Don't Be Afraid Of The Big Bad Lesbians — LGBT Censorship In Children's Media

Don't Be Afraid Of The Big Bad Lesbians — LGBT Censorship In Children's Media

The media is getting with the times; keep up or get out of the way.

I'm going to cut to the chase with this one because this particular topic gets me a bit opinionated and I'm not exactly feeling shy about it.

Those of us who identify as LGBT have been asking for representation in the media. While there's been an influx of shows jumping on the bandwagon for quite some time, one area where this has become, for lack of better words, a "thing," is children's media. While this hasn't been overwhelmingly prevalent, a few shows have or are taking the steps to be inclusive, such as "Legend of Korra" and more recently, "Steven Universe."

Following these events, it goes without saying that people reacted in a terrible way. Denial was a big thing, people in droves saying things along the lines of, "They're just really friendly, OK?" Even when the characters themselves behaved in a way that established a queer attraction, even when the relationship is literally confirmed to be canon, people will insist up and down that it is just affectionate friendship.

First of all, are you kidding me?

Are you seriously kidding me?

Oh, give me a f*cking break.

We live in a world where two heterosexual characters existing on the same planet and maybe looking at each other has people screaming, "Look at these two! They're so in love and it's canon!" But a queer couple literally acknowledging their affection for each other is "up to interpretation."

And look, everyone's entitled to their interpretations of media. But I've literally had it with the blatant and obvious queer erasure that some people try to push.

A network in the UK even went as far as censoring a scene in "Steven Universe" for what has been termed as "queer content."

But wait... a second ago, they were just really good gal pals! I'm so confused.

No, I'm actually not. People are literally so afraid of queer people in the media that it reveals their own homophobia and, in some instances, hypocrisy (such as, one second they're gal pals, the next we have to shelter our children from the big bad lesbians).

Maybe I should have seen this coming. Who are we kidding? Of course I should have. As a person who realized she was queer at a very young age and lives my life out of the closet, I know how people get about things like this.

"Don't read too much into it. It's just a TV show."

I can see why that's easy to say when you are literally everywhere in the media. And don't hand me that bull about, "We don't want to expose children to that."

Sorry to break it to you middle America, but queer children do exist. And this may actually be doing them a bit of good.

But of course, there are people who try to censor it and make it go away because we can't have nice things, apparently.

This is probably coming off as extremely abrasive and you know, that's probably because this upsets me a great deal. It's hard to talk about this and not make it a social justice issue because it very clearly is. This need for erasure goes back to the homophobia that people parade around as "an opinion."

In a way, I'm living for the fact that some people's perceptions of sexuality are so sensitive that literal animated characters get them so worked up and calling for censorship.

This conversation could go about 80 different ways. I could talk about the fact that children's media is overwhelmingly violent and this violence impacts their behavior, and the fact that censorship doesn't seem to be an issue there. I could go on forever about the oppressive nature of this form of erasure, whether it be censorship or flat out denial. I could write a dissertation length article dealing with proving to people that these queer relationships aren't just our imagination.

But I know it will fall on deaf ears because people that adamant on erasure don't care to learn or educate themselves.

And frankly, I'm exhausted.

How many times do we have to go around and around on this same subject matter before it clicks in? How many battles do we have to fight with ignorant people? How many LGBT kids have to suffer from depression and self-hatred before people realize that all of these things are interconnected?

See, it starts as a kid. Hearing your parents say things like this about a TV show you enjoy, maybe even connected to for the LGBT representation, and you realize that there is a label for how you feel. Watching people close to you want to ban "queer content" because it's "not natural." Having this diatribe go in and out of your ears for years until you turn into a teenager who's internalized homophobia eventually wins out, and you're miserable and depressed because "you're not normal."

This may sound dramatic, but it happens every day. This is why having LGBT representation for younger people is a great thing. Even if you don't agree with it, guess what? It's not about you.

I remember being that little kid who grew up around extremely heteronormative people. Not going to lie, it messed me up really bad. If I had shows like "Steven Universe" or "Legend of Korra" around when I was growing up, it wouldn't have fixed everything by any stretch, but it would have made me feel a lot less alone.

Isn't that the point of media, at its heart? To connect with the audience?

This isn't to say that the representation we have is perfect. There are many more miles to go before it's actually an even playing field. But we have what we have for the time being, and if people want to waste their energy trying to take that away, well, that's just sad.

Times are changing and the archaic view that "relationships are between one man and one woman" are practically obsolete. Why hide that from children? They're impressionable, sure, but they're more likely to suck up your oppressive views than they are "queer behavior."

I can't convince people who don't want to be convinced, but even if people want to press on with censorship, that can only work for so long. I, for one, will keep advocating for those shows that are taking steps towards LGBT representation.

It might not be perfect, but it's doing a lot of good. Whether you like it or not.

Cover Image Credit: http://bit.ly/1ROehwK

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A Letter to the Girl I Was 3 Years Ago

"Strength grows in the moments when you think you can't go on but you keep going anyway."

  To the old me, 

The girl who worried too much about what other people thought of her, the girl who didn’t know what she was worth, the girl who was scared to be alone. 

I know it’s hard, you’re just starting out high school and what people think of you is SO important. You want to be accepted, you want to be liked. You alter the person you actually are, because you want to be the person everyone loves. Stop. It’s not worth it. In a couple years it won’t matter what everyone thought of you, because majority of those people wont stick around after you walk across that stage at graduation. They don’t care about you that much. Be yourself, because that is the best version you can be. You are beautiful just the way you are, you are special just the way you are. Be confident in who you are. Once you stop caring what others think, you will feel a weight lifted off of your shoulders and you will never want to go back.

And YOU, you are worth SO much, and that will be your biggest weapon one day knowing that and being confident in that. Stop letting people walk all over you and define who you are, and stop settling for less than you deserve. LOVE yourself first, CHOOSE yourself first, and everything else will fall into place. The most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself, and the one with the big Man upstairs. The mistakes you have made, and will continue to make, will never define your value as a person.  Once you discover your self value, you will know what you deserve and what you don’t deserve.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” –Psalm 139:13-14

I cant stress this enough: it is OK to be independent, it is OK to be alone. Honestly, you wont figure this one out for a while. You will go through relationship after relationship depending on guys for your happiness and that will be your source of self-validation, and that will get your heart broken at times. It happens, and its OK to learn from it. It is so important that you grow out of that, though. Work on yourself while you have the time, make yourself a better you for the right person that does come along, but most importantly, make yourself a better you for YOU. Be dependent on yourself and your faith for the happiness that you crave out of other people. Stop putting yourself through the heartbreaks, and just settling because you are afraid of being alone. Embrace it, and take advantage of it. 

To the girl that is the girl I used to be-

It’s never too late to realize things need to change. It’s never too late to rid yourself of the negativity, and all of the things holding you back. You got this, I believe in you. Take it from the one girl who never thought she had it in her to become stronger. 

To the old me-

I wish that I could go back and hug you and let you know that you are so loved. You are so worth it. You are so special. You CAN do this. Everything you are going through and will go through will be so worth it, and to never EVER give up no matter how much you want to at times. I wish that I could’ve told you in a few years, you will be mentally and emotionally stronger than you have ever been, and everything that you are going through is just a phase.                                                                                  Life isn't always perfect. Life isn't always easy. Life doesn't always make sense, but thats the beauty of it.

Love,

Me, today. 

  



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Walking Through Campus In The Dark Made Me Realize Girls Should Be Helping Other Girls Feel Safer

I'm forever grateful for the girls who helped me feel safe.

If you're a girl, chances are doing certain things, like walking alone in the dark, can be kind of scary.

I needed to walk from the dorms to the Greyhound station downtown to catch a 7 a.m. bus, and if you've ever lived in the Pacific Northwest in the fall, you know some mornings it isn't light until almost 8 a.m. or later. I am not a morning person and neither were any of my friends, so I knew I would probably be going alone.

There aren't a lot of people out and about that early in the morning and, being a girl in today's world, walking alone in the dark makes me nervous.

I planned on calling a cab, but when it didn't show after 20 minutes, I knew I was going to have to walk. As I started walking, I thought about all the horror stories I've heard on the news, all the times I've been harassed and followed by strangers on the street, all the places I was walking that weren't well light or were in commercial areas with businesses that weren't open. I didn't have pepper spray, I don't know a lot of self-defense, and I felt like all I could really do was keep my head down, walk fast, and hope nothing bad happened.

I was more worried than I care to admit but I didn't really have any other options.

I was walking past Gamma Phi Beta's house, with my phone flashlight on and silently counting the blocks until reached the bus station, and at about the same time, two girls were leaving the house in workout gear, like they were headed out for a run. What caught me off guard was when they asked if I was okay and why I was walking by myself. I explained that I was headed to the Greyhound station and no one else was awake, so I was on my own.

Without any hesitation, they offered to walk with me, so I wouldn't be alone.

I can't even put into words how relieved and grateful I was. If they asked if I wanted them to walk with me, I probably would have said no because I wouldn't want to mess up their plans or be a burden, but they offered.

When we were walking, it felt like walking with friends, not like two friends begrudgingly walking a stranger as a favor. We talked about majors, binge-worthy Netflix shows, classes, and when we reached the bus station downtown, we went our separate ways.

I don't remember their names and I don't know if they'll ever know how much that meant to me, but I still think about it, over a year later, and it reminds me how important it is to look out for and support other girls.

Since I feel like I never got to thank them properly, I do it the best way I know how: by paying it forward. When I have the opportunity to do something to make another girl feel safer, whether that's walking with her, checking in with her at a party, or otherwise, I think it's important to do it.

No one understands the struggles girls face just by existing in our f*cked up world quite like other girls. It is so important for all of us to do our part to support and protect our community.

If you have the opportunity to help out someone else in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation, do it. You have no idea the impact it will have.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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