BoJack Horseman

Most asexual folks can count on one hand how much representation they’ve seen on TV. So it was kind of a major deal in the ace community when Todd said with no uncertainty that he is asexual. Full stop. There is a conversation between him and other aces at a community meeting where they go into the intersectionality of relationships and how not all aces are aromantic and that not all aros are ace (which is also the first time in a while that I had even heard someone explicitly mention that they weren’t romantic).

Now, I could absolutely wax poetic about how much I adore this character, but honestly I can’t watch too much of BoJack without accidentally triggering a depressive episode (which happens to a good amount of fans) so instead, I’d like to redirect to this article about how the show approaches asexuality.

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Queerwise: Ais

Ais Burniston is a nonbinary ace student at Texas A&M University who fights their special interest hell with their powers of autistic hyperfocus. Which means that when they fall into a new special interest the last can… go ahead and go on the back-burner this month. They are double majoring in statistics and sociology and somehow still powering through with a little help from their friends. The following interview has been transcribed word for word, for better or worse.

What movie or show growing up was really important to you?

It’s the Secret of Kells. It’s a Cartoon Saloon movie – that’s the name of the studio. It’s the first Cartoon Saloon movie. And um… I have it memorized pretty much word for word. I’ve watched it too many times.

Looking back what do you think about it would still impact you?

It’s just a really good story. It’s like um… it’s a really interesting take on like – Song of Sea more than Secret of Kells but like how uh culture changes and how it kind of strikes inevitably for the people who are there before and they don’t really know a way to combat what people will think of you… if you know the end of Hamilton, sort of like you don’t control your own legacy, the people alive afterwards do. It’s sorta like that. And also it’s got cool monsters… so… yeah.

What’s the best queer representation you’ve seen recently?

Oof that’s tough! That’s good that it’s tough! Overall, probably Steven Universe. Cause you got so many different types. You know? You’ve got Garnet. It’s like this looong – they’re in love. Then you’ve got Pearl with her sort of… unrequited love. And um… Amethyst is sorta hinted to be not – well none of them are cis because they don’t have a gender but – that’s pretty chill!

How long have you been openly queer?

Four years. But it was harder at first because like I was ace so it’s hard to be openly ace. Well I still am ace but like – I mean people knew once they talked to me because I would forget inuendos. Like I’d be like – like they would not – I would – it would take me – I would either not know what they were or I would take like three extra seconds. I’d be like, “Ooooooh! Dick joke.” It was like… yeah. Cause I didn’t know I was trans until later.

How has being queer changed how you see movies and TV?

It makes it tougher to watch stuff that I used to watch from like the early 2000s. Because especially in regard to like making jokes about trans women. And it’s like… I’m not about that, man. Y’know?

Ouran High School Host Club

Ouran High School Host Club is one of those things that everyone can look back at with some level of fondness and cringe. Don’t worry, I’ll rant and rave about cringe-culture of the early 2000s later. But for now, we’re going to talk about how incredible Ouran was for nonbinary folks.

Haurhi Fujioka was probably the first “gender-bent” character I had ever been introduced to. This was back when that was the term commonly used by the very vocal straight girls and women who made up a good chunk of online fandom for a character who presented as their opposite binary gender. Since then, Haurhi has been referred to as nonbinary by most fans because the character is more genderfluid and doesn’t ascribe to one specific gender (though does use she/her pronouns in her mind).

As the main character of a “reverse harem” anime, Haruhi subverted pretty much every trope that would normally be thrown at her from the idea that every single character should be in love with her (only two people in the long version of the manga want to date her) all the way to the fact that her role in every other anime/manga of this category were demure girls with no idea that she was the token of everyone’s affections. Haruhi enjoyed being seen as a boy because she both liked all the attention from the girls and didn’t have to deal with the “back-stabby” culture that the more controlling elite girls dealt with.

She was also raised by a father who began drag after his wife died in an attempt to give Haruhi some form of a maternal figure. While Haruhi does criticize him about it, it’s not about him doing drag, it’s about how over the top protective he is about her. She is uncaring about the overt lesbians who try to draft her into their all-girl’s school, enjoying the attention she gets from them and even agreeing that the guys who she hangs out with are pretty much dingles when it comes to emotional reciprocation.

In the very first episode we learn that Haruhi is uncaring about gender-norms, that the boys in her new club aren’t perturbed about the idea that a gay boy came to their host club (just surprised that Haruhi swings that way), and that despite the set up for Haurhi to be hyper effeminate after the big reveal that she was born a girl, she remains excited to continue letting everyone believe she is a boy and would begin using the more masculine Japanese pronouns when talking about herself.

For the most part of the story, Haruhi seems aromantic and asexual, something that hadn’t really been done before in a reverse harem anime/manga. It’s a good while before she even entertains the idea of entering a relationship with anyone, and even then it’s only with people who she is incredibly close with. Majority of fans argue that because of this is demi-romantic (possibly demi-sexual, however this topic is never explicitly brought up in the story). The story definitely lends itself to this, because despite very obviously being a romance, it appears one-sided with various boys and girls easily falling for Haurhi and her personality and then her shutting the possibility of a budding romance with her.

 

Queer-wise: Claire

Jackiemarie “Claire” Whitehouse has been one of my best friends since childhood and one of the first people who helped me realize my queer identity. She’s a biromantic ace living in South Texas and teaches aikido to some rambunctious children when she’s not crying over the unfairness of Rose Tyler not existing in real life. The following interview has been transcribed word for word, for better or worse.

What movie or show growing up was really important to you?

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Also The Barbie Nutcracker movie was very formative. Avatar was Avatar and so powerful for me. But in The Barbie Nutcracker, the girl saves the day and herself by being kind and brave and smart, but honestly the romance in it was also important to me. They have a balanced relationship based on helping and supporting each other, and one of my favorite parts of the movie is where they sit and talk about what’s going on and their feelings. It’s something that I’d rarely seen written as well as that, even today.

Looking back, what do you think about it would still impact you?

I probably have a better answer for the Nutcracker which is that basically the big plot thing is that the magical person the main character is looking for to fix everything turns out to be the main character themselves. So like the whole “you were the person with the power to change things all along just by who you are” and it’s a trope I still refer to as “I am the Sugar Plum fairy” and is present with other character arcs I love, like Rose Tyler from Doctor Who.

What’s the best representation you’ve seen recently?

Steven Universe, definitely. So many of the characters in it are queer-coded, and they all have varied personalities. A bunch of relationships in the show are either nontraditional or approached in a nontraditional, healthy way that reflects the mindsets I often see in the queer community.

How long have you been openly queer?

Um, since I was fifteen or sixteen so about five or six years.

How has this changed how you see movies and TV?

It’s made me realize how much media isn’t made for me and how much it distorted my idea of what my life should look like as opposed to what I actually want. And now I have the words to talk about what representation I feel is missing for me.

What’s your favorite thing about being queer?

The community and the strong sense of who I am that I’ve developed from being queer.

Queer-Wise: Taylor, Alex, and Victor

Today I get the pleasure of interviewing three incredibly queer folks in a poly relationship: Taylor, Alex, and Victor. Taylor is a trans woman, Alex an agender lesbian, and Victor a nonbinary ace. Taylor is a full time student at Texas A&M University; Victor is on sabbatical for a year; Alex is finishing up their last year of high school. The following has been transcribed word for word, for better or worse.

What movie or show growing up was really important to you?

Taylor: Scooby-Doo and Zombie Island where they- [Victor: Hex Girls!] OOoooo yes! They were my gay awakening! That’s when young me decided to become the big tiddy goth GF of my dreams.

Alex: 50 First Dates – but NOT for Adam Sandler. I liked watching Drew Barrymore because she was really hot. My mom told me when I was little I would sit with my hand in my diaper watching it.

Victor: I genuinely can’t think of any one thing. Ha, you guys think I have good memories growing up!

Looking back, what do you think about it would still impact you?

Taylor: The Hex Girls. They’re still really hot.

Alex: I had my gay awakening at a very young age, and I think that really impacted me. I mean Drew Barrymore is still really hot.

Victor: I can’t think of anything! I’ll think of something later!

What’s the best queer representation you’ve seen recently?

Taylor: Tipping the Velvet. It’s got the Gayest Feels of twenty-gay-teen.

Alex: Probably Queer Eye. I haven’t seen a lot of queer things.

Victor: [Alex: Me, bitch.] Sure! Um… okay. Recent would probably have to be Rock and Riot. It’s on Tumblr.

How long have you been openly queer?

Taylor: Mmm. My senior year of high school. I came out that year as trans and queer. And getting gayer every year.

Alex: I came out in seventh grade after falling in love with my best friend. [Taylor and Victor: Gay!]

Victor: I’ve been out since sixth grade. I came out as lesbian. And in eighth grade I came out as not cis. I’ve been open ever since.

How has this changed how you see movies and TV?

Taylor: There has to be queer in a show to watch it! Come on! There has to be queer!

Alex: Since coming out, I’ve been more critical of heteronormativity in TV shows, and I look forward to queer-centric stuff.

Victor: Excellent Gaydar. It’s perfected my Queerdar.