Representation matters, and everyone wants to be a hero. Unfortunately, what we LGBTQ+ folks get more often are queer villains, queer-coded villains, or anti-heroes. At least, they’re the most famous ones: pretty much every Disney villain ever, Loki, Constantine. The predominance of these types of characters and the lack of LGBTQ+ “good guy” superheroes creates the image of queerness as being tied to wickedness, threat to society, and general “otherness”. This influences both the way the general society sees LGBTQ+ people and how LGBTQ+ folks see ourselves, especially young people struggling with their identities. It creates a certain narrative for us, implying that we can only fit a certain type of mold and that it always sets us apart and makes us a threat. And that sucks.
I love a rugged jerk with a heart of gold as much as anyone, but Constantine’s morals and ethics leave something to be desired.
However, I’m not saying all queer characters need to be “good guys”. It’s just that a balance is needed to avoid forcing the idea that queer equals bad. Therefore it’s important to have more LGBTQ+ heroes and “good guys” who are people others follow and look up to (I’m not saying bisexual Steve Rogers, but I’m totally thinking bisexual Steve Rogers). We need to see that we can be great heroes and that we can have all kinds of different stories be about us.
Do you like stories about awesome ladies? Do you like stories about queer characters? Do you like tales of action and adventure? If you don’t, why are you reading this blog, friend? That’s pretty much all we talk about here.
Anyway, if you would like to have a story that contains all of the above and is awesome besides, then you should definitely be checking out the Valentin and the Widow podcast series, written and performed by Andrew Wheeler.
Valentin and the Widow is set in a steampunk-y version of the 1920s, and stars the recently widowed Lady Eleanora Rosewood and her valet, the gruff Russian ex-soldier Sacha Valentin. When Eleanora discovers that her beloved husband was actually involved in a clandestine organization bent on oppressing and destroying anyone they considered less-than, she sets off on an adventure to undo his evil plans before they can hurt anybody. The first story in the series, The Mandrake Machine, follows Eleanora to Shanghai, where she meets and hires Valentin to help her foil her late husband’s plan to level the city with an earthquake machine. In later stories they travel to Cuba, Cairo, and Paris on the trail of the organizations’ agents and plots, facing down finishing school students hypnotized into assassins, music boxes that kill their listeners, and the ghosts of both their pasts.