The idea that queer people are not only allowed to live but thrive
August 9, 2020 12:16 PM   Subscribe

I began to think about what a difference it would make to have an LGBTQIA role model on the other side of the table — having a conversation about what it takes to have self-respect in a world that wants to kill you. What a difference it would make to grow up knowing that someone out there wants to talk about that, is experiencing that in the way that you're experiencing that in real time, the way we experienced that when we were kids. That would have a huge impact.
I came out in 1990 in a decently-large city with zero gay bars, an entirely underground (and hard to find) gay underground, and only really insulting media depictions of gay men as effeminate swishes who were comic relief and all hair dressers and whatever blah blah blah. Today's kids (and even adults, really) are going to have it so much easier, and I'm so very happy for that.

This article is a really great read. I haven't watched either of these shows, but I've been hearing about them for years, and this conversation between the two showrunners is really nicely thought-through and insightful. Thank you!
posted by hippybear at 12:37 PM on August 9, 2020 [11 favorites]

I've said for a while that Steven Universe's statre is going to grow over time, it's not only groundbreaking in important ways relating to gender expression, but is also a great show. To see Cartoon Network telling Rebecca Sugar that they couldn't have same sex characters in a relationship, while earlier this year trumpeting those same relationships in promotional materials, I guess it really the Age of Hypocrisy.

Also now how, by telling Sugar she couldn't have gay or non-binary relationships in her show because it might get it pulled in other countries, Cartoon Network has essentially imported those countries' backward morals into the US, allowing them to dictate the stories that can be told in the US. It might not fly there, so we can't say it here!
posted by JHarris at 12:52 PM on August 9, 2020 [19 favorites]

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts has a same-sex relationship, doesn't it? Kipo is another wonderful cartoon that makes me look back on the ones that I grew up with and wonder why I got so ripped off so badly back then.
posted by NoMich at 1:27 PM on August 9, 2020 [12 favorites]

Wait, Kipo is a Netflix show made by DreamWorks.
posted by NoMich at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you mean a romantic one, then you probably mean benson and troy.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 1:59 PM on August 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

This recent tweet from Alex Hirsch, creator of Gravity Falls, really shines a light on what Sugar and Stevenson were up against, and what the animation landscape looked like re: Queer rep even a few years ago. GF wasn't allowed to show any explicitly queer characters. Legends of Korra was only allowed the title character was in a queer relationship via a hand-holding scene in the very last shot of the series. Those are both series that were made this decade.
posted by thecjm at 2:02 PM on August 9, 2020 [10 favorites]

Yes, in Kipo, one of the main characters, Benson, is openly gay and is about to start dating. All the main characters are Black, too.

It was interesting to read that Netflix was down with Noelle's plans but freaked out after the 2016 election and had to be reconvinced. That's depressing but not surprising, I guess.

Even when the political landscape looks dismal, it gives me hope that the culture is changing so much. It really changes minds and creates a different atmosphere than when I was growing up.
posted by rikschell at 2:05 PM on August 9, 2020 [12 favorites]

Incidentally the nonbinary human character played by Indya Moore in SU (actually SUF) is Shep, not Chev.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 2:17 PM on August 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Been watching The Dragon Prince, where characters are just casually in same-sex relationships and no one, not even the evil characters, so much as blinks over it. There's also a wide range of skin tones & phenotypes on the human side, dark-skinned elves who use sun magic & are not the least bit Drow, an important (badass) character who communicates via sign language & this isn't a big deal at all... it's refreshing!
posted by taquito sunrise at 2:57 PM on August 9, 2020 [11 favorites]

I think the most important thing Rebecca brings up and Noelle continues on is that queer content in a show isn't just Representation Matters holding hands and kissing and weddings, it's the undercurrent and environment only a queer creator can bring to a show with queer characters and how they see themselves and interact with the world and other people even outside of a romantic relationship. I've never seen that mentioned in a public conversation about this kind of thing. If you don't work in children's media, it's possible you truly do not understand what glacial pace of progress means. But......more than anything that's what gives me hope that there's a next level to this that is different, and deeper, and weirder and realer. What Rebecca and Noelle have accomplished is incredible, but what other people are going to accomplish next because of them and others like them is what makes me cry to think about now.
posted by colorblock sock at 3:46 PM on August 9, 2020 [22 favorites]

Scorpia, a woman with claws for hands, is "a hugger." I think my heart melted the first time she said this. Scorpia knows how awkward and ungainly she is, but she still reaches out.

The sheer humanity, of treating your "enemy" with kindness and dignity, places She-Ra above the rabble of us-vs-them.
posted by SPrintF at 5:42 PM on August 9, 2020 [15 favorites]

Well, the queer content in animation is even spreading to a corner of the Disneyverse: Disney's Animated Series The Owl House Now Has a Confirmed Bisexual Character.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:53 PM on August 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

I love Scorpia.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:41 PM on August 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

Yes, and who wrote that episode of Owl House? Noelle Stevenson's wife, Molly Knox Ostertag!
posted by rikschell at 7:55 PM on August 9, 2020 [11 favorites]

I'm going to have to give She-Ra more of a watch.

As for the sisters thing, yeah it's droopy rooted. My son was 10 when we watched the SU episode Mr Greg, in which Pearl sings It's a Over Isn't It, a song about her love for Rose, her jealousy of "all the men" who had passed through Rose's life, and her loss of Rose to Greg. A song clearly and unambiguously about a romantic love Pearl felt for Rose.

At the end my son said Pearl loved Rose because they they were like sisters... So, yeah, big uphill battle on lesbians and sisterhood.
posted by sotonohito at 8:04 AM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

How many times I can post a sobbing emoji over and over and over because all I ever got was a crush on the Baroness and "cousins" in Sailor Moon and now all these kids have all of this and there's still so much appearing and so many great creators out there and yeah, it's still baby steps, but it's still so much.

Aw, man, just re-read my reaction to the end of Korra. Because my heart.
posted by Katemonkey at 3:23 AM on August 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

These shows are all great and I look forward to the days ahead with hope. But really, it's the kids that give me the greatest hope. For the last few years, I've been volunteering with our high school FRC robotics team. It's a fairly high-pressure experience, and I've gotten to know some of the kids pretty well, and made friendships that lasted beyond graduation. I think back to my high school experience and how even just accidentally brushing another guy's hand with yours as you pass in the hall would be FREAKED OUT at because omg gay... and now, I see these guys flashing hand-hearts at their friends and giving each other jubilant hugs at a successful milestone, I listen to guys absently mention plans with their boyfriend over the weekend, or girls with their girlfriend, thinking nothing of it--no cautious hedging, no flinching in anticipation of the reaction--and... wow. I want to start putting these wonderful kids into leadership roles like RIGHT NOW so we can all please just move forward.
posted by xedrik at 6:47 AM on August 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have a 24 year old co-worker who, when a Taylor Swift song came on the radio, commented on how much he loved it and started singing along. Another older coworker started giving him some shit about that but he just said "Hey, there's nothing better than some T-Swift sometimes, and she's hella fun. I like her." and he started singing along again.

So yeah, I have hope for the kids. That would have killed me at that age, I think. #old
posted by hippybear at 7:51 PM on August 14, 2020

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