Spectrums and Double Standards?
While it is important to represent a broad spectrum of what it means to be queer, including representations that transcend definitions, it seems that these stories are relegated almost exclusively to female characters. Meanwhile, queer male characters are never found in these positions and are considered revolutionary for being unapologetically, out, proud gay. This seems like a double standard to me, one that I don’t know what to make of.
Buzz Feed posted an article about “Faking It” and its forward-thinking nature in portraying queerness with less focus on labeling. While I agree with several of author Louis Peitzman’s points, particularly about the confusing nature of queerness in high school, he seems to think that having a full-blown, established lesbian character is outdated. Peitzman says of women who only love women and define themselves as lesbians, “Those rigid lines, in fact, are exactly what now feel dated.”
Perhaps not Peitzman’s intention, but given the context, he applies this solely to lesbians and women. I was a bit taken aback to learn that on some level Peitzman feels that my own sexuality is outdated. Umm, sorry sir, but I still exist. (The author does somewhat backtrack later, and perhaps this mild attempt at erasure is a good reminder of what bisexual or other queer-spectrum identified people feel like on a regular basis when they are excluded from conversations, representation and even LGBT spaces.)
Not to be a square and miss the overall point of the article–that there needs to be more diverse representations of queer on TV, and “Faking It” takes a solid step in that direction–there are some flaws to Peitzman’s enthusiasm for what “Faking It” accomplishes. Or perhaps Peitzman forgot to take the conversation about diverse queer representations on TV far enough.
Peitzman lauds “Faking It” for Karma and Amy, who may exist on some spectrum that isn’t black and white, that’s messy and doesn’t necessarily need a label. While this is true, Peitzman also, with equal gusto and acclaim, states that Shane is revolutionary for being an out and proud gay man. Out and proud lesbians whose stories don’t include acceptance drama (Arizona Robbins, anyone?) are a footnote to Peitzman, as if lesbians are simply contributing to an antiquated label system. A “rigid” label of sexual orientation, as Peitzman puts it, is revolutionary for out, proud, exclusively gay male characters, but somehow exactly the opposite for exclusively lesbian women. I find this problematic.
Maybe I am missing something, but its almost never queer men who have these messy, going back and forth between men or women story lines, but female characters. As I mentioned in my original post about “Faking It,” I still imagine applying the premise of “Faking It” to guys would be more impactful and less reliant on safer ground–the blurred lines for girls between friendship and romantic love. Spectrum representation should not just be limited to women, nor should female characters who identify as lesbian be considered any less revolutionary than gay men.
Overall, TV just needs more diverse queer characters, without unhelpful, seemingly benign, judgements imposed on which characters, stories or ‘labels’ make the most difference. We need them all.
Posted on June 5, 2014, in All Posts, LGBTQ, Representation, TV Shows, Women and tagged Arizona Robbins, Buzz Feed, Faking It, Grey's Anatomy, Karmy, LGBT, Louis Peitzman. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.