I have been in a strange state of limbo for years now. It has taken me some time to realize I was there. My brother and me we are best friends and watch hours of TV/film each week, we get into heated discussions over story lines, lore and characters, most of them grand ethical debates that transcend the shows themselves. We’re thinkers. So when a character death impacted me so massively as Lexa’s did that’s what I did, think.
I could write long blog posts about every aspect I discovered, it may even therapeutic, who knows I may put it down on paper at some point. The above realization may be the most important thing I discovered though. Limbo: ‘a state of neglect or oblivion’. A lot has been written about our representation, I won’t talk to much about it.
What I want to talk about is how residing in Limbo has impacted me. After a week of mourning, because that is what I did, I mourned not only the lost of a character but my loss of hope for representation, I sat down and thought carefully about how I could’ve avoided getting attached to this character. It took me a couple of hours to realize that I came at it from the wrong perspective because aren’t we supposed to get attached to characters? Aren’t we supposed to identify with them, get invested in their journeys, root for them, love them? The realization that I haven’t allowed myself to get attached to a gay character in years hit me like a slap in the face.
I had put up protective walls and as I looked at other people’s response it seems like this is the standard approach when a new women loving woman is introduced. We have come up with a collective coping mechanism to avoid being hurt by what we see on TV and after that coping mechanism was carefully dismantled, we were blaming ourselves for getting hurt. How could we hope that someone would care? That someone would get it right?
I need things to change because seeing people blaming themselves for having hope, for believing they were going to be treated as an equal, hurts. There are many things that I have come to realize about why representation is important and how it influenced me as I said before. To be honest they don’t matter to me personally now, I’m happy and healthy, they do matter to others though. People who struggle. If there is one thing that is important to them it is hope.
Well written stories can give it to them and we as people can give it to them. So in light of the failure of writers to supply hope to these people that so badly need it, I hope I can give it to them as I fight for others to give it to them as well. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud – Maya Angelou