Star Trek is probably one of the first nerdy shows that I ever experienced. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t watching the Star Trek original series (TOS). I remember, specifically, asking my father why Spock wasn’t captain instead of Kirk. It was probably very obvious from my father’s perspective that I had a little bit of a crush on the dashing and mysterious Vulcan as a child. But mostly I remember when I was a little older, sitting at the dinner table with my mother, and she would tell me all she knew about Star Trek. Like me, my mother was fascinated with the Vulcans, and Spock in particular. She told me about little details she loved seeing in the TV shows and the movies, and she would tell me about the stories in the Trek novels she had read that expanded on Spock’s past and on Vulcan culture. My mom recently passed away this past October after a terrible battle with breast cancer. She was a big nerd like me and she is probably at least partly the reason I am taking the recent death of Leonard Nimoy so hard.
It seems silly, I guess, to truly grieve over the death of a man that I have never, and will never, know. But when I heard about Leonard Nimoy’s passing at work, I felt nearly overwhelmed with grief. His character had felt like a part of my family. Star Trek and Spock were some of the primary ways that I developed a relationship with my mother, and I recently started re-watching TOS in order to feel some connection with my mother again. So for me, his death is extremely personal.
My personal feelings aside, that is the not the only reason I want to honor Leonard Nimoy today. There are many celebrities out there that we, as geeks, love, but sadly we know the celebrities we love are not always the best people.Though I don’t know if Nimoy was perfect (none of us are, really)in many ways Leonard Nimoy was probably one of best examples of an intersectional feminist in our geek culture. It’s his great advocacy for all human rights that I want to honor today.
One of the people I enjoy on YouTube never spoke up about a recent scandal concerning jokes about sexual assault (made by her now boyfriend), and as a result, I’ve been seeking out new things to watch to mend this tear in my heart. While YouTube, as a platform, has cultivated some of the most problematic people and cultures on the internet, it’s also a fantastic source for information and discovering people who may have gone through similar experiences as yourself. For me, my web crush fits into the former—as I don’t share many of her defining traits—but I believe for many, and hopefully some of our readers here as well, Kat Blaque offers a voice to a minority that is spoken over more often than not.
As a genderqueer person I’m fairly certain that my own experience with slash fanfiction differs somewhat from the norm. Only recently have I begun reflecting on how formative both writing and reading fanfiction was at a time in my life when I felt isolated and frustrated by my own seemingly incongruous feelings. Knowing now that there are a surprising number of people for whom the gender binary doesn’t hold true, I like to think that for some small portion of the fan community fanfiction has been an important tool for self-discovery, as it was for me.
Lycanthropy also serves as a metaphor for the inherent state of physical transition and transformation that is a defining part of puberty. For most able-bodied, non-chronically ill people, puberty is the first time we actively feel out of control of our bodies (potty training notwithstanding). The changes are sudden, violent, bizarre; simple changes in height are nothing compared to the fundamental, irreversible changes to the character and nature of our bodies that happen during puberty. It’s rooted in the same basis that makes all body horror so terrifying—the involuntary changing of and lack of control over the body.
December 8th was Pansexual Pride Day and as a proud pansexual myself, I wanted to mark the occasion by talking about pansexuality in geekdom. Except… there isn’t much pansexual representation in geekdom, and I’ve already written about the few characters who have been identified as pansexual. Gay and lesbian characters are still barely represented in all of pop culture, and bisexual and transgender characters rarely, if ever, grace our sphere of geekdom. So while it’s not much of a surprise that other lesser known sexualities are not represented, it’s always nice to dream of a day when more queer characters will exist in our media. Today, I decided to pick five characters that I would love to see come out as pansexual. Just to clarify, these are characters I wish would end up being pansexual. This does not mean that I think they necessarily are pansexual or are presented as pansexual.
Without further ado, here, in no particular order, are five characters I wish were pansexual.
Not too long ago we were contacted by authors Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith about reviewing their new YA novel, Stranger, thanks to our previous interest in diverse post-apocalyptic fiction. I happily accepted the opportunity to read and review this book, but was admittedly nervous that I wouldn’t like it and then struggle with the review. My fears were utterly unfounded. What I found was an extremely exciting and well written book, with a diverse cast of characters.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: “why does this character have to be gay? It’s so distracting!” Or what about this: “we thought about making this character queer, but we thought it would be a distraction”. It seems like I’ve been seeing this sort of thing a lot lately—I see authors insisting that they’re open-minded and love their “gay fans”, but making characters queer would divert attention away from the story; on the other hand, I see fans complaining that the existing queer characters are distracting. But all I, a queer person, can hear from this is “for me to accept and portray you as a person, I need to ignore a piece of your person; can we pretend it doesn’t exist?” and “no one wants to see you as you are”.
Awesome character, but not an epitome of LGBTQ+ representation
It seems that a lot of creators think that it’s enough representation if they have ‘hidden’ LGBTQ+ characters—only revealing it with a throwaway punchline at the end of a movie (see: Mitch in ParaNorman), or even worse, only mentioning it outside the work itself (see: J.K. Rowling’s “I always thought of Dumbledore as gay”). Many fans cheer when this happens, because, see, you can write gay characters who don’t distract from the story. On one hand, this helps to normalize queer characters; it makes them seem just like heterosexual characters, so straight viewers don’t think of them as ‘other’, but as people just like them. And this is important. But on the other hand, really, what sort of representation is it if the audience has no idea the character is queer for mostof the work? Invisible representation is not representation. It also sends the message to queer audience members that they’re only equal to straight people when they’re indistinguishable from them, when they’re exactly the same; that to be accepted you have to follow the heteronormative rules. If you’re in any way different, you draw attention and it’s annoying and disgusting and the need for you to be this way is constantly questioned.
I’m a girl who, if there’s a chance for a choice-driven romance dictated by the player in a game, will be about 70% more likely to buy said game. Or at least I’m 70% more likely to dedicate my brain-space to the consideration of buying it. I have no shame in saying, then, that one of the huge draws of the Dragon Age series for me are its potential romances. After what feels like like an eternity, one of the last possible love interests for DA: Inquisition has been revealed to the denizens of the internet last Thursday. With fan-favorites Varric (the charming surface dwarf) and Vivienne (an intriguing mage from the court of France-inspired Orlais) at the tip of fans’ tongues for “most wanted love interest”, the reveal of the newest LI—the Grey Warden, Blackwall—left a huge portion of the fandom underwhelmed and even hurt. These feelings stem not from feelings of entitlement, but from a sense that despite the game’s astounding nine romancible characters, this newest installment of the Dragon Age series has taken a step backward for minority representation.