Queerbaiting: The (Mis)representation Of The Queer Community

Queerbaiting: The (Mis)representation Of The Queer Community

We are real people who deserve real representation.
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Dean Winchester and Castiel. Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Quinn Fabray and Rachel Berry. Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper.

What do all of these pairs of characters have in common? They are prime examples of queerbaiting.

Queerbaiting is a phenomenon that has become increasingly prevalent in TV shows as society has grown more accepting and open toward homosexuality. Essentially, it is a tactic used by writers in order to draw attention to the show, especially from the queer population. Platonic conversations between two same-gendered heterosexual characters are suddenly riddled with homoerotic undertones. The line between friends and lovers is blurred and people from the queer community begin to watch in hopes of the characters’ relationship ascending to the romantic level.

Sadly, in queerbaiting, this will never happen. The two characters will ultimately continue being strictly heterosexual, all while still making the pseudo-homoerotic remarks to one another in order to maintain the queer population’s interest. At the end of the day, the queer community is being exploited for their views.

If you are straight, you might not understand why we fall for queerbaiting. We can sometimes recognize instances of queerbaiting, so why do we still watch the shows after we have identified it?

The answer is simple: we continue watching in hopes of representation, or even just for the illusion of representation. While, yes, the LGBT community is getting increasingly positive and more common representation across shows (see: "Supergirl"’s Alex Danvers and Maggie Sawyer and "Legend of Korra"’s Asami and Korra), it is still limited.

In shows, we often only get one LGBT couple – sometimes two if we are lucky. Straight people and couples are still largely in the majority. Sometimes, we might identify with one pair of queer (or queerbait) characters more than another pair. Thus, we take what we can get, even if we know deep down inside that the writers are using us for our views.

We can take a look at “Supergirl” for a good example of representation as well as potential queerbaiting. The “Supergirl” writers were able to create one of the most authentic, relatable lesbian relationships in a long time between Alex and Maggie. Alex’s coming out story was down-to-earth and a tearjerker. Also, her relationship with Maggie is absolutely believable. However, fans are also buzzing about the relationship between Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor, commonly referred to as Supercorp by fans of the show.

The queer viewers have noted the homoerotic nature of Kara and Lena’s interactions. These underlying pseudo-romantic tensions spiked to an all-time max during last week’s episode “Luthors.” Throughout the episode, Kara became increasingly frustrated that no one would believe that Lena was framed for being evil. At the end, Lena overflows Kara’s office with flowers and says in a flirtatious manner, “Supergirl may have saved me, but Kara Danvers, you are my hero.”

It could be argued that the queer community that ships Supercorp is being delusional and making explicitly platonic interactions into romantic ones through their own Queer Goggles, however, you can’t deny that there is a spark between them. There is a certain amount of chemistry that the two share that doesn’t exist between her and her current love interest, Mon-El. The writers make it blatantly obvious to the viewers that Kara is, indeed, straight, and going to be involved with Mon-El.

A lot of viewers against Supercorp have a common argument along the lines of “You already have one lesbian relationship. Isn’t that enough?”

This argument isn’t unique to only Supergirl. It’s used whenever viewers of other shows with one queer couple start to ship another set of characters. There are a number of things that are explicitly wrong with this, though.

Using this argument suggests that there should only ever be one LGBT couple on any show, just to appease the queer community. Anything more than that is overbearing and unrealistic. It suggests that we are being selfish in asking for more representation, as if we do not need anymore.

The queer community should never be reduced to just one queer couple per show. Queer couples are not items to be rationed. They are people and, in real life, the number of queer-identifying people (especially youth) is increasing.

So, how does Supercorp versus Sanvers relate to queerbaiting? How can a show with a queer couple be queerbaiting? The popularity of Supercorp is overwhelming. In polls, I have never seen Kara’s relationship with Mon-El win over her relationship with Lena. The writers are aware of their popularity and, since episodes are written as the season passes with the viewers in mind, it could definitely be argued that Supercorp’s interactions are becoming increasingly more homoerotic to reel in even more queer viewers.

But, most of all, I want to focus on one of the biggest offenders of queerbaiting today: Riverdale’s Betty and Veronica (Beronica).

I have only watched one episode myself, but, even from that, along with the prevalence of how much buzz Beronica get on social media, it is blatantly obvious that the two girls are queerbait.

The way that these girls are being marketed to viewers is a form of queerbaiting that is highly more potent than any other instances because there is absolutely no question about the homoerotic nature of the pair’s interactions. In every single episode, their interactions suggest something deeper than friendship – in just the first episode, the two kiss for absolutely no reason at all.

That is what sets Beronica apart from other queerbait pairs. Dean and Castiel never kissed. Not every single one of Quinn and Rachel’s interactions screamed: “We’re more than just friends!” With every other queerbait couple, there has been at least a little room for the possibility that their queerness is being misinterpreted. There is absolutely no room for that with Beronica.

Many supporters of the show claim that Beronica is not queerbait because the writers and actors themselves explicitly stated that the relationship would never transcend beyond the platonic level.

But that does not mean it isn’t queerbait. Let me ask the people who believe that Beronica isn’t queerbait a few questions.

Do you believe that Betty and Veronica’s interactions are purely platonic?

Do you believe that Betty and Veronica have better chemistry with each other than they would with any male character?

Do you think that Betty and Veronica would be a cute couple? Do you ship it above any other heterosexual couple on the show?

Judging solely from my glimpse into people’s views on the show, I can already guess what people’s answers are. Every Thursday at 9:00 PM, I see people on my timeline on Twitter screaming about Betty and Veronica. They scream about how the two would be a perfect couple, how they should kiss, and how they should be canon.

I also see queer people inquiring about the show, simply because of this relationship. People are starting to watch this show for Beronica, even though writers have declared that it will never happen.

So, yes, it’s clear that they won’t ever actually be together, but that doesn’t stop the masses from being attracted to the show solely because of their presence. That doesn’t stop the fact that they are continuing to share pseudo-romantic interactions every single episode. Thus, I would, in fact, consider Beronica queerbaiting and an extremely ugly form of it.

Queerbaiting exploits the queer community’s views. Writers know how popular queer couples are and how they draw massive amounts of viewers to the show, but, at the same time, they are hesitant to ever make more than one couple queer. It is time for writers to realize that we are more than just numbers – we are actual people who deserve real, authentic, representation.

Either write characters as explicitly queer with the intentions of them being queer or write them explicitly straight with the intentions of them being straight. No more blurred lines.

Cover Image Credit: The Mary Sue

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Things To Know Before Dating A Firefighter

You'll learn how to tell the difference between different kinds of sirens.
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There are just certain things you are going to want to know before dating a fireman. In my experience, I had to learn along the way. But at the end of all the calls, constantly smelling his gear in the car and sometimes even cancelled plans, I sure do love my firefighter!

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons To Date A Country Boy

You were promised a list, so here it is:

1. If they are even within 20 minutes of the station, they will always leave you to go on a call.

No matter the circumstances, if you have a fireman on your hands, he will jet to the car and be on his way.

SEE ALSO: What It's Like To Date A Police Officer

2. Meeting nights are not something you try and fight with them about. They are going to leave and you do not have to like it because it wasn't up to you anyway.

I have learned that these nights are not optional. Yes, other people miss them, but not my firefighter.

3. No matter where you are or what you're doing the minute they hear a firetrucks horn, they're looking for it and hoping they're not missing anything good.

You will learn the lingo. Structures, fully involved (the good stuff) smoke alarms, cat in a tree (ehh I mean they are fireman...soooo still good stuff).

4. They know the exact difference between an ambulance, cop, and, of course, a fire truck siren.

Which means that you will have to learn, too.

5. You’ll have to accept that when he has to do hall rental cleanup, you're going with to help.

You fold the chairs and he stacks them. And Im talking at like 12 a.m.,1 a.m.

6. When you come around the firehouse, there will be jokes made and they'll mess with him about you or even you about him.

Honestly it's a giant bromance going on and they prey on this kinda stuff.

7. At first, you won't really have a name to the fire guys. Until you're around long enough.

You'll just be Boyfriend's name's girlfriend.

8. The fire pager goes where he goes.

Next to the bed, in the car, next to your bed, your living room, EVERYWHERE. And even if it's not the real pager, it's the dog app that I can never remember the name of so dog app it is. (Say that really fast to get the full effect).

9. They will probably wear their station shirt/apparel at least 4-5 days a week.

AT LEAST.

10. If you've got a good one, you're always put first. The list will always go "You, the firehouse, me, everyone else."

But secretly they always want to put the firehouse first.

11. You will learn and know more stations, trucks, members, and chiefs than you will ever want to admit.

Unbelievably true.

12. When you're driving and you see a fire station, you'll have to look at it.

If its an amazing building, you'll have to remember the name. And then you'll have to tell him about it. And then you've just proved number 11 correct. Add it to your list.

13. Never make plans while he's on a call. You can never know when he'll be back.

Even if the calls are short, they could stay at least another hour washing the trucks and being boys, of course.

14. In case you didn't understand the severity of the first one, if you are on the phone and you hear the pager go off in the background, just tell him you love him and hang up.

Because if you don't, he will. "Got a call, Love you, bye." Mid-sentence is always what you want to hear.

15. You'll never want to watch "Ladder 49" again.

You will cry like a baby and then want to make him quit.

16. Outside of the stations, fireman tend to forget that fire isn't a toy and it's pretty damn hot.

*Playing with the lighter fluid or burning things on the stove*
"No it's alright, I'm a firefighter."

17. You will start your own station shirt collection.

From NYFD memorial shirts, a station from where you're vacationing even acquired old shirts of his, you will have started your own pile of station shirts.

18. You can't get angry or upset when he is unavailable because he's going to go to the firehouse for the fifth time that week, or if there's another fire prevention thing to do.

You can't be mad because he's doing what he loves and also because a man in a uniform isn't too shabby.

There are a lot more things to know before dating a fireman, but the rest you'll just have to learn along the way.

SEE ALSO: 5 Things To Know Before Dating Someone With Anxiety

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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Our Sexuality Is A Moving Spectrum, So Moving Around On It Is Totally Normal

Understanding that labels aren't one size fits all

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Human sexuality is a large topic that is often never completely discussed. Human sexuality is divided into four parts: Sex, Attraction, Identity, and Expression. Each four of those categories are all on a spectrum, there's no simple clear-cut definition of gender identity, gender expression, biological sex and who you are sexually and or romantically attracted to. Labels have become a huge thing in society but what's so problematic about labels is they are never one size fits all.

When I came out I thought it was easiest, at that time, to label myself as bisexual…I wasn't sure everything that I felt, I didn't want to "shock" anyone, and didn't feel that the label lesbian fit. There have been growing pains since then and I settled into the label of gay. I didn't find myself being attracted to men or actively pursuing relationships with men but I hated the label lesbian, so I choose gay. As I've been becoming more and more self-aware and self-confident though, I find myself transitioning into the label of queer.

Queer could be seen as derogatory by some, but I personally believe it's the most empowering label. I find it the most inclusive word. Wikipedia defines queer as "an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or cisgender". To me, that means I am most definitely falling under the vast category of LGBTQ, and I am open to love within that community. I do not actively pursue relationships with men and do not consider myself as bisexual, but in the same breath, I wouldn't say that I'd completely rule out a relationship with a man. Does this make me pansexual? Honestly, I don't personally identify with any label right now besides Queer.

I think we all need to realize that sexuality is a spectrum. Everyone seems to completely grasp and understand that other things have spectrums, such as autism. Yet when it comes to sexuality: sex, attraction, identity and expression, everyone's much more comfortable if we have clear label markers. Well, society, wake up. It's the end of 2018, and we've come a long way, we've fought for tolerance and acceptance, and it's time to start opening our minds a little more. Why do we all need clear definers for things? Why can't we just…..be? I was having a great conversation with someone the other day and we agreed that if two people are happy and partners understand the ins and outs of their personal relationship, why does anyone else need to question how it works?

I took a human sexuality class in college and it was the most interesting and best class I've taken to date. One day we had a speaker come in who was a transgender straight man and was married to a woman who identified as a lesbian. They both have their own identities, stand by them, and they love each other for exactly who they are. Many of you might be scratching your heads and think how does that happen… and honestly, why do we need to question it? I think it's absolutely incredible and beautiful when two people find pure joy and love in one another.

Do not ever feel pressured to put a label on yourself for ANY reason in your life. And if you choose to, don't at all feel obligated to stick to that label. People grow, and learn more about themselves, their wants and needs. Nothing is more attractive then someone who's able to say you know what…that fit me then, but right now that doesn't feel right and I've found what better fits me. Coming out isn't always a one-time thing, its okay to change your identifier. There was a beautiful piece, written by a friend, about this topic that you can check out here.

Educating yourself about things you don't fully understand is honestly the most LGBTQ friendly thing you could do. Don't ever be afraid to ask appropriate questions and say things like "hey I think that's super awesome, I support you, would you mind sharing more with me so I can better understand you?" Learn about yourself, don't be afraid to question anything, don't feel the need to label yourself, or scared to take off a label that no longer suits you. Be confident and trust your heart and your intuition, they're never wrong.

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