More Thoughts on Representation
There’s media that does not have canon queer relationships, media that does have unambiguously queer relationships, and then there’s media that kind of falls into a gray area in between. Some of this gray area media is backed up by Word of God, and some of it isn’t. And what specific works fall into this gray area is debatable because heteronomativity is a powerful force. A standard I’ve seen used (by Is There Gay In It?) is the Grandmother Standard: Would a grandmother who knows nothing about LGBT rights recognize it as a queer.
Good Omens is a great example of piece that falls into this gray area. On one hand, you’ve got Crowley and Aziraphale having romantic dinners with each other and whatnot. On the other hand, there’s probably some grandmother somewhere who thinks they’re just good friends. Because heteronormativity.
Stephen Universe, She-Ra and the Princess of Power, and Supernatural (particularly the Spanish dub) are all stories that start in the ambiguous category and move into the unambiguous category by the end. Apparently, so does Revolutionary Girl Utena. (That one takes some serious heteronormativity, but there you go.) I mean, I could have told you Cas was in love with Dean in season 4, but it took a billion seasons to get an "I love you."
And on one hand, that’s frustrating because cishet couples don’t have to be super obvious for grandmothers to recognize the couple as a couple. On the other hand, it can be frustrating when queer couples are prohibited from having or denied the super obvious stuff. Even if public displays of relationship wouldn’t fit the setting, the writer could always choose to show the couple in private. Not doing so is a choice.
By the super obvious stuff, to be clear, I mean stuff like “we’re dating” or a chaste kiss on the lips or “this is my boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/partner/wife/husband”. With canon cishet couples, there’s never any hesitation about them having the unambiguous stuff. It’s just slipped in without the writers thinking about it.
I’ve seen well-reasoned arguments that Carol and Maria could be seen as a couple in the Captain Marvel movie. BUT Disney’s talking about how the Eternals will feature their first gay character, so apparently not.
And that’s part of the function of denying queer couples the super obvious stuff. It allows for that plausible deniability.
To conclude, it would be nice if heteronormativity wasn’t a thing, but sometimes the powers that be are just being cowards.
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@deniceford made this post about Nursey and Rans talking about being Black men who love men and it’s something that’s been on my mind for a bit, so
“The thing is,” Ransom says, “I don’t know how not to love him, you know?”
Nursey leans against the counter. “I know.”
“So if we take that as a given — me loving Holster — then that limits the options I have going forward. I love him privately. We love secretly. I love him openly and he doesn’t love me. Or I get — lucky.”
Ransom pauses long enough to down a glass of water. Nursey waits, watching a subtle tension come and go from his jaw.
“And it’s easier in a way,” Ransom continues, clearing his throat, “because neither of us is going into the NHL, and there are surely some companies that will mind if their consultant loves men and women, but the consequences aren’t the same. Our families know. He knows. But then—“
“Add the fact that we’re Black,” Nursey says. He knocks his knuckles against the sink, trying to get some of this energy out before he freezes.
Ransom nods. “Then we have different options, other decisions to make. Learn at a queer campus. Play a mostly white sport. Dress well.”
“Take steps to limit the odds of someone saying something. Hope all of that distracts from the fact that you like to kiss men too. Realize that — that no matter what, they’ll never really understand.”
They’re silent a moment. It’s a weary sort of thing that seeps into the floorboards; Nursey sees it drag the cabinets down, sees it pull on the corners of Ransom’s mouth, feels it settle uncomfortably on his own shoulders.
“And that’s not — I love hockey,” Ransom says quietly. “But you know how it is.”
He does. “It’s carving a space out when nearly everyone else has reserved seats.”
“And it’s so tiring sometimes.”
The weariness paints over Ransom’s face.
Nursey says, “If you’d played anywhere else, do you think you still would’ve come out?” and Ransom raises his eyebrows as if to say what do you think? “Yeah. Yeah, I get that.”
“What about you?”
He doesn’t even have to think about it. “What do you think?”
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1: I love following your blog; your content is amazing! I don’t know if you’ll want to answer this, but I don’t have anyone else to talk to irl about this (I’ve tried), and I saw a post where you mentioned being bi. I am around your age, and have suspected I was bi since I was 16. But I never really let myself face it (internalized homophobia/a family not okay with it) and most people in my life think I’m just straight (I never talk about it) since I’ve only dated (and now married) guys —
2: I am starting to feel comfortable accepting that I’m bi and wanting to finally allow it to be part of my identity. I tried to bring it up to my husband who said, “Why now? It doesn’t really matter does it? You married me, so you’re basically straight anyway.” I think he maybe think it means I would cheat (even though it doesn’t, it just means I want to accept all of myself FINALLY. If you didn’t cheat when you thought I just liked men, why would that change if I also like women???). —
6 (and last, sorry this was so long it just came out): IS there any point to me coming out at this point? Or should I just stay silent? I’ve been playing with this idea of talking to an LGBTQ+ therapist, but it makes me feel stupid. And a little afraid. I’ve seen some of the LGBTQ+ community not be as accepting to of nice towards those who identify as bi and it makes me feel even more vulnerable. I feel really alone in this and a little lost. Ignored. And unheard.
I feel like there are probably additional parts of this ask that I didn’t get? I’m just going to answer as best as I can. I’ve been thinking about what to say for a while, and I still don’t entirely know but I want to give some kind of response.
I think that coming out to yourself/recognizing your own identity and starting to feel comfortable with it is a really big and important and awesome step. Imo it’s also a long and non-linear process (at least it was for me--and it sounds like for you too, if this is something you’ve been thinking about since you were 16).
I started coming out to myself at about 18/19, when I started college, but I went through many rounds of crises about it: not understanding my feelings for women, feeling like a faker, being unable to separate my identity from my relationship with my ex-girlfriend, feeling “not queer enough,” being uncomfortable with the word “bi” specifically (and trying every way I could to describe myself some other way...), feeling like a faker again when I was dating a man, feeling like I was too straight-passing to “count,” and so on.
Even now, I’m out and proud online and I’m out to most of my college friends, and semi-out to some non-college friends, but I’m not out at work or to my law school acquaintances or to my family. And this is still a source of friction for me. But that being said, being able to be out and proud online has really helped me. I didn’t realize how much internalized biphobia I had until I started to untangle it. For me it was somehow easier to be accepting of other people than of myself. And, cheesy as it sometimes feels, just seeing so much positive reinforcement of my identity on here, every repetitive ‘you’re valid!!’ post or ‘reminder that’ post, chipped away at some of those imposter syndrome: sexuality edition feelings I had. Like learning good habits to replace or overlay bad habits.
So, I say all that because I want to say, and hopefully it doesn’t sound cheesy, you know you and your feelings and your identity, and if you know you’re bi, then you’re bi. No matter who knows and no matter who doubts, you are. Even if you’ve never dated a woman, even though you’re married to a man, even though whatever, it’s part of you, and it’s a good thing. There’s no one way to be bi, and no wrong way either.
Obviously, I disagree with your husband that you’re ‘basically straight’ since you are married to a man. Weirdly, my ex-boyfriend dismissed me in pretty much the opposite way. I was trying to tell him how being in a relationship with a man made me feel insecure in my bisexuality, like had I been faking the whole time?? and he was like, ‘you’re obviously bi lol whatever.’ Which... points for trying I guess. He was sincere in that but it was annoying to be told that my confusion and my complicated feelings basically weren’t real. Was I overthinking? Probably, but that’s what I needed to do at that time.
Anyway, to reiterate again things I think are helpful to hear: bi people can be monogamous, and our sexuality doesn’t change because of it. We’re not straight sometimes and gay or lesbian other times. I’ve been single and celibate for a while and I’m not asexual--and honestly no one would argue I am. Logically, action and identity are different and we all have a certain instinct for it. We wouldn’t tell a fourteen year old who’s never been on a date or kissed anyone “you aren’t straight or gay or bi or anything, you’re not allowed an identity until you do something with someone.” But the world is so heteronormative that it’s still hard--for me too--not to see a man and woman together and assume they’re both straight. In other words, I don’t think it’s that people can’t tell the difference between “straight woman” and “bisexual woman married to a man” but just that heteronormativity is so strong, it asks us all the time to put people into the ‘straight’ box whenever we can because it’s common and comfortable.
As to, is there’s any point to coming out... imo ‘coming out’ isn’t one thing or one time. You can be out to some people and not to others. I think if you feel safe and comfortable being out to, for example, friends, or co-workers, or family, or all of the above, and it’s important to you, then it’s worth it. I know what it feels like to be in conversations or casual situations where me being bi is, like, subtly relevant, but no one knows, and how uncomfortable that makes me feel. I fantasize about coming out to more people all the time. I don’t know if everyone can understand this--even all LGBTQ people, and certainly probably not a lot of straight people--but I can say that I do, for what that’s worth.
In other words, I think there’s value to being out that doesn’t have anything to do with ‘now girls will know I want to date them.’ It’s the value of being known. It’s affirming your place in a community, and having the people around you know you’re part of that community, too. It’s being able to make comments about women, for example, if you want, without the comments being read as a joke or like a ‘haha girl crush!’ thing. It’s having your friends/family/acquaintances know that when they talk about LGBTQ issues around you, they’re talking to a person for whom these issues are personal--you’re not all together on the inside talking hypothetically about those ‘other’ people. It’s not feeling like omission is lying.
I’ve never talked to a therapist myself, about anything, so I don’t have any advice about that. It does sound like you want to talk to someone and don’t have anyone irl who’s a good option--so perhaps finding a professional, the right professional, is something to pursue? I definitely don’t think it’s stupid. I understand the fear of biphobia... but I don’t know how one goes about vetting therapists in general, or for this particular flaw.
I have been lucky personally to have two good friends who are also queer-identifying (one has used the terms bi and pan and came out before me, the other is bi and came out after me) and being able to talk to someone about ‘bi stuff’ and know that they understand on a non-hypothetical level is really valuable.
I’m sorry that you feel alone, ignored, and unheard. I see you and hear you.
My inbox is always open if you want to talk again--even if it’s just like a lot of ramble, and I just nod and say “I hear you” and “this is real.” I know I’ve rambled a lot in this reply, but I can try and hold that back.
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