I’ll be honest, I’m kind of tired of gay coming out arcs on TV by now. The angst, the panic, and the not knowing how their family and friends will react to the gay character aren’t really appealing to me anymore (I’ve had enough of that in my own life). I want to see LGBTQ+ characters living their lives, working, dating, asserting their identities, and standing up to bigotry. However, coming out remains an experience most of us, LGBTQ+ folks, share. And even though representation on mainstream media is disappointing more often than not, it seems that once in a while it’s still possible to be pleasantly surprised and moved to tears by a character figuring out their sexuality on a superhero show, of all places. I am talking, as you can tell by the title, about Alex Danvers—one of the main characters on Supergirl—and her character arc in the first half of the second season.
Over the past few months, I’ve gotten really into Dungeons & Dragons, a role-playing and story-telling game that relies on improvisation and dice. A game of D&D is led by a Dungeon Master who provides a fantasy world for the players to interact with, and together, they build a story. I discovered D&D through Critical Role, which is a weekly livestream showing a group of people playing the game. It’s quite unlike any other media content I consume, as it doesn’t have a team of writers and is largely improvised. Moreover, it started as a private home game, so it wasn’t even initially created with an audience in mind (although the players did make the decision to continue their game instead of starting a new one for the broadcast).
However, since it started streaming two years ago, it has become quite a phenomenon, inspiring people to play D&D and to create. I wrote about the show several weeks ago while I was still frantically trying to catch up and as such didn’t really stop to think much about anything. I was very excited, for instance, about the mere fact that the show includes LGBTQ+ representation. Since then, I’ve finished catching up and had time to reflect on and look at this representation a little more critically. While Critical Role does have characters of differing gender identities and sexualities who are portrayed with care and respect, some of the actions of the players show a lack of consideration towards the LGBTQ+ characters and the people they represent.
This is it, folks; this is the last Web Crush I will ever write, because I have found the best thing on the internet and possibly the world, and I shall never care about anything else ever again.
… Okay, okay, I’m joking. Just a little bit.
In all seriousness, though, this week I want to share my love for Critical Role, a weekly internet broadcast from Geek & Sundry, which basically shows how a bunch of nerdy voice actors play Dungeons & Dragons. The series features some of the most compelling storytelling and some of the best acting I have ever seen, as well as some excellent queer characters. It’s really difficult to speak about this show—this phenomenon, really—without descending into an incoherent blubbering mess whose feelings boil down to “OMG OMG it’s amazing!”, but I shall try.
I have been reading Lumberjanes for a while now. For those unfamiliar with the comic, it follows a group of girls at a camp who keep getting involved in supernatural shenanigans. I love it so much. However, it’s been difficult for me to identify exactly why I love it so, aside from the obvious—the diversity of female characters and celebration of their friendships. But why do I love these characters? What’s so special about the representation of girls in Lumberjanes? I was talking about this with some of our other writers the other night and they helped me realize just how unique this comic is in its portrayal of girls, in how it avoids common misogynistic tropes, and in how it celebrates all the different ways to be a girl.
It’s quite difficult to find stories set in non-Western settings in mainstream media, and LGBTQ+ stories are even more rare. So, today I want to share with you all a little gem of a webseries called The ‘Other’ Love Story. Set in India in the 90s and featuring two young women falling in love, it’s sweet, tender, and, yes, sad, but beautiful.
This week’s Web Crush is one of those “I can’t believe it took me this long to write about this!” type of deals, since I’ve been reading and rereading and sighing over this webcomic for months now—but let me back up a little and actually introduce it. Today I want to tell you about a sweet little thing called Check, Please!by Ngozi Ukazu. It has cute art, soft bros, young men falling in love and having a healthy relationship, and for those of you who are into that sort of thing—ice hockey.
A while back I told you all about a little strange dystopian novel called Love in the Time of Global Warming, by Francesca Lia Block. I felt it was a breath of fresh air in the dystopian YA world, with its magical realism, perfectly set eerie mood, and a main cast made up of queer characters. I was surprised to find out that there was a sequel, since it didn’t seem like the sort of book that would be part of a series, but I was nevertheless very excited when I finally got my hands on The Island of Excess Love. Unfortunately, my mood soon turned sour as it became apparent that even though the sequel recaptures the mood of the first book, the narrative sends some very troubling rape-apologist and transphobic messages.
Spoilers for both books, as well as discussion of sex, rape, and transphobic ideas, below.