Happy Pride Month, all my LGBTAIQ+ fam!

This Pride Month is special, because this June marks 50 years since Stonewall. I’d like to take a moment to remember Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, those proud, beautiful trans* women that we owe so much to. I was so excited to hear that they will be honoured with a monument in Greenwich Village, not far from the Stonewall Inn, in recognition for everything they did for trans* people and homeless queer* youth.

Never forget that it was trans* women of colour and drag queens that started the riot that led to Pride. Hold them in your hearts when you march and attend Pride activities this June.

Now, onto blog stuff.

Because it is Pride Month, I’ll be posting at least one blog per week, all queer* themed in some way.

Today’s topic:

LGBTAIQ+ Characters Who Have Inspired Me

The following is an incomplete list of characters whose stories and the challenges they have overcome, and the way they approach life and/or relationships, have inspired me in some way.

Kurt Hummel (Glee) – Of course Kurt is on this list. Of course he is. The transformation from closeted, stereotypical gay character into the man who is confident in himself and his sexuality, confident in his relationship, deeply in love, fully accepted, and happy at the end of the series is so special to watch. Don’t get me wrong, Glee  has it’s issues… so many issues. But they always tried with their diversity, and most of the time they succeeded. Kurt is one of the prime examples of this and his relationship with Blaine is one of the things I credit with me beginning to become comfortable enough to admit to myself I wasn’t straight. I owe so much to this show and this character.

Agron (Spartacus) – Agron is so gay. You’re probably thinking ‘well, duh, Andie, you put him on this list’, but no, you misunderstand. He is so freaking gay. This is a show about gladiators. The men are all burly, aggressive, powerful. Agron is burly, aggressive, and powerful. He is also so freaking gay that the second scene he is in, has him checking out the sizeable dick of the guy standing beside him and pulling the gayest ‘hot damn’ face I’ve ever seen. Him being gay is just so casually and simply entwined with his character, it’s treated no differently to his raging temper or his loyalty to Spartacus. The same can be said for Nasir, Barca, Peitros, Auctus, Castus, Lucrecia, Gaia, and Saxa. Their queerness is non-definitive but still a part of each of their stories in some way. Agron is probably the best integration, though, because it’s not even something you realise until season 2 unless you were paying attention during that scene in season 1 where Illythia is being gross, or clued in with Duro’s ‘my brother has no wife’ line. So basically, I love how much of a non-issue Agron being gay is, he is still one of the best warriors, he is still one of Spartacus’ generals, he is still a stubborn, rageful, dick sometimes. But he also loves Nasir with all his heart and is so flipping soft with his lover. Plus, it was nice for a show with constant death, for two of the only surviving characters to be the gay couple, just sayin’.

Cremesius Aclassi “Krem” (Dragon Age) – Krem. Krem, Krem, Krem. I was so ecstatic when Krem popped up in my first DAI playthrough. I was absolutely thrilled by the way the game’s creators gave us a trans* character, made it very clear he is trans*, and made it so that if you pick any transphobic dialogue options, you lose approval points with Iron Bull because he is a queer* icon and doesn’t stand for your shit. Krem’s story is so similar to real world trans* stories and his inclusion into a fantasy video game… I’ve never seen a trans* character in a fantasy story before. The fact that Krem exists is the best. PLUS if you make all the right decisions, his ending is so wonderful, it brings tears to my eyes.

Santana (Glee) – The first time I watched “I Kissed A Girl” I cried. I didn’t understand why at the time, but I cried. I don’t like Santana, I really don’t, I think she is an awful person, she is selfish and narcissistic and incapable of empathy. BUT watching a teenage girl, so lost and confused about her own feelings, in deep denial about her attraction to girls, come to terms with it and find the courage to come out, not only to her friends but to her family, and to keep on going even when someone she loved deeply rejected her, was unbelievably inspiring to a closeted teenage girl who in complete denial about her own gayness.

Ned Weeks (The Normal Heart) – What is more inspiring than a man relentlessly pursuing justice for the LGBTAIQ* community in their hour of greatest need when no straight people dared lift a finger to help? Nothing, that’s what. That’s why Ned’s on this list. But it isn’t just him, really, it’s every character in The Normal Heart. Every. Single. One. That movie broke me, it honestly did. Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons… the entire cast were phenomenal. But Mark Ruffalo’s performance as Ned Weeks still makes me teary if I think about it for too long so he got named, but know that I’m including everyone in the movie in this entry. Stories about the AIDs crisis are so devastating. So many members of our community lost, so many lives cut far too short. So many people who never got to live to see marriage equality. Or any of our other monumental steps forward. So many people unable to keep fighting with us. It’s heartbreaking. But watching those members of the community who worked tirelessly to help… that’s beyond words.

Justin Taylor (Queer as Folk – US) – I love stories about queer* teenagers owning their sexuality. And I love stories about queer* people refusing to deny their identities and refusing to be silenced when injustice is present. Justin is such a fantastic character. You watch him grow up over the five seasons of QaF, you watch him fall in love, discover himself, become an adult. You watch him take ownership of his life after he’s attacked in a hate crime, and you watch him rise above homphobia more times than you can count. And considering this show aired from 2000-2005, every story was very progressive, and that’s why Justin and Ben have made the list. Speaking of…

Ben Bruckner (Queer as Folk – US) – How often in the nineties and early noughties did you see positive representations of HIV positive characters? Bet you’re struggling to think of one right? Damn straight (*snort*) you are. Ben is one of the only ones. A character suffering from HIV who refuses to allow it to ruin his life. He finds love, has a family, pursues his dream of writing, and teaches queer* studies at a university. He’s a positive voice in the LGBTQ+ community within the show and he is a genuinely good person. Ben has his ups and downs, as all characters in drama shows do, but ultimately his is a story of refusing to lie down and allow his life to be over because of something beyond his control. It’s a story of courage and hope. And I love that.

Simon Spier (Simon Vs The Homo-Sapiens Agenda) – I have never related so hard to a YA novel as I did to the Simon and Leah duology by Becky Albertalli. Simon (in the book, only in the book, let’s not talk about that trainwreck of a movie) is sweet, soft-hearted, and so optimistic. He tries so hard to be good to the people around him, all the while he is hiding this huge part of himself away and is terrified those same people he loves will stop loving him if they found out. That is so relatable for all of us who have been through the process of coming out. It’s a story that I’m so glad was told and I’m so glad young queer* people can read it and know they aren’t alone. Wish it had been around when I was a teenager.

Leah Burke (Leah on the Off-Beat) – When I read this book, I spent most of it going ‘yes, omg yes’ because I SO RELATE to everything Leah was going through. Do you have any idea how hard it is to tell if a girl is flirting with you or just being nice? Girls are so free with their compliments and, for the most part, pretty touchy-feely so it’s difficult to discern friendliness from flirtiness. Leah goes through such a big struggle trying to figure that out in this book. Also, she is bisexual and that is not trivialised at all in this story and I love that! Bi visibility for the win!

Abby Suso (Leah on the Off-Beat) – Watching Abby struggle with her identity and feelings and attraction for her friend was so incredibly relatable. It’s hard when you’re a teenager and you’re going through your ‘I am straight, I am soooo straight, nobody is straighter then me, I am not even 1% gay, 100% no homo that’s me!’ phase but you also have confusing feelings for a friend. You’re torn, it hurts, it’s confusing, and you struggle. Abby’s journey during the sequel to Simon Vs is so accurate it hurts, but in the best way. Also, queer* POC rep, thank you!

Sheldon Beiste (Glee) – Sometimes people don’t discover or acknowledge and accept their true self until later in life and we need more positive examples of this. The decision to make Coach Beiste trans* is one that I was very grateful for. I was worried about how it would be handled but it was done in an honest, heartfelt, lovely way. It treated Sheldon and other trans* people with the dignity they deserve, and showed that it’s never too late to embrace your true self. And I will never get over the cuteness of Sam telling Beiste ‘we have so much guy talk to catch up on’. Sam could be such a problematic character at times, but that moment was just adorable.

Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) – Willow was the first openly lesbian character I was exposed to, I’m pretty sure… I mean, I count Xena but considering the way they kept throwing men at her… let’s not go there. Willow’s journey of self-discovery is beautiful and even though I was always sad about Oz (I’m so sorry my adorable little werewolf), she and Tara complemented each other beautifully and to this day I am furious about Tara’s death. Willow was a strong character both outside and within her sexuality and it was so good to see someone discover themselves, and their friends to be supportive and completely accepting of them.

Charlie Bradbury (Supernatural) – One of my nicknames is Charlie after Supernatural’s first recurring gay character. At the time I was given this nickname it was because I had red hair and am super nerdy but at the time I was still in my ‘I’m straight, so straight, very straight… but girls are so nice, but I’m totally straight’ phase… I think my friends saw through me just a little bit?? Maybe? Anyway, Charlie is so confidently strong in herself, and her sexuality is a part of her character but is not her solely defining trait. It seems to be difficult for straight writers to find that balance, to make a character’s sexuality significant but not defining, Charlie is a successful example. I love her. Never forgive, never forget, what they did to her.

Anissa Pierce (Black Lightning) – Can we please get more LGBTQ+ people of colour on TV and in books and movies and video games please? Can we give young people of colour who are questioning the chance to see themselves in characters and see how strong, wonderful, and beautiful they are? Please and thank you.

Xena (Xena: Warrior Princess) – Lucy Lawless will forever be one of my favourite actresses and is probably responsible for my sexual awakening (it’s a tie between her and Torrie Wilson, not sure who wins out with it), and she will always have my heart for her insistence that Xena and Gabrielle were in love and essentially married. I found this quote about it: “It wasn’t just that Xena was bisexual and kinda liked her gal pal and they kind of fooled around sometimes, it was ‘Nope, they’re married, man’.”

Nomi Marks & Amanita Caplan (Sense8) – I’m including these two in the same entry because I haven’t gotten around to finishing the show and it’s been a while since I’ve watched it. But the thing I remember most about it is these two and their beautiful, beautiful relationship. I love seeing positive representations of lesbians on TV, and I love seeing positive representations of mixed race couples, AND I love seeing positive trans* representation. This couple has all three so you can be damn sure they make this list. From what I remember, they’re both strong, good women and their relationship is healthy and that is so important to see. There are too many unhealthy relationships in our media, to see a healthy relationship that is also an example of diversity and positive representation… is there anything better than that? I think not.

Ricky Jones (Boy Meets Girl) – This movie was the first trans* focused story I’d been exposed to and I loved it. Ricky is such a strong character. She is confident and fearless and is determined to be her true self, no matter what any transphobic assholes say to her. That’s such a fantastic thing to show. And not only that, but the focus in the movie is on her relationships, and I feel that it’s so important to show young trans* people that they can find love, they can find people who will see them and understand them and love them for who they are and support them unconditionally. Ricky is such an inspiring character and I’m so grateful this movie exists.

No updates today as I already posted a few days ago with all my updates. More updates next week!!

All my best,
Andie xoxo

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