All the Gay Shows have my Heart

Do you guys remember when The N was a thing? I miss that channel to this day.

Listen I still have vivid memories of being eight years old, curled up on the couch, being so tired and staying up obscenely late just to catch Degrassi: The Next Generation. Guys fucking commercials were still a thing. My poor little soul had to stay awake for an entire hour, through commercials, just to watch my show.

The struggle was ridiculously real.

Can we talk about Degrassi though? It was ridiculously ahead of it’s time. I mean that was 2002 for Christ sake and it handled topics like sex, pregnancy, any and all kinds of abuse, drugs, bullying, self image, sexuality, self injury, mental illness, suicide, abortion, domestic violence, death, racism – all from teenagers povs. Also it had teenagers playing teenagers, which is still unheard of.

(It was so hard hitting that my mother made me put together a report on why I should be allowed to watch it ahaha. I did, and I got to continue it, so I guess I passed?)

Degrassi aired for 14 solid seasons and even though I’m pretty sure I stopped after 9 (it moved channels and all the original characters were gone) it was definitely with me from ages 12-16 which, let’s be real, are not fun for everyone.

(I’m having a lot of nostalgia right now)

Degrassi was important to me for a lot of reasons. The teenage perspective hit home, the episodes dealt with shit that were really happening in our world, but there were certain things that stuck out to me more than others. Or, should we say, certain characters.

Care to take a guess on why? Don’t worry, I’ll give you a hint:

Wow. Can we talk about this oldschool gif quality. Also I want to point out that both of the blondes are siblings. Gays come in packages ya’ll.

 

So Marco and Dylan started up in the 3rd season, which would have made me…10ish? 11ish? It was the absolute first time I had ever seen a same sex relationship on tv and I was living.  I was so invested in the turmoil of Marco and Dylan’s relationship. From Marco coming to terms with his sexuality, to Dylan being frustrated when he wouldn’t come out, to breakups and heartaches and gawd. I cried over these two.

(I also wrote a shit ton of DylanxMarco fanfics so you can thank them for getting me into queer writing my babies)

Thinking back on it I’m pretty sure Dylan was Not a Good Guy but at the time. At the time, they were on a teen drama. A gay couple. In the 2000s. There was at least someone who didn’t treat homosexuality like it was an adult subject. Good Guy or not, at least he fucking existed.

Paige and Alex were a messy relationship too, but their struggles were real. And I think that’s also important. I’m usually against being invested in relationships that just break up but. Teenagers turn into adults, they grow and change, and you can’t always take people with you. Relationships are hard. (Look what this show taught me!)

(someone buy it for me so I can rewatch and cry alot)

Anyway.

You guys wanna know what came on after Degrassi? South of Nowhere.

(Yeah, my ass was staying up even later God help my little gay self.)

Listen. Listen. SoN focused primarily on a girl falling in love with her bisexual friend. Yeah, sounds exactly like something 11yr old Char would be into, right? SoN went hard like Degrassi did and handled a lot of the same subjects, it also focused in on teen life, but the cast was smaller so you got to really see how shit effected everyone, especially in a nuclear family.

(Also I’m pretty sure Ashley Davies (Mandy Musgrave) was my first girl crush? Look at her? What a babe?)

SoN only ran for three seasons which I still think is pretty damn good given the time and that it was on a teen network. I’ve seen it all more than once over the years. The homophobia was strong in this one, but it was also good in that it showed some people be unquestionably in the girls corner, and others who came around once they got used to it. And it ended on a happy note! With the girls still together! Can you handle that?! (NEITHER OF THEM DIED -gasp of shock-)

God this show. I had a lot of love for this show.

I want to rewatch it again holy shit this road is not good for me and my need to reignite my feels.

Okay lets move on shall we?

Yeah I know, who doesn’t love Ellen? But for real, let’s talk about her and her show for a moment. I could literally write a hundred blog posts on her alone but I’m going to try to keep it down to the highlights and why she means so much to me personally.  I don’t really remember how old I was when I started watching Ellen, though it was between 13-18. I would come home after school and my mom and I would watch it together. It was her pick (which, yes, is important, see words written below).

One day my mom mentioned that Ellen was gay and my feet nearly came out form under me. This woman? With her talk show and her millions of viewers? That everyone seemed to genuinely like? That my mom liked? A woman of power? A gay woman of power? No way.

Yes way.

I think maybe Ellen opened the door for my mom and I to have a lot of talks about being lgbt and what that meant for people. I grew up in a religious state, in a Christian household, so there was always the stigma that ‘being gay will send you to hell’, but I challenged that. How could a woman like Ellen, who helped so many people, who promoted kindness, who lived and loved, be going to the worst place imaginable just because who she loved happened to be another woman? (also can we just.)

My mom agreed with me, she couldn’t imagine it either.

So here’s what Ellen gave me: a role model, someone to look up to, and someone that my mom liked. If she could like a gay woman she didn’t even know, then surely she would still like me, right? Right.

I didn’t find Queer as Folk

or The L Word

until I was in college but whew, boy, did I not watch anything else for awhile.

QaF was the first hour-long American tv drama to follow the lives of gay men (and a lesbian couple). It came out in 2000, and was followed by The L Word in 2004. (Maybe those years were gayer than they seem?) But, they were both very adult oriented and were released on Showtime. Ya’ll, Showtime goes hard. You can almost get a homo sex ed class out of these shows LOL.

QaF handled a lot of important topics but I think the ones that stood out to me the most were the HIV storylines and Queer Bashing. The latter was a hard hit, and a reminder that homophobia can go farther than a few harsh words.

Truth be told, they’re not the best shows in the world. The L Word especially is messy the later the seasons get. But, their entire character casts are queer, they’re wrapped up in queer culture, and they’re fun to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed them.

(well, except for maybe the last season of The L Word. Can we pretend that one didn’t exist?)

Alright I’m almost done, and I’m going to go out crying probably, because I’m never going to be over how amazing Sense8 was and how fucked up it was of Netflix to cancel it.

This show, guys. This show had it all, but for the purpose of staying on topic: It was written by a transwoman, included two same sex relationships, a lesbian WOC as well as two gay men from Mexico, and a lesbian trans woman. But most importantly, these characters were handled with respect. None of the drama in the show was about their relationships. Was Lito struggling with his sexuality and coming out? Sure. But when they talked about it, it was true to heart. It was issues that we’ve all faced, and advice that hit home. Was there transphobia? Absolutely. But again, it was handled right.

No one’s life was over because they were different. They learned to take who they were and become stronger.

Sense8 was a show on a major streaming network that had an interesting plot, a diverse cast, and didn’t kill off their lgbtq+ characters for shock value. It was important, and even though it crushes my soul that we’ll never know what happened to anyone because season 2 ends on a cliffhanger and Netflix is a dick, I urge you to watch it. Because it’s simply beautifully done, and it deserves all the attention in the world.

Alright, so, there’s the list of TV shows that have somehow inspired my life in a positive way, and made my days just a little brighter!

Enjoy your binge session 😉

All the best,
Char

 

EDIT: Since posting this, Netflix has finally paid attention to the half a million fans throwing a fit and has agreed to giving Sense8 a 2hr special to close up. So proud of everyone who fought for it.

Just Juliet and Race

I’ve thought about making this post for awhile now. I’ve thought about how I would word it, what I would say, where the line between ‘making excuses’ and ‘explaining myself’ was. At the end of the day I’m not sure there’s a way to write this without making someone, somewhere, unhappy. But. I felt like this was important enough it at least needed to be brought up.

Just Juliet doesn’t get low star reviews a lot, and that’s not meant to sound like I’m bragging, but meant to say that when it does, I pay attention to them. I want to know what someone didn’t like enough to vocalize their distaste. I want to know what I can do to fix it in later stories.

A few I don’t have control over – my writing style, the way I plot, some mistakes the editors made. A lot are from people who obviously don’t come from a generation that use insults as terms of endearment. Some are from homo/biphobes. Whatever. Can’t win them all.

But, mostly, when something negative is brought up, it’s in terms of race. Namely, how I write about it.

Here’s a little about me: I was born and raised in the South, in a white family, my Grandparents went to segregated schools, there were three African American kids in my own school – two were mixed and one raised by white parents. We had a few families from Mexico, but otherwise, my home town was predominantly, strongly – white.

It’s something I’ve been trying to pay attention to since college. To notice how the world treats other races, to check my white privilege, to do better. Slowly but surely, I am trying.

Here’s a little backstory on Just Juliet, and why race is handled the way it is:

When it was written and originally put up on Wattpad, Lacey was the only POC. And after it was finished, with 2.5k readers, only a handful finished the book knowing Lacey was black. Rereading it, it crushed me that I had somehow managed to whitewash my book so badly..

So while in the editing process, I tried to fix it. I tried to pull on things that would make Lacey’s race more noticeable, and decided to change some of the other background characters races too. Kiki, Georgia’s boyfriend Chris, Matt. (Actually, no one complains about Matt, but that makes me wonder if it’s because no one remembers he’s hispanic?)

Did the main cast stay white? Yes. I thought about making Lena biracial for a little while, but in the end I decided I didn’t have enough of a grasp on what it means to be biracial to write her that way. It wasn’t my story to tell. Lakyn, Juliet, and Scott fell under the same rules, because I could write stories from all their POVs eventually. 

This review, specifically, calls out the mistake I still made:

I almost put the book down five pages in because of how casually racist the descriptions of the supporting characters were. Like, wow, your token asian has very conservative parents and loves math?? you have a character who has a ”beautiful multiracial baby”, and the dad’s out of the picture?but it’s totally cool, because your bland white girl MC has a best friend who’s black and *~coincidentally~* combative and promiscuous?”

Maybe I’m going to regret speaking my thoughts from here on but *deep breath* I didn’t realize I was stereotyping. (I take full responsibility for the line “Lacey went so white she could almost pass for caucasian” because yeah, that’s gross, but I was trying to find any and every way that I could point out she wasn’t, that it just…slipped in. Someone should honestly take that out. Publishing team – if you’re reading, do us a solid?)

So what have I learned? That I should try to do better. I shouldn’t have walked into a book throwing races around with a limited time frame and even more limited research.

So this is me acknowledging that I fucked up.

And I will do my best to not do it again.

Okay that’s all I had to say.

Best,

Char