The Joy of Seeing Another Queer Person in Public

Recently while strolling through Tumblr I found this post:

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.35.46 PM

I didn’t realize this was such a universal queer experience! Seeing other visibly LGBTQIA+ people in public is really exciting, especially when you live in an area that doesn’t have many openly queer people, like where I live. Sure, representation in the media isn’t that great for the LGBTQIA+ community, but more importantly the representation in daily life isn’t very good either for many of us. I know zero queer adults personally. I know of two couples, who go to my church and live in the city that I live in a suburb of. There are no LGBTQIA+ families in my neighborhood that I know of, or even my city. I also know of less than 10 LGBTQIA+ identified kids who went to my high school. There are probably more queer people than I realize in my city, but essentially the numbers are small and there isn’t much of a “community” here.

I feel a sense of connection with other queer people that feels very familial, which is one reason why seeing them randomly in public is exciting. Whenever I am in a city, especially one that’s progressive, like Austin where my sister lives, I am flabbergasted by all the queer people. Like, you can just go into a store or a restaurant and see another openly LGBTQIA+ person, which 9 times out of 10 isn’t the case where I live. It’s hard to learn what it’s like to live as a queer adult when there aren’t any for you to look up to.

Autostraddle, a website that creates content mainly for queer women, has a column called Queer IRL which features photo journals of queer people in different life situations. These photo journals mean a lot to me, and have helped me to feel less alone. The photographs are submitted by readers and the writer of the column is Laneia. Visibility is something we all need, and it can be very lonely and isolating when you don’t have it.

(Top Left: “Queer in the Bedroom” Ft. Kayla , Bottom Left: “Queers and Pets” Ft. Alex and Kiki, Right: “Queers on Holiday” Ft. Jessica)

I hope the excitement of seeing other queer people in public never goes away for me, because as simple as the experience is, it brings me joy.

 

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Queer-Baiting and Representation

We’ve all been there, a “hit television show” brings in a queer character or reveals one of their characters is queer and we start binge watching the show solely for the LGBTQIA+ representation.

All too often the characters are either killed, written out of the show, or declare being queer a phase and “go back” to dating the opposite sex as if bisexuality isn’t a thing. Most recently the shows that have made headlines for doing this are The 100 and Supergirl. These are two examples of blatant queer-baiting, but many shows queer-bait in a less obvious way. They make two girls/guys have a flirty relationship that’s implied but not explicitly stated, then once the ratings go up from queer people flocking to the little representation we have, they kill one of them off. TV shows shouldn’t be using the LGBTQIA+ community for views only to get rid of the queer characters the first chance they get.

While we have way more representation now then we did even three or four years ago, a lot of it still has problems. I’d like to see LGBT people in healthy relationships just living life every once in a while. Maybe that isn’t “good TV” but it’d be nice to see. It seems like big problems arise in most characters situations or sexuality is the premise of their character. Why can’t they be gay without it being a big deal or being one big stereotype?

The killing of LGBT characters specifically queer women is what’s most alarming to me. It happens so often that it isn’t a coincidence at this point. I feel that it sends a very clear message that Hollywood does not value LGBT lives or at least sees them as expendable. Some people may think that conclusion is dramatic, but these repetitive actions seem very straightforward. LGBT lives are disposable and unworthy; They are deserving of physical harm, death, or to be cast aside when Hollywood is done using them. Sending these messages is incredibly dangerous to the community, specifically young people who are looking for guidance and an image of what their future may be like.

Most representation is good, but accurate and diverse representation in more important. I’m happy to see more LGBTQ+ characters on TV and in films, but I’d like to see more diverse stories. The tale of a cis-white-middle class gay person isn’t the narrative of many people in the Queer community or even most. There also isn’t a lot of representation for non-binary, intersex, or asexual people. What’s up with that?

I think we should be a little more picky about the TV shows we choose to support. We shouldn’t just accept any representation, but rather demand the diverse and accurate representation we deserve!

– Alyssa