Dear Straight Writers,
The title really says it all. Stop. Killing. Female. Queers. In. Your. Stories. It’s lazy and overdone. Women who are attracted to women are extremely tired of seeing the death trope in books, TV shows, and movies. You aren’t allowed to be hailed as “groundbreaking” when you included a lesbian couple to only string people along – only for it to end in death. Killing a queer character isn’t shocking or edgy. It’s boring, contrite, and damaging.
‘The 100’ became a show in which my girlfriend and I became extremely excited to watch. It felt like it was too good to be true- a well thought out sci-fi/ dystopic story where two ladies are in love with each other. The show actually explores the relationship in a deep and meaningful way, and neither character is persecuted for their sexuality. It was fantastic. It was beautiful. It was downright amazing. We finally felt like were getting a taste of what straight people experience on a regular basis: two people in love with each other without judgment or persecution.
Then… this past Thursday’s episode aired. It felt like someone had dangled happiness, hope, and equality in front of our faces for a couple of years… pushing us to support the show and keep the ratings up, just to have it so lazily stripped away. Clark and Lexa were finally able to be together at least for a shot while – then Lexa is killed. Not in a badass warrior way, in a dumb manner that made it obvious that no one on the show thought that there was another way to write out, or temporarily write out, a lesbian character.
It’s irresponsible to create a world where queer girls and women feel like they can dive into happiness and hope, and then crush us inside of it. We don’t get happy stories. I can count on one hand long lasting, positive TV representation in the last few years; two of these shows are cartoons. We rely on positive narratives to validate our identities in a world that usually refuses to see us. It’s awful that we have to hunt for quality, positive material to consume.
I really don’t know what I think is worse – the void where quality lesbian content should reside, or the cesspool where ‘ground-breaking’ writers throw another edgy story about lesbians dying? Do you realize how this narrative is so abhorrently toxic? Queer girls and women have had to grow up watching and reading people tell us that our kind of love and our kind of story isn’t worth putting thought into. And if some thought has been put into it,they tell us that our identity will almost certainly lead to heartache and/or death. It’s not that these stories exist, many heart wrenching heterosexual stories get the same treatement. But they also get the thrillers and mysteries, cut romantic comedies, stories where they are accepted and no one questions who they are, what they do, or who they love. If you are having trouble thinking of creative things your lesbian characters can do besides die, check out this article on Autostraddle. It gives you many jumping off points. If people are saying that Ryan Murphy’s representation of lesbians is better than yours I hate to tell you that you are doing something wrong.
I’m simultaneously tired and enraged. The moment people start patting your back for inclusion and equality is the moment you have a responsibility to the queer fandom it supports. You could argue that this isn’t fair. One show has to bear the burden to fairly represent queer ladies without the death trope? In a perfect world where I can ride around on a unicorn there would be plenty of positive queer content for me to choose from. So if a gay lady dies in one show it wouldn’t be soul-crushing. Unfortunately for all of us we don’t to get to live in this world. We live in a world where straight people get to dictate how I’m represented if I’m represented at all.
Straight writers, if you are unable to think outside the lesbian death-trope box, just stop writing about us. You are doing more harm than good. Please take the time to understand that our stories our more than tragic endings. Please give us the chance to be seen for who we are and what we are made of. If you aren’t willing to do that, kindly step aside and let queer writers express themselves in a way that reflects our many multifaceted and diverse narratives. Let us tell stories in which no one is persecuted, killed, or tragically dies of cancer.
We are more that your lazy and short-sighted narratives. It’s time to step out of the heteronormative box and let us tell the stories ourselves.