I have written, and said a few times, semi-earnestly “don’t make characters straight unless you have to”—or words to that effect. Yes, there is irony at work. But there’s something deeper to it. Buried in the snark is also a question: is it okay to focus my work entirely on the queer?
The scales of representation still skew heavily to the straight, white, and cisgendered. People that don’t check off those boxes—or just aren’t that interested in seeing more of the same—are made to feel less than. Made to feel invisible. Told we don’t belong and our stories aren’t worth telling.
That shit hurts. Always has, always will.
When you start to engage with the cishet power brokers and gatekeepers, pundits and pontificators, you’ll often get the well-intentioned advice to straighten it up or go nowhere.
Why do these gatekeepers speak with such authority? How do they actually know? In fact, the runaway success and glorious Black representation of Black Panther and Into the Spiderverse suggest a different story. Is there perhaps a hunger out there for diversity? Will my queer stories tap into that hunger? Could I instead find success because of the queerness of the work, not in spite of it?
If I choose a path ahead that is primarily, even exclusively, producing queer-focused work, I will definitely leave behind the dominant corporate content structures. It’s a scary but exhilarating thought, in a stick-it-to-the-man kinda way.
Those structures, offering the illusion of security and success, are layered in centuries of heteronormative and white supremacist suppression. Are they really salvageable? Suppose I toed the line, played it straight, worked by butt off and somehow managed to “get in” without totally losing myself. Then what? Is there any possibility of change from within? Enough to really make a difference?
Perhaps, but I chose a different path. It will be an interesting adventure. I hope you’ll follow along.
Cover photo: Dominik Lalic / Unsplash
The world is too damn straight!
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What kinds of questionable advice have you been given about navigating a world that wants to you disappear? Drop your comments below…