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
LGBTQ+ Polyamory

Why Polyamorous People Don’t Belong in LGBTQ+ Spaces

I recently came across several conversations and articles about polyamorous people being excluded from LGBTQ+ spaces. Feelings were had all around. But no conclusions were found.

This blog, as you can see from our content so far, is very LGBTQ+ friendly. And addresses some big LGBTQ+ topics. Marriage equality and employment discrimination being a couple of those. This is because I am the B in LGBTQ+. My metamour falls under the +. My boyfriend is another B. Even my daughter has come out as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Not to mention the number of friends and extended family who identify with so many of the letters in it.

When one group rises, we all can

The LGBTQ+ community means a lot to me, and is one that I want to advocate for. Because it is a community that is marginalized and attacked a lot. In healthcare, in employment, in basic rights. I can’t help but want to be a voice to help them rise up.

Also, larger acceptance of LGBTQ+ people could lead to a larger acceptance of polyamorous people. There is a lot of overlap between the two, in my experience. Many polycules have at least one person who identifies with at least one of the LGBTQ+ letters.

So why all the hubbub?

When I came across the conversations I did, I was a little surprised. I assumed the polyamorous community was welcomed into those spaces. I realize that was pretty naïve. The struggles the LGBTQ+ community faces (and faced in the past) are vastly different from those in the polyamorous community. But still, my little rainbow bubble was popped.

So what exactly were they all saying? Here are some of the biggest points of contention.

Cis-heteronormativity

What about the cishet people in polyamorous relationships? They can be allies, certainly. Many are, I would imagine. But do they belong in the safe spaces created by and for LGBTQ+ people? My opinion is no. People under the umbrella of LGBTQ+ deserve to have a space that is only theirs. A space that is safe for them to rant or vent about the world of cis-heteronormativity. A space without the chance of a cishet person potentially getting butt hurt, or trying to explain it all away. No matter how big an ally a person is, they will never be able to understand the struggles of being LGBTQ+. Just like a white person will never be able to understand the struggles of a person of color.

Style vs Orientation

Polyamory is a relationship style, a choice, for myself and a lot of others. It has nothing to do with gender identity or sexual orientation. And because it is seen as a style or a choice, it is not seen as deserving to be included in those LGBTQ+ spaces. I could argue that for some people, polyamory is not a choice. It is very much a core part of who they are as a person, just like their gender or sexuality. It cannot be changed. But that doesn’t change the idea that both groups deserve to have their own space. At least in my opinion.

Being a part of both

I am a part of both communities. Would I love to see the two come together? A little bit, yes. But I understand and appreciate them more for being separate. They need different things. They experience different things. And they give different things in terms of support and community and resources.

Do I think polyamory belongs under the LGBTQ+ umbrella? No. Not even a little bit. Because not every polyamorous person is queer. And not every polyamorous person views their relationship style as an intrinsic part of who they are.

This blog will continue to support that community, in the best way I know how. By using a voice to talk about some of the big issues that affect that part of me as well as the polyamorous part of me. Because there is a lot of overlap. But my struggles as a polyamorous person are nothing compared to the struggles the LGBTQ+ community faces.

Sound off!

How do you feel about it all? Do you identify with one or both communities? Would you like to see them merge and accept each other more? Or do they deserve their own unique spaces?

Categories
Family LGBTQ+

New Holiday Movies Are Coming to Make the Season Gay-er

It is the middle of November! And the Holiday Season is in full swing. Retailers are pulling out the holiday themed sales and products. More people are breaking the post-Thanksgiving tradition of decorating that weekend by pulling those Christmas trees out now. And the networks and streaming services are gearing up to release a slew of new Holiday Movies.

The best part of this last tidbit is that several of those are also going to release LGBTQ+ holiday movies! And I’m not talking about those feel good stories that have a wacky gay best friend and/or roommate. I mean a feel good, cozy holiday story that FEATURE an LGBTQ+ storyline.

In case you’ve missed the news, I’ve rounded them up here. Read on for the 5 new Holiday Movies coming this season and where you can watch them.

The Christmas House

Working through some difficult decisions, Mitchell family matriarch Phylis and patriarch Bill, have summoned their two grown sons – TV star, Mike Mitchell and Brandon Mitchell – home for the holidays. It is their hope that bringing the family together to recreate the Christmas house, will help them find resolution and make a memorable holiday for the entire family and community. As Brandon and his husband Jake make the trip home, they are anxiously awaiting a call about the adoption of their first child. Meanwhile, Mike reconnects with Andi, his high school sweetheart. (Coming November 22 to Hallmark.)

Happiest Season

A holiday romantic comedy that captures the range of emotions tied to wanting your family’s acceptance, being true to yourself, and trying not to ruin Christmas. (Coming November 25 to Hulu.)

I Hate New Year’s

Rising music star Layne heads home to Nashville for New Year’s Eve to break her writer’s block, but sometimes you find inspiration – and love – where you least expect it. (Coming December 4 On Demand.)

The Christmas Setup

As they enjoy the local holidays together, Hugo and Patrick’s attraction to each other is undeniable but as Hugo receives word of a big promotion requiring a move to London, he must decide what is most important to him. (Coming December 12 to Lifetime.)

Dashing in December

When Wyatt Burwall finally returns home for the holidays in an effort to convince his mother Deb to sell the family’s Colorado ranch, a romance unexpectedly ignites between Wyatt and their dashing new ranch hand Heath Ramos, who dreams of saving the beloved property and the ranch’s magical Winter Wonderland attraction while reawakening the spirit of Christmas in Wyatt’s lonely heart. (Coming December 13 to Paramount.)

2020 has been a rough year. So I am going to be embracing the joy of this holiday season as much as I can. And that will include watching these movies with some popcorn, a cuddly blanket, and my family. Then I will watch them again to show those networks that we want more LGBTQ+ representation in our holidays!

So tell me, which one are you most looking forward to?

PS

If you want to watch more LGBTQ+ holiday movies this season, and want to add some to your Holiday Movie Sticks, fill out the form below. I’ll send you a list that includes the 5 new ones mentioned above plus some older ones that I’ve found.