In which we discuss why you’ll rarely find any gay black male characters in my stories.
Recently while discussing Scott Pilgrim, my buddies and I got on the topic of the challenges that POC storytellers contend with. Speaking from personal experience here, one of the biggest challenges that POC storytellers have to do endure is being accused of author avatar/insert or pushing an agenda.
A gent by the name of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. once said, “Unless man is committed to the belief that all mankind are his brothers, then he labors in vain and hypocritically in the vineyards of equality.”
While on the Syfy webpage (yeah that was my first mistake), I was reading some of the comments (yeah I know, that was my second mistake) regarding Doctor Who. One of the commenters argued that they didn’t approve of Russell T. Davies’s inclusion of LGBTQs in the Whoverse and accused him of pushing a gay agenda on the public and wearing his homosexuality on his sleeve.
These are claims I’ve heard too often from privileged cis-gendered heterosexuals. Anytime an LGBTQ dares be open and demand equal treatment and opportunity, they’re pushing an evil agenda.
Before I offer my two cents on the Darwyn Cooke situation, let me put out the obligatory disclaimer for a topic this controversial.
These are my thoughts and my opinions based on my impressions and my experiences. By no means am I asserting that my opinion should be the universal standard for anyone else. This goes without saying but the next person’s mileage may vary for valid and legitimate reasons. I respect that and all I ask is that you pay me the same courtesy.
For those of you just joining us, Darwyn Cooke was recently interviewed at Fan Expo and gave his thoughts on what Marvel and DC needs to change:
Waid was asked what has been the biggest or happiest BOOM! Studios surprise. Waid wanted to start with the most colossal failure first: High Rollers, written by acclaimed crime novelist, Gary Phillips. The concept was an urban take on organized crime.To Waid’s shock and awe, an astonishing amount of retailers claimed they had no audience due to the color of the characters.
Several comic book retailers were surveyed and had some failtastic comments. Of course this one probably takes the cake:
Julia Bond Ellingboe’s Steal Away Jordan is an RPG about heroic Black people in the antebellum South. One of the few RPGs written by a woman of color (I think I’m the other one /sarcasm), and one of the few RPGs about heroic POCs!
Many of you may recall the television series Static Shock, the hit WB Kids cartoon that was based on the Milestone comic. Static (Virgil Hawkins) had a best friend named Richie Foley who in later seasons discovered he had latent ablities as a technopath and became Static’s crimefighting partner known as Gear. What makes this 10 kinds of awesome is that for those of us who knew the history of Static in the comics, something very special was happening. In the comics, Richie Foley was in fact Richard Stone, one of Virgil’s best friends in high school and a gay teen. With FCC regulations the way they are, gay characters are not allowed on a kid’s cartoon show.
But for us LGBTQ comic book fans and others in the know, we knew what Dwayne McDuffie and others were trying to accomplish. They could’ve just as easily have easily have adapted another of Static’s friends or created a brand new character for the show. It should also be noted that Dwayne McDuffie, Bruce Timm and co. have consistently been inclusive and brought the win on POC, feminist and other issues with their other series, Batman, Batman Beyond, Superman and Justice League. McDuffie even confirmed on his website that the cartoon version of Richie Foley WAS indeed a gay character and a gay superhero at that.
I want to do something a little different with this post. Instead of presenting my own ideas and hoping you respond, let’s have an open discussion.
As most of you probably already know, I’ve written a play entitled Tulpa, or Anne&Me. I’ve recently done massive rewrites that better capture the way I imagine the story. You can find the most recent version of it on my LiveJournal, but there are ways to get your own personal copy*. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is the basic premise:
When Anne Hathaway crawls out of your television, what do you do? When the topic of conversation is race, how would you navigate the truth of your experience and the human need to make connections?
Through a series of connected visitations from the tulpa of the famous movie star, “Tulpa, or Anne&Me” blends reality and fantasy to explore what is usually hidden in the way we talk about race. Taking the vantage point of a Black lesbian with an overactive imagination, “Tulpa, or Anne&&Me” explores the effects of racism on the human psyche. Will she find a way to express and fulfill her desire for a meaningful connection? Or will the weight of history and pain of the present sever ties before they can be made?
Let’s talk about Glee, which for the moment is almost everyone’s darling show.
I hate Glee. I watched the screening of the second episode at Outfest 2009, when it was not on anyone’s radar yet, and I thought it was moderately offensive but extraordinarily campy and funny. So, I decided to watch the new season on Fox. Unfortunately, the episodes got progressively more problematic, and by episode 7, Throwdown, I decided I was done.
That episode really made me detest Glee. But normally, I’d just accept that it was a problematic show glumly, like much of television, and move on with my life. The problem was that my friends wouldn’t let me move on. Many of my friends adored the show unequivocally, many of my other friends saw problems with it but treated it as their ultimate guilty pleasure. Many of my online friends had a total obsession with the show, to the exclusion and abandonment of other fandoms. As a result, I still managed to learn most of the drama going on Glee even after I stopped watching. I couldn’t understand the fervor. Why? WHY?!