This morning, we at Ylva Publishing heard about the death of Lexa (Europe lags a bit behind the US TV schedule). It goes without saying that we are heartbroken about the withdrawal of our favorite lesbian character of The CW television show The 100. But that’s only half the story. Our even bigger problem with the storyline is that it lines up with a bunch of other television shows that killed LGBTQ characters. The lesbian death trope has been exhausted beyond all measure.
Sure, The 100 is a show in which a lot of people die on a regular basis. Finn – Clarke’s former love interest – died, and so did some other characters. The particular about LGBTQ (queer) main characters is that there aren’t a lot of them on television to start with, compared to straight and cis characters. The number of queer main characters did increase within the last twenty-five years since the first of them appeared in the early 1990’s, for example, Leon and Nancy on Roseanne, Susan and Carol on Friends, Matt on Melrose Place, or Rickie on My So-Called Life. The big television coming out of Ellen DeGeneres in 1997 combined the lesbian coming out of her as a public person with that of the character she played on her television show Ellen. While her coming out caused problems with the television network and the advertising companies then, she was able to fight her way back into showbiz some years later. But Ellen is a comedian, and comedy television shows are different from drama shows. In comedy, people don’t die that often, and maybe LGBTQ people in comedy don’t pose a threat anyway. In drama, however, LGBTQ people seem to be a major threat. Otherwise, why would so many of them be killed off?
A lot of queer main characters on TV shows died in the last years and decades. AfterEllen made a ranking of lesbian character deaths “on a scale of 1 to 5 crying Santana Lopezes”. Personally, I cried about Dana’s death in The L Word (and ever since then, I can’t listen to the song “You Are My Sunshine” without getting really, really sad), but I did not read it as a lesbian death trope. Dana was just one of ten or so main characters who happened to die. However, it is very different when there is only one queer woman on a TV show and she of all things dies—the way Rachel in House of Cards was killed or Shay in Chicago Fire, Maya in Pretty Little Liars, Tara in True Blood, Candis in Dirty Sexy Money and so on. If the queer person appearing on television is a person of color (PoC) and/or transgender, it is even more likely for them to be killed. If you are not cis, not straight, not white – woe betide you!
On the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, lesbian character Tara was killed after a night of lovemaking with Willow. They had just gotten back together, kissed and made up, fallen into bed, woken up the next morning and – baaamm, a stray bullet hit her in the chest and she died. Which, by the way, is the exact same way Lexa died in The 100: She and Clarke got (back) together, made love, and then – baaamm, a stray bullet hit her. What an unsuitable death for a lesbian heroine. I don’t want to stress some weird stereotype of honorable warriors, but Lexa should have died the way she lived if she had to die at all at this point: as a heroine, as a guardian, with passion and vehemence. But no. She was killed by a stray bullet. What lazy storytelling!
For us lesbians and bisexual women, it’s especially painful to watch our heroines die – regardless of whether they are real heroines or warriors such as Lexa or Xena, who, by the way, also did not have a happy ending on the show back then. It’s a bit different since Xena and Gabrielle were all about subtext (but what an exciting subtext it was!). In the end, Xena was torn apart on the battle field. Every time television kills our queer heroines, it tears up old wounds inside of us. The wounds of being betrayed by the TV show makers and by society in general. We often turn to movies, TV shows, and also books to escape the racist, misogynist, homophobic, and biphobic world. If you keep killing our queer heroines here too, you take away our happy places. Those are old wounds opened up all over again and again for years and decades.
As I said, it has been about twenty-five years since the first positive queer characters and storylines appeared in movies (“new queer cinema” of the 1990’s), on television, and in books. A lot has changed since then, but a lot of considerable change has yet to come too. We don’t request TV shows to be all unicorns and rainbows, but why do so many queer and PoC characters have to die? We are fed up and have been for some time. Let lesbians live! If nothing else, what message are those deaths sending out to young queers who are often looking for role models so desperately? But regardless of our age, as soon as an LGBTQ person appears on TV, we are happy and scared at the same time: “Look at them, that’s so great… Do you think they will die soon?”
Since a lot of queer authors are giving away free e-books today, we’re splashing it out too. Tell us about your greatest television disappointment of a queer storyline, or tell us what TV show you are still watching because they include gripping lesbian characters who are not dead. Everybody who comments on this blog post, naming their best/worst queer TV shows with just a short explanation (we are curious!), will get an Ylva e-book of choice for free. If you want to participate in the giveaway, leave a comment or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for the giveaway is tomorrow (Saturday) 11.59 p.m. EST, which means 6 a.m. on Sunday in Germany. Let’s have it!
(Copyright picture above: Unsplash / Cooper Smith)
I love the Fosters. It’s unlikely they will kill one of them. 🙂 And I’m really sad to hear that Lexa will die. I love Clarke and I found it funny that she has a new love interest in each new season. But there was this hint about her and Bellamy … 🙁
I also love the Foster’s! I look forward to it. It has three lesbian’s on the show. Two r married with a family of foster children they have adopted and one biological son of one of the woman’s from a previous straight marriage. The schools principle is the other lesbian character.
I was really upset when they took the L Word off the air. They didn’t even replace it with another lesbian show. That was the only reason I had subscribed to Starz .
Hearing about Lexa’s death, was sad for me too. I kinde knew it was coming, cuz’ it made sense for the story. but I also wished they would really surprise me, but well…. they are predictable. and it’s sad, that it’s yet again another queer character.
well the worst queer TV show: haha, I would say Once Upon A Time, because we don’t even have a queer couple yet. yeah it’s coming this season, but I’m sure it’s going to be short and rushed, just so the writers can check out the “have a queer character”-box. and it’s not going to be the couple that we all want (Swan Queen <3 ). but well, maybe they will surprise me, who knows^^ I'm an idiot for never giving up hope^^
best queer TV show: The Fosters, cuz' 2 lesbian mommies, thats a great statement!! and I of course like Person Of Interest. Root and Shaw have such a great chemistry and the writers just went with it.
and a great idea with the free giveaway. I would love to have "All the Little Moments" by G Benson 🙂
I remember how Tara’s death on Buffy effected me: I completely stopped watching the show after the 6th season. It took me over ten years to finally go back and watch the complete show in 2014. Tara was my favorite, I still haven’t forgiven Joss Whedon for killing her off.
I really love Person of Interest, it’s a great show, so cleverly written. Of course, last year, they also ‘killed off’ one of their queer characters, but later revealed that Shaw wasn’t actually dead. It took me a little longer to find that out, because her ‘death’ really tore me open and I couldn’t watch for awhile. I only continued after I got spoiled on tumblr that she was not dead. So, that show is still going for me. And I’m hoping that somehow Shoot (Root and Shaw) get a happy ending – even in a show where any kind of happy ending seems impossible with the kind of plot it has.
(I’d like a copy of Blurred Lines, please.)
Tara’s death in Buffy was devastating to me. I was only 16 or so and wasn’t out to anyone and basically avoided anything gay like the plague. Tara & Willow were a couple I could openly love without being questioned on it and it was a huge deal to me.
I really liked Seasons 1-3 of Bad Girls and the Nikki/Helen relationship. The best part was that it had a happy ending! I’m currently enjoying The Fosters – I think it’s great a representation of a stable, lesbian couple raising a family. I haven’t watched The 100, but given what’s happened perhaps it’s not a good idea to start!
I’d love to receive an Ylva e-book.
My greatest dissapointment was the girl of Lost an Delirius, I was a teenager at the time and I recall spend almost a whole week crying at nights (I had lost all hope in love). But the Lexa’s death is a drama…
Lost and Delirious! I had forgotten about that, it was so upsetting the way it ended… Really the way she was treated in general actually. I think her name was Pauly?
Once again the lesbian character dies (or vanishes, it’s always the same) 🙁
I would have loved to see even more delevopement of Lexa’s character…
Worst queer TV show is Once Upon A Time with SwanQueen. I’m aware they are not a couple, but they would be perfect together, instead both woman got a man on their side. For several seasons the writers/producers/pr agents ignored the lbgtq community and now(after years) they are so proud to announce a ‘queercouple’ (but they don’t want to make a big deal out of it). But let me guess, it won’t be the one couple everyone wants to see? Of course not, they will put two irrelevant side characters together who will interact for 45min. Yeah, that is our big lbgtq romance we all wanted to see….
Best queer TV show is Person of Interest. The light bantering and flirting between two of the maincast woman had lead to one of my favorite queer ship. I thought their banter and flirting was like the usual queerbaiting, but instead I got a “If the worst comes to pass… if you could give Shaw a message?” and then a kiss followed and guess what, none of them died (yet) 😉
Dana’s death was incredibly sad but as you said, it didn’t seem part of the trope as it was a show about queer women. I agree with Anna with the Once Upon a Time debacle, there’s so much subtext for SwanQueen but there has been backlash from other fans and also some cast members, denying there’s even a possibility of such a ship as they’re just friends even though the chemistry is amazing. Much better than some of the straight relationships in that show. What’s good though is that Lana Parilla and Jennifer Morrison seem very supportive of the ship. However we’ve been promised a queer relationship but it likely won’t be SwanQueen and the way the writer’s phrased it made it sounds as if they just did not care and were only including it as a throw away nod because so many people complained with how SwanQueen and the SwanQueen fans were treated. Who knows if the relationship they decide on (it looks like it will be Ruby/Red and Mulan) will even have chemistry? The writers may very well have rushed the writing of that relationship and done a shoddy job of it.
Another show that really bugs me is Agent Carter. I LOVE Agent Carter, in general but also Peggy and Angie just had so much chemistry and were a fantastic team. Now maybe they couldn’t get the actress Lyndsy Fonsenca (I think I spelt that right?) back or maybe they didn’t try. But a LOT of people shipped them and the actresses seemed to be very supportive and I’m fairly sure Hayley all but admitted she saw Peggy as bisexual. But then the writers or higher ups in Marvel changed it so in season two there is no Angie and not even a mention of her despite how close they were and how much they helped each other to grow. Instead, Peggy now has two male love interests and frankly the chemistry is abysmal. But what’s also frustrating is in the show for the recap of the first season when the second started they framed Peggy smiling and looking pleased about having plans with Angie to make it look like she was reacting that way to the fact her male coworker Sousa asked her for drinks. Simply to try and set up a nice hetero ship they want, even though from the first season it was obvious Peggy wasn’t interested in him. The writers just seem so averse to having her be with a woman. Yet they have Dottie flirt OUTRAGEOUSLY with her which was great but just so queerbaity. Especially if they had purposefully gotten rid of another character because they didn’t want a femslash ship.
I will be honest, I haven’t watched the 100 as I was always watching or doing something else but was going to at some point. I am a bit put off now though. I think I may just watch up tunil Lexa dies then stop if I do. I also haven’t got round to watching Xena but have all the seasons so it sucks that she was also part of the trope. But at least in her case she went out fighting rather than a stray bullet or some other lazy and anti-climactic way though, so a slight positive. Ish. Still shitty and ridiculous that she had to die though.
I have recently been watching Buffy for the first time and had heard Willow was a lesbian (I thought her adorable from the outset and love her) although it seems rather obvious to me she’s likely bi as she did actually like being with a guy. I recently had the fact that her girlfriend Tara died spoilt to me because of Tumblr (I know very late but oh well) and that was before I’d even been introduced to the character so I’m so upset. I have since got up to where she is introduced and think she is incredibly sweet. It’s unsubtle subtext for a while then they finally announce being together. But they still haven’t had an onscreen kiss which is just ridiculous. I hope they do at some point. Before you know, Tara gets offed. UGH.
There are probably others, but I can’t remember any more at the moment.
I guess for me, the best and worst TV show is Once Upon a Time. It’s the show that made me get into femslash fandom, and the Swen (SwanQueen fandom) is the fandom that helped me discover myself. But at the same time the show is a huge pile of queerbait, it plays a cruel game of bait and switch with its queer audience and has some really awful people in the cast and crew, not to mention the fandom. OUAT gave me what saved me, SwanQueen and Swen, but it also gave me a lot of headaches. I guess a show that just makes me happy all the time would be Grey’s Anatomy. While yes, the loved lesbian couple didn’t get a happy ending, we got a huge bisexual character and an incredible lesbian one. They’re both alive, which is a plus in Shondaland, and we have Callie in a relationship with another woman. I love Calzona and I wish they’d be together but, for me, as long as they’re both still on the show and romantic relationships between women are still being shown, it’s enough.
Not sure if it counts as a queer tv show, but I love Greys anatomy even though Callie and Arizona are no longer together. I like that Callie is proudly bi and it’s just a thing that no one makes a big deal out of.
The moment Lexa entered that room… Tara was in my head saying “Your shirt…!?” all over again. Then came denail, anger, sadness. It’s just too much, I started to drink (my psychiatris will be so disapointed). Im so tired, I just take my ships and write Harvest Moon AUs. I have enough violence in my country, thankyou the 100.
Supergirl is on my good side but i don’t think the pink kryptonite will fall on Kara’s hands… I hope, but…
Personally, I discovered being a lesbian was even a thing through Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I was just a wee 90s kid in a small rural town, there were no role models around that could have told me I was not, as I thought at the time, just a weirdo. Nobody who could have told me I was not broken.
And then along came Buffy and Willow and Tara. And suddenly, there was a whole new world, so many possibilities. I loved that show.
I used to sneak downstairs and watch the telly at oh-dark-thirty so my parents didn’t know because they thought I was too young for the show (which, admittedly, at age 13 or 14, I was. Sorry mum) and then sneaked back into bed hoping that they hadn’t heard me.
They never caught me. Good thing I don’t need much sleep, too, because I ran on only two hours sleep the next day at school (and still did a lot better than my peers. Thanks, brain).
So naturally, I was devastated when Tara died. And I couldn’t even tell anybody why I was so sad about it. I didn’t get over it for a long time.
And then, there was Rookie Blue. I loved it. Sarcastic, awkward, hot cop and sexy clever doc get together. I could see a bit of myself in both of them and I loved it to bits.
But that show got cancelled before they could get back together after a stupid fight.
Well, st least they’re both alive, I guess.
btw, worst: The 100, because of how that Jason guy lured us into his evil trap, beeing all nice an talking us up, and now he’s probably feasting in our broken hearts.
best: I’m writing it, it’s not ready yet. Also waiting for the Korrasami comics.
Right now the only TV shows I watch with lesbian or bi characters are “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away With Murder”. I was sorry that they broke up Arizona and Cali on Grey’s and I’m a bit disappointed that on HTGAWM the main character, Analise, uses her sexuality simply to get what she wants from either sex. I have noticed that when there are lesbian characters written into a detective or mystery show they tend to be the killers. I find that terribly annoying. A number of the TV shows mentioned in the article and the comments are simply not on my radar because they are aimed at a much younger audience. I even forget the CW exists unless it it showing a local event.
Not a death, but the wife and I will never get over Shane cheating on Carmen just before their wedding in the L-word. It will never make sense to us, and it bothered us so much. …actually still a little bit angry about it.
When it comes to Buffy, we also got upset when Willow got a new girlfriend. Because it was nothing like Tara, more like “hey, you’re hot, lets be together.” Not really anything romantic.
Best queer show: The Fosters currently. Lesbian mums – yay. The show makes them so human, not sexualised or anything. That’s why I love it. (Also, love Lip Service because of the very, very hot cop)
Worst: This is harder to answer because I get all excited as soon as any lesbian character is thrown my way, but I’d have to say, Sugar Rush. It was funny and all, but also very depressing to see a straight girl toy with the little lesbian in the first season.
Sadly, the list is long. Seven of Nine never fell in love with a woman. Rizzoli don’t like Isles “that way” and SwanQueen is probably never gonna happen. While I never felt the need for an all queer tv show a happy gay couple here and there would certainly be nice. But I suppose, the list will go on and SuperCat will be also only a fanfiction thing.
We should be glad Seven never fell in love, we would have lost her to the borg again. 🙂 And I don’t want to see either Rizzoli nor Dr. Isles die. There were to many close calls already. 😉
When Kate was killed off in the British series Last Tango in Halifax. She had only just got married to Caroline, and had recently had a baby. The only lesbian couple in the show and they had to kill off one of them!!!
I remember being a sad 13 y/o when Tara from the show Buffy died. It was poor writing and made no sense to me (Stray bullet?? on a second floor room??? ). What drives me insane it that writers use as a catalyst the death of a lesbian character so the plot can move forward. That is weak writing in my opinion, like a short-cut or cheating on decent continuity. From all the bad continuity tropes a show can display (looking at you, Glee) killing the lesbian is just too much.
Now, I want to see how this whole situacion shapes the future of The 100 show ( because I have never seen such a unified negative reaction, not even for Glee) and possible new lesbian characters in other series.
I think to one that affected me to most was Tara’s death. I was Willow’s and Tara’s relationship that help me understand how I was feeling. To come out to myself. Her death brought me a sense of loss a member of a straight couple rarely died in the other shows I watched. Why did the couple that help me to understand who I am, go through the loss. On that note though I love Kennedy’s character and how she helped Willow.
My greatest queer storyline disappointment would be with Orphan Black. Not only did they kill off Delphine, they also treated their entire relationship very oddly during all of season one, especially with the addition of Shay. I just feel like there could have been a better way to do an (even temporary) breakup than having Cosima rebound with a girl on a dating app. It felt too much like blatant fanservice, and although I appreciated the continuation of having a queer relationship shown onscreen, it left Cosima unable to establish herself as more than just the lesbian scientist. I’m also still upset that they brought Tony Sawicki in for one episode, showed him as possibly having access to information about Beth, and then promptly forgot about him.
Yes! I couldn’t agree with you more!!
Honestly, I’d have to say Lost and Delirious cuz that fucked me up as a kid. Just the way that Paulie and Tori’s relationship was portrayed… idk, sucked. Cuz first and foremost, Tori decides, after months of being together, that she’s into dick so she just starts fucking a dude. Then she starts ignoring Paulie and kinda telling everyone that Paulie was crazy and obsessed. Paulie didn’t have anyone. Then she killed herself. Yay for being another dead lesbian.
Lexa’s death cut just as deep. Both characters put up such a strong front. I’m so bitter.
…oh, wait, this was supposed to be television related.
I smell apples, then.
I was really sad when the one and only LGBT character on the show Bones broke up with her girlfriend and married a guy. He is a nice guy and all but… Lesbians! ?
Clara Oswald. Jenna Coleman had to leave the show, so another companion had to die. There were maybe two or three lines alluding to Clara being bisexual, Clara’s comment about her relationship with Jane Austen, and as Oswin when she commented about the first girl she ever had a crush on, Nina. In an interview Jenna said it was open to interpretation, but it seems obvious that yes indeed Clara is bisexual.
Peggy Carter. There’s no way she’s not bisexual, and season two seemed so out of character forcing her into a love triangle with two men she seemingly had no interest in prior, and suddenly she had to choose a man over her job. That was absolutely ridiculous. Peggy and Angie were the best ship on that show, but of course it couldn’t be canon. Mainstream Marvel? Straight. Season two could have gone so much better, but instead they had to erase any chance of bisexuality whatsoever.
Lexa. I’m certainly obviously still mourning her. Actually she’s not dead, I’m not in denial, and this is all completely fine! (I’m still not okay I don’t want to keep thinking about it)
The real hero of queer ships is the web series Carmilla. That is the best show to watch, the characters are treated right, the writers care about us and interact with us so much, and I recommend this show to everyone. Lesbians? Yep. Bisexuals? Yep. Nonbinary characters? Yep. Everything you’ve ever wanted? Yep. A vampire show sponsored by a tampon company? Yep, all the irony. This show is great. Literally one of the writers has published books through this publishing company, that’s how good they are.
One of the most compelling queer characters ever to grace a screen will always be 13, from House. And although she never actually managed to die during the series, she was forced to live with an inherited disease that she knew would, indeed, kill her one day. Hot, sexy, brilliant, compassionate, and too often destructive, boy did she live every moment getting there!
Currently my favorite show with lesbians is Steven Universe, Ruby and Sapphire are absolutely adorable whenever they’re unfused and since it’s a kids show at least there is a little more hope for their survival by the end. Plus there’s Pearl too and I just identify with her so much in general.
For me, one of the biggest disappointments was Life Is Strange, because while it is a beautiful and fascinating game, they continuously put Chloe Price (who while it isn’t explicitly stated, is very heavily coded as a lesbian) in life threatening danger, and of the two endings, the one that obviously had the most effort out into it, the longest one, the one that seems to fit the direction of the game the most, is the one where she dies horribly, alone in the bathroom of a school she got kicked out of. And yes, this is the ending where she and the protagonist Max do kiss, as Max has time manipulation powers, it’s immediately reversed. The other ending, where she doesn’t die, requires the sacrifice of an entire town full of people. It’s really disappointing what it suggests, that wlw love is selfish, and that we should sacrifice our love for other people. I really wish writers remembered that their writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and that it affects real people.
Especially with the 100, I’m really saddened about it, because I had only just gotten into it when this happened. I was excited, and I know a lot of other people were excited about it too, and it breaks my heart how many people are upset about it. It really makes me want to write even more, so other young queer kids don’t have to grow up in a world full of stories where people like them die.
I stopped watching regular TV in 1989, so I can’t tell you of any heartbreak over a lesbian character dying. The last time I cried over any character dying, was Catherine (Linda Hamilton) in ‘Beauty and the Beast in ’89.
But as for “Otherwise, why would so many of them be killed off?”
Maybe it’s subconscious punishment.
Cat’s character death on Lip Service had me cried for hours. Unexpected! Heartbreaking!
Now… I love ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. Haven’t miss one episode yet. Also I like ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ & ‘New Girl’.
And… hey Steffi Achilles, bravo! A great article! ???
Tara’s senseless death was lazy unthinking writing. It really hurt to watch and it happened around the same time as Xena’s final season. We should have had a happy ending. TPTB didn’t have to kill off Xena, to separate forever a loving couple. One kiss or one night and bye-bye.
I think the last episode of Xena did it for me. I stopped watching tv regularly after that. I really want to see and feel happy that loving couples can make a life together. I started to read a lot more. It’s been over a decade since the final season of Xena and episodic television hasn’t changed all that much. This is sad and heartbreaking.
I loved Pepa y Silvia from the spanish TV show Los hombres de Paco but I hated the screen writers for killing Silvia the day of their wedding! That was really cruel.
I had much fun with Julia and Mariana from the mexican TV show Las Aparicío. Same language but happier and wiser writers in Mexico, so for them there is a very welcome happy ending.
“Just let them be happy for once!” I said, smacking my hand on the arm rest. I was shocked (shouldn’t have been) when Kate (a woman of color) was killed off just after her marriage to Caroline on Last Tango in Halifax, a British series which airs on PBS in the United States. These characters were so well developed…I just didn’t see it coming.
Sometimes I wish I made time for TV. This is not one of them (well, except for the free book aspect- I can’t complete the assignment for the book!). This sort of thing keeps me away from the TV.
I am so sick of having that feeling that there is finally a TV relationship that I can relate to and then seeing the character die. I am head over heels in love with Orphan Black. I love the whole show, not just the queer storylines. And they started out so strong – with excellent f/f chemistry between Cosima and Delphine, just the right amount of drama, other queer/trans characters … Then season 3 happened. I get that life can’t be all roses and butterflies or no one would watch. But the breakup made no sense, cosima’s attitude was totally out of character, and then they killed or seriously wounded Delphine. And on top of that the (cis white male) producers seem to make a joke of the silly LGBT people reacting so strongly. So my answer for favorite: Orphan Black seasons 1-2, and least favorite: Orphan Black currently
When Angela left her girlfriend on Bones and suddenly became straight/bi, I was so disappointed. Here was this talented character in a relationship with a woman, someone we could all see as a complete human being, portrayed as a lesbian on a popular mainstream show. And then she falls in love with a conspiracy theorist man. That was so disappointing! Tara’s death on Buffy was sad, too, but we as a community had not made as much progress yet, so Angela’s change was all that much more disappointing.
Just thinking about this make me feel exposed. Laying my feelings out like this is not easy for me. But here it goes. Be warned, this will turn out to be long.
My first realization that I might be interested in ladies sexually happened during watching Buffy. And it wasn’t what you’re thinking right now. It wasn’t the sweet getting to know each other and falling for each other that happened with Tara and Willow. No, I was pining with Faith.
I’m still not entirely sure that the creators involved knew what they were doing. But I read Faith’s actions as pining for Buffy. She was in love. And didn’t think herself worthy of being loved back. It never really occured to her that she might develop even a friendship with Buffy because she didn’t feel worthy of that. My thirteen year old self related to that and it took me a really long time to figure out why.
Part of the reasons Faith resonated with me is my own character.
Another, is the fact that this is what we’re being told. Lesbian love, or any kind of love for that matter, isn’t worth the same as ‘normal’ love. We are, by society’s rules, less.
So we have to fight to be worthy of love.
Which brings a whole bag of problems.
My thirteen year old self had crazy parents, crazy but open to different sexualities. The part that they were partially crazy back then was more important to me than to figure myself out. So, wisely as I was, I decided that this was a problem for a later time.
A later time, in which I fell in love with the new girl, and I felt guilty for enjoying her hugs. That, also, is an issue we’re all too well aware of.
But all the while, thirteen year old me became fourteen year old me, fifteen year old me – I had a boyfriend, decided he strangely felt a lot more for me than I for him. Broke it off and started dating my first girlfriend in secret – all the while I waited for the name ‘Eliza Dushku’ to pop up in the next Buffy episode. It didn’t back then. Not until the very last episodes in which Faith’s pining for Buffy was made even more obvious, but there was no space anymore to figure it out.
That made me turn to the internet.
Where I found a ton of fanfiction.
Nowadays, post season 7 Buffy and Faith stories are still my most favorite. Because they were my first.
The first time I read about girls I connected to, who felt attracted to other girls and it was just a side issue.
Back then, I wasn’t a lesbian. I was a book lover, a logical thinker, a dancer, a dreamer, daughter, sister, friend… My sexuality didn’t define me. It just was.
I learned that it wasn’t so easy in the real world.
I got to know Skins, I watched Lost and Delirious, and I remembered Tara.
Luckily, someone handed my a book by a german author who wrote about women being in love with women like it wasn’t an issue. Where it was normal and didn’t define their entire world.
I am still waiting to see something like that in main stream media.
Lately, there were moments of hope.
Anyone who knows Once upon a time, knows that the core relation ship of the show is between Henry and his two moms. That couldn’t have been unintentional, right? There were angry looks that I recognized. I had seen them before. They were full of underlying sexual tension to me.
Turns out it wasn’t just me, but only we saw them. Mainstream media told us we were dirty for thinking like that. Like our love is just about sex instead of being in love.
(And then they hurt me even more by turning my hope toward a mysoginistic man with rape jokes – which made me sick to my stomach. Usually I read every book until the bitter end. I watch movies that I started, no matter how bad they are, because I want to know how it ends. It’s even worse with tv shows. A book or a movie usually doesn’t take longer than six hours. A tv show is worse. It’s there. Again and again. Every week.
Usually that makes it sweet. You get to know characters. Fall in love with them. Meet them week for week. Cry with them. Smile with them. Identify. Emphathize.
It takes a lot for me to give this up.
Once upon a time, a show about fairytales, managed to draw me in with a main character being coded gay in every stereotyped way I usually hate, but gave me hope.
Emma swaggered into the scenes. She was fierce. She fought with the mother of the son she gave up for adoption. There was tension on the screen. There was hope for me.
Actually hope that this was going to be something new.
Even if they didn’t make it into a queer relationship, we had two strong women.
But this was about fairytales. This was about hope.
And this hope was so utterly destroyed that most of the fandom just… faded away.
Because they did not only tell us that our ship was never going to happen. They called us delusional. They gave us a woman who was in love with her best friend, which we saw, but was never stated outright on screen. (But it’s going to be 100 episodes soon, supposedly one of those episodes will deal with a token gay couple. Because we deserve that. Because we are special. We aren’t normal. We need to be treated differently. We can’t be leads. We need to be soon disappearing side characters.)
And they destroyed our beautiful fierce character. She became a ghost, letting herself being directed by a man.
It’s bad enough for that to happen at all. But for it to be happening to a woman who could be read as gay so easily… It was devastating for me.
Being gay wasn’t just something that I just was anymore.
It’s who I am to others.
It’s what others see when they see me and my girlfriend.
It’s what I’m being told about myself and my relationship again and again.
I’m not worthy of being more.
I’m supposed to be just gay.
I’m supposed to be there to fantazise about.
But I’m not allowed to be a human being.
I’m the sexy side character.
And it hurts.
Especially when the sexy side character dies.
Especially when there’s another show that tells us to have hope like they mean it. When they create beautiful character who is strong and just happens to be a lesbian.
They tell us to have hope. That they respect us. They develop a beautiful relationship.
I am warned. I’ve seen too much to hope, but a small part of me watches, enjoys and does hope. Despite myself.
So, Lexa gets killed and I can’t stop crying. I’m on my way to work and I tear up all through the day.
I protected myself against this and it didn’t work.
I know I should not be hoping but it is 2016, we are not equal but legally, we are on the way to being equal. We can legally marry in more and more countries.
Still, the picture people see of me doesn’t change.
I still get asked ‘if they can watch’ ‘who is the man’ ‘how does that even work’, and my very best ‘You want kids? How is that even supposed to work?/ I can help’.
I know who I am.
I am a writer, a dreamer, a lawyer, a dancer, a girlfriend, an aunt, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I am important. I am not a side character.
Society doesn’t know that.
Because they still get shown that I am the sexy side character who gets shot by a stray bullet. Who is delusional in thinking that I deserve better.
This got long.
Part of me feels like I should apologize for this getting long. If you’ve read until this point, kudos to you, and I hug you, because chances are that you feel the same as me. So, I’ll leave off with something I would have wanted someone to tell thirteen year old me.
It’s incredible that we still have to fight, still have to educate the people around us, while knowing that we are worth more than having to do this.
You are beautiful. You deserve all the happiness the world can offer.
Go out and take it.
Be fierce and be unapologetic.
Kate, in Last Tango in Halifax. Seriously!! That was uncalled for. I think I ranted for about 30 mins, and have not watched the show since. I really resent becoming attached to characters, then just have them die. I call bull*%#t on plot development that calls for the death of characters that are LGBT, non-white or different in some way.
I legit can’t think of a best tv show for great department but I can think of so many for worst tv shows that just constantly disappoint a lot of queer fans.
I think the worst has had to be Glee though with Rachel/Quinn like not ever a canon couple but wow talk about subtext there like at some points was it even subtext? It felt straight (ha) like text at times. It became ridiculous with how the camera would pan to Rachel then to Quinn and how they would eye each other when as a group they’d be talking about their futures. Or like how Quinn did eventually ended up sleeping with another woman but it not being Rachel. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t crazy because there were a lot of other fans out there and crazy about these two just as much as I was and I’m pretty sure they’re still as salty as I am about how they were handled and not just the coupling but like how the writers just completely destroyed their characters or put them through the wringer season after season and oh man I could probably go on and on about this so I’m going to stop there. Just over all I got gay baited or like I don’t really wanna use that term but I can’t think of another one that suits it the most there. Like I got super hopeful because they were hinting at it so often or how the camera would pan certain ways that made it seem like they were romantical or like how they would support each other in ways that others didnt or how they didnt support certain choices the other made because it was a horrible decision even though everyone else supported that stupid decision. Yep… I’m still salty over it and like sometimes I feel like I imagined the whole thing but then you see a bunch of super disappointed fans and its like “yeah… no I didn’t imagine this” >_x;
But like canon wise right now all I can probably think of is Lexa and Clarke as being the worst. And feel disappointment because at least orphan black got episodes and kisses and cuddles. At least PoI got their Maybe Someday and showing Shaw alive. I mean I hate counting the at leasts(because its like we’re getting breadcrumbs when people are getting that whole loaf of bread) but wow Lexa and Clarke. They didn’t even wait awhile to kill her off and just the way they did it was so ugh. Yeah I could probably go on about this too but I’m pretty sure people know about what happened there too. Like I saw people getting mad and they hadn’t even ever watched the tv show before.
Like how do these writers write these awesome ladies, pull in an audience because of that character and then just decide “fuck yeah lets ruin them/kill them off.” Holy shit I can’t stand it. I can’t stand it. I can’t stand it.
I legit had to scroll up for ideas on the best tv couple because I couldn’t think of any at all. Like my head was coming to a complete blank besides the Fosters and then I saw Carmilla and how I anxiously and how I would stay up until they posted the new episode on Tuesday and Thursday. And then theres South of Nowhere which was how the main character was finding herself and dealing with the coming out part too and I’m pretttttty sure it came with a happy ending. I’m probably still gonna go with Person of Interest as the best though. Even if one of the lesbians got shot. The build up for them was awesome. And how you know for sure shes still alive in later episodes makes it even more awesome for me. The plots solid for me. I love it. And like even beyond the couple of Shaw/Root you end up enjoying all the characters even the Machines d: I mean you definitely root for one side over the other but you really do enjoy what each character has to bring to the table.
HA. I was gonna say I actually really enjoyed Naomi and Emily from Skins but then I just remembered they killed off one of them too. rofl. lollllllllll its not funny and now its just a burst of pain at how often some of my favorite characters die. I dunno I mean death of a character doesn’t always equal horrible show but like it really bursts a bubble for me and makes me wanna ask why did it have to happen to this particular character and this particular couple. I mean for me Naomily is still good I just pretend season 7 never happened. >_>
That article moved me deeply, and although I am not a lesbian, please allow me to comment nonetheless.
See, I’m growing increasingly tired of (mainstream) TV shows and films because there is no diversity whatsoever. Everybody is slim, athletic, trim, packed, model-beautiful, straight, streamlined. Preferably white, too, there’s not really a lot of (lasting) colour in your average programme. The odd black supermodel, Asian vixen, streetsmart latino, each representing their respective stereotype. Boy wants girl, girl wants boy. And if there are exceptions to the rule, then it’s the token aged black police chief, the non-slim middle-aged prosecutor, the overweight secretary, the prancing queer, the mannish dyke. And it makes me so angry! Angry to a point where I refuse to watch the “in” shows or this year’s blockbuster because I’m tired of seeing the carbon copies of people I’ve seen a hundred times before. I want to see a film or a show where real life is represented – a short, wide-hipped woman can be a top-notch hacker who saves the world. The handsome hero goes home to his average-looking husband. The average-looking black prosecutor goes home to her stunning but non-kung-fu Asian wife. Without making a big deal out of it and without pointing fingers at the LGBT quota because ‘we are so open-minded’. I want all to see real people of all sizes, colours, preferences… I want my TV shows and movies as diversified as life itself. I don’t want the shrieking gay best friend. I don’t want the man-hating lez toughie. I don’t want the tacky elderly man squeezing himself into a dress because he was born into the wrong body. Know what I mean? I hate it when the token non-standard person is added for p.c. reasons and then gets killed off once their point has been made. Bye fattie, but you won’t look good on the hero spot. Off you go. Bye, lezzie, but you won’t look good kissing the girl against the sunset. Bye, trannie, but a real girl will look so much better in that dress.
It makes me angry beyond anything.
As for LGBT characters on TV shows etc. – I loved True Blood’s Tara, she was one of my favourite characters. So much sexier and more authentic than Sookie. Even Teen Wolf features a gay couple, and I was surprised that when one of the twins died, it wasn’t the gay one but the straight one. BBC’s State Within features the fantastic Ben Daniels who is allowed to kiss an equally attractive man. Hannibal’s Alana Bloom ends up not with Will Graham but with Margot. So yeah, there’s exceptions to the rule.
Still it grieves me that it’s perfectly alright to show all kinds of hideous acts of violence on the screen, but have girl kiss girl and man kiss man, and out comes the Holy Bible and the world of entertainment echoes with cries of outrage.
Come on, folks. We have accepted blue aliens into our living rooms, slug-like villains, pointy-eared smart-asses and beeping droids. I’m quite ready for a lesbian superhero and a black Bond. Life in colour is so much more interesting than in monochrome.
there is a long list of mistreatment from same sex relationships. and a lot of the times they pretend to be progress.
willow and tara – yes i understand that season 6 needed it’s big bad for the season but did you have to kill tara in such a way that she couldn’t be brought back. buffy died what three four five times on the show and she came back every time. why kill off tara in such a permanent way.
the l word in general – makes every lesbian seem like we are a bunch of manipulative bitches who can’t have healthy relationships. none of the relationships on the l word were as healthy as they should have been. i couldn’t even sit there and watch it and be like hey these are women who are like me they were so catty with one another. and to top it off you had the trope of kill the lesbian with dana.
warehouse 13 – which prided itself on having a male/female friendship that wouldn’t turn into a relationship got that all skewed up when hg wells came into the picture and both joanne kelly and jaime murray said that myka and hg kind of loved each other. so instead they took pete and myka and put them together and never gave helena a good send off. and to top if off they had a gay male on the show and they killed him off. yes they brought him back but still they killed him.
defiance – defiance does this twice actually and it pisses me the fuck off. defiance got stahma and kenya into a relationship. not necessarily a healthy one and then kills kenya off with poison no less. and then there was doc ywell whose wife is killed off off screen and not even mentioned until like season 2 that she was even married much less had a wife. nolan who easily could be bisexual was never actually seen with a man but it was heavily implied by the way he reacted around the whores in kenya’s bar.
orphan black – delphine isn’t necessarily lesbian, probably more bisexual (she did have a relationship with aldous leekie for a while which stopped when she became cosima’s monitor.) but honestly delphine getting shot at the end of last season. and shay who knows whats going to happen with her. and they are basically killing cosima.
and now with the 100 and lexa being killed off it is just awful. and it is frustrating like you wouldn’t believe right now.
a few of the shows that i have seen doing okay for now. are the walking dead – they have a gay couple aaron/erik who are still alive and a lesbian couple tara/denise who seem to be okay. i don’t hold my breath on the walking dead because they kill people all the time. but there is also a potentially asexual character (daryl) and several mixed relationships (richonne and maggie/glenn, rosita/abraham).
lost girl – gave doccubus a good ending but at the expense of another character on the show which is a little frustrating.
My first killer heartbreak was Tara, i was 16 and thinking about her 14 yrs later, still makes my heart feel sad, they were my escape back then, when no one knew about me, i had them.
That bullet did kill a little part of me too, and as time went by, with Dana for example, i started to close of bit by bit. Not wanting to fall for a char cause all of them died.
Then comes Lexa and i fell HARD. Now what hurts the most if that they gave us so much false hope, with their big speaches how they will do right by us, i feel so used, i let my guard down and let myself get consumed by Lexa.
Season 3 had some unbeliveable scenes, i mean they were beyond beautiful.
And then the hype for this episode, and they kissed – and OMG was it the most wonderful scene ever… and they did the bow chica bow wow and my heart soared i was in freaking heaven
for what, about 2minutes?
And that stray bullet came back to haunt me for the rest of my life again.
As for my happy choice… the latest i saw that was perfect was Franky and Bridget from Wentworth … i got just what i wanted and it was a bliss, the calm that came over me when you could breath knowing – ok, they both survived.
[…] Weitere Links zum Thema: Buzzfeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/skarlan/gal-pal-warriors-no-more#.kplZdOV5P The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2016/mar/15/xena-lesbian-warrior-princess-have-the-rules-of-tv-just-been-rewritten?CMP=fb_gu Ylva-Verlag: https://www.ylva-publishing.com/2016/03/04/let-lesbians-live-television-keeps-killing-our-queer-heroi… […]
I have never stopped watching a show before because of one event/episode. I could understand someone dying for reasons that made sense in the story and in a way that was worthy of that character. Neither of those applied to Lexa. The worst part to me though was the betrayal from JRoth because he made us believe this would be a different story. That this would be the story where we finally got treated equally and where we had a safe space to see ourselves. It was all for the ratings and I felt the loss immensely because I had let myself hope. I will no longer watch the show but I have joined in on the movement to try to stop this from continuing to happen. Thank you for writing this article.
[…] some of the poor choices mainstream writers make regarding characters like us. Take, for instance, the senseless death of Lexa on the CW’s post-apocalyptic YA story The 100 (which many end-of-year TV lists are calling the most shocking and tragic death on TV this past […]
[…] no los matan por ser gays. Así que no es homofobia ni machismo”, piensas. El problema es que sí que lo es. La tendencia a matar a estas mujeres homosexuales es homófoba, y cuando se mata en cantidades […]