Dear Hollywood: Now’s the Time to Make All Our Favorite Characters Gay
I never thought I’d be writing something like this. I’ve always been one of those fans that is pretty content with letting creators do what they do and following stories wherever they go. Sure, I’m a shipper and sure I’m queer, and I keep up hope for more representation, but I’ve still always been happy with fanfic or smatterings of homoerotic subtext if the show was good. So I never imagined I’d ever be telling creators and writers and producers what to do with their characters. But I also never thought that Donald Trump would be elected president and that decades’ worth of social progress and civil rights might suddenly be on the chopping block, yet here we are. I have a voice, not matter how small, and it’s my duty to use it when I can and so I’m using it to implore you, Hollywood: please make our favorite characters gay.
I’m not asking this for myself, as a viewer and fan, though it would make my heart soar. I’m not asking this as a critic who knows these stories would be compelling, even though it would be. I’m not tell you to do this because it will give you a ratings bump (though it definitely could). I’m saying you need to do this is because there are millions of people in your audience right now who are terrified, and we need heroes. I’m asking you to do this because a man who believes that electrocuting me will cure my queerness is a heartbeat from running our country, and if that’s not a good reason for Captain America to kiss a boy, I don’t know what is. Come on, he was created to fight Nazis back in the day; this is a new way he can do it again now.
I know you’re with me, Hollywood. I saw your videos and “I voted” stickers. I saw your angry tweets and soulful facebook posts. I know you want to do something so here’s something you can do, right now on a page or in a writers’ room. It’s easy! Some shows and stars are already doing it. Look at Gotham –the Penguin is gay now, played by an out gay man; and he’s the best part of the show. Supergirl’s sister is gay and White Canary on Legends of Tomorrow is bi and both are fantastic. We finally have confirmation from creators that Wonder Woman is queer, and Gal Gadot is down for her to romance a woman in the next movie. So do it. Make it happen. Hell, in some cases you’ve been giving us subtext for years and that’s been fun, but if there was ever a time to show the courage of your convictions this is it. The time for subtlety and subtext ended when a minority of Americans (and Russians!) chose a man whose personal brand is hate to lead our country.
I’m focusing on the gay here because it is the easiest evolution for existing, established characters. It doesn’t have to erase their past heterosexual relationships, because bisexuality is a thing that should be explored and celebrated. Coming out stories and same sex romances are fertile ground for drama, but what matters most is telling as many as you can right now.
If you don’t think this can make a difference, think about the stories that inspired you when you were young, that inspire you now. Seeing Hikaru Sulu with his husband in Star Trek Beyond mattered so much to me; as a woman married to an Asian woman, it brought me to tears to see a family like mine in one of the biggest movies of the summer. Making Sulu gay was so simple and allowed queer people to lay claim to an icon. We need more moments like that. We need a bit of hope, even if it’s just on a screen. Like I mentioned, let Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes be a couple (their movies make more sense that way anyway). Give Elsa a girlfriend. Let Han Solo have a fling with Lando Calrissian. Let Dean Winchester and Castiel finally kiss before their next inevitable season of angst and suffering. Birds of Prey movie with Harley Quinn? Add in a lesbian Poison Ivy and let that story happen. Let Sherlock be ace. Make Marco trans. New Xena? Gay it up.
If you’re worried about alienating people or scaring away the audience–don’t. Those are the very people that need to be confronted with different viewpoints and stories, who need to be uncomfortable. I won’t say those people don’t matter because they do, but what matters is changing their minds. Representation matters. We in fandom say this again and again but it bears repeating. It’s harder to dismiss a whole class of people as less than human when you know a member of that class, and in places where people are still afraid to come out, that person can be a fictional character. Art has the power to touch and inspire, to show someone the humanity in a stranger. If a story has the power to make someone reconsider their prejudices, to make the world better or safer for people, you must consider your duty to tell it.
Queer representation is not the only kind that matters, of course. I want to see movies and television shows full of people of color, women, immigrants, Muslims, disabled and mentally ill people, and I want them to have jobs behind the cameras too. Give these people jobs, write new amazing diverse characters with complex stories and heart that we can look up to and adore. Bring amazing characters like America Chavez, Riri Williams, Kate Kane, Amadeus Cho, and others to the screen. Fill our media landscape with all the people that the forces of hate want to drive away so that they are confronted with us on every channel, on every screen, on every page until they realize that we will not disappear, we will not be driven into the shadows of fear again.
I know it may seem silly to talk about television and movies when hate is on the rise and the very soul of our country is at stake, but this is the exact time that artists must speak up. What matters isn’t what we do when life is easy, it’s the stands we take when life is hard. You must lead and fight and do all you can to speak out for equality and tolerance and diversity and all the things that have always been best about America. So I’m asking you to do what you do best–give us hope. Give us comfort. Give us a reason to reconsider our prejudices. Give us…gay.
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Featured image by ilyone; used with permission.
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