Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Live-Action Lesbian Romance Novel

I would like to talk, for just a moment, about expectations. As queer women – lesbians, bisexuals, trans and nonbinary folks – we share certain expectations about our representation in the media. Unfortunately many of those expectations center around rarity, disappointment, tragedy, and possible death. It’s the whole Bury Your Gays, Dead Lesbian Syndrome media phenomena. For us, happily ever after remains the rarest of rarities. (Like I watched a seemingly innocuous newish lesbian movie that shall remain nameless the other day that all it did in the end was make me feel sorry for Mena Suvari.)

So I think that’s why I came into “Gentleman Jack” with my guard up. My expectation was for horrible things to happen – interspersed with glimpses of happy gayness if we were really lucky. I mean, this is a late 18th and early 19th Century noblewoman who refused to conform to the demands of femininity of the era, and instead blazed her own trail and wore her heart very much on her sleeve.

Obviously, in a dramatized version of her life, the hardship of such differentness must be the central theme. Right? This is why with each episode I watched with partially held breath. Would this be when the horrible homophobic shoe would drop? I instinctively tightened my shoulders in anticipation of whatever was coming.

Now, this show is based in real world realities, so homophobia certainly happened on screen. But it was just one of many obstacles of lovers had before, you know, being able to call each other lovers (also, while neither is named Cindi, they very gayly share the name Anne/Ann). So there was homophobia and the coal industry and societal norms and sexism and classism and lot of other issues that made the rich tapestry of Anne Lister and Ann Walker’s love story.

And, after watching perhaps The Most Swoony Romantic Lesbian Scene Ever Dedicated To Screen (i.e. that “Gentleman Jack” season finale scene), I can finally relax my shoulders. They made it. And not only did nothing truly terrible happen (well, I mean, there was the whole trying to slit her wrists thing, but it seemed a rather feeble attempt so…), but it all ended so unbelievably well.

Like I don’t think, even in our most femflashy/fan-ficy/lesbionicy daydreams we could have believed one day we would watch a lady, in uncharacteristically mannish period dress, and another lady, in characteristically feminine period dress promise themselves to each other in a freaking mountaintop proposal with sweeping vistas of the spectacular West Yorkshire countryside as backdrop with the light so golden and true it only ever happens in the movies. Yet, there we were, all watching it happen.

And it was glorious. And I think I squealed. I know I clapped. It was like walking into a live-action lesbian romance novel, and then some. Now, bring on Volume Two!


Quebby said...

Four episodes in and enjoying it very much!

Anonymous said...

I was literally in tears by the end of that hilltop scene... still can’t believe it happened!

SVA said...

Definitely was clapping with a big 'ole grin on my face during the final scene. However, not gonna lie, I was definitely waiting for the bad to happen to them too. Glad it didn't happen......yet.

Carmen SanDiego said...

By the end of the hilltop scene I clapped in my living room. All alone.
Loved that to be together Ann had to become more assertive, like Anne and Anne had to become more vulnerable, like Ann
Can’t wait for season 2

Anonymous said...

Dorothy, I highly recommend "Elisa y Marcela" on netflix. It was a beautiful surprise, I´ve seen it 6 times already, and I just cannot stop thinking about it.

Lindsay Gambini said...


Would you like to read a script for an American version of this tale? It's based on the classic lesbian novel "Patience and Sarah".