Conventions have been an integral part of fandom life for decades. They give fans a place to gather and meet other people who are just as passionate about TV shows, movies and books as they are. Today there are conventions held to celebrate everything from Star Wars to comic books; from Anime to gaming. In recent years, due to the increasing amount of LGBT+ representations on these platforms, more Queer-Cons have been popping up all over the country.
Conventions like FlameCon, OutlantaCon and ClexaCon have given LGBT+ fans a place to geek out and feel safe about their sexuality; something which some of the attendees might not always get to experience. While it’s true that most conventions (such as Comic-Con, DragonCon, etc.) strive to be a safe place for all of their fans, they are definitely different environment from conventions that are primarily filled with LGBT+ fans. My experience at ClexaCon was completely different and unique from what I had experienced anywhere else.
When I attended Denver Comic-Con last June, it was an amazing experience. Being around so many people who loved Sci-Fi and comic books like I did made me feel at home. But because of the sheer number of people, and how much the interests varied, there were very few times when I felt like I could have a conversation with the people around me. Even while waiting in line for panels and autographs, there was a certain sense of comfort that was missing. But because it was my first convention, I just thought that was how all conventions were. I loved the convention from start to finish, and I would certainly go back, but it had in no way prepared me for my next con; ClexaCon.
My experience at ClexaCon was completely different, however. Even though there were more than 4,000 people in attendance, everywhere that I looked I knew that we all had at least one thing in common; the LGBT+ community had affected us all in one way or another.
Almost immediately the atmosphere felt different. There were people waiting in line and talking to strangers, sharing their love of their favorite TV shows and movies. People were hugging and meeting friends that they’d only ever talked to online. Even the celebrities seemed more at ease with the fans around them. Everywhere that I went there were people who were happy to strike up a conversation, or ask for a picture of a cosplay that they liked, or buy art from artists who were donating to charity.
I heard countless stories of people who made lifelong friends of the people that they met at the convention. The “WayHaughties” Facebook group got a chance to meet up after months of posting and talking about their love for Wynonna Earp. A group of twelve cosplayers from around the world got together to cosplay fan-art of their favorite character. I made several very good friends just by talking to them while we waited in line for an autograph from Anna Silk.
When I got home from the convention, I immediately found myself missing it. After being in a space with so many people who had been what I had been through, and who understood the things that I loved it was hard to go back to Wyoming. It was something that I hadn’t experienced when I had returned home from Comic-Con.
Of course, because Queer-Cons have been around for a relatively short amount of time, there are things that could be expanded and fixed. As the stigma around being LGBT+ decreases more and more, and the amount of representation increases, the size of the conventions increases. ClexaCon nearly doubled in size between 2017 and 2018, and it made certain spaces in the convention crowded. There was standing room only in many of the panels, and they had to turn people away at even more. People came from all over the country, and all over the world even, and in future years it could very well outgrow its space.
For the most part however, Queer-Cons are certainly on the right track to become as big and as influential as conventions like San Diego Comic-Con and DragonCon. As representation increases across all platforms and mediums, the conventions that accompany them will grow bigger and more inclusive to all fandoms. We just have to keep pushing for more LGBT+ rights, and fighting for even more positive representation in the media and soon, Queer-Cons will be among the best in the world.
Fact: Some people experience little to no sexual attraction to another human being. This is the basic definition of asexuality.
Asexuality, like every other sexual orientation and gender identity, is a complex label given to a group of people who simply do not look at another person and have a desire to sleep with them.
Does this mean all asexual people are gay? No.
Does this mean all asexual people are virgins? No.
Does this mean all asexual people have a chemical imbalance? NO!
Asexual individuals, who also use the term “ace” to describe themselves, come in all genders and orientations, and have all types of sexual histories. Being asexual does not mean that you “just don’t work down there” or that “you just haven’t found the right person to have sex with.” These are common misconceptions that the Ace community hear all too often.
Just to be clear, asexual reproduction which is found in certain types of animals, plants, bacteria and other non-human organisms, may be something you’re familiar with from high school biology but that is very different than human asexuality. Don’t confuse the two. People cannot reproduce on their own (at least not yet).
It is possible that many of you might never have heard of asexuality before and that is not entirely surprising. The primary reason is likely because mainstream media lacks positive representation of this particular orientation. Commonly claimed “asexual” characters have often been non-human entities, like aliens, robots and cyborgs. This is in large part to the long held belief that being human means being sexually attracted to another human (whether heterosexually or homosexually). Unfortunately, this belief is also what leads the roughly 76 million people estimated to be asexual (roughly 1% of the world’s population), to feeling like they are simply broken.
There is a small handful of asexual characters that have emerged on TV in the last few years, most notably Raphael Santiago (David Castro) from Shadowhunters. And yeah, he is technically a vampire, so he’s not actually human… but he was at one point, right? And considering vampire folklore almost always uses the vampire’s sexuality as a way to lure victims, having an ace vamp is a pretty big deal. Some commonly assumed ace characters have been that of Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) from Big Bang Theory and Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) from BBC’s Sherlock. And though neither character have been confirmed asexual in their shows, the creator of Sherlock, Steven Moffat, has both confirmed and then denied Holmes’ ace orientation. This confusion certainly does not help the millions of asexual people in need of representation in mainstream media.
We chatted with a popular asexual YouTuber, Damian Parker, about what it means to be a part of the ace community, what it was like not having representation he could turn to growing up, and the difficulties in figuring out who he was. Parker, also known as Damo by his 58k subscribers, is an Australian actor and dancer, who uses his platform to talk about an array of topics, like mental health. When Parker came out as asexual nearly three years ago, he gained popularity amongst the ace community and began making many videos on the topics of sexuality.
Check out our Q & A(ce) with Parker below, and make sure you watch the attached videos where he explains what exactly asexuality is.
QQ: First of all, how do you identify and what was the process like coming to embrace the label(s) you’ve given yourself? DP: I personally identify as a homoromantic asexual, but if you wanna get specific… Which normally takes too long. I’m homoromantic demisexual, as I tend to find more of a physical attraction only after forming a strong emotional connection with another male.
QQ: How did you come to be a YouTuber? How has it affected your identity (positively or negatively)? DP: I’ve been a YouTuber for yeeeaaaarrrrrrs! I started purely because I was bored and had a camera, but I never imagined years later I would be using it as a platform to help people understand and connect with one another. Being a YouTuber has definitely put a spotlight on parts of my life that I usually wouldn’t think about as interesting or important topics. Like “wow I don’t really enjoy sex, that’s fun I guess…” but [I do] because people apparently find it interesting and asked me to talk about it. It means I’ve put a lot more thought into these things than I normally would and it’s actually helped me to better understand myself.
QQ: As an asexual person, what has been the biggest challenge in your personal life and life as a YouTuber? DP: As an asexual, the biggest challenge was actually just figuring that out. Because we are a very small percentage of the population and have very small representation, it wasn’t something I’d ever really considered much and when I did, I dismissed it because I didn’t want to seem like a “special snowflake.” So self understanding and acceptance has probably been the biggest challenge in my personal life. And as far as YouTube, I would say not caring about unwanted opinions on my sexuality. Because even though it makes no sense for people to give their opinion on what they think YOUR sexuality is, they will… A lot.
QQ: YouTube has been a great source of queer entertainment for the LGBTQIA community. Many young queer folk find shows with characters that look like, think like or feel like them. Have there been any asexual characters in shows or movies that you identified with when discovering your asexuality? DP: Nope, while figuring out my sexuality I don’t think I’d seen any asexual characters or representation. Although AFTER I discovered I was asexual it was nice to see Todd from Bojack Horseman realising that he was asexual throughout the show. There actually seems to be a lot more awareness and representation of Asexuality just in the past few years, which has been amazing to see!
“When you’ve never seen what you’re feeling represented anywhere, it’s very hard to put all the pieces together, as you usually feel like you’re “wrong” or “broken” in some way.”
QQ: Asexual characters are often found in mainstream media in the form of cyborgs, robots or aliens. Do you believe the lack of human asexual representation in the media has led to the stigmas that ace people face? (Such as the trope of “you just haven’t found the right person yet,” etc.) DP: That’s entirely possible, I mean one comment I get a lot is “plants are asexual, are you a plant?” I think at the end of the day people are uncomfortable around things they don’t understand, and to someone who derives joy and pleasure from sexual activities regularly, or someone who feels way more sexual impulses, an asexual person is just completely foreign to them. So rather than accepting that, they deny it and change it to something they can accept.
QQ: How do you think the lack of asexual characters has affected the mental health of the ace community? DP: It’s mostly just made it harder for ace people to discover themselves. Seeing someone on TV expressing the way you feel or putting your confusion into words can help immensely while trying to figure out where you sit on the sexual spectrum, because you’ve found something to identify with and you know you’re not the only one who feels that way. When you’ve never seen what you’re feeling represented anywhere, it’s very hard to put all the pieces together, as you usually feel like you’re “wrong” or “broken” in some way. I know this because when I made my coming out video I received thousands of comments and messages of people saying “I thought I was the only one!”
QQ: What can creators and writers of TV shows, web series, and movies do to better acknowledge the ace community? DP: Just a few extra ace characters here and there wouldn’t go astray, we don’t need a lot, just to see how we’re feeling represented and have a name put to it. That would help A LOT of unknown aces begin to figure themselves out.
QQ: Anything else you want your fans and our readers to know? DP: As much as your sexuality is important and is a big part of you, it’s not ALL of you. You are a lot more than the sum of who you do or don’t want to touch. So definitely explore, research and represent, but don’t get too obsessed.
Asexual people can have completely healthy relationships, with or without physical intimacy and sex. And they do, every single day.
It is important to note that asexuality is not synonymous with being aromantic (the lack of romantic feelings for another person). Asexual and aromantic people are often lumped together, but both ace individuals can experience romantic attraction, just as aromantic individuals can experience sexual attraction to another person.
The distinction between the two is just as important as not lumping an individual’s sexual orientation and their gender together. They are completely different and should be respected as such.
If you want to follow along with Damian Parker as he continues to vlog about life, mental health and asexuality, be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel.
If you have been following Queer Quality since January, you have seen us talk a great deal about the upcoming queer digital series called Kait & Nic. Six months later, the first two episodes of this four part mini series have finally been released on YouTube, making it’s debut appropriately in the middle of Pride Month.
We chatted with the co-creators and co-stars of this new LGBTQ+ comedy to get the run down on what to expect and we reviewed the first two episodes that were released this afternoon.
To watch the first two episodes before reading the Q & A (though it is spoiler free!), skip to the bottom of this page now.
This is the story of Kait & Nic, the queer web series that you didn’t know you needed.
At the end of 2017, Kaitlyn Krieg and Nicole Lee got to work on writing a true life queer comedy. Why? Because as much as queer content has increased over the years, in large part to digital series like Carmilla, Barbelle, and just about everything else coming out of KindaTV, a few aspects of real life queerdom were still missing from the screen. Mental health representation, queer women of color, and an array of body size and image of women, to name a few.
Krieg and Lee went to work, taking the influence of the shows they love, their backgrounds in theatre and improv, and their own personal experiences as queer women and wrote a four part mini web series, appropriately named after themselves: Kait & Nic.
Kait & Nic tells the story of two queer women living in New York City trying to navigate life and love. Kait is a lesbian that far too often allows her mental health to get in the way of talking to girls. Struggling with depression and anxiety definitely hurts Kait’s confidence in her love life, to the point that, that’s all she can talk about. Meanwhile, Nic is a bisexual woman of color, with an over the top personality. Her love for words will raise a few eyebrows, but not as much as her dating habits. These two, along with their two token straight friends (TSF’s), try to turn Kait and Nic’s luck with love around. Will they succeed? Will they just date each other? You’ll just have to watch to find out!
In January, Krieg and Lee launched an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the show they had written. With overwhelming support from friends, family and fans eagerly anticipating the newest queer web series, Kait & Nic reached their necessary financial goal in only thirteen days. By the end of their Indiegogo campaign, the show had generated 141% of their needs, helping skyrocket the project to one of the most anticipated independent queer projects that Queer Quality has supported this year.
This overwhelming support and push for quality queer content helped land Kait & Nic an awesome theme song by a Brooklyn based female led queer punk band. “Chasing” by Worriers, as well as other Worriers music, can be heard throughout the series. And that’s not the only queer music you’ll hear. In fact, there might be an Easter Egg or two for avid fans of other LGBTQ+ content to find. We won’t tell you what they may be, but you’re encouraged to tweet at Kait & Nic when you find them!
We took some time with Krieg and Lee to learn more about the show, what we should expect and what makes this digital series so relatable for the entire queer community.
QQ: What inspired Kait & Nic?
Krieg: I was in the middle of watching another popular web series, “Barbelle”, when a random thought crossed my mind. I thought “Why are Nicole and I not dating?” I remembered that Nicole was allergic to cats and for some reason, it was that line that got me writing ideas. I texted Nicole and the next thing I knew we were sitting in Schnippers (local NYC restaurant) plotting out episode ideas and texting lines to each other.
Lee: For me, a big inspiration was my long-time frustration at not being asked to be in other people’s cool projects and not being cast on improv house teams in NYC. That rejection really weighed on me and I internalized it enough that Kait & Nic felt like the opportunity to prove I could do something creative independently and succeed. I’m so grateful Kaitlyn shared her idea with me to get us started.
QQ: What do fans have to look forward to? What makes your show stand out?
Krieg: There are a lot of things we wanted to do for this show. We wanted to create a web series that showed women of all shapes and sizes and ages. I’m pretty active on Tumblr and something I noticed from younger LGBTQIA is how a lot of them feel like they cannot be loved or won’t find love because of the way that they looked. I am also a person who has struggled with that. We’re so used to seeing wlw [women loving women] characters as drop dead gorgeous and skinny. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed all the things that I have watched, but it’s harder to relate to people who do not represent your body type or the way you look. We’re not all super skinny and in shape. So it was important to me that we had all body sizes because I want viewers to have someone they can look to and say ‘Hey, I look like that.’
Lee: People can look forward to seeing a web series that showcases diversity in many facets. We really wanted to represent people on screen that reflected people we knew in real life. We wanted to showcase women, people of color, LGBTQ. I think our show stands out for having a lead character who has depression, anxiety and self esteem issues. The other lead character is a bisexual woman of color. I don’t think there are many of those in mainstream media.
Krieg: I think we should also mention that our entire crew, minus one amazing man, were female and part of the LGBTQIA. Also all our cast who play queer characters are also in the LGBTQIA. There was no ‘gay for pay’ on this show. I think we deserve to see more of that.
“There was no ‘gay for pay’ on this show. I think we deserve to see more of that.”
QQ: Why did you decide to play the characters on top of creating the show?
Krieg: I think that was the idea from the beginning. I write from what I know and who better to portray myself and my characteristics than me?
Lee: I don’t think we ever entertained any other thought than playing Kait and Nic ourselves. It was always our show and we wanted to do as much of it ourselves as we could: writing, casting, funding, filming, editing. Acting was a natural part of that list. We also wrote these characters based on ourselves and it would’ve been weird directing another actor to do something you would’ve done yourself for this ‘character’ that was essentially you.
QQ: How close to your characters are you really?
Krieg: Spot on for me, I’d say. I didn’t hide too much of myself, but I think that’s what makes the story more real. I’m playing a real person with real issues and real problems. Everything I say in regards to myself is definitely something I have said to someone at some point.
Lee: I keep saying Nic is a caricature of me, with qualities I have that we exaggerate in the show. (I might change my mind once I’ve seen all of the episodes and get called out for being exactly like Nic). I will also say that I really enjoyed writing for our straight BFFs. One of them in particular represents the part of me who wants to be un-apologetically myself.
QQ: Why was it important to portray a character with mental illness?
Krieg: Because it is the most relatable thing, in my opinion, being in the LGBTQIA. I have depression and anxiety, and I feel like it’s rarely shown on screen. I can say that I don’t think depression necessarily has to be portrayed as sad so we’ve added a little humor to it, but it still shows my truth. And I want people who do suffer from depression or anxiety to know it’s okay and that doesn’t have to stop you from doing what you want to do. I’ve had a lot of doubt throughout this project because my brain is really good at sabotaging, but I pull through because I know we’ve made a good show with a good message.
Lee: Diversity of representation was a major goal for me with this show. There are people with mental health issues and they deserve to be represented positively on screen. We tried not to generalize Kait’s mental health as representative of others with anxiety and depression. But seeing someone on screen who makes you feel seen, valid, and not alone is what I hope we achieve.
QQ: Are either of you actually logophiles? So we know who not to play Scrabble with!
Krieg: NICOLE! She’s so incredible smart and definitely will have you using a dictionary in some scenes. But I am pretty good at Scrabble.
Lee: Guilty! And I wish I had a more expansive vocabulary! My favorite game is Bananagrams and I also enjoy playing Boggle on my phone.
QQ: Tell us about some of the characters and their actors.
Lee: We tried to spin the function of tokenism on its head by having two “token straight friends” for Kait and Nic. Yes, there are two instead of one, so it’s technically not tokenism. And we never name their characters in the dialogue, so we try to play on the superficiality of tokenism. These friends are played by our friends Emily Johnson and Talia Page. They’re both (non-practicing) lawyers and super smart and kind and funny. They are great actors to play off of. We also have a love interest for Kait and Nic each. They are played by our friends Mari Stein and Tea Ho. Suffice it to say our heart rates increased playing off of these two.
QQ: Describe your show in 3 words:
Krieg: Oh geez… um. Fun, relatable, and NYC? Nicole, help me out.
Lee: Those words are great! I’d add Honest, Diverse, Female.
QQ: Any Easter Eggs we should watch for?
Krieg: I think we’re going to keep all our Easter Eggs a secret. You’ll just have to watch and find out, but there are a lot so if you spot them, tweet them out to us!
QQ: Anything you want to say to your fans?
Krieg: I think the most important thing we have to say is thank you to all the people who donated to our Indiegogo because without your support, we would not have this little show. I hope everyone who watches it can see themselves within our characters and feel like they have positive representation. And just because, if you haven’t already, please subscribe to the YouTube channel. There are a lot of things we would like to do, but cannot do that until we have more subscribers so please.
Lee: Thank you to the support from our Indiegogo donors. Some were not close friends. Some were relatives we never expected would support our show. We couldn’t do this without their generosity and love. If you are discovering this show and are strangers to us, we hope you enjoy the show for the comedy, feel represented by its characters, and share it with others.
The eagerly anticipated first two episodes of Kait & Nic are now live on their YouTube channel and we are here to watch, re-watch, and review them! This section definitely contains spoilers, so make sure you click the videos to watch each episode!
Episode 1 introduces us to Nic and Kait, their two token straight friends (TSF’s) and some potential lady loves. You’ll laugh, shake your head at all the awkwardness, and completely relate to both Kait and Nic.
Things we loved:
Calling out the bi-erasure! Bisexuals are still bisexual, even if they have only been dating one particular gender for a while.
Kait’s fantasy. We’ve all done it and boy is it hilarious to watch!
The TSF’s. If you’ve ever felt too queer to be in a group of straight friends, you’ll definitely relate to the the things the token straight friends say.
Did someone say speed dating?? Episode 2 is all about an intense round of NYC speed dating. Nic and Kait meet some interesting ladies… so does their TSF.
Things we loved:
The leather cladded ladies! Nic and TSF 2 rock it like a boss! Honestly the entire wardrobe is on point for the whole cast.
ALL THE LADIES!! You will find someone that looks like you in this episode and that representation and validity is needed so much in the queer community. Krieg and Lee cast thoughtfully and it is much appreciated!
[Just one note: This episode might sound a little faint. Those little booths must not have been easy to film in. But if you listen with ear buds, it sounds perfect!]
Only two more episodes to go and we can already tell that this won’t be enough. It is beyond refreshing to see a comedy portraying the honest truth about dealing with mental health, bi-erasure, and the lack of confidence in the queer dating world. With a cast full of beautiful diverse women, Kait & Nic has surpassed even our highest of expectations. We cannot wait for episodes 3 and 4!
Make sure to keep an eye on our social, as well as the show’s Twitter feed for more information. And don’t forget to like and subscribe to Kait & Nic‘s YouTube channel, Twitter and Instagram!
When we last spoke with Nicole Pacentabout bisexuality and mental health, she explained that a common problem with mainstream media portraying bisexual characters, specifically, is the erasure of the character’s bisexual nature. This is due in part to bisexuality being confused with polyamory to some degree, but the issue goes even further when developing a strong bi character’s story.
According to Pacent, best known for her role on YouTube’s hit queer web series Anyone But Me, the bigger trouble comes from writers not truly understanding how bisexuality actually works.
“I think a lot of writers, gay or straight, don’t actually know how bisexuality functions,” she explained. “They often have no idea how it works so they make assumptions, and instead of asking and consulting bisexual people, they miswrite these characters.”
In April, Pacent was on the “LGBTQ Actresses Panel” at ClexaCon with actress Stephanie Beatriz. Beatriz, who is both openly bisexual and plays an openly bisexual character on the show Brooklyn Nine Nine, discussed how the writers consulted with her to properly develop her character’s sexual orientation story arc in this last season. Pacent, a friend of Beatriz’s and a fan of the show, praised this approach and hopes more show runners take the time to consult people living the life similar to that of a character being developed, whether it be about sexuality, race, or ethnicity.
“I know there will be [creators] who will think “Oh, I can’t do this, because I don’t want to offend anyone.” And that’s coming from a well meaning place. But if you’re white and you really want to write a black character, for example, while you’re writing your story and want to include this dear person to you that happens to be black because it is an accurate representation of who they are, of what life is… you have to have the difficult conversations and consult. I think this thinking of not wanting to offend is coming from a very good place, but at the same time, this is only perpetuating white characters. There has to be a different way. For race and for sexual orientations.”
What Pacent says makes a lot of sense. Characters who are labeled bisexual very often either fall into the subliminal “gay again” or “straight again” stereotypes throughout their story arc. It is seemingly easier to write this way for gay writers or straight writers because they write what they know; Have a bisexual character be in a relationship with a character of the opposite gender and sweep their sexuality under the rug, or have a bisexual character be with someone of the same gender and forego mentioning that they were ever once considered to be straight. There is no in between, and thus, bisexuality is erased yet again.
“I think a lot of writers, gay or straight, don’t actually know how bisexuality functions.”
Bisexual people will tell you this is not an accurate representation of what it is like to be bisexual (or pansexual, for that matter). Being in a relationship with someone, whether the same or other gender as you, does not immediately erase your attraction to these genders.
Though not all writers have failed the bisexual community. Shonda Rhimes has written many complex and diverse characters throughout her reign at ABC, but none more so than Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy. Played by Sara Ramirez, another openly bisexual actress, Callie Torres came to Seattle Grace Hospital in Season 2 as a love interest of another character, and through her ten seasons of appearance, had relationships with three male characters and three women characters. Viewers watched as Torres struggled with her sexuality and the falling out with family due to her identity because of her conservative upbringing. The character of Callie Torres is often pointed to as the gold star of bisexual representation in mainstream media, but after Ramirez left Grey’s Anatomy in 2016, the bisexual community has been lacking in quality representation once again. Even Rhimes’ other bisexual story arc of Annalise Keating (played by Viola Davis) in How To Get Away With Murder does not hold up to that of Callie Torres.
This lack of quality bisexual representation is what led to the excitement from fans when Stephanie Beatriz’s character on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Detective Rosa Diaz, came out as bisexual. When Fox cancelled the show less than six months later, the bisexual community and fans of B-99 were in an uproar. Less than 24 hours after Fox’s announcement, the show found a new home on NBC in large part to the overwhelming call to action by the queer community.
Shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Brooklyn Nine-Nine are so important to the queer community, especially so to the bisexual faction within it. Not only because of the representation within them, but because the queer characters portrayed are done so accurately.
Pacent made another good point: for too long the queer community has been handed only sub-par stories because the entertainment industry has yet to fully understand that LGBTQ+ plots will develop an audience and will make money.
When offering a solution to this problem in the entertainment business, Pacent explained, “If we can elevate the quality of our own content, the rest of the world is going to take us more seriously. It’s not enough to just have two girls in a relationship in a story anymore. We need to be good. But I think if we, as a queer community, start holding ourselves to a higher standard, we are going to start seeing our own viability in the greater entertainment world go up. We will see our worth go up. When the rest of the world starts to see that we can make money, the more visible we’re gonna be. And I hate to put it that way, but it’s the truth.”
Pacent is completely correct and the cancellation and pick up of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a perfect example of what the queer community can do to show our worth.
Though Pacent hasn’t played a bisexual character, she has hopes to write one for herself someday. But that fear she addressed about not being a good enough character has given her pause. Even as a bisexual identifying person herself, she recognizes the complex task and incredible responsibility it is to write a quality queer character for the LGBTQ+ community. With great admiration and respect for her concern, we must say that we believe wholeheartedly that Nicole Pacent will develop a fantastic queer character somewhere down the road, and we are looking very much forward to it.
For now, the bisexual community and queer community as a whole, must remain vigilant in our need and desire for quality representation in mainstream media. If we believe in our worth, we can help create the content that we deserve.
From the time we are prepubescent children the “birds and the bees” are taught to us by our parents, TV, churches, and occasionally our peers. I, myself, was asked if I was a virgin in the fourth grade, scoffed and said no… because I had no idea what a virgin was, but I certainly wasn’t one! Obviously, to my ten year old mind it had to be something bad. I went home and asked my mother what it was and she explained a few things to me. I hadn’t yet been exposed to the “birds and the bees” talks, but I knew where babies came from. I just didn’t have all the lingo down.
This story of mine is a perfect example of the trouble with not being exposed to things. And though we live in a society where sex is all around us, at ten years old I hadn’t completely been taught everything I needed to know because I didn’t need to know about it yet.
But the truth is that even throughout my entire public school education and the three years of required Health class throughout it, I wasn’t taught everything I needed to know about sex. I was taught the functionality of it and the reproduction side of it. But we were not taught about sexuality. I knew what it meant to be gay, and during my teen years, it was not an accepted thing by society. From what I understand though, Health education is starting to become more broad in the sense of teaching homosexuality, but there is still so much more that needs to be done.
The trouble is, is that homosexuality is not where the queer spectrum ends. And for many teens and young adults a health education system that has failed them causes a chasm between the reality of what and how they are suppose to feel and what they really do.
This is why online community sites like Tumblr and YouTube have so many LGBTQ+ users. It is places like these where the “misfits” come and find home. They find their identity. It is where I found mine. It is where I discovered, despite what I was taught, that I wasn’t alone in feeling attracted to women and that, that was okay. More so, it’s where I learned I wasn’t broken because I didn’t feel like a girl; I just felt human.
Unfortunately for me (and for so many others now in their thirties or older), both Tumblr and YouTube were not created until I was in college. Queer representation and exposure in mainstream media was very limited in my teen years, and though I was (and still am) a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my obsession with Tara and Willow’s relationship couldn’t be explained outwardly. “Because they’re kick-ass girl witches, that’s why!” I’d tell myself. But I knew it was more than that.
**[Trigger warning:] However, I was still left feeling confused as to why I didn’t think or feel like all my other girl friends. Sure, even if I didn’t like boys and I liked girls instead, I should still feel like a girl right? Why didn’t this label fit me the way it was suppose to? As far as I knew, science said there were men and women and that was how biology worked. I knew about asexual reproduction in plants and people born “wrong” because they had both male and female parts… but that was super rare and those people were broken. None of this fit me. Until I found the YouTube show Carmilla and the character of LaFontaine (played by Kaitlyn Alexander).** [Disclaimer: Uneducated mind of my younger “I’m definitely not gay” self. These thoughts were never malicious, simply ignorant of reality due to the lack of exposure and fear of my own truth.]
This show was pivotal in my self discovery because it taught me the term “non-binary.” LaFontaine’s self discovery of being non-binary and what that meant for them was a subplot in Season One of Carmilla that I, and so many others watching, didn’t know we needed. Non-binary in the simplest of terms just means that you do not fit in the gender binary of 1) male or 2) female. Instead, those who identify this way (or other related terms like genderqueer or gender nonconforming) fall somewhere in the middle of that binary, which is known as the binary spectrum. And some, like the character of LaFontaine and the actor that plays them, use pronouns like “they/ them/ theirs,” as these pronouns more appropriately match their gender. Not she, not he; They. For myself, however, after much self education, found that though I do not necessarily fit into the female gender, “she/ her” pronouns do not bother me or feel wrong. At the same time, neither do “they/ them” or “he/ him.” Because of this distinction, I have come to find that I most closely identify as grey-gender and simply feel very “meh” about my gender in general. In other words, you can’t really mess up my pronouns… but it’s always important to ask!
It is through my self discovery process that ultimately led me to create Queer Quality. I realized that having LGBTQ+ representation was the key to helping queer teens and young adults figure out exactly who they are. And though platforms like Tumblr and YouTube do exist, the content that queer people may come across is not always safe and supportive. In fact, YouTube right now is facing huge criticism from the LGBTQ+ community after anti-queer ads have been showing up on LGBTQ+ YouTuber’s videos. But that’s a story (and rant) for another time.
So since this is Queer Quality’s first Pride month, I wanted to focus this month on highlighting lesser known sexual orientations and gender identities, that might not otherwise be even mentioned in mainstream media.
True Pride comes with positive representation and inclusivity within our own community, first. We love that we are seeing more gay and lesbian characters in TV and movies, but there are more than just those two identities. We want to highlight that.
This month, we will be featuring a segment called “Pride Talks” where we will be chatting with:
-YouTuber and Mindfulness teacher Alayna Fender, who identifies as bisexual.
-YouTuber Damian Parker, better known as Damo, who identifies as homoromantic asexual.
And hopefully more. We have reached out to people to discuss being intersex, gender-queer and transgender. Our hope is that we will hear back from them before the month is over but maybe we will make “Pride Talks” something permanent. These are important conversations to have and the exposure to these identities and orientations are even more important for the queer community to know about.
If you like “Pride Talks” please let us know, we’ll make it a permanent feature. If you want to recommend an actor, writer, YouTuber, ANYONE to discuss their sexual orientation, gender identity, and the intersectionality they have PLEASE do not hesitate to shoot us a Tweet or email. We read every single one and we will get back to you.