Celebrity role models, Convention, Fandom, Queer

Recognising the importance of LGBTQ people in the media

As anyone who knows me will know, one of my biggest happy times of the year is when I get to go to a Sci-Fi convention. I get to see old friends, make new ones and meet the people in the shows/behind the books that I love.  Even when a convention can people me out to the point of a panic attack, I look forward to them each and every time.  It’s a chance to allow my true passions out without being judged and I’ve also learnt that cosplay helps reduce the level of social stress and actually helps.  This may be, in part, the same thing that has enabled me to do theatre in the past.

Recently at conventions, I’ve made a point of making sure I at least talk to the actors/actresses in the shows that I love that are out in the media.  I want them to know how much it means to me that the younger LGBTQ generation coming up have the role models I was severely lacking in the media when it came to my Queer identity growing up.  I also have made a point of thanking those who portray Queer characters regardless of their actual sexual/gender orientation because their willingness to portray our community gives me hope.

This year a conversation with Luvia Petersen (Continuum), enabled me to not only meet a beautiful woman who sticks to her own style, but also thank her for being comfortable enough to be honest and open in her own skin.  We talked about how we didn’t see that growing up. About how it is more important than ever now, with the amount of homeless LGBTQ youth out there, that something is done. She’s an eloquent woman who I could have spent a lot longer talking to about the point in which the Western world finds itself in regards to our community and the need for global equality.

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A conversation with Jasika Nicole (Fringe) that started with my darling AH taking the lead showed that she’s as passionate as we are about being seen as normal and equal in the eyes of the law and society at large.  Jasika is a beautiful woman who rightfully, as I would want for any ‘celeb’, still wants to retain a certain level of privacy.  She’s warm and friendly and I can’t get over how talented she is either. If you’ve not seen her art I suggest you go have a look at jasikanicole.com

I thanked Neve McIntosh for her choice to play Vastra in Doctor Who. I talked to her about the only lesbians I saw on TV growing up were in the British show, Bad Girls, and she understood immediately. We discussed the Nikki and Helen relationship, we talked about the fact that Doctor Who has made the relationship between Jenny and Vastra just a matter-of-fact thing and how important that is.  She also pointed me at her show Lip Service which is about lesbians in Scotland and recommended a book.  I can’t voice just how engaged she was in the conversation.

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) seemed to flabbergasted by the amount of us at LFCC this summer wanting Imagine Me & You related signings. But just like others, it was clear that she understood the importance of that film to us.  She had obvious pleasure in talking to all of us who had loved and still love that film with something akin to fiery passion.

Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) was perhaps one of the actors who made me melt the most.  My sexuality came to the forefront watching BTVS and the relationship between Willow and Tara.  Tara gave me a level of complete understanding in myself that I never had had before. I’d watched Bad Girls, but I still felt a guilt tied into being attracted to women that came from my upbringing. It was Tara, and in turn Amber by portraying her, that gave me the understanding that there was no shame in being who I am.  When I thanked her for helping me to understand that it was okay to be me, I knew by the look on her face and the warmth in her hug that she got what I meant. She whispered into my ear “Never be anyone else.”  And that is advice I will take to my grave, the message of authenticity.

I’ve also spent time over twitter in the past couple of years being vocal and thankful to those who have played lesbians on-screen.  Ming-Na Wen got a huge thank you when we found out in SGU that Camille Wray was in a lesbian relationship. Whilst I know it was partially down to the writers that Camille being a lesbian was just a nuance of her character, the way in which she portrayed that nuanced facet was beyond anything I could have hoped for.  There was a complete level of respect in her performance. I encourage anyone to watch those scenes. (Also can I just point out here that Stargate gave us a regular Queer character way before Star Trek and if we get another Star Trek series they will have a lot to live up to in this respect).

I’ve also tweeted with Liz Vassey (CSI) and Nancylee Myatt about the upcoming webseries version of Nikki and Nora. There was so much rejoicing when I heard they were doing an indiegogo campaign to get the series funded.  I became an avid supporter, not only donating but tweeting daily to get others to donate to the campaign.  I can’t wait for 22nd December 2013 to roll around and for us to see Nikki and Nora back at their best.  The pilot gave so many of us hope that we were starting to be understood and recognised. Tweets have discussed the fact that love is love, have stressed the importance of normalising Queer relationships and have given me hope that my children, when I have them, will grow up in a world that is evolving to the point where everyone is treated equally.

Next though, with out LGB actors and characters in the media becoming more mainstream, we need to also turn our eyes to representation of the Trans* part of the community. Here I want to give a special mention to Orange is the New Black and thank them for their part in doing so.  Laverne Cox is a beautiful Trans* woman who shines so brightly in all that she does, and I have to be frank, I would love to hear her speak one day, in person. I’m in awe of her openess and honesty and a smile tugs at my mouth when I see and hear interviews that she has done.

In some ways I hate that it’s 2013 and I’m having to write posts on the importance of showing the Queer community in the media, but at the same time, a part of me is glad that I will be able to show my children just how far we’ve come in the thirty odd years I’ve been on this planet. I pray that the fight for equality ends before the next generation reach my age.

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