“Lexa didn´t die because she´s a lesbian.”
“Lexa wasn´t just a gay character.”
“Clarke is still bisexual.”
Okay. I´ve been trying to come up with a blog post for a while and have a few thoughts and themes and ideas, but kept coming back to this topic. I need to rant it out, then I´ll post nice happy things. Or about Australia and all the kangaroos I saw. Or something.
This topic has been hashed over and rehashed and is still being talked about. Which, by the way, is awesome: so much discourse, so much attention being brought to a trope that needs to die. Preferably by a stray bullet.
Now, as you have probably read a lot about this, feel free to tune out and tune in to my next post where I talk about the wonder that is Tim Tams and how Australia is just so far from everything oh my God I´m so sick of that flight and how is my own country so huge and yum I got vegemite on toast again.
You´ve been warned.
No, Lexa didn´t die because she´s a lesbian. She died for an entire host of reasons including: the actress was limited to a few episodes (I call bull sh*t as there are so, so many ways it could have been handled including but not limited to: her people rebel so Lexa runs into hiding/fakes her own death, removing the flame, therefore having her off screen and highlighting the AI storyline—but what do I know about interesting plots?), wanting to bring the AI storyline into focus (see previous comment in brackets), yaddah yaddah. However, she did die literally minutes after her love scene with Clarke, her bisexual spacebabe. She was a lesbian.
So many people say so??
But I urge you to watch most TV shows with LGBT characters. Go watch them all (it´s a fairly short list, in comparison to how many TV shows exist) and watch their endings: so many meet a violent end right after achieving happiness/getting together, perpetuating the idea that us queers/gays/lesbians/bis can just never have a damn happy ending.
So often after that, the other half of the female couple skips into the sunset with a man. Yes, bisexuals exist (one is writing this), yes, that representation is important, yes their bisexuality is still valid if with a man. However:
- This stops being L and B rep (or G and B rep if a man) and is simply representation of a bisexual character.
- Most shows never mention their bisexuality again, or refer to it as a phase type thing in the past or even use gross terms like “when you were a lesbian” *vomit*
- The bisexual character existing and ending up with a man (every time—talk to me in fifty years when there is a slew of women loving women, men loving men, all genders with all, non-binary characters and trans characters ending up in healthy relationships and then I´ll be rejoicing that bisexual men and women with someone not their gender is represented, too) does not eliminate the fact that the underlining message that is repeated over and over again is: you love a woman, you die, or she dies, and you are sad. Herterosexuality is safer.
This brings me to my favourite point: Lexa wasn´t just about being a lesbian. No. She wasn’t. Why do you think we all loved her so much? She was badass, she was ruthless, she was the damn Commander of twelve clans, she was a little puffball surrounded by an exterior of awesome who earned the nick name Commander Heart Eyes because she couldn´t stop mooning at Clarke, and yet always put her feelings aside to do her job, and respected Clarke so much she repeatedly tried to let her go because she thought that was what Clarke wanted. We had a character who was all this and was openly into women. I can´t tell you how awesome that was. How amazing it was to watch the lead of the show be openly bi or pan and fall in love with Commander Heart Eyes and both continue on to be awesome, to look after their people, to be incredible, deeply layered leaders who weren´t defined by who they loved. Female power couple? I watched it unfold open mouthed and shocked. I swooned watching this. It was all I´d wanted in a show. I also watched with a constant, constant refrain of she´s going to die she´s going to die and lo and behold, she did. I watched with that fear because that is all I´ve seen on TV.
Yes, she had an arc, yes, it wasn´t technically queer baiting: they were so, so together, on screen and in canon. However, it was far worse than that: it was that damn trope, again. It was Bury Your Gays. It was Willow and Tara, it Xena and Gabrielle, it was Maya and Emily, it was…damn, Autostraddle made a list, it´s huge (around 155 by now), go look if you feel like sobbing into your coffee. I can´t look at it ´cause it brings me down. To help when you finish, here´s the list of the appallingly low number of 29 who have had a happy ending. In the entire history of television.
When Lexa was shot, we all watched another woman sob over her female lover. That number is now up to sixteen this year alone. Sixteen dead women loving women. It´s freaking May. And that´s the women, not the men.
Six freaking teen.
Not sixteen of thousands of characters. Oh, no. Sixteen of the micro number we have.
We do not have hundreds of shows to flip over to. I can´t just change the channel and find myself in a character, relate to how she´s so much more than a lesbian on almost every show. That does not exist for me, for other LGBT people. This is not about a ship, this is not us ranting because our fave character died. This is about the fact that we are all tired of watching ourselves die over and over and over again on television. Media is important: it influences ideologies, gives hope, relief. And right now we´re all being taught, our parents are being taught, youth is being taught, homophobic asshats are being taught and given the ammunition that to be LGBT is to end in tragedy.
If you have characters who represent a minority, you have a responsibility to that audience. TV/Cinema are teeming with white, cis, straight people. They´re everywhere. However when you have POC, LGBT characters, you have a responsibility to represent them well. Sorry, but it´s true.
We are not saying to treat these characters as minor and not bring them to the forefront, to paint them as perfect and infallible and two dimensional and boring, we are saying that when that character is the only one representing a minority (sometimes more than one minority) on your show stop freaking killing them. Throw in ten lesbians, ten gays, ten trans characters, throw in a huge array of POC, drown out the maleness, the whiteness, the hetero, the cis. Then you can go to town with making convoluted stories. Until then, please, realise you have a responsibility with your one character that is representing so, so many people out there.
Stop killing us.
I am so, so sick of it.
…and rant over. :) Feel free to weigh in.