I’m not sure where I first stumbled upon the Are They Gay? web series, but I’m sure glad I did. This series provides a funny, inclusive, and informative analysis of various slash ships that starts and ends with asking the titular question: are these two people gay? It features a wide variety of pairings including mlm and wlw slash ships, and is a great primer to the history and background of certain ships in addition to ultimately offering an answer to that pressing question.
Given the title of the series, I watched the first video I found (the one about Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens) with bated breath, waiting for the biphobic/bi-erasing shoe to drop. I needn’t have worried. The series may be titled Are They Gay?, but the narrator never fails to highlight the probability that a character (or historical figure) with a history of different-sex relationships is bisexual rather than gay, going so far as to highlight key quotes from the person in question in the colors of the bisexual flag. In fact, Alexander Charles, the series’s creator, is bisexual himself. He’s also a person of color, and doesn’t hesitate to point out the racial issues that are often prevalent in the slash-shipping community.
Charles does extensive research on each pairing; he reads, rereads, watches, or rewatches a book, show, or movie as necessary, and the videos edit together all the key clips (or written conversations, or comic panels, etc.) from the series in question that fans point to as evidence for the ship. The editing is seamlessly done, and the choices in terms of music, scene cuts, and what text is highlighted clearly and cleverly demonstrate fans’ evidence for the characters’ queerness. However, the videos don’t mislead viewers with false claims of canonicity—while Alexander will acknowledge, say, that the MCU Steve Rogers’s history with Bucky could very easily translate into a romantic relationship/the two of them being revealed as bisexual, he doesn’t go so far as to say the characters as they currently stand are bi. Except in the case of Hannibal and Will Graham, who are, thank you God and Bryan Fuller, canonically queer, Alexander and co-narrator Abel Stone leave the orientations of the characters and historical figures they analyze up to the audience to decide.
The duo have also started a companion series under the heading Queer History. These videos deal with issues like queerbaiting and subtext that plague queer representation in the media, and maintain the same professional standard and clever editing while addressing these issues in a more serious and less goofy tone.
And, like, look: I’m bad at YouTube. Whenever someone sends me a video longer than a Vine, the likelihood that I’ll watch it is directly proportional to how long it is. My Tumblr likes are full of videos I’ve been meaning to go back and watch, some of which have been there for years. So when I say that the Are They Gay? videos held my attention in spite of their average length of ten or more minutes, (the Scorbus one is half an hour!) you know they have to be pretty darn engrossing. Some of my personal faves were the Hannigram, Stucky, and Bubbline videos. I recommend checking them and the rest of the series out on YouTube. And if you like what you see, don’t forget to follow Are They Gay? on Twitter, Tumblr, and Patreon and let them know!
Hear more from Lady Saika on Character Reveal, the podcast she cohosts with BrothaDom!