Categories
LGBTQ+

What is Queer Coding? And Why is it Important?

Ask your average person if they have every heard the term Queer Coding and they’ll likely say no. It’s not a very well-known word. But the concept is, especially in queer communities.

Not too long ago, we all got together to watch the newest Disney Princess kick some butt. Of course, I’m talking about Raya and the Last Dragon. And while we all enjoyed it immensely (dragons, kick ass princess, Asian representation!) there was one little thing that drove every one of us a little batty. (warning: there may be spoilers ahead! Feel free to skip ahead to Queer Baiting & Queer Coding.) That little thing was Namaari, the main antagonist and Raya’s… friend/enemy.

I mean, just look at her! She is a fierce warrior princess in her own tribe who is giving off serious Ruby Rose vibes. (A moment of appreciation for Ruby Rose because… sigh.) Back to Namaari! Her appearance and demeanor were giving off all of the “I’m not straight and also kind of into you” vibes whenever she was around or talking about Raya. And the interactions between the two characters had a layer of our old favorite enemies to lovers trope. There were sideways glances, witty banter, and little hand touches and shoulder nudges that seriously had us squealing with barely suppressed AWWWWs.

We held our breath through the whole movie, waiting to see if Disney would FINALLY give us a queer romantic relationship. They didn’t. And we kinda knew they wouldn’t. Disney and the other studios know how to draw in audiences of all backgrounds. They give us queer folx just enough to bring us in, but then pull back at the last minute so as to not offend the straights.

Which brings us to a little bit of a history lesson here.

Queer Baiting & Queer Coding

The former is just that. A bait and switch with a queer twist. It’s giving audiences the sense that there will be an adorable queer romantic storyline for us to ship so that we go see the movie. And then not giving it to us!

Queer Coding is what Disney did to Namaari. It is essentially when a character is given traits or features that are typically read by audiences as queer, but never saying they are. This usually looks like more feminine men and more masculine women. It goes beyond haircuts and clothing and encompasses the character as a whole. Some examples from the Disney vaults: Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas; Scar from The Lion King; Hades from Hercules; Ursula from The Little Mermaid; Prince John from Robin Hood; King Candy from Wreck It Ralph.

While queer coding in itself is not good or bad, the effects can be. The good: queer audiences do get to see themselves depicted in film, even if they are not explicitly acknowledged. The bad: these characters are a lot of times the bad guys. Which puts the connection that gay is bad in the minds of the entire audience. And then reinforces that idea over and over and over. See that list above? Those are kids movies. And those are all bad guys.

Where did it come from?

History time! This practice can be traced back to the 1930s, when the Hays Code came into existence. This was a set of guidelines and standards brought to the studios by a Jesuit Priest and a Catholic layman to “help” them decide what was acceptable and not for a general all ages audience to see. Namely, to protect the most impressionable in the audience (read: children).

The Hays Code had two parts. Part one was kind of the summary and purpose. It used phrases like “moral standards” and “the correct standards of life.” It was essentially stating that studios should only produce films that upheld traditional (Catholic) values. It also stated that authority figures should be presented in only good light. No poking fun at the cops or letting audiences empathize with the criminals.

Part two was a list of specific things that were not acceptable. And guess what was on it! You’re right. No sexual perversion allowed! But this rule was not only about homosexuals. It was also about race mixing! So no gays and no black/white sex. There were also items addressing affairs and any sex outside of marriage, crime and punishment, and depicting authority figures.

The code was enforced from 1934-1968, though starting in the 50s enforcement seriously began to decline. Perhaps in part because of a major SCOTUS ruling in 1952. Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson was brought forth to the Supreme Court and they ruled that motion pictures fell under First Amendment protections. Which basically meant, no censoring them because a handful of people are offended by the content.

Why is it important?

While the practice of queer coding is not inherently bad, the associations that many have about the LGBTQ+ community come from it. Seeing villains constantly being shown as queer is damaging. It just feeds into the stereotypes. Also, queer coding is not real representation. We want actual open queers in our media! We want to see ourselves in the movies and shows that we watch.

Back to Raya and Namaari.

Everyone agrees that when it comes to Asian stories (or any other non white ethnicity) representation matters. It is applauded, especially in children’s movies. Remember the cheers when Disney finally featured a Black Princess? Kids need to see themselves on the silver screen just as much, if not more than adults. That means queer kids too.

Creating Namaari the way she is… showing her relationship with Raya the way they did… And then not saying it out loud was just… cruel. We almost had representation. We were literally thisclose to that representation. To have a princess of our very own that we could look up to. Thisclose. Instead of showing a beautiful queer relationship, Disney chose not to offend a small group and keep it all platonic.

So thank goodness for fan art like this. The beauty of creating something and giving it to the public, is that we then get to run with those characters the way we see them. For Raya and Namaari, that means we get to see these two strong princesses together, in a way the studio was too afraid to show.

For more about the Hays Code and Queer Coding in other genres check out this video by one of my favorite youtubers. Or read over this article on SyFy. For more of my LGBTQ+ centered posts, click here.

Categories
Family LGBTQ+

What Not to Say When Your Child Comes Out

Happy Pride Month, ya’ll! I don’t know about you guys, but I am absolutely loving the rainbows everywhere. They are all over my social media feeds and hanging from most of our local stores. This year, I have been even happier to see all the recognition of the different sexualities and genders under that rainbow flag. People are proudly proclaiming their Pan/Demi/Ace/etc. identities, and it is beautiful to see!

I wish I had the courage as well to share my own identities with the world on my personal social medias. It may shock you all to know that this little outspoken blogger is quite the introvert in real life. I was past 30 before I finally allowed myself to acknowledge my bisexuality. It took a few years more before I stopped second guessing myself and fully embraced it. But I have yet to shout it to the heavens for all to hear. My mostly conservative family would not approve, so to keep the peace as much as possible, I keep that part from them.

Sass, on the other hand, thankfully doesn’t feel the need to hide who she is. At 13 yrs old, shortly before her 14th birthday, she casually dropped that she maybe liked boys AND girls. Then a few months later, narrowed that down and dropped boys from the picture all together. And ever since she has embraced her identity wholeheartedly. She wears the Lesbian flag pins her sister made proudly on her school bag. She came out to her friends and their families, all of whom embraced her wholeheartedly as well.

Crumbs is still figuring it out. She is 12 yrs old now, and has not showed any interest one way or another. Which is great for us (what parent wants to think about their babies liking people and dating?) But she has shared that she knows she isn’t straight. She is queer, just currently undefined. And there is no rush for her to define it. She will tell us when she knows. We trust her to figure it out for herself.

So it’s been nice to see all the pride posts this past week. And even nicer still to come across a small handful of posts about coming out. A friend proudly shared their newfound realization of their own sexual identities after coming across some new terms they learned this month. And a few fellow moms shared joys and concerns over their kids coming out. These are the ones that stuck out the most because of my own babies.

The posts themselves were simple: just a mom sharing her worries and asking for support and guidance from others after their child came out to them. A majority of the comments were just that: supportive and full of wonderful affirming guidance. They were the kind of comments you would hope to see. Moms pouring loving into another mom facing a brand new path she hadn’t seen coming.

But then there were some that weren’t so supportive.

“They are still young, they don’t know what they like yet.”

“It’s all over the media right now, it’s practically a fad.”

“It’s cool to be queer/gay/trans/etc. now. They’ll change their mind later.”

“It’s just a phase.”

What the actual… Are we still doing this?

If we do not question or dismiss a child in things pertaining to the straight/cis narrative, why do we question and dismiss them when it’s outside that narrative? We laugh and fawn over elementary kids saying they have a girlfriend/boyfriend, or when they walk around the playground holding hands. But as soon as those same kids hold the hand of their new crush who is the same gender, or they say they feel like their gender and sex do not match, we clutch our pearls and say it’s just a phase. They don’t understand. They couldn’t possibly know their own identities in terms of gender or sexuality.

Churches do the same thing. Kids are called to accept Christ during Sunday School and youth groups and Vacation Bible Camps. But if they share any part of themselves that is outside that straight/cis narrative, they are too young and don’t know what they are saying.

So let’s just clear that up, shall we?

It’s not a phase. It’s not the cool thing to do. They know better than anyone else who they are.

Saying otherwise is damaging. Damaging to your relationship with that child, damaging to their self esteem and image. And damaging to their mental health. Don’t be that person.

Be better. Be there for your kids. Support them. Research has shown that kids who have support are less likely to struggle with mental health issues, and less likely to commit suicide. Supporting your child, believing them when they say they are gay/ace/trans/etc. can be literally life saving. If you need help in finding ways to support your child, check out The Trevor Project. They have so many resources available! The CDC website also has a list of links to several other helpful sources, like GLSEN.

So consider this your Pride Month PSA. Believe your kids when they tell you who they are. Because they absolutely know their own identities, be it gender, sexual, or faith based. They know. So, love them, support them, and believe them.

Categories
Family LGBTQ+ Polyamory

What A Children’s Book Got Right About Representation

Representation matters. We all know it.

I’ve mentioned it in other posts. It’s a part of my why. It’s important for others to see and be seen. In all areas. It’s why we have a push to feature more girls/women in STEM careers. Why having LGBTQ+ and BIPOC members elected to our government is so powerful. It’s why I shared my excitement over 2 small cities miles away from me that are now recognizing domestic partnerships between more than 2 individuals.

There are so many blogs, websites, and social media accounts devoted to polyamory and other ENM relationships. But in fictional media that representation is lacking. A lot.

Representation in TV & Film

Movies and tv shows try. But they usually fall into harmful or downright wrong stereotypes. Books tend to mostly skip us over, unless you’re into science fiction or high fantasy. And it’s not because the demand isn’t there. Search through any polyam group, or even ask google, and you will see so many requests for recommendations on good polyam storylines. A read through those lists or comments nets you the same ones over and over. A good polyam movie? Profession Marston and the Wonder Women. A good polyam book? Stranger in a Strange Land. A good polyam show? Crickets. Some episodes might be shared from a few popular shows. Or you’ll hear about series featuring polygamous families, like Big Love or Sister Wives. But it’s mostly crickets.

The problem with some of these suggestions is that they are not the healthiest examples. In the cases of Big Love and Sister Wives (and others like those two), they feature polygamy. Or more specifically, polygyny. This is not the same as Polyamory. It does and can fall under the non-monogamy umbrella. But it is more associated with those who hold more fundamental religious beliefs. Other suggestions feature their polyamory in less flattering ways that include cheating or affairs, as well as other red flag practices that those in the community hate. (I’m looking at you, The Good Doctor.)

Representation for Kids

And when it comes to children’s media? Forget it! We are starting to see more stories featuring or about same sex parents. Which is great! Kids need to see their families represented in the media they consume. It’s just as, if not more, important for them than it is for us grown ups. But what about those kids who have multi parent families?

Enter A Color Named Love, by M. Ellery & illustrated by Clara Reschke.

my copy of A Color Named Love, fresh out of the package.

You guys, this book is so cute! I first heard about it months ago when I came across the kickstarter campaign for it. And have been anxiously awaiting the day it would be ready for purchase. That day came this month, and I quickly snatched up my own copy.

A Short Review

It is the story of a little girl named Anna, who wants to know about Love. Through her eyes, we meet the grown ups that form her family. There are 4 of them, and each one shows her a different side of Love. You see the world in a myriad of colors through Anna’s joy and wonder.

The representation in this book is amazing. It is not obvious or obtrusive. But it is woven into every page. There are families of every size, shape, and color. There are little doodles nodding to polyamory or proclaiming Love is Love. And the entire book is illustrated in this beautiful soft rainbow motif.

Seriously you guys, I cannot say enough wonderful things about this little children’s book. The author and illustrator have created a beautiful story. And given representation to so many kids growing up in a polyamorous family. I encourage you to go buy a copy for yourself, and to talk to your local library about obtaining their own copies. You can shop for A Color Named Love here.

If you’re craving a little more adult polyam representation, you can check out my resources page.

You’re Turn!

Let me know what you think below. Is there a kind of polyam representation you would like to see more of? If you’ve read A Color Named Love, what did you think of it? Do you have other books/movies/podcasts you’d like added to our list?

Categories
Polyamory

The Good Stuff We Should Talk About More

Perks are not talked about often in the polyam community. We spend more of our time talking about the pitfalls or struggles that pop up. We talk about red flags, stress the importance of open and honest communication, and poke a little fun at the stereotypes that are foisted upon us. I think we need to spend more time talking about the highlights, without letting them get overshadowed by the hard parts. I can be guilty of it too. Have you read my last two posts? (You can find them here and here, if you haven’t.) This is my attempt to highlight some of the good stuff.

All about the perks!

This month started out on a sad note for us. Bats found a new place and moved out of our little overcrowded house. And it instantly felt emptier. But then life threw all sorts of events and plans at us and we were just too busy to think about it. We all took a breath and took advantage of the time apart. Before we knew it, a whole week had passed and it was time to get back together for the weekend. A new routine was forged without us realizing it.

That first weekend was spent supporting the girls at their last concert of the year, and celebrating Munchkin’s birthday. It was full of laughter and love and so many balloons! Which brings us to one of the perks the polyam community doesn’t talk about enough.

More people to celebrate with

Because of Covid, and our already busy schedule, we decided to forgo a friends birthday party for Munchkin. I made a cake (thank you Pillsbury!) and the girls decorated it. The night before, Lovey, Bats, and I wrapped the mountain of gifts (I swear they tripled while they were hiding in the closet) and blew up all the balloons we could find. Red came over later that day, bringing her own gift for Munchkin. Boyfriend had his hands full with his kiddos that weren’t feeling the best, so he wasn’t able to come. But he did send plenty of birthday wishes.

Between the balloons and his favorite people, Munchkin was over the moon that day. And my momma heart was overflowing for him.

Support is everything.

Another perk that doesn’t get enough air time, in my opinion, is the support. And I’m not just talking about the supportive partner that cheers you on from the sidelines while you try your hand at flirting after so many years. You know, like Hiccup giving Toothless an enthusiastic thumbs up from the bushes when they meet Light Fury. (You can watch the adorable scene from How To Train Your Dragon 3 here if you’re not familiar with it.) I’m talking about the support you get from your village when you reach a goal, cross something off your bucket list, score a new job, or struggle with just staying afloat.

This past year has given a lot of us a lot of struggle. But our family has also been blessed with the space and time to accomplish some amazing things. This blog, for one. And the support I have gotten from Lovey, from Bats, from Boyfriend, and from Red has been what has helped. Could I have done this new scary thing without them? Possibly. But it has been infinitely easier and less scary with their support.

Conquering mountains

I was also able to finally finish a first draft because of my little polycule’s support. I have been a writer what feels like all of my life. Growing up, I had 2 passions: singing and writing. And since no music producers ever showed up to sign me the record deal of a lifetime, my focus turned to writing, either with friends or on my own. I never finished the stories I started by myself. Until this year. Because I finally had the support I needed, and the time and space to do it. I had cheerleaders in my corner urging me to finish this story. They were there to listen to ideas or complaints. And they were there to push me to sit in that chair and actually do it.

This past weekend we all crossed an item off our bucket list as well, even if we didn’t know it was on the list in the first place. Lovey signed us up for a fundraiser run for our local zoo. Our zoo that happens to be situated on the side of a mountain. 2 miles up the mountain, and then another 2 back down. A good mile of that was in the rain. It was hard. And I wanted to quit so many times. But I didn’t because I had my support with me. Crumbs even joined us. And I could not be prouder of her for tackling this huge thing with us. Supporting her and cheering her on kept me going as well. Nothing like a hike up a dang mountain to bring people closer together.

The best of all the perks!

Lastly, at least for this post, is petamours. Why do we not talk about these more? I think they are the best perk of polyamory.

What is a petamour? It’s your partner’s pet. Or, in my case, it’s my metamour’s pet. Barkley is Bats’ dog. And he is the sweetest fluffiest little pooch I have met in a very long time. He would come over to visit every once in a while, much to the annoyance of our resident kitties. Everybody loves him. And we are all bummed that he can’t be with us right now. But he is a big part of our plans to find that perfect house for all of us.

Petamours are great. Who doesn’t want more animals to love?  They let you experience the joy of having a pet if you aren’t able to have one where you live. You have the opportunity to meet new critters you maybe wouldn’t otherwise have. Dating someone who is into Bearded Dragons? Congratulations, you’re a lizard person now. Always wanted a bird, but your landlord doesn’t allow pets of any kind? You’re next partner or metamour may have one that you can love. Going out of town and don’t want to board your poor anxious doggo? Polycules are there for you!

Polyamory has so many perks. And we should share them a lot more than we do. What are your favorite perks?

Categories
Polyamory

How To Deal With Metamour Growing Pains

A few months ago, Lovey went out on a date. This was nothing new. He had been on a few dates over the past year, but nothing ever stuck. This one, however… this one stuck. And while seeing his happiness and getting to know this new metamour have been amazing, it also caused some growing pains.

Red, as we will call her here, has her own life and living space on the other side of town. She prefers the solo-poly life. She has a career, kids of her own, and is working towards adding some fancy letters to the end of her name. All in all, she is pretty amazing.

Adding a metamour to my life was not a new step for me. So I may have underestimated the impact adding a second one could have. No, not may have. I did.

I underestimated the time commitment of adding a new person into our lives, even if they weren’t physically moving into our home. My feelings about a new metamour were underestimated because I had been through the process before. I also underestimated the impact it would all have on our own relationship.

A break down

First, the time commitment. I had adjusted to scheduling things around Lovey, our kids, and Bats. We all had access to the same calendar and had a group chat between the grown ups. So appointments, work schedules, school activities, dates… We all knew what was happening when. We had a system, a routine, and most importantly for me, advance notice. Now the system was not perfect. There were still plenty of times someone said something to one person and not the other until it was almost too late. But those were few and far between. We were typically pretty good about all being on the same page.

Then Red entered the arena. And NRE, short for New Relationship Energy, kind of took over for a little bit. There were more spontaneous plans I needed to adjust to. (One reason I love my planners and calendars so much is that I know in advance when things are happening.) There was more time away while Lovey juggled dates and sleepovers with a third person. There was a whole nother schedule to plan around when we all wanted to go out and do something together. So, of course, there were more slips in communication when it came to all these plans. “Who did I tell?” became a common mantra among us all.

Let me tell you, 7 days in a week is just not enough when you want to split that time equitably between romantic relationships, familial relationships, and metamour relationships, both in and out of the polycule. Especially when there are new ones that require maybe a little extra time to build and nurture.

Oh feelings…

Next, those emotions. We had already added a new person to our lives. I had been through the NRE phase, and the awkward getting to know this person who was also dating my partner phase. I was pretty confident in knowing that all of the emotions I felt during that time had been dealt with. So I thought I knew what to expect. And I did… ish. I thought it would be easier this time because it was familiar territory. In my mind, adding another metamour would be no different than adding the first.

Turns out, not so much. The same old ones popped up.

Jealousy that he was spending time with someone new and that was taking time away from me. Jealousy over the giddiness I could see in him over this new shiny thing in his life. We’ve been together 16 years and the shiny has rubbed off a little for us. There was also resentment that he got to go out and do things while I stayed home with the kids. Not that I particularly wanted to go out and do things. I quite enjoy (and would much prefer) to stay home. But he had the option, and that meant I didn’t. And lastly, loneliness. This one mostly popped up later in the evening, when the kids had gone to bed and it was just me. It was not a feeling I had experienced in a while. But it was there. And it sucked.

Getting by with a little help…

Thankfully, I had my first metamour Bats, and my experience from their entry into our lives to help navigate these feelings. And Lovey too. He was great at checking in with us, making sure we got time with him as well. Whenever I needed him to, he was available and willing to listen to whatever I needed to say. He would push me to go out, to make plans with friends, to see Boyfriend. And it has helped. Also, learning to love the quiet and alone time has been an amazing blessing. Though now I find myself finding the balance between wanting to be with my people and wanting to be with the quiet.

Lastly, our dynamic changed when Red came on the scene. It wasn’t a big change. Nor was it an obvious one. But it was there. We had to step up our communication game. We had to learn to take advantage of the small windows of time we found that were just us. As parents, time for just us is hard to find. And when it is found, we end up talking about the kids. Both Bats’ & Red’s entrance have forced us to double down on our efforts to just focus on us during those times.

A good argument?

It’s still not an easy adjustment. And it seems like it would make a good case against polyamory. Red has only been in our lives a short time and there are all these “problems” already. So let’s clear that up real quick. These “problems” existed before Red came into play. They were already there, already being worked on. I was already navigating my way through weird instances of jealousy. Lovey and I were already finding ways to add that sparkle back to the dull bits of our relationship. We had blips in communication that caused some minor spats. All things any monogamous couple would experience over the course of their relationship.

Red’s appearance simply brought the focus back to those things. Reminded us not to get too comfortable because life is about changes and adapting to those changes. My relationship with Bats is improved now because we have more time together while Lovey is out with Red. My relationship with Lovey is better because we have a renewed focus on us when we are together. And my life is richer because Red is in it. I have a new friend I may otherwise have not met if not for this life.

Sound off!

If you have multiple metamours, how did you adjust when they came into your life? If you have multiple partners, how do you share your time equitably between them?