I’m lucky enough that I live in a part of the world that is more accepting of homosexuality than others, where marriage equality has recently been implemented, and general perceptions are beginning to change.
But I still live in a heteronormative society. I grew up with parents who (while not overtly homophobic) would scoff at any mention of ‘gay marriage’ on the news channel, and an aunt who we “just [didn’t] speak about”. I was ashamed of who I was and how I felt. Spent all of high school hoping that things would ‘click’ and I’d like a boy and it’d all ‘make sense’. I had no other reference point in my life to show that actually, there was nothing ‘wrong’ with how I felt, that I could still have hopes and dreams and the same expectations of life as everyone else.
Flash-forward to my first year at uni and somehow discovering tumblr (haha) and Glee. I saw Santana and Brittany on-screen, saw their story and for the first time saw someone like me. Glee had A LOT of issues, but seeing that relationship play out (Santana and her grandmother particularly resonant) helped me with self-acceptance. I bought Imagine Me and You online and adored Rachel and Luce’s happy ending. Promised myself that over the summer I’d talk to my family. So over that summer I introduced Glee to my brother (admittedly he wasn’t a huge fan, but deigned to watch it with me). It opened up the opportunity for discussion, and normalised a wlw relationship. I was lucky that when I told my family just before I went back to uni for my 2nd year, my brother and mum were supporting and loving. My dad wasn’t *not* supportive, we just never really talk about. He’s getting there.
I went on and immersed myself in all the media I could find that portrayed LGBT characters. Then I saw these rumors of an upcoming kiss on tumblr, gifsets of a warrior with black warpaint. The show was the Ioo and I binge-watched and caught up in time for 2×14 airing. A show that made it’s lead character bisexual, and seemingly placed importance on her relationship with a woman. We all know the story from there…
The point is that representation MATTERS. Lexa and her relationship with Clarke were my story all over again for so many other people, seeing themselves on screen for the first time (but SO much better, making the fallout that much more hurtful) and it was ripped away. Seeing the IOO, and the other shows contributing to the count in 2016 alone, that perpetuate tropes like ‘Bury Your Gays’ is harmful. It’s dated. It’s not original. It’s not groundbreaking. It’s not progressive. And can be SO easily avoided with better, more considerate, more aware storytelling. Storytellers need to do better. LGBT Fans Deserve Better.