Really No H8?

I’m ridiculously behind this week – I’ve been busy with other things – and this is really short – so maybe I’ll have time to make another short one soon. I have yet to review all the stories I loved for I Write The Songs – I am completely crap – so many spankings. In fact, this week, the story I just reviewed will be the first story I’m gonna review when I get my arse into gear. This post is weighing on my mind, so I want to get rid of it and I plan to do a post on the construction of women looking at fanfiction too. So if you dislike meta and a little bit of ranting, then turn asunder.

I’m very pleased with my family this week. Very pleased. I’ve spoken – I think – before, about my eldest son doing homeless van. If I haven’t, he does – he gets up at 4.40am on some Fridays before school and goes out to a feed-the-homeless van, and helps out. At the moment he’s in Year 11, the workload is greater and they have plenty of volunteers, but he’s been doing it for three or four years now, so I don’t expect him to be Superman and do everything all at once.

My youngest son impressed me this week too. On the weekend, without any prompting from anyone, he went along to an LGBT rally. He’s about as heterosexual as you can get, but he believes in equal rights, and he thinks it’s the right thing to do. I’m personally really pleased about it, as I’ve always told the boys they should be accepting of others. In my dissolute youth, I was the first person one of my gay friends came out to, and I supported him all the way. So gay rights has meant a lot to me, even though I’m not gay – it’s part of the whole feminism/left view of the world I have.

One of the unfair criticisms I think is levelled at the Sookie Stackhouse books is that it subscribes to the idea of “Kill all your gays” trope. Which is fucking news to me. It doesn’t explain why Russell, Ray Don, Bartlett Crowe, the Queen of Alabama, Pam, Claude, India and Indira – are all still alive. Considering the death count in the books, I think that trying to divide up what sexual orientation the characters are that are left alive is almost impossible. There’s also a considerable amount of people who are bisexual, or have bisexual tendencies who are alive in the books – from Eric to Amelia are all still alive too. I think that the sexuality of the characters has nothing to do with the death rate – and the most demonised and hated character is Debbie Pelt, who was heterosexual as all get out.

Now, I think that one of the things that appeals to me about the books is that it doesn’t ignore that life for people who are gay is not rosy. Sookie says in the most recent book:

India would find some fine young woman, and the state of Louisiana would pass
a bill to enable them to get married legally. No one would ever, ever make
lesbian jokes or misquote scripture at them….as long as I was fantasizing.

Deadlocked, p. 270

I don’t expect gay people to get a discrimination free, easy ride in the books. I think it would be disingenuous to represent them that way. That’s not the way that their lives are. My gay friends have feared for their lives, and worried about discrimination all their lives. Nor do I expect every single moment of the books to be politically correct to the point of unreadable utopia. I don’t live in a utopia where nothing bad ever happens – and nor does Sookie.

Now, if we look around at the fanfiction community, I know I’ve seen lots of support for NOH8 campaigns – lots of women supporting the rights of LGBT folk to get married. And I’ve been thinking about the fact that while something like 85% of Australians are apparently pro-gay marriage, it’s difficult to get it legalised – and seemingly there is a groundswell of support. It seems kinda logical that the politicians would support it too.

But then I started thinking about what I’ve read in fanfiction, and maybe I can see a reason why it isn’t legalised.

I’ve noticed this totally pervasive theme of making fun of Bill – or any other male not liked by the majority of fans – by turning them into a gay man. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve read about how Bill likes dressing in women’s clothes, or enjoys having anal sex, or is having some sort of covert gay affair off on the side. I’ve even read about how Eric has raped Bill a few times – and humiliating him by dominating him – and usually, Bill liking it, or being a just punishment – the rape of a man – for his actions. Because rape is a punishment for bad actions, and only happens to bad people, right? Not say babies or anything, right? Only bad people – they deserve it.

Not only that, but Eric’s flat out statements are taken with absolute horror – or his actions. Any hint of bisexuality is erased from Eric’s personality. Now, he might have been with Appius against his will, but there’s this pervasive belief that Eric as a canon character is somehow totally not gay in any way, shape or form. He really hates men. Despite the fact that he is the ONLY suitor we’ve seen kissing and fondling other men on page. And just to put paid to the idea that Eric would never do that because he’s really acting:

Eric was trying to cop a feel from Tara. Or Eggs. It was hard to tell.
Living Dead in Dallas, p. 263

If all the people at the orgy are disgusting to him, and he would never, ever do that, this is a rather fucking strange thing for him to do, right? And now is the time when people pull out their prejudice and scream about unreliable narration and such to hide the fact that they are deeply uncomfortable with a man who has no problems sleeping with other men:

“He taught me how to make love with men and later he freed me to make love with women.”
Dead in the Family, p. 309

Even though Appius raped Eric, and gave him no choice, this is a skill that Eric values. He appreciates being taught how to “make love” with men. If he didn’t intend to do it again, this would be a useless skill to thank his maker for. Seriously – the anti-gay whitewash is stretching a little thin.

That’s to say nothing of the way that Pam gets matched up with a man like a fucking bookend. Despite the fact that Miriam and Amelia are available, who do writers hark back to? Stan. Rather than leave her as a lesbian, and show her in a successful lesbian relationship, she’s paired up with Stan. A man she once professed to want a short, casual dalliance with. Not the woman she loved dearly who died. Not the woman she dated for a couple of months.

I think this speaks to the true opinion of LGBT folks, really. I think that LGBT rights don’t happen because people say they want it, but they really don’t. Deep down in their hearts, they still see LGBT folks as something weird and other, and to be made fun of. On the surface, it’s trendy and good to support equal rights, but on the underbelly, we’ll also make fun of them for their sexuality, whitewash it out of existence and everyone will just ignore the fact that there’s a huge disparity there between what they say and what they demonstrate.

When I look around at all of this, I can’t help thinking that politicians are really reading the true opinions of LGBT folks – that there are few people who are actually for equal rights in a legitimate manner. They just don’t want to be seen as one of those bigots, when the truth is that they are – but they just hide behind the legitimacy of a NOH8 campaign. As long as they say they’re pro-gay marriage, and pro LGBT rights, they can post as much negative shit about LGBT folks as they want.

If you’d like to read some actually LGBT fanfiction, and reward the people doing it right, you can’t go past the following:

Memories of Miriam

4th of July Diaries

Heart of Glass

La Villa Real: A Boy Named Sue

Andrew in Drag (I haven’t reviewed this yet because I suck, but it’s good and on the list to be reviewed)

I love all of these fics – they’re great, and they don’t make fun of LGBT folk. If you get sick of “hilarious” Bill the rape victim/gay man, whitewashed Pam and Eric, this will cure what ails ya. Anything else on my favourites list does not portray gays in ways that furthers prejudice either – in some of the fics I’ve read, gay people deal with bullshit, but they deal with bullshit in real life too. If you’re sick of the homophobia, I’ve got the good stuff.