothing boutique on Melrose; Alex, a femme, married HIV/AIDS educator who served as the comedic center; And Chance, a stiff, elitist by-the-books economics professor with a blended family.
The series showed how they navigated love, career and friendship through the prism of their sexuality and the experiences it both afforded and kept from them. It touched on gay marriage, othering, being denied employment, the rigid world of Hollywood, straight-identified men who sleep with men, toxic masculinity, the Continue reading “How Queer POC are Represented in Media”→
Bisexual people are often confronted with discrimination from both members of the LGBTQ community and the heterosexual community.
We have to embrace our bisexual sisters, brothers and non-binary relatives in order to build a genuinely inclusive community. So, here are 7 of my favorite bisexual characters on TV!
1) Rosa Diaz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
This bad ass detective came out as bisexual in 2017 and all the queer girls swooned. While Rosa’s sexuality was immediately accepted by her coworkers, her family wasn’t as understanding. Both Rosa’s mother and father insisted that her bisexuality wasn’t real and that she’d end up married to a man in the end. Despite loving their child deeply, Rosa’s parents couldn’t understand the concept of choosing to be with a woman if you could be with a man.
2) Rich Dotcom, Blindspot
The TV show Blindspot is quickly becoming one of my favorites (and it’s not just because I find Jaimie Lauren Alexander stunningly beautiful.) The plot is riveting, the characters are diverse and sexual orientation isn’t seen as a big deal. This is most noticeable in the portrayal of Rich Dotcom, a notorious criminal, who is openly attracted to both men and women. When he’s not hitting on Jane Doe, Alexander’s character, he’s flirting with FBI agent Kurt Weller. Rich makes no attempt to obscure his sexual orientation and openly discusses his escapades regardless of who’s around. He’s unapologetically bisexual and I’m here for it.
In the 1960s, this prejudice was predominately associated with the civil rights movement. The plight of the X-Men, who were discriminated against simply because of their genetics, underscored the importance of racial equality. However, as time passed, other groups began to identify with the baseless disdain mutants were forced to endure, including the queer community.
When I watched X-Men: First Class, the fifth installment of the film series, I couldn’t stop thinking about Mystique saying the phrase: “mutant and proud.” [And it wasn’t because I’m in love with Jennifer Lawrence…although that definitely didn’t hurt]. I found myself writing it on sheets of paper, whispering it at random and replaying it over and over in my head. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this phrase offered me the ability to safely contemplate my sexuality. I could look in the mirror and say that I was a mutant without fear of accidentally outing myself. To me, it was synonymous with lesbian but, unlike the latter, I could say mutant as loudly as I wanted. In fact, repeating it so often was the precursor to finally being able to write that I was gay and proud at the end of a 13 page coming out letter to my parents. [Can’t ever claim I’m not thorough…]
Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of the X-Men. So, when I heard about The Gifted I binged all 13 episodes in a single weekend. (Judge me)
As expected, it was absolutely drenched in queer metaphors.
10 ways The Gifted is super gay:
The Gifted centers around the Struckers, your typical family living in a sleepy, nondescript American suburb. Reed, the father, works for a governmental organization that prosecutes mutants while Caitlin, the mother, works in the medical field. However, their perfect life is completely uprooted after discovering their son (Andy) and daughter (Lauren) are mutants.
The Gifted expertly evokes the confusion, sadness, elation and terror queer people oscillate between during the coming out process.
Just imagine these scenes a little differently.
1) When a loved one says something homophobic for the first time
It doesn’t even have to be malicious. Just an offensive joke, an offhanded comment or an ignorant observation, stings deeply when you’re not out. The night before I came out I had to endure arguments about how homosexuals are “just unnatural,” caveated by insistence that the argument wasn’t anti-gay. In this scene, I can literally feel Lauren’s fear of being rejected by her family.
2) The terror you experience around religious extremists
In The Gifted, purifiers believe that mutants are a threat to society and must be stringently monitored or eliminated entirely. Sound familiar to those religious arguments about how gay people are destroying the fabric of society? It’s no accident the purifiers are wearing massive crosses on their chest. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard people claim, in the name of God, that queer people are worthy of death.
3) Realizing your sexuality or gender identity during puberty
Writers on NBC’s Timeless could have easily allowed Agent Christopher, a senior Homeland Security field agent, to become a one-dimensional character. It’s something we’ve seen a hundred times: a brazenly confident leader, capable of making the tough calls until it comes to his own wife and kids. [Here’s looking at you Oliver Queen]. Agent Christopher is just one power pose away from falling prey to classic stoic white male trope…except she’s an Indian-American woman.
The show’s boss is a middle aged lesbian of color who is in a loving, interracial marriage with a black woman, Michelle, and has two children: Mark and Olivia.
Luckily, Agent Denise Christopher is the solution.
Not only is she a woman of color in a white male dominated field but she wasn’t forced to sacrifice her career in order to have a family. Agent Christopher was able to get the girl, the job and the respect of her employees. Essentially, she is the pinnacle of success for women, people of color and the LGBTQ community.
However, Timeless is careful not to gloss over the challenges that Agent Christopher was forced to overcome in order to earn her life.
In media, mental illness and romance pair just as well as strawberries and beans…a disjointed mixture that just ends up stinking.
Too frequently, people with mental illnesses are depicted as either 1) incapable of having healthy, positive and affirming relationships or 2) tantalizing their partners with the beauty of their pain. Make that love story involve two women and you have the perfect recipe for a thriller that results in a lot of awkward sex followed by unnecessary death. (The movie Chloe with Amanda Seyfried ring any bells?)
No, Amanda, it doesn’t.
This terrible representation of mentally ill people in love is why the relationship between Alice and Robin (also known as Tilly and Margot) on ABC’s Once Upon a Time is such a breath of fresh air. For those not familiar with the show, Once reimagines classic fairytales by bringing them into modern contexts. For instance, Tilly, the quirky daughter of the town’s detective, is actually Alice from Alice in Wonderland/Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland while Margot, the world traveling bohemian, is Robin Hood.
Prior to falling victim to a curse that forced them to forget their true identities, Alice and Robin were deeply in love. I’m talking literal wifey status. (Just look at how domestically adorable they were)
Watching them rekindle their forgotten love, as Tilly and Margot, has been my favorite part of this season. Their love story is depicted as genuine, honest and pure. Unlike the show’s prior attempts at portraying a same-sex relationship, which just came across as rushed and sloppy, Alice’s and Robin’s love is given the consideration it deserves.
However, their relationship isn’t all heart shaped beignets and intensely lingering eye contact. It’s complicated, it’s messy and it’s real. Alice, like her namesake’s character in the Disney classic, struggles with some unspecified form of mental illness. This makes her feel isolated and frequently unable to trust her own mind.
As someone who struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), I couldn’t relate more to Alice’s feelings. I’ve had OCD as long as I can remember. In fact, some of my earliest memories consist of me repeatedly doing the sign of the cross until it felt “right” (…can you tell I was raised Catholic?) or absolutely losing my mind if someone disturbed the pillows I spent 20 minutes arranging. However, I was only officially diagnosed about two and a half years ago.
When you have a mental health issue, it sometimes forces you to act in ways that make absolutely no sense to other people. Why did I have to walk in a half circle, touch the door knob and then double back before I finally went into my house? Why did I have to constantly check my heart rate after the most minimal movement to ensure it’s “okay”?
It’s incredibly difficult to turn to a perfect stranger and say, “I’m so sorry, I have OCD so I have to do these ten rituals before I can get to what you asked me to do. Could you wait?” It’s always been easier for me to just come up with excuses to avoid admitting the truth. This has made forming romantic relationships ridiculously dramatic and, like Alice, I felt entirely alone.
For this reason, watching Robin lovingly interact with Alice after she had an episode during the “The Guardian” (7×18) brought me to tears. The pair was on a date, exploring the town and enjoying quality time together, when Alice suddenly begins hearing voices. Frustrated at their appearance, Alice hits herself in the head.
In American television today, shows like Marvel’s Runaways, Orange is the New Black, Modern Family and One Day at a Time are simply considered good TV. They’re full of complex characters with dynamic, well-developed storylines that are frequently shown to be the moral backbone of their show.
Naturally, during this time the percentage of gay, lesbian and bisexual people seen on television was practically nonexistent, forcing heartthrobs like Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter to conceal their sexual orientation to ensure the success of their careers.
However, today DeGeneres, Samira Wiley, Neil Patrick Harris and Keiynan Lonsdale are all successful, highly popular television figures who make no attempt to hide their sexual orientation. This shift toward acceptance of homosexuality is reflected in a recent Pew Research Center poll that showed 62% of Americans support same sex marriage as opposed to the 27% who supported it in 1996. Since then, same-sex marriage has become legal in all 50 states.
So, what is causing this dramatic shift in opinions, visibility and acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual people? One answer is the prevalence of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the media.
If you’ve watched any of my YouTube videos, then it’ll be no surprise that I’m utterly obsessed with fictional lesbians. Emily and Alison. Stef and Lena. Karolina and Nico. Tamsin and Bo. I’m the captain of so many queer ships that I’m thinking of investing in a fleet. And yes, I’ll admit it, I’m THAT girl. I will literally watch anything (even this trash) if someone tells me a bisexual, queer or lesbian woman makes an appearance. For instance, I’m terrified of psychological thrillers but that didn’t stop my 20-year-old self from buying a ticket to see Black Swan. Sure, I didn’t sleep for weeks but hey that 45 second lesbian scene was worth the trauma!
(On a practical note, if the government ever needs lesbians for anything, just promise us queer content. We’ll all follow, no questions asked.)
However, with all the chants of “new year, new me” still faintly circulating the internet, I’ve decided to look toward the future! So, here are four lesbian characters who are either debuting or becoming more prominent in 2018.
Luckily, with the introduction of openly lesbian character, Alice, Once finally seems to be getting it right. In the 4th episode of season 7 titled “Beauty”, Alice is revealed to be a lesbian who has had at least one relationship with another woman in the past.
However, this casual admission is more than just throwing us gays another rainbow colored bone. According to Once producer and co-creator Eddy Kitsis, “an epic love story” awaits Alice in the back half of season 7. After watching the winter finale, it’s pretty obvious that this profound romance involves Robin, the daughter of Robin Hood and the Wicked Witch of the West, Zelena.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to watch a plot unfold. This season of Once has been absolutely amazing in my opinion and I’m so excited that the writers are doing away with poorly constructed mini arcs about gay characters. Alice and Robin’s story is developing with patience, consideration and tact. It seems Once is finally giving us a true, enduring fairytale about lesbian love. How awesome is that?
(Also, just looking at how cute they are is enough to make anyone swoon. You’re welcome.)
IT FINALLY HAPPENED! Everyone’s favorite rainbow glowing alien, Karolina Dean, finally locked lips with Nico Monoru during the ninth installment of Marvel’s Runaways titled “Doomsday” and it was utter perfection.
After weeks of covert glances and subtle touches, Karolina showed Nico exactly what she’d been hinting at for weeks. (Is anyone else painfully jealous of Nico in this scene?! I wish Karolina would have kissed me in high school. It would have saved me so many pointless dates with all the Alexs and Chases.)
But Karolina’s confession isn’t unexpected.
The writers have been hinting at a romantic relationship between Nico and Karolina since the pilot. Despite not being friends for years, the girls both happen to be crying in the bathroom and share an uncharacteristically sweet moment. They put aside the years of distance and try to comfort the other. (UGH, talk about building a ship properly)
As the episodes continue, their friendship progresses and it becomes wildly apparent that Karolina is developing “more than friends” feelings for Nico. I mean just check out this sexy side eye.
Writing these recaps has afforded me the ability to really sit with the content. Typically, I get some snacks, a cup of tea and binge three episodes in a single sitting. But Marvel’s Runaways deserves a little more attention. This show, which has an indisputably dark plot, is lightened through witty comments and relatable themes (loss, disappointing your family, rebellion.)
The second installation of Marvel’s Runaways, titled “Rewind”, begins immediately after Molly’s cellphone light disturbed the end of PRIDE’s meeting. The kids are fleeing the basement cathedral and despite just having witnessed their parents performing some weird ritualistic magic, still manage to crack jokes. (If I saw my parents in blood red robes sacrificing an innocent girl, I definitely think I’d just be crying in a corner but hey everyone copes differently.)
Luckily, the kids manage to escape before their parents notice (thanks to Molly’s superhuman strength) and are able to hoodwink them into believing they were just playing an innocent game of Twister.
For the last few weeks, my parents have been telling me to watch the new “Marvel’s Runaways.” I was originally hesitant because my dad has questionable taste in entertainment. When he’s not watching action movies (whose fight scenes make up roughly 3/4 of the plot) he’s binging on British crime dramas or, believe it or not, contentedly watching generic heterosexuals fall for each other in rom-coms.
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However, I’ve had 13 days off work for Christmas break and there’s only so many cooking shows that I can consume in a given day. (I’ve heard so many fancy terms lately that I’m pretty sure I’m a Master Chef now. That’s how it works right?) Anyway, I decided to take a risk and watch Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu.
Let me preface this recap by admitting that I absolutely love teen dramas. The angst of One Tree Hill essentially ran through my veins all throughout high school and the loveable stupidity of Pretty Little Liars carried me into adulthood!
In fact, the plot of Runaways is somewhat similar to the basic premise of Pretty Little Liars. A group of physically attractive friends, from various distinctive social circles, “break up” following the death of their friend, Amy. The characters in Runaways even fit similar Mean Girlesque tropes.
You have Chase Stein, “the jock” (just like Emily Fields), Karolina Dean, “a church girl” (dead ringer for Spencer Hastings), Nico Minoru, an introverted goth, (anyone recall Aria Montgomery’s pink hair?). Also in the main cast are Molly Hernandez, an adopted, all around positive character, Gert Yorkes “an insufferable social justice warrior” and Alex Wilder, the stereotypical nerd.