I want to talk about Love, Simon. But first I need to talk about another queer coming-of-age movie.
When I was 16 my best friend and I stayed with my dad for the school holidays. On that trip, we went to Video Ezy and rented some of the trashiest movies we could find, determined to turn the entire two weeks into some sort of extended sleepover. One of those movies was But I’m a Cheerleader.
It was everything 16-year-old me wanted in a movie – awkward humour, flipping the bird to gender roles, and cheezy declarations of love.
It was also HELLA gay.
It’s the first week of pride month and Sense8 has been cancelled. If that’s not ironic then I owe Alanis Morissette a beer.
In the days following the announcement, there’s been a lot of sorrow, a lot of outrage, and a spate of well-rounded articles detailing the immense loss to representation that’s fuelled most of it. But still, I see a lot of people—straight ones mostly—wondering at the voracity of the queer community’s backlash at the news. And I guess I can understand their confusion. Representation is representation, right? While Sense8 certainly had a lot of it, it’s not the only show out there with openly queer characters.
But that’s just it. All representation isn’t created equal.
In an industry that queer-codes its villains, fetishises its lesbians, overwhelmingly depicts its gay men slowly dying of AIDs, and flat out forgets people of colour exist most of the time, finding representation that doesn’t make me want to put my head through a wall is like finding a needle in a pile of other needles. Finding representation that makes me cry literal tears of joy…well, lets just say I’m usually notoriously dry eyed.
Until Sense8. Beautiful, diverse, found-family, feel-good, sci-fi mecca Sense8.
I have a problem. I’m compulsively driven to read the comments on every 13 Reasons Why article that crosses my Facebook feed. I know, I KNOW, I should know better, but here we are.
The one thing this practice has given me (other than stress-induced migraines) is a singular insight into the types of comments these articles inspire. All thirteen of them (HA!). Because every comment defending 13 Reasons Why against BLASPHEMOUS criticisms levelled by THOSE ASSHOLE mental health and suicide prevention experts comes in a finite number of variations.
So here I am, answering each one so I can maybe exorcise myself of the need to repeat myself in 7347687346 reply threads.
I’m a white, thirty-something woman from inner-city Brisbane, Australia, so when I sat down with a few friends—none of whom are black, let alone American—on Friday night and queued up the first few episodes of Luke Cage, there was more than a little bit of culture shock.
From the various odes to prominent Harlem hip hop and jazz artists to name drops of historically important black activists, there were multiple moments where I felt I was outside the conversation looking in.
And I was, which is fantastic.