So in my previous post, as we remember, I was going to my first Geek LGBT panels at Phoenix Comicon 2015 armed with pen and paper, (yes I really am that ‘old’). I was going to take notes like it was finals week and I hadn’t studied all semester. This article about the LGBT Geek community was going to rock!
First up was Dr. Who for LGBT Whovians!
Sadly the Dr Who panel did not live up to my expectations, perhaps because it was new. The first five, maybe ten minutes were spent mentioning the LGBT characters (Capt. Jack, Ianto, and Vastra and Jenny). The next ten or fifteen minutes covered strong female characters (I do love River Song, and what gay boy doesn’t love a fierce woman who kicks butt and shows the boys how it’s done?). Then about five minutes were spent mentioning the gay cast and crew from both the original and new series (four, all men). The remaining half hour or so was spent listening to the same two or three audience members argue over which episode was best, which companion was best/hottest, and why this or that companion was the worst. Where was the discussion of LGBT representation? Where was the reflection of early 21st century cultural change in the science fiction genre? Hopefully next year the panel will be better. This year, unfortunately, I left disappointed, and had trepidations about the other panel I was going to – Moving LGBT Characters Forward.
While not what I was expecting (i.e. – how writers could improve the portrayal of LGBT characters in their work), it was very informative. The panelists (all comic book artists/writers themselves), discussed whether homophobia played a role in mainstream comics’ reluctance to show LGBT characters and their relationships. According to the panel Batwoman, at some point in her early days, had a seven year long hinted at lesbian relationship, before a kiss was finally shown. The storyline was apparently canceled when the writer insisted she marry her girlfriend. Unbeknownst to me until that panel, there was an entire exploration of the LGBT community evolving in Marvel and DC comics for decades. How could I have missed them? Honestly, it was because I preferred Elfquest and Amethyst Princess of Gemworld over Superman and The X-Men.
When the panel was asked what was the best way to depict LGBT characters, all four of them agreed that it should feel natural for the character. It should be just one more aspect of her/his personality, and not forced. However they also acknowledged the often needed blatant labeling of such characters in order to reach the LGBT community.
Now a days Young LGBT Geeks/Nerds/Dorks do not have to grow up feeling alone. Public Libraries carry Mercedes Lackey’s works (The Herald Mage trilogy features a gay hero), and if one is lucky some even carry comic books or graphic novels (larger libraries may even have LGBT friendly issues/storylines). There are gay gamer groups in larger cities, and on college campuses.
Thanks to the internet the whole world is at our fingertips. Gay superheroes are just a click away.