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.