I know “betrayal” is a strong word, but there’s no other term that captures the full effect of what queer fans feel as a result of queerbaiting. For many queer fans, queerbaiting removes the confidence they had that the media they were watching was made with them fully in mind. It reinforces that to studios (and some celebrities), queer fans are walking rainbow wallets to be discarded once empty. Part of why queer fans have gravitated to shows like Taika Waititi’s Our Flag Means Death or The CW’s Batwoman is because these shows don’t hold back the “good stuff.” In these series, queerness – especially as seen from characters and people of color – isn’t something we get hints of before it’s snatched from us. It’s part of the narrative and made stronger for it.
I know people don’t always agree on what queerbaiting is or looks like. I get yelled at once or twice a year for disagreeing when I see people talking about queerbaiting in a fandom — even when I use coded names and don’t specify the fandom. There are thing I think are queerbaiting that’d get me labeled as Terminally Online TM and “reaching”. It’s not super easy to say “this is queerbaiting” sometimes, but that’s something that I’ve since learned… doesn’t matter? Because it’s not about our feelings as we watch other queer fans be like “wait but we’ve been waiting for this fir six years and it didn’t happen??”
Queerbaiting is one of those fandom things I’ve realized is like… confusing to people who aren’t affected or don’t see it (for whatever reason) but is frequently devastating to the people who put their time and energy into it. And yes it took me ages, but I learn nothing when I’m being yelled at by random people on the internet, so in moments of peace I sat, researched, and learned.
Also, semi-related but when Ruby Rose was cast as Batwoman Kate Kane initially, one of the wildest things was watching people (other queer people) say that Ruby Rose was queerbaiting. Ruby Rose, mind you, is gay as hell and has been from before I knew she existed. How could Ruby Rose, a real out queer person, queerbait?
To this day I don’t know the answer for that one.
Anyway, go share on twitter if you want! Please read the piece for sure!
Outside of richly, weirdly romantic superhero novels like Devin Grayson’s Inheritance, Weldon is right. The visual nature of superhero comics leads to queer readings in a way that prose often won’t. Prose, up front, often rejects the interpretations that fans have put together. There’s less wiggle room for fans to interpret a lingering gaze or the nearness of two characters or the oft-used Pieta pose as queer when the words on the page are explicitly saying otherwise. As a result, fans have largely had to make do with what they’re given and interpret these moments queerly, playing with characters in their fanworks that largely weren’t “confirmed” to be queer by the powers that be… until recently.
This is the nicest thing I have said about DC in my entire life and… they deserve it. I was a diehard DC fan from about 2009 to 2016 (my peak was 2012-13 in terms of content) and the whole time I was surrounded by other queer fans who just really loved these characters a lot and wanted the representation that came from seeing your favorite character be just like you. I am still friends with my core group of DC fandom friends and it’s been over a decade of growing, writing, and shipping together. I’m considering dusting off my old fics just for those babes. That’s how real it is.
Anyway; so when I saw “Sum of Our Parts” in Batman: Urban Legends and realized that Tim Drake, one of the Robins I queered (yes, I did that for them all, shush) was getting a queer canon? I just knew I had to write about not just him, but about the Big Two’s queer superhero game. This piece is heavy on DC because that was my main fandom for a huge portion of my life, but there are Marvel references and a quote from Danny Lore, a creator I adore. I think that it’s important to
And of course: there are indie comics with queer superheroes, like The Pride! And those comics exist too because queer fans didn’t see themselves in the mainstream superhero comics! I didn’t cover indie superhero comics for this because the focus was the fandoms, but that’s on me! I’m slowly returning to my roots as a comics fandom loudmouth though, so I will make up for it!
Please share the link to the article with anyone you think would be interested in it and share on Twitter if you can! Thanks!
Fandom is incredibly queer. Its origins as a space for LGBTQ+ people are well-documented, and we see that today, too. Fandom is often an online-offline queer community, supporting fans who may or may not see themselves in actual source material, but who can gather together and feel seen by each other.
This month, we’re celebrating Pride by talking about queer histories and communities within different, largely English-language, fandoms and how these spaces have allowed us to be ourselves on main in a major way.
The first of June’s two Fan Service columns is a celebration of queer fandom. If you have somehow missed it before: I am queer.
What that means is always complex to explain because queerness is hard to define and I love being indefinable. But I’ve been here and queer for a hot minute and fandom is one of the things that helped me understand and express what I was experiencing. (It’s also where I got my first girlfriend about a decade ago! Shout out to M, who deserves The World Forever, and who first liked my Batman fic and then really liked me!)
I wanted to write this piece to celebrate one of the best things about online fandoms: that this is a great space for queer fans to figure out who we are and to build communities/relationship. Even if you don’t actually use that label for yourself – I do, obviously, but you can mentally replace it with something else that works better for you – you’re still part of something amazing and I wanted you all to know that you are loved. We’removing along the path paved by an incredible legacy of older queer fans that I am proud to claim and be a part of. I’m truly happy that I can be in these fandom spaces with y’all.
Until this point, we have mainly discussed paintings, but they are not the only works of art that embody Korean history and traditions. That is not to suggest that works that inherit from tradition are always excluded from the list of artistic genres, but no list would be complete without the ceramics of Kwon Dae-sup. RM, who uploaded a picture of himself with one of Kwon’s moon jars in his arms on his social media, admiringly referred to Kwon as a master of Korean aesthetics while viewing his work s at an exhibition.
I have this absolutely irrational fear of museums that I will never address. As a result, I do a lot of my art-learning through art criticism and the flurry of coverage that comes whenever BTS’ RM goes to a new museum exhibit or purchases art (that he or the artist then posts about on social media). I’m super grateful for this piece by art critic Jangno Lee because it looks at the art RM has looked at and what he’s loved enough to purchase and then puts all that art into its contexts for a wider audience and reveals information on the techniques that many average fans who aren’t art nerds wouldn’t know. Now, I’m holding out for some uh… hip-hop focused content? Because I desperately need to know RM and Suga’s thoughts on M-net’s latest hip hop offerings and the general state of Korean hip hop… Just saying.
Stitch Takes Notes is an ongoing and flat out random feature now up on my website wherein I share the non-urban fantasy notes I take for various academic/academic-adjacent books I’m reading.
I’m a huge fan of Screening the Closet: Queer Representation, Visibility, and Race in American Film and Television, Melanie E. S. Kohnen’s book on whiteness and queer representation/visibility in Western media.
Everything about this books speaks to my own (more informal) work on race in fandom and I want to shake it at a bunch of people. I’m largely reading it for fun – as opposed to reading it because I need it immediately for a piece – and I’ve been taking notes on it and putting it into my context/the context of fan-studies in a totally sweet Batman notebook.
I’m not going to put all of my notes out there because then you’d probably wind up with half of the book quoted online because of how much of it I find valuable, but I wanted to put some of my notes up so that y’all can see the connections I’ve been making from the book.
So here are some notes and quotes from when I was going over pages 18-19 and page 25 of Kohnen’s brilliant book:Read More »
“certain bodies could be read as blank slates not already overdetermined by race” – a partial quote from page 17 of Melanie E. S. Kohnen’s Screening the Closet: Queer Representation, Visibility, and Race in American Film and Television.
Some of fandom’s favorite characters are “blank slates”.
Beige blank slates, that is.
General Armitage Hux from the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Arthur and Eames from Inception.
Q from Skyfall and Spectre.
Clint and Phil Coulson in the first Thor movie.
Various minor white male characters in a show or film that somehow became one of/the most popular characters in their source media or fandom.
In this installment of “What Fandom Racism Looks Like”, we’ll be looking at the idea of the “blank slate” primarily in Western media-focused slash fandom spaces.
We’ll be asking what a blank slate looks like, what these fans and fandoms get out of these characters, what characters will never be considered blank enough to be loved, and how, while the claim that fandom prefers “blank slate characters” might well be true and there are many instances where the Beige Blank Slate provides necessary representation within fandom, the preference that prioritizes white male characters above all others kind of messes up something that has the potential to be great.Read More »
This post contains spoilers for Orange is the New Black season 4, Wynonna Earp season 3, Elementary season 6, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5, and a bunch of other stuff that’s been off the air or out of theaters for years.
And, every time a person of color dies so the Winchester brothers can live, I wonder why I even kept the show around as an afternoon marathon session.
Heck, not only did I think I’d have to say some pretty sharp words to Rian Johnson during the climax of The Last Jedi where he had Finn set up to kill himself in order to (possibly) save the dregs of the resistance, but to this day I block everyone I see on social media that wishes for Finn’s death by redemption arc – or suggest that his death would have somehow “saved” his character from being boring.
And now, Wynonna Earp has followed in the footsteps of these shows by killing off the main Black character Xavier Dolls (played by Shamier Anderson) in the third season’s second episode (“When You Call My Name”) and the fandom and crew alike don’t seem to get why that’s such a big problem.Read More »
In a (now deleted) tweet thread from April of this year, writer and artist Kate Leth went in on superhero media for the lack of queer representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The thread was fine and absolutely valid right up until the last tweet where she wrote that:
“There were queer characters in Ragnarok and Black Panther whose scenes were cut. Okoye was awkwardly made straight with a plot that went nowhere. Loki exists in subtext. It’s bullshit, pardon my french, that we’re just supposed to go “oh yeah of course, because of money”
You know what this tweet shows me?
It shows me that Leth might not be able to tell Black women apart from one another and that she doesn’t see the value in a character who chooses love of country and her faith in justice over the love of her life (after he sets himself against their country).
It shows me that while Leth knows the basics about the characters and the film (the cut scene with Ayo flirting with Okoye and the Ayo/Aneka relationship in the World of Wakanda comics), she doesn’t know enough to recognize that Okoye and Ayo (or Aneka) aren’t the same characters.
In my head, my version of Harvey Dent will always be associated with three things: his Blackness (he’s biracial), his bisexuality (he was totally in love with Bruce Wayne), and how he deals with/manages his mental health issues (which are far more detailed than “spooky split personality” crap from the comics/other media).
None of this is canon even though I used canon to build my mental image of the character.Read More »
A fair amount of people not only read Kylo Ren and Hux as queer-coded within their canon, but:
Queer coded villains are actually kind of shitty and they definitely shouldn’t be something to aspire to or admire, and
I don’t know how they leap to that conclusion of Hux and Kylo as queer coded in the first place.
For one thing, there’s a difference between a character – especially a villain – being coded as queer in their canon (typically via stereotypes about femininity/masculinity, style of dress, speech, interactions with other characters) and a queer fan deciding to read a character as queer because they see themselves in the character.
If they’re actually present in canon, queer coded villains typically come from a place of homophobia – conscious or otherwise. They come from a fear of supposedly non-normative genders and sexualities and from society straight up repurposing queerness (or stereotypes about queerness) as a go-to for “spooky and scary” because well –
Heterocentrism kind of needs to portray queerness as a dangerous avenue to stroll down.Read More »
Every time I talk about J. K. Rowling’s current and continuing diversity fails, someone always has to show up to remind me how she “couldn’t write diversely because it was 1997”.
Without fail, people are more invested in protecting Rowling from criticism she will never see or care about than in acknowledging the way that her writing has continued to erase marginalized people while allegorizing their struggles in order to pad her plot and make her characters more interesting.
Even if I knew (or cared) more about the realities of publishing when I was seven years old, the fact of the matter is that JKR managed to put a ton of atypical things in her “kids’ series”. She wrote about the violent effects of racism and blood supremacy as well as child abuse and children coming of age in a war torn world.
And yet, she “couldn’t” include more than eight characters of color or any queer characters who made It to the end of the series alive or who were queer onscreen?
The “it was 1997” excuse for Rowling’s diversity fails only holds a scant bit of water when it comes to looking at the body of her work. Other writers wrote queer characters into their works, other authors managed to have diverse children’s books during the same period that Rowling was publishing her books.Read More »