Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bury Your Tropes

Yesterday, I had the privilege of writing about the Bury Your Gays TV trope as a guest columnist for The Hollywood Reporter. It’s a credit to all the fans and supporters behind the LGBT Fans Deserve Better campaign that this happened in the first place. And it’s a further testament to the issue’s importance that, for several hours yesterday, the story was actually leading the entire Hollywood Reporter homepage. There it was, sitting atop one of media’s biggest trade and entertainment publications. This is a site read not only by everyday fans, but also show creators, producers, writers and industry insiders. It was amazing; it felt amazing.

And that was not just for vain reasons like it’s cool to have byline in The Hollywood Reporter. It’s amazing because what you have all been saying so loudly and so passionately possibly, maybe, for real has a shot of getting through to the people who make the stories we watch. This isn’t about one show, this is about LGBT representation as a whole. This is about not wanting to see an overwhelming number of our stories turn out tragic. This is about understanding that courting queer fans means giving us real narratives, not just lip service.

Yesterday’s article was also a reminder of there are still so many people who simply a) do not get it or, b) do not care but want to yell at you instead because you are daring to say their favorite TV show isn’t entirely flawless. I haven’t even done more than a cursory glance in the THR comments section, but I commend those of you fighting the good tight in the trenches. For my part, I decided to try to educate a few straight dudes who wandered into my Twitter feed. Here is how it went:

When the stories you’ve always been given reflect your life effortlessly, it’s easy to feel satisfied by what you see on screen. And it’s just as easy to dismiss those asking for more as complainers. Things seem fine to you, why aren’t they equally fine for everyone? But if you think, for even a minute, about the mental hoops all the others in this world (the LGBT people, the people of color, the people with disabilities, the people who simply don’t fit into our predominant straight, white, male culture) have to jump though just to imagine their own happy endings you would realize how exhausting the exercise becomes. Maybe it will sink in to some folks. But in the meantime you’d better believe LGBT fans won’t just be idly waiting and hoping for it to happen.


Jay said...

Dear Dorothy,

may I just take a minute of your time to tell you how proud I am? I am proud to be a part of a community that stands up for itself and won't stop educating people about what it is that we're actually fighting for. It's not about the the (random and sloppily written) death of one fictional character (and yes, I am still very bitter about this), but about the representation of minorities as a whole. I loved your article. I read some of the comments and decided not to get engaged, because a lot of it makes me angry in ways I can't even begin to describe.
(Straight) people think that we have enough representation, hell, even my wife who had always been with guys until she met me and fell in love with me doesn't exactly get why this has me so riled up, but they don't know how it feels to grow up, questioning yourself and your sexuality and have no role mode, no representation whatsoever.
A few months ago there were articles about gay marriage in Germany (where I live) and even in publications that are considered "intellectual" the commentary sections where filled with homophobes. And I am not talking about the beer drinking white dude watching horror movies in his underwear, but articulate people. People who were able to put a whole argument together and were still homophobe. Reading it left me with a mixture of anxiety and anger and reminded me of my mother who – even if she loves my wife – still occasionally tells me that I have to understand my older brother for believing that I am "wrong in my ways", because ... you know ... it's a bit weird that I'm not into boys.
There is no such thing as acceptance yet and so we have to keep fighting for it. Well-written representation of LGBT+ relationships in the media is a major step to show that we are here and we are actually doing all the things the stupid title song from "The L word" is suggesting. And by that I mean "We are as normal as everybody else ... just a little more fun." We have to keep fighting for this and if this means that we start by rioting because of the fictional death of a fictional character, so be it.
What I actually wanted to say is: I am proud of you, Dorothy. For standing up, for writing about it and getting the message out. Whatever comes next, I'll be right here with you, because I swear fealty to this fandom, this community, until the day I forget to wear my bullet proof vest.

Carolyn McBride said...

Congratulations for being one of the loudest, most intelligent and most consistent voices out here demanding better treatment, better endings and less bullshit plots for our queer nation. I have been a big fan of yours for quite a while now, and posts like this just reinforce that.

Back when I was still working retail, Pride Day came along, with the requisite parade. Of course a major newspaper for my area covered it with a large photo on the front. Of course it was a photo of a group that didn't paint us like everyone else. No, it showed an image more people would react to in a hateful, small-minded way. One of my customers came in to buy his usual paper, looked at the cover with disgust and threw his money on the counter as he made a comment about why "those damn gays can't just shut the hell up and quit whining. *His* people didn't throw parades to celebrate their sexuality". I leaned forward on the paper so he had to look me in the eye and said, "That's because YOUR people weren't beaten, belittled and killed for YOUR sexuality. Mine were and we deserve to celebrate every bit of goodness in our lives that isn't tainted by people like YOU." (Until that point, I don't think he had realized I was a lesbian)

I have never forgotten the incident, or the hidden attitude of a customer I thought I liked, or the fact that so many still share his attitude. It is reasons like this that you, that we all, need to keep shouting, keep demanding better treatment in movies, in fiction and on the small screen.
You keep shouting, and I'll be shouting right beside you.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic job DS!! You express so eloquently the things that I feel but don't quite know how to verbalize, so for that I thank you. You're doing a tremendous job and bravo for engaging the straight men who obviously don't understand what it's like to be gay. I think I would've just red facedly torn my hair out and smashed my screen after trying to reason with them lol.

Carmen SanDiego said...

We are so lucky to have you, DS
Thank you for saying things so eloquently and so beautifully

Waffles said...

I feel like all you have to do is watch Gaycation to understand why this is so critical. LGBTQ people all over the world need to see themselves/ourselves reflected in the media - we need to see that there is hope for our futures - we need role models. This next Gaycation will take place in the US.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a great article, followed by taking on the inevitable 'splainers, whiners, bigots, etc. Where do you get the energy? It's awesome having advocates like you.
"I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell." HST

Leigh Lastname said...

At least there's CAROL.