Fallible humans

Do we want our LGBT characters to be heroes?

We are a minority, subject to varying levels of distrust and dislike in the general population, becoming more visible and visibly successful. In real life there are queer heroes and villains, those oppressed and disadvantaged by homophobia and those who transcend it, people of all levels of gift and accomplishment, psychopaths and empaths.

The Bechdel test asks, in this drama are there two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man? That is, does the drama have anything primarily for a female audience? There are films for queer audiences, romantic comedies of two women or two men, just as fifty years ago there were films for Black audiences in the US.

Oops. I was going to stick in a joke about black film noir, but this article says that there are still segregated films, even though Morgan Freeman and Eddie Murphy are mainstream: if the Whites are watching a Black film such a high empathy threshold would make the suspension of disbelief difficult and attenuate the pleasure of their viewing experience. Please read that word “mainstream” imagining distaste in my voice.

So we look at these dramas with a beady eye. Are the gay characters in some way clichéd, like Jack the camp one in Will and Grace?  Will, the main character, was straight-acting to be more reassuring to the straight audience. Oops. Cliché camp gay: bad. Straight acting: bad. Felix in Orphan Black is also ostentatiously camp: most gay men I have known have reserved their fully camp side, like a Scouser in London speaking with a modified accent. Is he cliché or role-model?

In Last Tango in Halifax, a married woman having a lesbian affair books a hotel for a weekend away with her girlfriend. Phoning a young male receptionist, she bottles it, and books two single rooms to the great disgust of her girlfriend who does not find out until they check in. Arriving to find a middle-aged woman receptionist, she does not correct her mistake.

I can believe she would be frightened about her relationship being known. I want drama to portray reality without pointing too much of a moral, so we can react to it as we will: but I would not want anyone thinking she was right to be ashamed.

People use the word “lesbian” of her, as if her marriage was a mistake. Was there never any attraction? I may be less offended by this than if I were bi.   Yet so many women marry then come out that we have the expression “Gold star lesbian” for those who have never had sex with men. We would not need terms at all if sexual fluidity was accepted, that it was equally normal for some people to feel attractions to the same sex, and act on them, and different attractions at different times of their lives: but would there still be straights who suffered that high empathy threshold and be put off?

I want the queer couples to get a happy ending. Straights do.

7 thoughts on “Fallible humans

  1. I want that for gay couples too – I know of many who are my friends that are heading towards a happy ending in their private sphere – where it counts, really – regardless of what barriers they might stumble upon. The key is friendship circles that matter, I think


    • Friendship circles are by far the most important, but the general culture matters too. Do we see people like us on the telly? Are they admirable? Do they have happy endings? It affects how others see us, and how we see ourselves.


  2. I love gay characters, wish there were more. I don’t care if they are heroes, villians, or just the average joe/jane.
    I want to see more real life and read more real life, meaning an accurate depiction of our world. I want to see color and cultures and all the things I believe makes our world beautiful.
    Now, for a shameless plus, please check out Jade by Rose Montague, a good friend, available on Kindle, Barnes and Nobel, and Amazon. The lead character falls for a female named Jane and they have a very interesting and fantastic relationship. I like to promote these things. Thank you!


    • As you comment here a bit, saying sensible things, you are allowed the occasional plug. I will even give a Link.

      There is some conflict between “accurate depiction of our world” and “all the things I believe makes our world beautiful”. “Accurate” includes the dark. There are good reasons on focusing on the light, and good authority going back thousands of years- eg “Whatever is pure, noble, or of good report, think on these things”- and I am still unsure how much darkness I want to see. Meanwhile, you get a wee bit of real life here!


  3. I was reading a book a while ago and the heroine was lesbian. It took me ages to work that out, which to my mind was good, the partner was just sort of gradually introduced into the story and it finally clicked with me. Because what I wouldn’t want is an early announcement of the hero/heroine’s sexual status – you don’t get it with straight relationships, so it shouldn’t be necessary for LGBTQ ones.

    I can’t remember the percentage of the population that is meant to be LGBTQ – at some point in their life, or who flit between whatever – but it certainly isn’t reflected that well in books (because I don’t see TV drama). There again, I have no knowledge about peoples’ relationships around me, partly because other peoples’ sexual orientation and sex lives is their business not mine.

    But in terms of happiness, one of my friends married her partner last year, or the year before, and they do seem to have a happy ending. Their relationship is all over Facebook, and they received shedloads of warm wishes for their wedding. Nice.


    • For queer characters, you often do get that announcement, just as you do with new acquaintances: you assume straight, as you assume right-handed, and then the subject comes up.

      As for percentages, it varies. The fact that a lower percentage states they are LGBT+ aged over sixty than under thirty could indicate that people can convert if they want to, or even that the evil queers are making converts, but I think indicates that people fib about their sexuality, but those born more recently are less likely to.

      Happiness is somewhere to be had.


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