The Legend of Korra

Time to pop the BIGGEST bottles.

The Legend of Korra had… a lot going on. Both sortywise and in production. It was a sequel series of Avatar the Last Airbender so there was already a lot of pressure on it. It went through four different production companies. At some point it was literally pulled off the air. And still it continued on, because it had a story to tell.

When the finale was coming out, a lot of people were under the presumption that Korra, the main character, and her original love interest, Mako, were going to have their happily ever after in the same way that we got Aang and Katara’s at the end of Avatar. This ship was called Makorra by most fans.

But then surrealy, we had something else entirely.

In the last few moments, Korra and Asami, a former flame of Mako’s and resident kick-ass, share a moment of tender conversation. Words cannot express how intense this moment was for fans. So here’s a video of one of the first animated bi couples.

And never forget the most popular Legend of Korra post on Tumblr.

tonrag: avatarskorra: we popping the BIGGEST bottles when makorra happens tomorrow
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Glee

We knew this was coming. We need to have that talk.

Glee.

The word itself now feels chaotic.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I watched almost all of it in high-school. My mom, brothers, and I piled into my mom’s bedroom and watched it together because what else do you do with dumpster fire shows? We did the same thing with Lost. I was much more invested in the show than they were, but I didn’t know why yet.

There’s a lot that Glee did wrong. We know that. There’s a lot they did right too. But something that I think we can all appreciate is that it was there with constant gay drama when no one else was. We got Kurt from the very beginning with all his twink power. Rachel with her two dads. Santana and Brittney loving each other so much.

But there was one scene that got me in more ways than one.

Unique definitely lived up to her name. While her character wasn’t always handled well, this scene struck a lot of chords in a lot of people. Especially during the time when bathroom bans were the norm. She was a complex character. The writing for her was on par with everyone else. Which means that while she may have done some questionable and Not Good things, it was always something that literally any other character could have done. It was her struggle that set up the conversation about transphobia and how we can stop it. And that we aren’t alone in the fight.

The show opened up a lot of doors to a lot of conversations. From stress to STDs to transphobia to rape culture. It wasn’t afraid to try to talk about topics that are frankly relevant to a lot of American highschoolers. Granted it is way more over the top than my (and nearly anyone else’s) high school experience ever was.

The representation in this show led to a lot more of an understanding in how queer characters should be treated. Either because the show did things very well or because they clearly had no idea what they were talking about. And the nice thing is that as weird as it sounds, we were able to see break-ups. We were able to see how it is to be the only queer kid in your grade and have to deal with regrowing after high school because now you can be you. We see kids coming out and being accepted. We see them not. The queer kids were given the same treatment as the straight ones. They got to sing out their drama just as much as anyone else did.

Rant and Rave: Insatiable

Alright, I’ve put this off for long enough. We need to talk about Insatiable, a Netflix original series with a Whole Lot of Things to complain about. Since this blog focuses on queer representation, we’re only going to talk about that. But keep in mind this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Gatekeepers have always loved to poke and prod at bisexuality. The moment that a bi person mentions their preferences, they’re put into the conversation of “well you have to pick a side.” Lo and behold, what would happen to the bi main character the moment they realize that they’re not straight?

But this trainwreck gets worse. Because the realization that he might be anything but straight comes with a forced kiss from the man who’s bullied and belittled him since the fourth grade. Apparently the man had been in love with him the entire time. Which was why he was so cruel. Because that’s not something telling about how the writers are going to be treating their queer characters at all. This gay man not only forces the kiss, but also forces the relationship between the two by literally trapping the bi man in his own office until they can talk. Meanwhile, the bi man’s wife (that’s right, he’s married and trying to rekindle his marriage) is coming to terms with the fact that she still wants to be in a relationship with her husband.

And then the main character, a straight high school girl, outs the bi man because of a misunderstanding that makes her angry with him, tells not only the guy’s wife, but the entire Southern small town.

The wife is understandably angry that she’s been cheated on and kicks him out of the house. The gay man thinks that this means that the budding romance between them will flower. Bi man just wants everything to work out. And then by some miracle, he’s placed in a situation where a poly relationship might happen.

I have to admit that this almost got me. I was almost willing to overlook this entire clusterfuck of a scenario because I haven’t seen a polyamorous relationship aside from a few scenes from BoJack Horseman, and even then they aren’t even close to main characters.

But then it got worse.

After their first attempt at group sex, the wife is on board with it all. The bi man is over the moon, because his perfect world might be coming true.  All the signs have been pointing to the three of them being maybe really happy in a relationship together. They go to the gay man asking him about being in a relationship. He thought the wife was only in it for the sex. He doesn’t want to be in a poly relationship, but he’s okay with the wife joining in for a threesome. The wife is appalled. She (once again understandably) doesn’t want to just be a sex object. They turn on the bi man. Because now he has to make a choice. But they don’t phrase it as a choice between two people. No that wouldn’t have been a deep enough hole to dig for a season finale. No, he has to choose whether he wants a man or a woman. And if he chooses to remain bi, then he gets neither.

And this is how they thought it was acceptable to end the season. As I said, the show has a lot of other problems. On top of honestly bad writing. Somehow it’s been renewed for a second season, and I wish I could say I was surprised.

Adventure Time

There are a lot of things that are cathartic for queers young and old. Some of them are niche to the different identifiers. Some of them intersect with each other. And then there’s the absolute glory of seeing a queer couple confirmed in the best unequivocal way possible.

Now, Adventure Time has never been something I’ve been into. It came out during a time when I was hypercritical of television because clearly I knew what was up. I was eleven, cut me some slack. For the most part, what I’ve consumed of Adventure Time has been background knowledge from friends who love the show. But you better believe that the moment I learned about Bubbleline being canon I was reblogging artwork left and right. Because that’s part of what the queer community does when we get a win. And this definitely was one.

This is a major step in cartoons, especially mainstream ones that children love. As great as it is for me as an adult to have representation, a lot of what I do now is the same kind of things you’d expect in a young teen when it comes to identifiers. I’ll make another post on that later. Having shows that not only show gay couples but also don’t make it into a Thing are incredible to me. By Thing I mean the whole “look at how progressive we’re being by including you in this, please buy our merchandise.” This was a relationship that not only built up over time, but was also included a bi teenage girl who was shown having an interest in multiple people of different genders.

The show aired for 11 years and during that time, a lot of people my age were able to follow these characters. That’s a lot of time to watch people fall in love and experience heartbreak at around the same time that they did. It makes absolute sense that these fans who are queer themselves getting to see these characters fall for each other went absolutely bat-shit crazy over this one minute. I don’t blame them for a second. Because Bubbleline is canon and is something that old and new fans got to experience together.

Queerwise: Momo

Alex “Momo” Morlan is an applied math major at Texas A&M University. He is a bisexual disaster man who enjoys creating Dungeons and Dragon campaigns that everyone will drop out of when he comes up with the next idea and Civ 5. His favorite color is emerald green, though this has absolutely no bearing on his fashion sense. He is a very dear friend. 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. Because it was amazing and I watched it with my sister and I loved it.

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

All of it. [laughing] Considering the fact that I rewatched it all in the last six months. Just every inch of it.

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

Uh, obviously, Ouran High School Host Club which I just happened to watch oh sixteen hours ago! Because someone has decided to call me out all week. [You are so valid, Momo. What about it made it good representation, do you think?] Uhhh… because it was kind of actually fairly realistic in terms of… uh… nonbinary. Just like, “Eh. Whatever.”

How long have you been openly queer?

[long pause] Depends on like… to who we’re talking about. [Just in general.] Like… four or five years?

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

Um… I sit very differently while watching them? Um… generally more of like a slouched posture. Aaand… um… movies have changed much less because like the very specific seating arrangements they have. [Both laughing] But for TV, I generally now lounge on the couch. Uh in my perfect world I have like a very cute guy feeding me grapes, but like that never happens really. [Okay, you dense motherfucker. Or fatherfucker, depending on the mood. How has your identity changed how you perceive the television that is queer or not queer or pointedly not queer?] Uhh… it allows me to see a lot more of the like “Oooh.” This person’s like, “Oh yeah! They’re gay!” And I’m like, “No. You have not written them that way.” Or, “This person’s straight!” “Hahaha! Haha! That’s cute! No. Most definitely not.”

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.

 

Brooklyn 99

This show has been a little bit of a mixed bag for some considering that it focuses on police officers, but I see it as something genuinely positive for both the community and the general public. While it does focus on the police, it’s not afraid to critique the system’s corruption, inequality of service, and the general disorganization that the public has come to resent. We also get two characters unabashedly queer and others who are unafraid to admit to feeling attraction to characters of the same sex. Among other issues it deals with: transmisogyny in the prison system, racial profiling, and gender roles.

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Holt and Rosa not understanding how relationship communication work.

Very realistically, Captain Holt, a mid-life gay black man, is married and plays the gay card only when absolutely necessary, ie: he really doesn’t want to do whatever the situation is. And Rosa is a stone-cold butch bi woman who has recently started allowing herself to express her emotions around the people she cares about. The cast is very adamant about never making jokes at the expense of the queer community instead, embracing the group’s style of humor.