No More Dead Lesbians

“The girls are never supposed to end up together.

I watched that movie with Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat, the roller-skating movie, the one where Ellen and Alia are best friends, each other’s only comforts in their podunk town. They need each other, and they hug, and they dance, and they tell each other I Love You, and Ellen meets a skinny boy who plays in a band. It doesn’t even work out with the boy, but that’s almost tangential. The girl was never a real option.

I think that’s why it’s really difficult for girls.

For me.

We follow narratives. Our fingertips trace the contours of the stories we love. We long to escape within the confines of our own lives. Meet your boyfriend in the pouring rain and yank down his mask and kiss him upside down. Run with your boyfriend to the front of the boat and throw your arms out to the side and scream, ‘I’m king of the world!’

If you are a girl in love with a boy, your possibilities are infinite.

If there is a special girl in your life, you love her as a friend. You love her as a friend, but she becomes less important to you as you grow, and you leave her behind for a boy. She might even stand next to you when you marry the boy, and she might catch the bouquet of flowers that you throw to her. You’re giving her permission to move on, move away from you. It’s a ceremony of separation.

But if you should fall in love with a girl  –  and loving and falling in love are two very distinct things  –  the first kiss is the end.

You’ve all seen the movie. Or the television show. Or the after-school special, or you’ve read the book that was banned from your school’s library for containing Sexual Content.

The point of your story is not to fall in love.

The point of your story is to struggle.

Your story begins with a lie and climaxes in a truth and ends with a kiss. In the movie of your life, forty-five minutes are devoted to you figuring out how to say that you want to kiss girls, and another half-hour is devoted to people’s objections, and maybe the last fifteen minutes is you kissing the girl.

Maybe you don’t even get to kiss the girl.

Maybe she tells you that she’s flattered, but she doesn’t bat for your team.

The critics swoon; it’s realistic, they say, so realistic, to depict the struggle of the modern teen, the heartbreak of irresolvable incompatibility. Isn’t that always what celebrities cite in their divorces? ‘Irreconciliable differences.’

And so you’re lying on the floor of your bathroom, your knees curled to your chest, or you’re on your sofa with a pint of ice cream, or you’re in bed watching your favorite sad movie on Netflix, and the collective weight of all that you consume settles on your shoulders, leans in, and whispers, ‘You were never meant to fall in love.’

You were never meant to fall in love.

Your story ends in tears or it ends in death.

Jack Twist was bludgeoned to death with a tire iron and Ennis Del Mar was left alone in his closet to dance with an empty shirt.

Alby Grant found Dale Tomasson swinging by a noose in the apartment that had been their safehouse, their respite, and he sank to his knees and cradled Dale’s bare feet and he cried.

The Motion Picture Association of America axed Lana Tisdel and Brandon Teena’s sex scenes, but they didn’t have a problem with the extended shot of Lana cradling Brandon’s corpse in her fragile arms and falling asleep next to his body.

Love and intimacy are ours only in death, or so it would seem.

I don’t want to die.

Isn’t that a very human experience? Not wanting to die?

When does anyone who looks like me get to grow old and raise grandchildren and hold her wife’s hand as the skin wrinkles, turns translucent?

Sometimes my father asks me if I’ll ever date a man.

Sometimes he doesn’t ask.

‘You are attracted to men, and you dream about falling in love with men,’ he says, as if he can will his imaginary daughter into existence merely by speaking about her.

Or maybe he is just looking out for my safety.

He’s seen the movies too, after all.

He loves me.

He doesn’t want me to die.”

– Peyton Thomas

1.

I grow up with no stories about queer women. I read my first novel with a lesbian protagonist at thirteen and come out to myself in the months afterward. I scavenge the library for more stories. I begin to notice that most of them end tragically. I write my own stories where girls like me get happy endings.

2.

As I get more involved in writing and fandom, I start to research the history of LGBTQ+ fiction, and what I find is disheartening: There are so few happy endings for us in books and movies and TV shows. I learn that authors in the early twentieth century who wrote about LGBTQ+ characters were unable to get their books published unless they killed off those characters, or had them locked up in a mental institution, or broke their heart. This was done under the guise of “morals,” with the intent being that we’d learn our lesson. That we’d know our place.

3.

We even have our own trope: Bury Your Gays.

There are variations on this trope. Sometimes the Magical Queer dies in a Heroic Sacrifice to save the straight characters. Sometimes we’re killed off in order to cause emotional pain to the straight characters, or to expose them to the realities of homophobia that they somehow didn’t realize existed. Sometimes our deaths are pity porn. Sometimes they serve as inspiration for straight characters to fight harder against the forces of evil.

4.

TRIGGER WARNING: Some of the images used in this post contain graphic depictions of violence. If that makes you uncomfortable, feel free to stop reading whenever it gets to be too much – but I’m trying to make a point. I’m trying to shake straight people out of their complacency and get them to realize what it’s like to see a never-ending parade of dead lesbians onscreen and in the pages of books.

This post contains spoilers for series seven of Doctor Who, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, season six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season ten of Supernatural, season three of The 100, season six of The Walking Dead, and season one of Jessica Jones.

5.

The first onscreen example of Bury Your Gays that I see is on Doctor Who. To be honest, it’s somewhat subverted, but I don’t really understand why Jenny had to die and come back to life twice in the same episode. That episode has me on the edge of my seat, hoping she’ll come back, and she does. But I still don’t see why that was necessary.

6.

2012, 2013, 2014. Innumerable friends recommend Supernatural to me, saying that it seems like my kind of thing. And it is. Kind of. There are elements of it that appeal to me, and I toy with the idea of watching it, but the writers queerbait the boys so badly. “There’s a lesbian character named Charlie on it, and she reminds me of you,” they say. I still don’t watch it. I’m worried she might die. I’m apprehensive about spending that much time binge-watching a show that will probably let me down in the end.

supernatural - charlie's death7.

May 2015. Charlie dies, thanks to a classic case of the Magical Queer saving a straight character in a fatal Heroic Sacrifice. I’m not even surprised. I don’t cry or anything. I just feel exhausted. Emotionally drained.

I spend the next few weeks correcting people who say her death isn’t an example of this trope because “everyone dies on Supernatural!” – I say that it does not somehow erase the fact that she is dead and a lesbian and that’s literally the definition of Bury Your Gays.

I use the cookie analogy a lot: If you have a plate of three cookies and your friend has a plate of thirty cookies, and someone takes one cookie from your plate and one from your friend’s, it affects you much more because you don’t have many cookies to begin with.

Someone could take an entire handful of cookies from your friend’s plate and it still wouldn’t have the same effect, because you started out with fewer cookies and losing one of your three cookies while your friend loses five of their thirty cookies means that proportionally, you are affected more. The same is true of LGBTQ+ characters, and of diverse characters in general.

8.

I think about writing what will eventually become this post, but I don’t because it’s true: I can see myself in Charlie, and that hits a little too close to home to write about at the moment. I find myself feeling very protective of her, although I barely knew anything about beforehand. I feel that way about a lot of dead queer women from books and shows and movies I’ve never even read or watched.

But yes. Charlie is the catalyst of this post.

9. 

All my friends are watching Carmilla, a webseries with LGBTQ+ women based on the nineteenth-century vampire novella of the same name that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula. The cast and crew are mostly LGBTQ+ just like their characters. I start watching it too and fall in love with it. It can get angsty at times but it’s the one show I trust to never queerbait their characters, and the show ultimately feels positive. The main couple will stay together. It will all be OK.

10.

I read Alan Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta, one of the most powerful dystopian stories I have ever read. There’s a beautiful subplot with a lesbian character, but it is also tragic. Her death serves as inspiration for the male protagonist to fight harder to free the world from prejudice and fascism. I love that subplot, but I also hate it. I struggle with that until March 2016, when I regretfully add it to an ever-growing list of stories with LGBTQ+ women that ultimately ended up disappointing me.

11. 

I don’t stop reading books, but at this point most of my reading time is devoted to fanfiction. My straight friends read fanfic because they can’t get enough of their favorite M/F pairings. I read fanfic because there are more fics with LGBTQ+ characters  than there are books with LGBTQ+ female characters.

I read it for the AUs where no one dies. I read it for the re-imagined scenarios where my F/F pairing actually gets together. I read it for the alternative endings where the protagonist I headcanon as queer doesn’t end up with some bland male character who was inserted into the plot in order to make the protagonist’s romantic chemistry with her best friend less visible.

12. 

My best friend and I live in different countries, but we’re pretty good at figuring out times to buddy-read or buddy-watch stuff together. Practice makes perfect. We pick a day and time to watch Imagine Me & You, because neither of us have ever seen an LGBTQ+ film before.

Afterward, I’m so glad I chose that movie as my very first film with LGBTQ+ female protagonists: It’s a romcom. No one dies! The couple gets a Happy Ever AfterTM ending. I can hardly believe it.

watchmen - death scene13.

I have to read Watchmen, another dystopian graphic novel by Alan Moore, for my Superheroes Unleashed class the first semester of my freshman year in college. The story is about a world that has given up on its superheroes and one of them, known as the Silhouette, is dating another woman.

Alan Moore devotes one sentence to their relationship, and I perk up for an exceedingly short amount of time – because, in the next sentence, he tells me that they were eventually found murdered in their bed after their relationship becomes public knowledge. I decide against watching the movie adaptation.

I cannot understand this fascination straight people, particularly straight men, have with killing their lesbian characters. In the bed they shared. Because they didn’t keep their relationship a secret but were instead as open about it as any heterosexual couple would be.

14. 

My friend convinces me to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer with her. I love vampires. I love TV shows with female leads. My friend says I remind her of Willow. I watch the first two episodes with her and then I don’t want to watch anymore because I remember that Willow’s girlfriend, Tara, dies. Just like they always do. She was killed by a bullet meant for someone else.

A new season of Carmilla comes out. I look forward to each and every episode.

15.

I convince some of my friends to read books such as Malinda Lo’s Ash, which is one of my favorite novels of all time. I can’t wait for them to finish. I think about reading that book for the very first time and bathing in a warm happy glow because there were queer female characters and they didn’t die. I think about the joy of finally finding an LGBTQ+ fairy tale retelling.

Multiple friends finish the novel and tell me that it’s unoriginal. Or normal. Or boring. I think about what constitutes a “normal story” for girls like me. Mostly, we end up dead. The characters in Ash didn’t end up dead. I have to remind myself that maybe there are some things that straight people just can’t conceptualize – there isn’t a trope called Bury Your Straights, and all of us have been conditioned to see tragic LGBTQ+ love stories as “inspirational” and “groundbreaking” and “unflinchingly honest.”

16. 

I’m in a creative writing class, the first one I’ve ever taken. I love it. I decide to write about zombies for my final project, since I’ve never done that before and I want to try something new. I base the main character and her girlfriend on me and my crush, because we both think that’d be a cute, funny thing to do.

When it comes time to workshop my short story and receive feedback from the rest of the class, multiple people suggest that I kill off one or both of those characters. I’m glad we’re not allowed to talk during our own workshop because I don’t even know how I would respond to that: Doesn’t creative writing require, well, creativity? Why would I repeat the same dead lesbian trope that I’ve seen over and over and over again? Isn’t that kind of unoriginal?

17. 

We have to write about why we made certain drafting and editing choices in our short stories. I spend a decent chunk of my essay talking about wanting to subvert Bury Your Gays, and how that’s why I didn’t change any part of my characters’ relationship in my revisions.

My professor hands my essay back with, “That’s a very good reason!” written in the margins and I grin a ridiculous grin. I pull out that piece of paper every now and then because it reminds me that someone else gets it.

18. 

I read The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, a 1952 novel that subverted Bury Your Gays and gave us the first modern LGBTQ+ story with a happy ending. It’s based on the author’s own life, and she originally published it under a pseudonym for this very reason. It ends up being more than I ever could have expected.

carol department store19.

Carol, the movie adaptation of The Price of Salt, debuts with a limited release at first. Too impatient to wait for it to be shown at the theater in my hometown, I curl up in my bed one night during winter break with my laptop and watch a bootleg version someone has put on the Internet. I cry a lot, not because it’s so sad but because it’s so happy.

20. 

Carol is nominated for six Oscars and wins none of them. It receives quite a few snubs at various award shows, actually. The lesbian protagonists didn’t die or get their hearts broken or end up with men, and I can’t help thinking that this is the reason why it was ignored: It didn’t follow the narrative we’ve come to expect. The lesbian/bi websites I follow lavish praise on it. Straight male critics say that it’s boring and uneventful. I wonder if death counts as an event.

When Carol finally arrives at the theater, I get two of my LGBTQ+ friends to come watch it with me. We can’t stop talking about it afterward.

21.

I see myself in Therese, from Carol. She’s nineteen years old and small and shy and brunette. She loves photography. She doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life, or what she wants from life.

And she doesn’t end up dead. I like that. I like that I’ve found a character who reminds me of myself, and she doesn’t wind up dead.

22.

March 2015.  Lots of people on my floor watch The 100; it seems as though the entire dorm talks about it. I realize that it’s on Netflix, which I didn’t know before. I figure that since I have a little bit of free time before I need to buckle down and study hard for midterms, I may as well watch it. I’m excited: I love dystopian stories, and I trust the writers of The 100 to not kill off their queer female characters.

the 100 lexa death23. 

I get distracted from my plans to watch The 100 and four days after I think about watching it, Lexa and Clarke finally have sex after episodes and episodes of romantic tension, and Lexa dies two minutes after that scene. One of my friends points out that that would never happen to a fictional straight couple. No one would ever write a scene like that for them because it’s absolutely ridiculous.

Lexa was killed by a bullet meant for someone else.

24.

“LGBT fans deserve better” and “stop burying your gays” trend on Twitter in response to The 100. LGBTQ+ women post about how happy and safe their relationships are in order to cheer themselves and each other up, to remind us that life doesn’t have to imitate fiction.

25.

My acquaintance who watches The Walking Dead predicts that at least one half of the lesbian couple will die because one of them has just promised to come back alive.

26.

I talk to the girls who live down the hall from me about the need for happy stories about LGBTQ+ women, and we end up planning a movie night because we’re all so sick and tired of seeing so many lesbians and bisexual women die on screen.

27.

March 20, 2016. I wander into the Haunted Bookshop, my absolute favorite place in Iowa City. I’m bored and looking for something to read, or even just to reread. I ask if they have The Price of Salt, but they just sold the copy they acquired the other day.

I end up talking to one of the employees. She read the book last fall before seeing the movie and we spend the next few minutes excitedly discussing the gorgeous cinematography, and how the story was based on the author’s own life, and the need for happy LGBTQ+ stories. We talk about how rare those stories were back then, and still are. This discussion makes my day.

I buy The Price of Salt at another bookstore because I really, really want my own copy. I have begun to acquire a small library of happy LGBTQ+ books so that I won’t even need to visit the library on days when I feel down about the prospect of more sad stories about people like me.

28.

March 20, 2016. I scroll through my Facebook feed one last time before I go to bed because I’m procrastinating. I see an article about how Denise, one-half of the lesbian couple on The Walking Dead, has just died in the latest episode. She was killed by an arrow meant for someone else. This is getting ridiculous. Tara died in an episode of Buffy that aired in 2002 and now, fourteen years later, the only thing that’s changed is that sometimes we die from an arrow to the head and not always from a bullet to the chest.

What’s worse is that it didn’t even happen this way in the original comics: A different character – a straight guy – died in the same manner and at the same point in the plot as she did. Denise was written as a lesbian in order to add some diversity to the cast of characters, but ultimately it didn’t matter much.

29.

After that, this post practically writes itself.

jessica jones - jessica + jeri hogarth30.

March 21, 2016. I text my best friend here at school and ask her if the lesbians on Jessica Jones die, because I still haven’t watched that show yet. “I mean, they’re messed up in all kinds of ways,” I say. “But they’re not dead yet, right?” She confirms this.

I momentarily get my hopes up because I am a fool.

Later on I realize that my friend must not have watched the entire first season yet, because another friend points out that one of the lesbians does in fact die. And another one – who was a man in the original comics, but rewritten to be a gay woman –  is tortured. By her ex, to boot, who is being forced to do so by Kilgrave, the show’s main antagonist. Her girlfriend ends up killing her ex to save her.

And the main couple is portrayed as more corrupt than Kilgrave, despite the fact that he rapes multiple people and they just have infidelity issues.

Somehow all the straight pairings make it through the show alive.

My friend and I ponder how a show that understands misogyny so well can still fail when it comes to dealing with homophobia.

I started reading the Alias comics with the intent of eventually watching the show. Now I debate whether I want to watch it after all. I have one volume left. I don’t know what to do.

I think about how Marvel has no queer characters in their movies, and only four in their shows – the other one is a minor male character on Agents of SHIELD. I can’t see how he’ll last very long, either.

New goal: Read even more DC Comics than I am currently already reading.

31. 

Both the writer of The 100 and the writer of The Walking Dead release statements saying, essentially, that because they didn’t kill off their characters because of their sexual orientation they don’t think those instances should count as examples of the trope. I’m frustrated by two shows I don’t even watch because of their writers’ evident inability to realize that intent =/= impact.

32.

I think about my favorite F/F pairing ever, Peggy & Angie from Agent Carter. I think about how they didn’t end up together on this latest season and I start to wonder if I should hope that they never do, because Agent Carter is a violent show. They can never kill Peggy because she has to live all the way up to the modern day in order for the MCU timeline to make sense, but they could kill Angie.

She’s a tiny, cute, fun character. She’d probably be killed by an assassin with a bullet meant for someone else – Peggy, probably – and some straight writer who thinks they’re being super edgy and cool will explain it away as being necessary for character development, or whatever.

am i gay i'm ecstatic33.

I have a choice about what media to consume. So I surround myself with positive stories about LGBTQ+ women. I begin to avoid stories that I know are sad. There may not be very many happy stories about queer women, but there are some. So I focus on what I do have: Imagine Me & YouThe Price of SaltCarolBut I’m A Cheerleader. Malinda Lo’s books. Carmilla. Princess Princess. Young Avengers. Et cetera.

I start telling people, “I know that has lesbian characters, but it’s also super tragic, so I’m not going to waste my time on that.” I stop supporting stories in which we get hurt by refusing to continue reading or watching them, or by not even starting to read or watch them in the first place.

I keep writing my own happy stories about LGBTQ+ women.

I publish a post that has been simmering at the back of my mind for almost a year.

-~-

Further Reading

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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44 Responses to No More Dead Lesbians

  1. It’s so damn depressing reading about all these wonderful couples that never end up together. It gives me all the more fuel to write more happy endings with my LBGTQ+ characters

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yeah… :/ Me too. I’m still really shook up, honestly, about the Jessica Jones thing because I had to edit that part of the post – friend #2 told me about it like an hour ago – and I’m just like… damn, I had High Hopes for that show and now I’m disappointed because Marvel has an even shittier track record with LGBTQ+ characters than I thought. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS. Like… what a way to end a post. There are more dead lesbians than I thought there were. And I skipped over a lot of fandoms, too – Orphan Black’s not on here, and neither are some other because at that point this post was getting ridiculously long. Freeheld would be another example. Etcccccc…

  2. Cait @ Paper Fury says:

    I totally think the bury-your-gays trope is bad and agree with you there. And I did like the cookie analogy! Although I don’t think that your sexuality should be a survive-till-the-end card, though? But I totally know where you’re coming from because it seems to be that if there is a LGBT character, they die, and it is an unhealthy and unfair trope.
    Although, that is a MASSIVE Supernatural spoiler there. 😳 I only just recently watched that episode, which I’m glad about or the entire season would’ve been ruined for me. Maybe put spoiler warnings on your posts?

    • nevillegirl says:

      The issue is that sexual orientation IS a survive-to-the-end card – for straight characters. And no one questions that. Case in point: In Jessica Jones, the straight characters miraculously survive even though Kilgrave, the man they’re dealing with, is a rapist and murderer. One of the lesbians dies, one is tortured, and one is forced to murder the other. Keeping this in perspective, Marvel only has 4 canonically LGBTQ+ characters – the other is on Agents of SHIELD.

      Writers need to stop murdering their lesbian characters. Not killing off an LGBTQ+ character doesn’t mean you’re using their sexuality as an excuse to not kill them, it means you’re being respectful!! I see a lot of writers who go, “Oh, well, it’s realistic to kill off characters occasionally!” and while that’s true, it’s also true that we have so few LGBTQ+ characters to begin with that it makes a huge impact.

      There is a spoiler warning! 🙂 The warnings for all the shows/movies/books are grouped under section #4.

      • I think the first two articles you linked at the end say it all- 147 lesbian/bi characters who died, and 29 who got a happy ending. At this point, having a female character be lesbian/bi is basically a will-die-before-the-end card.
        The walking dead is a good example. A white male character was saved because his death from the comics was written for the lesbian instead. In the first episode of the 100, a straight white male character got speared in the chest and survived. (And countless others have survived injuries since).
        There’s never going to be a guaranteed survive-to-the-end card for any character in a well written show. However, the lesbian/bi characters seem to have a different set of rules when deciding what kills them or not.

  3. I love this post ❤
    Also, something I only just found out! Agents of SHIELD had two women who were canonically queer in the comics as side characters, and killed them both off. One in a stupid way, and other as plot device to add to a straight white male's story. I didn't even realise they were gay in the comics while watching the show 😦
    Also don't get me started on the latest season of Agent Carter. I mean I'm glad she's not dead, but they've completely written her out of the show and replaced her with two male love interests, even though it would make so much sense for the plot for her to be in LA. -.-
    Everything Leads to You and Under the Lights are also two super cute contemporary f/f romance books with happy endings 🙂 I'm planning on buying copies of them both to add to my happy-queer-books shelf.
    (Also also can I just say I'm still really emotional about the 100, and reading that section about it almost made me cry again.)
    #LGBTfansdeservebetter

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you! ❤

      Yep! Victoria Hand & Isabelle Hartley. I read that apparently Joss Whedon "didn't want to be known as the man who killed off 2 lesbian characters," because I guess he'd decided to kill them off even though they live in the comics? So he straightwashed them for the show and then killed them off. He also wrote Tara's death in Buffy and that, in short, is why I do not want Joss Whedon to write any more lesbians again, ever.
      (TBH, he sucks at portraying women in general. Speaking of Marvel things, he screwed up Black Widow's character beyond believe. I stg.)

      I know, right?! Angie wants to be an actress, so why shouldn't she appear in a season that's set in Hollywood? In section #11 of this post, the one about fanfiction, I was talking about Peggy/Angie at the end: "I read it for the alternative endings where the protagonist I headcanon as queer doesn’t end up with some bland male character who was inserted into the plot in order to make the protagonist’s romantic chemistry with her best friend less visible." If there's anything I hate more than love triangles, it's poorly written love triangles – she has no chemistry with EITHER Jason or Daniel, yet we as viewers are expected to care about that particular plot point?!

      I've been meaning to read both of those books!

      *hugs* I hate that they killed off Lexa, and I don't even watch that show. I know a LOT of LGBTQ+ women who watch it and who stopped watching it after that episode, and I hate that the writers took one of the few stories that queer people felt comfortable watching and turned it into more of the same murderous trope-y nonsense.

      • Urgh, I didn’t even know that. So killing lesbians are ok as long as you erase their sexuality? Alright Joss. I think him and Jason- the show runner for The 100- went to the same class. Jason did an interview after -the- episode aired saying that Lexa wasn’t a lesbian, she was gay. (??????????)
        I thought that might have been about Agent Carter! Do you know of any good Peggy/Angie fanfiction by any chance? (Because it’s not like I have a ton of Uni work to do or anything…)
        *hugs back* Yeah, pretty much everyone I follow on tumblr are queer and were fans of The 100 and majority have said they’re not going to watch the show anymore. 😦 Its just all so disappointing really.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Apparently. *rolls eyes* It happens a lot in movies and on TV. A slightly different yet still related example is Pretty Little Liars – Emily, the lesbian protagonist, has gone like 20+ episodes without a love interest. The 3 other protagonists, who are straight, have never gone longer than 3 episodes without a love interest. I can’t stand it when writers are like, “But we just want to show that’s she’s a strong, independent woman!” because… you can be independent and strong and still be in a relationship? Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re weak and totally dependent on someone else.

      In my experience, a lot of straight writers are completely OK with LGBTQ+ characters as long as they don’t have to think about those characters’ sexual orientation/gender identity. And a lot of readers/viewers are the same way as well. It’s yet another case of people only supporting us as long as we don’t “push our agenda” on them or whatever the hell they’re calling it now.

      Yeah, Jason (the showrunner, not the Agent Carter character lol) also said that Clarke “prefers not to label her sexuality”? Like… no. Just no. It’s not progressive if you refuse to acknowledge bisexuality.

      OH MY GOD, you have come to the right person. I read basically every single Peggy/Angie fic – as well as the fics for more obscure pairings such as Peggy/Dottie (because I am trash) and Peggy/Pvt. Lorraine – last spring and summer. I see that you have your email on your blog’s contact page, so I’ll email you a SUPER LONG LIST. 😀

      Yeah… on the other hand, this boycott of the show will hopefully teach writers that this isn’t OK and that they need to stop making excuses for this sort of thing!

      • *rolls eyes for five hours straight*
        Hm, about the Clarke’s sexuality, I will reluctantly defend Jason (but mainly the writers) there. In the show she doesn’t label herself, but the minute her first kiss with Lexa aired the writer of the episode (and the one who’s since been the best ally to the Gays throughout this mess) tweeted confirming that Clarke is bisexual. And Jason clarified in a later interview that they (as writers) are clear about Clarke’s label to the audience because in context of today’s society her label is important, but not within the show. If that makes sense. Which makes the use of the trope so annoying, because the writers and Jason were educated about the trope and they are at least a little bit aware of LGBTQ issues :/

        Omg I’m excited! Yes, I’m not gonna lie I do ship Peggy/Dottie a little because I am also trash.

        It’s definitely raised awareness, that’s for sure! Now to see if it gets better… (One of the writers on the 100 (the previously mentioned ally of the Gays) wrote a post on tumblr apologising for Lexa’s death, and how the writers can’t really argue with the showrunner, but ended the post promising this shit isn’t going to happen when she’s running her own show. So even people already in the industry are learning!)

  4. I’ve never actually thought about this, but you’re absolutely right … and supernatural queerbaits the shit out of cas and dean – the only reason i know what the term means is because i read up on a tumblr post about it. i would actually quite like for dean to be bi though because i literally cannot think of ANY on screen bisexual characters. especially males – even in books, theres often a brief mention of a guy being bi prior to settling down with a girl or a girl being bi before they meet the guy for them. although, i did quite like legends of tomorrow’s (tv series) white canary because she’s bisexual and has a brief relationship with a woman (which was v v sweet and didnt end in anyone dying) but more because their relationship wasnt pornographic or overtly “hot girl making out with hot girl for male viewers” – it was more about the emotional connection.

    • nevillegirl says:

      If you google “queerbaiting,” one of the suggestions is “queerbaiting Supernatural.” (Another is “queerbaiting Sherlock,” which is just… ugh. It’s uncomfortable for me because I watch Doctor Who – I have a lot of issues with the show, but haven’t given it up yet – and unfortunately the SuperWhoLock fandom is a thing, which means some of the people I talk about Doctor Who with are also SuperWhoLock fans, and interacting with them leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth? They make a lot of excuses for shitty, cliche, homophobic tropes or don’t even notice them in the first place, and it just makes me want to slowly bang my head against the wall.)

      But anyway, yes, Supernatural has a HORRIBLE queerbaiting problem. This article is a year or so old, but I saw a LOT of people sharing it back when it was first published because it outlines the issues with that show’s queerbaiting so well: http://www.tvguide.com/news/supernatural-queerbaiting-destiel-1089286/)

      Ooh, Legends of Tomorrow. I’ll have to see if that’s on Netflix, or if I can get it from the library! I NEED CUTE HAPPY SUPERHERO STUFF WITH QUEER WOMEN. I’m still mad about finding out about the Jessica Jones thing last night because I really did think that show treated its lesbian characters better, so I was looking forward to watching it? I’m beginning to feel less and less positive towards Marvel… anyway, thanks for the rec, because I need something that doesn’t end up being super bloody and brutal.

      It’s funny that you mentioned that they’re not there for men to look at, because that’s the topic of an upcoming post… >.>

      • oooh i look forward to it! and thanks for the article, it was a good read 🙂 (and as for jessica jones just BLERG. i was so happy when i found out david tennant was in it but, to me, the series just kind of sucked ;-;) I was thinking a little about this topic and was going to recommend RENT as its a. a great film and b. got the sweetest couple ever … but it’s not got a happy ending -.-

  5. Sylveon says:

    AAAHHHHH THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. Thanks for making a post about this. I’ve kinda been in a writing slump recently partly for this reason, because I’ve been sad and I want my main character and her girlfriend to be happy, but I’m going to try to work on that story without working in my sad. I feel like they need to be put out there as soon as I can put them out, add to the small pool of happy endings for lesbian couples (one of them is bi and one of them is lesbian).
    I’m going to check out all of those links you put at the bottom of the post when I get home, because right now I’m at school and I technically need to be doing work instead of reading a Very Important Article. (also I kinda wanted to watch the 100 because lots of people I follow on Tumblr were talking about it and saying it was great prior to all this shit, but I don’t really have any motivation to watch it anymore >-<)

    • nevillegirl says:

      You’re welcome! And I can totally relate – I try to write happy stories about LGBTQ+ women, but that trope is just so prevalent that sometimes it creeps into my stories even though I don’t really want it to? Like, I’ll start thinking that adding lots of sad stuff would make my story more literary or whatever, and then I realize what I’m doing and I just… nOPE.

      I hope you like the links! 🙂

      Yeeeeeeessssssssssssss. I was all excited to start watching it and thought that maybe once I’d caught up on the show, I could write a review and talk about how important it was to have media, especially genre fiction such as a dystopian TV show, with queer characters who don’t die. LITTLE DID I KNOW… 😦 I saw a bunch of articles lauding The 100 just a few months before this happened, actually… ugh.

  6. I haven’t seen a lot of these TV shows, but I saw a lot stuff by fans when Charlie and Lexa were killed. (It doesn’t really make me want to watch those shows now, to be honest.) I think tend to consume more media where queer female characters do get happier endings, but every now and then something comes up and I’m reminded of how mainstream this trope is. :/ It makes me very sad and frustrated.

    • nevillegirl says:

      One of the many many reasons I didn’t want to watch Supernatural was that Charlie doesn’t even show up until quite a few seasons in, so I didn’t know if it would be worth it to watch all those episodes… and then she died. It’s the same with The 100 – I’m not gonna sit and watch 3 seasons of a show only to watch yet another lesbian be brutally murdered onscreen. I’m all about that “positive and happy and loving lesbians” aesthetic and not the “lesbian who is stabbed over and over again and left in a freaking bathtub for the male main character to find” aesthetic, you know? :/

      • Like, they not only had to kill Charlie but kill her in a humiliating and violent way? I didn’t want to watch all those episodes for that. And from when I watched it there didn’t seem to be many female characters in Supernatural anyway, which wasn’t great.

  7. Miriam Joy says:

    I was annoyed about Lexa. Partly because of this. And partly because its primary impact seemed to be shock value, and since Tumblr and the entire internet spoiled the episode for me, it lost any narrative function it might have had. So I didn’t watch the episode and haven’t caught up yet.

    I saw a Tweet just before I read your post that seems relevant to this: @Wheeler: “If you can name a thousand stories where someone like you got a happy ending, try to understand the heartbreak of people who can’t name ten.”

    A few years ago I would have been impressed if I knew ten stories, happy or not. My collection of queer books has hugely expanded since then, although is still largely bereft of asexual and non-binary characters, and I’ve read a whole bunch that I don’t own, too. Still not enough of them to be able to be as discerning with them as I am with ‘straight’ books, though. I sort of feel obliged to at least LIKE queer books, even if I don’t LOVE them. I find myself making excuses for them in reviews that I would never make for non-LGBTQ books. I wish there were enough of them that I felt like I was allowed to actively dislike some, and not just be grateful that they got written and published in the first place.

    (That said, sorry I didn’t love ‘Ash’. I really wanted to. I just … didn’t, for various reasons. I didn’t DISLIKE it, but it didn’t quite hit the spots for me.)

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yeah, it was definitely for shock value. It sucks that even in 2016 we’re still so often killed off in some writer’s attempt to be Shocking and Edgy.

      Ugh, yes. I’m in a FB group for Carmilla and people kept posting The 100 spoilers without using the spoiler format we’re supposed to use, and then getting angry when people pointed out that there are FB fan groups specifically for that fandom. So that was annoying.

      YESSSS YES YES YES THAT IS A V GOOD TWEET. I get so annoyed when people say that LGBTQ+ people should just take whatever kind of representation that we can get, or that it’s OK to kill us off because “that’s realistic” or “everyone dies in this kind of story anyway.”

      YESSSSSS TO THAT AS WELL. I feel bad whenever I do critique LGBTQ+ books (I hate Simon vs. and David Levithan’s books with a passion, but I feel worse about hating Levithan’s books because hey that’s #OwnVoices and I support that but at the same time his books are JUST SO BAD), because I know that we still don’t have very many happy, well-written stories about us and that sometimes, every little bit helps.

      You don’t have to apologize! That comment was more of a dig at some of the straight people I’ve known who make comments about how some happy LGBTQ+ book is unoriginal… especially if they say this stuff about queer women but not queer men, which happens a lot? Like, I’ve seen so many people judge happy books about lesbians harshly and say that it’s just the same old romantic tropes and… yeah, it IS, but the issue is that those tropes and happy endings are still mostly reserved for straight couples and characters who are like us don’t really get those same endings. As I was telling another friend the other day, I’ve seen people read 6 or 7 different books about LGBTQ+ women with each book written by a different author, which accounts for the fact they won’t like every author’s writing style ever, and they consistently give these books low ratings while books with F/M or M/M and the same exact tropes get high ratings from them. It’s just really depressing to see how much and how often people disregard queer girls’ stories.

      • Miriam Joy says:

        Yeah. (Funny that, I really liked Simon vs and found it really cute even though I rarely read/like contemporary YA. But I think it’s because I know what it’s like to fall in love by email / the internet and liked seeing that represented as a good thing rather than a scaremongering tale of internet perverts and undercover cops. Heh.)

        I guess even when they use generic romantic conventions, LGBTQ stories are by definition subverting the tropes. But somehow that passes people by.

    • nevillegirl says:

      The internet relationship thing was actually the only aspect of the book that I liked, I thought that was really well done. The rest… not so much.

      Yeah. It always bugs me when people, especially people who read a LOT (because you’d think they’d be better at this kind of thing than they actually are) focus on individual stories and don’t look at the genre as a whole. Like, what are the implications of the writer’s narrative choices upon the genre and its readers as a whole? As someone else said in another comment on this post, stories don’t exist within a vacuum. LGBTQ+ stories subvert even the most conventional romantic tropes just by virtue of not being about cishet characters but it seems as though a lot of people go “LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” when you try to point that out.

  8. Crap, now I’m sad. I HATE this trope, and I hate that our sexualities just cause us to be erased from TV in deaths. I hate that there’s no happy endings. I hate that nobody else seems to care. If anybody ever tries to say to me that it doesn’t matter, I’m showing them this post, because it DOES matter, to us, and it IS IMPORTANT. Thank you so much for this post.
    Do you, by any chance, know of the tumblr artist Maryne at toodrunktofindaurl.tumblr.com ? She’s posted a lot of artwork and stuff on the “Gay Uprising”- in response to the deaths- and it’s very amazing.
    Also, the book Everything Leads To You has some very fluffy and sweet F/F romance. They’re adorable, basically.

    • nevillegirl says:

      *hugs* I would say, “Don’t be sad,” but… well, it IS sad. And while I don’t think we should let it discourage us from being ourselves, I think it would be ridiculous to pretend that it doesn’t affect us and make us feel sad or down.

      You’re welcome! *hugs again*

      Yes, I do! She has a FB page as well so I love seeing cute Maryne art on my feed every so often. ^_^ I’m so glad that she’s been posting a lot of stuff criticizing this trope!!

      I keep meaning to read that book! I will bump it to the top of my TBR list ASAP.

  9. Toby says:

    Wow…just wow, what am amazing post…so well written, too…and I love the opening quote…
    You think you see yourself in those characters? I see myself in that post.
    Seriously, this stuff is important.
    It’s a bit like self-harm/cutting/eating disorders–by portraying it all, the damage is already done…of course this makes it difficult for anyone who wants to write a tragic LGBT story, but that’s part of being a writer…accepting that stories aren’t made in a vacuum…
    Wait, the cutting metaphor wasn’t too obscure, was it? Tell me if you don’t understand what I’m getting at (basically, they’re competitive disorders and it triggers people).
    Gah, now I’m confusing myself…
    Anyway, awesome post, I’m about to start crying, that really hit home.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you. ❤ I love the opening quote, too – originally I thought it might be too long, and I still think it IS a pretty long quote to include, but I wanted something kinda bittersweetly happy to balance out all the death and sadness in the rest of this post?

      YES. THAT. "Stories aren't made in a vacuum" is absolutely correct. I wish more writers would stop to consider the implications of their drafting and editing decisions. I can't stop people from killing off their lesbian characters, but I can call people out for such lazy, homophobic writing, and I wish people would realize that the choices they make in their writing have real-world effects.

      I think I understand what you meant by that analogy? You can go ahead and explain it more if you want, I won't mind. Mostly I'm just curious about your comment about seeing yourself "in the post" – this post? The one I quoted? IDK, I'm just curious, since I see myself in the quote and obviously in this post too, since it's about my own experiences.

      *offers a virtual hug in case you need it*

      • Toby says:

        Well, it’s a horrible analogy, but basically with self-harm and eating disorders (to my understanding) even just seeing a depiction of it can be harmful and make you feel like you’re not good enough. Like, that’s how pro-ana and pro-selfharm websites (unfortunately) work–they would post a picture of someone really thin, and that would make someone with an eating disorder feel bad about themselves.

        So, I guess what I’m saying is that even if a creator doesn’t mean to be homophobic, they can still make someone feel really awful and have harmful consequences…like seeing someone thinner than you could really lower your self-esteem, same with if every gay character dies would really lower your self-esteem…if that makes any sense…you know, I’m starting to see why irl I’m known for long rambly metaphors that make no sense…

        Oh, I just meant that I related to this post a lot, that’s all…sorry if I worded it strangely…

        Do you know what’s really awful? That in horror movies it’s an actual cliche that the black guy dies first. Also the girl who has sex dying first. It’s absolutely disgusting that this would become an actual cliche, and though there have been some attempts to explain it away, none of them have been very convincing. Some people are trying to change it, but it’s kind of too little too late…

        Oh dear, I’ve seem to have written a novel…

      • Toby says:

        Oh, and sorry for double posting, but I just remembered that in one of my favorite comic series (Sandman by Neil Gaiman) there is an absolutely HEARTBREAKING death of a transwoman, and the exgirlfriend of one of the (female) characters ends up dying as well (although later that female character gets a new girlfriend and I don’t think either of them die…?). Oh, and BOTH of the spider lesbians die.

        At least there’s an androgynous/nonbinary mythical being and at least one gay guy and a drag queen that survive?

        Gah…so thank you for making me reconsider one of my absolute favoritest comics of all time ever?

        At least there’s always Fun Home.

  10. matttblack42 says:

    Hot damn this was a well written post.

    I haven’t watched the last Walking Dead episode yet, mostly because Denise’s death was spoiled for me on twitter and I’m still pissed about it. This is the second of Tara’s girlfriends who’s been killed off on the show, by the way, and I’m struggling to think of a reason for killing Denise off besides shock value, and there’s nothing. Doesn’t help that she was one of my favorite characters on the show.

    I’ve heard of the Bury Your Gays trope before, (I remember googling it after hearing about how a transgender character on the show Degrassi died from texting and driving, which has got to be the dumbest way to kill off a main character that I could think of.) and ever since then I’ve been doing my best to steer clear of it. And then I made things hard for myself when I decided to try writing a horror novel in which the majority of the cast is LGTBQ+,

    In other news, this post made me google “Pity porn,” and I got some very, very disturbing results.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thanks! ❤

      Oh yeah, you watch TWD, right? I'd forgotten about that. WAIT WHAT. HER /SECOND/ GIRLFRIEND TO BE KILLED OFF?! *smol rage noises*

      Omg, how is that horror novel going?

      Oh my god, I just… Matt… what are you doing. *scrolls up to the top of this post to double-check that I linked to a definition of pity porn* I put a link to the Urban Dictionary definition specifically so people wouldn't google it and wind up on actual porn sites. I'M SO AMUSED RN.

      (Also: You've watched… all four of Marvel's shows, haven't you? What about DC? IDK if you're into DC Comics or just Marvel stuff, but I was wondering if you've watched any of DC's shows and know of any where there are queer women who don't wind up dead because I'm kind of exhausted with Marvel's crap right now.)

      (Also do you ship Matt/Foggy from Daredevil? BECAUSE I AM TRASH FOR THEM. MY FRIEND CHEERED ME UP LAST NIGHT ABOUT JESSICA JONES BY FANGIRLING WITH ME ABOUT OUR SMOL BI SONS AKA MATT AND FOGGY AND I FELT V V BETTER AFTERWARDS. 10/10 WOULD RECOMMEND.)

      • matttblack42 says:

        The horror novel is going along well enough, at the moment. I have just a few more chapters before the characters start dropping like flies, so that should be fun.

        I wanted to see if TV Tropes had any examples of it, and let’s just say, TV tropes did not show up in the results. *shudders*

        I have yet to watch Agent Carter, and tbh I don’t plan on watching Agents of Shield (it just doesn’t seem that interesting). I am, however, currently seven episodes into Daredevil’s season 2. At first I didn’t get why people were shipping Matt and Foggy, and then I watched the college flashback episode and I thought “oh, so that’s why.” So much of what they say to each other is exactly what any couple would say, it’s uncanny. Though as of right now I’m more of an Elektra/Matt fan, despite how messed up that relationship is. (Have you watched season 2 yet? Cause I’m loving it so far.)

        I can’t say I’m watched any DC shows, although Arrow looks pretty good. I’m trying to think of something I could recommend to you that features still-living lesbians. Hmmm…

        Oh! American Gods, by Neil Gaiman! There’s a definitely-not-straight woman in that book who gets a happy ending. I don’t remember a whole lot from it (it’s been years) but I do remember that. Plus there’s a TV-adaptation coming soon, so I’m pumped.

    • nevillegirl says:

      That’s weird, because I somehow thought you watched Agent Carter, and I was CERTAIN you watched Agents of SHIELD. But yes… it IS v boring, I stopped watching just a few episodes in because I just didn’t care.
      I haven’t watched season 2 yet, but I’m excited to!

      Thanks for the rec! Ooh, yes, I heard about the TV adaptation and I’m super excited even though I haven’t read the book yet, because it’ll motivate me even more to read the book and then I’ll have something awesome (well, hopefully) to watch! 🙂

      • matttblack42 says:

        So I can’t believe I forgot about this, but there’s a show called The Wire that features a lesbian cop Kima Greggs, who is pretty much my favorite character ever. And as I recall, she doesn’t die, nor does her love interest, or any other lesbian on the show.

        There’s also another iconic gay character on that show named Omar, who goes around robbing drug dealers with a gigantic shotgun.

        And now, because it’s just hit me that I really want you to watch this show, here is a trailer:

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  16. This post is really awesome, I’m so excited for the Carmilla movie becuase I really think that the writers won’t kill off the couple, ever. Thanks for writing this

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