Real Talk: I am a 30+ year old queer woman. I am also a 30+ year old queer woman who carries with her a metric fuckton of internalised homophobia.
Apart from one awkward conversation with my father that ultimately admitted nothing, I am not out to my parents or the rest of my family because a part of me hopes that, despite everything, I will fall in love with a man who will love me back and I won’t have to put my family and parents through the pain of having a queer child or sister. That is fucked up. That is how fucked up I am. I would rather hurt myself than hurt the people I love by being queer and by disappointing them, because my brain tells me it’s easier this way.
And that’s part of the reason why, when DC Comics’ editorial mandates no marriage, including no gay marriage, it’s not just what some presumably straight man deems a “valid creative decision" (and if he’s not straight, then… really? Really?). It’s something that has a genuine real world impact to me and to people just like me.
It’s a case of losing yet another thing that might help me come to terms with who I am and deal with the internalised homophobia I am dealt by society. It’s Kate Kane who is an openly gay Jewish female superhero not getting a chance to marry a woman she loves. It’s TJ in Political Animals being written as a stereotypical drug-addicted, “look at your poor life choices” trainwreck of a gay man. It’s every LGBTQ character who has been killed, beaten, committed suicide or lost their partner any of those ways, because that’s what society likes to think we are really like. It’s the media who happily reinforce this, like straight people want to see LGBTQ people suffering in cruel and unusual ways and believe we are incapable of having relationships as average and normal as they do.
Taking away any chance of seeing Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer married is taking away yet another a piece of media representing a healthy queer relationship that I could show my family and say “Look, this is valid. I am valid. Who I love and how I love is valid. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t still love me for who I really am.”
When I posted @andykhouri’s question and @JHWilliamsIII’s reply to my tumblr, I didn’t “willfully” omit the tweet from JHW3 that the decision wasn’t anti-gay marriage with any malicious intent as implied by @andykhouri in his own tweets on the subject. And I resent that implication immensely because in all honesty, initially? Even though it was the next tweet, the way my browser is set up at work, I didn’t fucking see it. If I had seen it, it would have been included.
However, the fact that the decision might not have come from an anti-same sex marriage stance from DC Comics still doesn’t negate the fact that these kinds of editorial mandates have broader reaching and real life implications than just “no one gets married, no marriages, break up all the marrieds.”
This article on The Mary Sue says it far more eloquently than I could:
[A]n action doesn’t have to be intentionally insensitive to be insensitive, and I would argue that’s what has happened here. Gay characters in most other mediums, have long, long operated under widespread stereotypical themes that denied them long lasting presences in stories, much less long lasting relationships. There’s a trope named after it, Kill Your Gays, and it’s a deadly drinking game to start listing gay characters who never dated or who couldn’t be with a willing partner because they lived in a place in which that would not have been acceptable, who died prematurely due to events that were coded “gay” (i.e., AIDS or violent hate crimes), or whose partners died in the sorts of deaths that are still very closely associated with gay characters. Now, we all know that inside of comics, almost nobody gets a stable relationship, but given the context of the kinds of stories that are told about gay characters, and that have been told about gay characters for years, it is insensitive to simply view “postponing, denying or destroying a marriage between gay characters” to have precisely the same narrative weight as “postponing, denying or destroying a marriage between straight characters.” And that’s without even considering the real life struggle of real people to have their right to marry recognized by the society around them.
A college classics professor one told me something that’s stuck with me for a very long time as a lover of superheroes: the point of heroes, narratively, is to break boundaries, so that we normal people will know where the boundaries are. He was talking primarily about tragic heroes like Achilles, but this applies as well to comedic heroes (in the old sense of comedic, i.e., heroes who get to win) in a slightly different way. Superheroes break boundaries so that we know what boundaries are possible to break. For many years now, merely getting equal legal recognition for their relationships has been a boundary that the gay community has been fighting to break. Now imagine that I am saying this very slowly: If you are a person who has ever had your life touched by a fictional hero, you should be able to understand how very important it is to allow gay heroes to break that boundary.
And this is why, regardless of how generalised the “no marriages for anyone” decision is by DC Comics, it is not just a valid creative decision to people who actually have to live in this world.