All anyone wants is a happy ending.
To know that when you close the book, the beloved, identifiable characters will live, happily ever after. But life, doesn’t always work out the way we plan. In fact, it rarely ever does. So we turn to those fictional worlds. To books, graphic novels, television, and video games where we envision ourselves as the protagonist and, for a brief moment in time, live that happy ending.
But, happy endings don’t always sell, and not everyone gets one.
And that’s okay, sometimes we’re okay with endings that are not happy, but if you’re a minority – a person of color, a member of the LGBT community, or suffer a mental illness — you’ve become conditioned to expect that you — or people who look like you, talk like you, love like you, and worship like you – don’t get those.
We’ve been taught, and conditioned to believe in a, cisgendered, hetero-normative society. Boy meets girl, guy always gets the girl, the bad guy loses and he rides off into the sunset with his woman.
That line of thinking had and has been the dominate force behind most of today’s mainstream media.
That needs to change.
Our media needs to be reflective of our society as it continues to grow, as we strive to be more inclusive and to be aware of intersectionality.
Imagine a world with stories for everyone. The princess was rescued by a dashing knight who happens to be a woman, and they fall in love. The prince and his beloved boyish rogue drove off into the sunset, let them be people of color, maybe one has a mental illness and just maybe the prince or princess are transgendered. Why are those stories not being told, even thought people who desperately need to hear them are everywhere?
By now, you may or perhaps may not be aware of the queervolution, as it’s been dubbed on Tumblr. Which is to say: that we of the LGBT community will no longer tolerate being put to death for the sake of the old story. We’re tired of being plot devices. And as a biracial woman of color I’d like to add that I am tired of seeing my counterparts suffer for the sake of heteronormativity, for the sake of the white man.
The queervolution started, or rather, exploded on March 7th, 2016. A date which none of us will ever forget. The day in which queers were knowingly and maliciously attacked by showrunner Jason Rothenberg, and his staff of writers for “The 100.” Who presented themselves and their shows as something to behold, a show in which we should merit and watch because only they could represent us with such, dignity.
And oh, how we were hooked and baited with those hooks ripped out through our hearts the moment Lexa died.
Admittedly, a few of those who worked in the writers’ room have come forward, and have very bravely and very patiently listened, seeking to understand before being understood. And more importantly have apologized. They’ve apologized for pulling the trigger.
More importantly they’ve come to realize just what exactly they contributed to; confessing their awareness of the trope, that is the dead lesbian syndrome / bury your gays tropes. Confessed that they didn’t know how their writing would be interpreted by the audience. Nor did they realize, the power that they held in their hands, and that many, young queers looked to Lexa as-a-stand-in and that her death represented their death.
If those numbers don’t disgust you in anyway, then perhaps you should read through the articles written by Variety’s Chief TV Critic, Maureen Ryan who continues to be the hero that this community deserves and so desperately needs. In fact, if her words aren’t enough allow me to link you to this video, so that you might see for yourself what we’re talking about. I’ll even thrown in this video for you to view.
I realize, not every character gets a happy ending, and yes sometimes that’s okay, sometimes.
This time, the death was felt throughout the fandom, and allow me to clarify. I am not speaking of the Clexa fandom or even the Lexark fandom that has risen from Clexa’s ashes. I am speaking of the lesbian fandom. Heather Hogan of Autostraddle wrote the following passage. Tweeted at first, the message is there are not lesbian fandoms, but simply the lesbian fandom.
Someone said the most profound thing on Twitter yesterday: “Y’know, there aren’t really lesbian “fandoms.” There’s *the lesbian fandom*, migrating from show to show like a herd crossing the desert.”
And what’s more, there’s not even really a generational divide in lesbian fandom. The quality TV shows and movies that are available to us, and especially the ones that really resonate with us emotionally, have been so sparse that we’ve watched them all, no matter when or where they were made.
We’ve watched them in pieces on YouTube, with fan-made transcriptions for non-English shows, and we’ve talked about them and written about them until they’ve become part of our collective queer consciousness. We’re reacting to the totality of the canon because it’s not a very big canon and the fullness of it informs the way other people think about us, and the way we think about ourselves.
I’ll add that each queer lady ship, whether of canonical making or femslash fanon adds a unique voice, perspective and our community grows. Case in point, Nyssara. Nyssara is the relationship (or ship) involving Nyssa al Ghul and Sara Lance on the CW’s Arrow. When Sara Lance died and her name was added to the list of dead lady queers, our community mourned. Even those who had not watched Arrow, came to comfort us. Because those queer fans, knew the pain of clinging onto a ship only to watch it sink. Worse, we were canon, and just as soon as we were able to enjoy our status, it was ripped from us.
Nyssa al Ghul, a queer woman of color, then not only mourned her beloved, but was subjected to her father’s will. A will that forced her into a marriage against her own will and then, forced to witness, her beloved’s resurrection and watching the person she once loved so deeply turn into a feral animal.
To add more salt to the wound, not once since Sara’s resurrection has she and Nyssa shared an on-screen moment. The relationship as we know will not see any sort of closure, and Nyssa al Ghul finally has something in common with Mulan from “Once Upon a Time.” Pine after your love from afar since you, will never have it — and in Nyssa’s case this seems finite. Sara, however, has been given a new white lady love interest to be with.
Personally, I had been reminded once more that as a queer woman of color, I am to be denied my happy ending routinely because I am not worthy of one.
And then Lexa.
When Lexa died, it was as if the air was knocked out of us, we could all sense a disturbance in the force.
The disturbance was so great that we opened our ask boxes, our twitter directs and offered phone numbers so that our youth could find solace. Solace that they might not be able to find outside of the internet. The lesbian fandom isn’t just a fandom: it’s a huge family that can be broken down into different branches just by navigating the migration pattern of queer ships. A family that unites when we hurt, and a family that argues about how to do the right thing. Just like every other family.
Because, we’re not all so privileged to grow up in a world that accepts us for who we are. Most of us grew up having to hide ourselves, defending ourselves from those who would seek us harm. And fiction? Fiction unites us. At least there, we can create our own happy endings. There, within the fandom, we find comfort. We find those who understand us.
And, if by now you’ve found yourself exhausted of reading about this, about how often we die in fiction, about how we wish for the same representation as the (cis, white) heterosexuals, then maybe, just maybe you might feel just a small fraction of the exhaustion we feel.
The same exhaustion we feel when we have to go through the motions of once again being told that we’re going to get a happy ending. We should trust the showrunner, trust the authors, the creators or the storytellers. Only to find ourselves back in the same place we were when we started, the feeling of being used as bait.
Queer baited, and in case you need a definitive definition and a list of examples with bulletpoints, allow me to introduce you to AfterEllen. A process in which we the queer audience are baited into watching an otherwise heterosexual show with the promises of queer representation (healthy). Instead, what we are given are bits and pieces, we’re teased until either
- the show does deliver on their promise
- it becomes obvious that they never intended to fulfill their promise; or
- the show does offer a brief payoff but kills the queer character(s) afterwards.
— wedeservedbetter (@WEDSRVDBETTER) March 16, 2016
We Deserve Better
The Hollywood Reporter has since published a piece recounting the deaths from this year, including the killing of “The 100″’s Lexa. Dorothy Snarker wrote very early on in her column, “Queer TV watchers, particularly its female fans, are simply mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore.” Dorothy is absolutely correct, the queervolution has only just begun and every queer death will only add fuel to the fire.
We’ve said, enough is enough and that we deserve better.
We’ve drawn the lines in the sand, and we refuse to suffer any longer at the hands of others.
We all deserve to have a happy ending, but none more so than the LGBT Community. Just like you, we want to close the book and walk away knowing that our heroes got their happy ending, because then, just maybe there’s hope for the rest of us.
#We Are Real People.
#We Are Not Numbers.