People of color are more likely to be LGBTQ+ than white people are, but you wouldn’t know this by looking at most media. The majority of popular books, movies, and TV shows that are fortunate enough to include LGBTQ+ characters still find themselves lacking intersectional diversity – you’ll find that this is a genre still dominated by white people. People of color, disabled people, et cetera are all underrepresented in LGBTQ+ media.
So when an LGBTQ+ character of color is killed off, it really matters. 86% of lesbians and bi women on TV are dead, and I can only imagine that because the number of fictional lesbians and bi women of color on TV is so low, the likelihood that those characters are dead is even greater.
And it happened again, recently. Orange is the New Black killed off Poussey, a black lesbian, and… well, I, for one, am glad that I procrastinate terribly often when it comes to watching TV shows, because now that’s another one I’ve crossed off my list because I just don’t need to deal with the Bury Your Gays trope.
Coming so soon after the massacre in Orlando, her death felt particularly insensitive. Orange is the New Black was also one of the few pieces of media, and certainly the most popular one, where LGBTQ+ women of color could see themselves represented.
To make matters worse, a lot of white LGBTQ+ people just don’t seem to care. When Lexa died on The 100, people called for a revolution in representation. They protested against the Bury Your Gays trope and news of her death – that is, spoilers – spread incredibly quickly.
When a black lesbian dies, though? The outcry is smaller. So, so much smaller. By and large, white LGBTQ+ viewers aren’t indignant that another lesbian character was killed. They’re mad because they saw spoilers, though no one minded when the spoilers were about The 100. They’re even defending her death as “well-executed.” And it’s so, so frustrating.
With all this in mind, I’d like to show you some tweets from a hashtag that began trending today and was created to raise awareness about this hypocrisy. #BlackLGBTDeserveBetter points out that if we want to change the ways in which LGBTQ+ people are represented in books and onscreen, we must be sure to include intersectional diversity. If we want media to do better, we have to do better as well when it comes to respecting all members of our community. Stories should be a positive refuge for all LGBTQ+ people, not just some of us.
Please consider checking out the other #BlackLGBTDeserveBetter tweets! This is so, so important. I’m disappointed that for all that we preach acceptance and intersectionality, there are still so many members of the LGBTQ+ community who don’t seem to want to put that into practice.