Editorials

Stop Complaining About LGBTQA+ Representation in Nerdom

Young Justice Outsiders - LGBTQA+ RepresentationIn honor of San Diego Comic Con, the creators of Young Justice shared an image of the heroes who will appear in the new series Young Justice: The Outsiders. Fans were ecstatic to see evidence that a new season was coming, and even more so to see who would be joining the team. The creators also announced a new character, Thirteen, who would be joining the team as well. This could be Traci Thirteen, a magician, and daughter of Doctor Thirteen, who just happens to be in a relationship with another woman. Now, creator Greg Weisman tweeted back in January that “There are already LGBT characters in Young Justice”, which of course got some fans mad since they don’t think there should be gay characters in a children’s show. “What if it confuses the youth? ““Why do they have to shove it down our throats?” Sit down, my sweet summer children, I’m going to explain why those concerns are all wrong.

I am a bisexual. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. Some of you will stop reading right now because my view of the issue is skewed by how close I am to the situation, but to be honest, our opinion is the one people should be looking for. The minorities will always see a situation in a different light than the majority. If you don’t believe me, ask a person of color about the world they live in. Their answers may surprise you with how different they see things day to day.

It’s the same with the LGBTQA+ community. The only difference is, we can appear just like the majority if we like. You know, if we want to live in a constant world of lies and unhappiness. Easy right?

But I’m not writing this to tell you that I don’t want to have to hide; because I don’t hide. My family, my friends, my coworkers, they all know about my orientation and I’m lucky enough not to face any opposition in my life. I’m getting into this because we are getting more and more representation every day, and for some reason, that pisses off a lot of people.

Now before you say it, yes it makes the uber-conservatives angry, but they aren’t the problem. We’ve been ignoring their opinions for years and they are a much smaller group than they make themselves sound. I’m talking about the comic fans who get their briefs in a bunch every time a character is announced to be gay, bi, or otherwise not straight. And I’m here to say: Get over it!

But why should I have to get over it?!

Midnighter And Apollo
Midnighter And Apollo

I’m glad you asked that question. I need you to take a step off your soap box and stand in my shoes for a moment. As a 31-year-old adult, I know who I am now. I’m comfortable in my skin, I don’t worry if people have an issue with my relationship, and I live the life the way I need to in order to be happy. But imagine being 15-year-old me. People in school are calling each other gay as an insult all the time, friends are calling out friends over secret confessions that they are worried they might be gay. WORRIED they might be gay. I started noticing some attraction to the same gender and immediately stuffed it down. I had been told it was weird or something to be kept secret lest someone find out and call you out for it. There were no bisexuals out in pop culture. No celebrities or characters that I could cling to. I hated myself for what I was and forced it down. I thought as long as I still liked the opposite sex I could just go for them and be fine. Turns out that was a lie and I never felt happy with myself until I admitted the truth. It took me almost 22 years to figure out who I really was and that it was okay. By then I had gay and bisexual friends, several celebrities had come out as bisexual, and acceptance was starting to spread across the country.

Since my own coming out, the nerdy community has gained some representation for people like me. All three Gotham City Sirens are bisexual, Wonder Woman, John Constantine, Mystique, Psylocke…I could list so many if I wanted this to go on, and you know what?  It makes me happy.

I’m not happy because I’m infecting what you love. I’m actually happy to see some major icons stay straight. Batman and Superman are still in your column. As are Captain America, Iron Man, the Flash, Aquaman; your list is still way longer, trust me. I’m fine with that. According to pretty much every survey ever done, heterosexuals are the majority, and not just by a little. So it makes sense that there should always be straight characters. No one (reasonable) is arguing that straight characters should go away. What we, the community, want you to understand is that we need a character now and then to show up who is like us. It’s like being able to put yourself in the comic. Midnighter is a badass crime fighter but he is also a gay man. And that is awesome. It means gay men and boys have their own hero to look up to and feel like they can be awesome, too. Harley Quinn left her long time abusive ex and found love with fellow femme fatale Poison Ivy; a healthy and supportive relationship. It tells members of the LGBTQA+ community that it doesn’t matter what gender you are with, as long as your relationship is happy and healthy.

Straight people don’t always understand just why the representation of sexuality matters, but it’s easy to wave it off when you get 90% of the representation. Heterosexuals don’t have to search for someone like them. The lead is almost every show is straight, male or female, nearly every comic book hero likes the opposite sex, and even books deal mostly with heterosexual relationships. When you’re not straight, it’s easy to start to feel a little like an oddball. Why aren’t there more people like me? Am I not right? Is my love not the same? Should I be ashamed? Should I hide? Being constantly bombarded with “normal relationships” can take a toll on us emotionally. It makes us feel like society doesn’t want us like we should be shoved away and out of sight; like what we have with the ones we love is bad rather than beautiful.

Now about showing this to kids; if you think that a young teen or older child can’t already have questions about their orientation, you are sadly mistaken. Some members of the LGBTQA+ community state they knew when they were as young as 8, and there are those who claim they had suspicions even longer. Just think how amazing it would be for kids and teens that have doubts to see someone like them, to already have a hero to look up to, someone like them. Maybe then they won’t be so scared to be themselves. And for those kids who are not questioning, who will grow up always knowing and feeling that they are heterosexual, seeing a hero or two that is gay, bi, trans, or queer in any way, maybe they will grow up to be more tolerant and accepting of the LGBTQA+ community. And acceptance is a beautiful thing.

I’ll leave this narrative with one last thought; a plea if you will to the comic book writers and other creators from our favorite geek mediums: please do not forget your transgendered fans. Of all of us, they probably get the most hate and the least representation. Please give them heroes to look up to. They need to know that they are not limited by being born in the wrong body, and they are just as deserving of a superhero to connect to. Don’t leave them out. Asexuals, too. Not every hero needs to have love interests, either. Give asexuals some attention as well.


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About the author

Riley Sinclair

Riley is a New Jersey based cosplayer of 5 years with more than 25 characters under her belt, including Axton the Commando, Catwoman, Tony Stark, Kanji Tatsumi and Badou Nails. She cosplays from all forms of media and is looking for new and more challenging cosplays for the future. Riley is an avid gamer and a new fan of comics. She is an interviewer for the site and also provides Word of the Nerd with cosplay related content and articles.

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