Be Seen, Be Heard, Be Strong, Be Tall

In light of yesterday’s post, I was reminded of something special I witnessed a few years ago.

Most of you are aware that creators Bruce Timm and the late Dwayne McDuffie are not only credited as talented but also progressive storytellers.

Between Batman, Superman, Static Shock, the Zeta Project, Batman Beyond and Justice League, epic tales were not only told but they were inclusive and trailblazing in showcasing women, POCs, LGBTQs in leading and prominent roles but also handled interracial relationships with respect and class, and tackled racism, sexism and bigotry in any form.

I’ve talked in depth about McDuffie’s work, specifically introducing a gay superhero in one Richie Foley aka Gear.

However he wasn’t the only example of Timm and McDuffie giving a nod to gay fans.

In the Justice League Unlimited ep This Little Piggy, Batman and Wonder Woman are on a stakeout on a Saturday night. While waiting, the conversation turns to spending romantic time with a significant other.

Below there are three couples in front of the Iceberg Lounge, each dressed up for a night on the town: a man and a woman, two men and another man and a woman.

To the astute observer, it was clear that Timm, McDuffie and company were making a statement that LGBTQs do indeed exist. And in a Y7 rated cartoon, that in itself is progressive.

Unfortunately with FCC regulations being what they are, LGBTQs are not allowed to exist in a children’s cartoon. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop these storytellers from standing tall and doing what they could to represent and fight back against institutional oppression.

Yesterday’s post reminded me that there are countless people out there who could learn from this example.

The reality is the FCC regulations are an injustice. Gays not being able to donate blood is an injustice. Trans people facing the level of violence and other discrimination that they face is an injustice.

Many of these injustices continue in large part because we’re not allowed to share our stories and our experiences. There is power in perception and nothing shapes perception more than the media.

When the media portrays the idea of a black or female president be it 24 or Commander In Chief, it opens minds to the very idea as we saw with the 2008 election with President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

When the media showcases John Stewart, Cassandra Cain, Storm, Renee Montoya, Blade, just to name a few, as compelling three-dimensional characters, society learns that heroes come in all shades and genders and the straight white guy is not the default or the end all be all.

When the media gives us Jack Harkness or a Midnighter or Gear, society learns that gay males can kick ass just as hard as our cis heterosexual brothers.

And when they reduce us to tropes, stereotypes, backdroppings,  when we aren’t allowed to exist in media, to have our stories shared, then we become viewed as less than human, 3/5 to be exact.

It’s also not enough to allow us to be represented. We need to be able to represent ourselves. One of the most infuriating things about being a minority is that so many straight white allies are all too quick to score points in being an ally and being “down for the cause” but the second we express an opinion about our own struggles, suddenly we’re too uppity, don’t know what we’re talking about, too angry and don’t know our place.

Because a white person’s perception of racism and a POC’s reality of racism are two completely different things.

A cis heterosexual’s perception of heterosexism/homophobia and an LGBTQ’s reality of heterosexism/homophobia are two completely different things.

I guess all of this is to say. Don’t settle for breadcrumbs, do what you can, fight where you can. Not just for your struggles but for other marginalized people as well. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have the right to have your stories told. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have the right to be represented. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your rights should be denied.

Because not only do you deserve better, but so do others who may not have a voice.

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