Was LGBTQ+ Representation in 2018 Good Enough?

SAGA members relax and chat together.

Society has come a long way in accepting the LGBTQ+ community, but there is still a constant struggle to normalize the presence of people in the LGBTQ+ community on a worldwide scale. “It is so important for young kids, and everyone, to know that it is okay to be themselves, and the best way to accomplish that is to normalize it through the media,” says S.A.G.A. member Ellie Whetsel. This year we got a plethora of gay representation throughout books, TV, and movies, as well as several artists and actors coming out.

Probably the most recent movie that showed LGBTQ+ characters is “Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald.” The movie got a bad rep for its portrayal of Dumbledore. Dumbledore, as confirmed by J.K. Rowling, is gay. But throughout the movie, they tried to put as little focus on his sexuality as possible. While the movie shows Dumbledore and Grindelwald holding hands as children, implying that they were once in a relationship, it is very vague and easily overlooked. 

Another major LGBTQ+ character in a movie that came out this year was Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”. When he was alive, Freddie Mercury was a huge LGBTQ+ advocate, in a time when very few people were open about sexuality and gender. The movie did a great job of portraying Mercury’s sexuality while not focusing on it. His sexuality was not the main plot point, which made it beautifully understated. He was a gay character whose character was more than just the fact that he was gay.

In contrast, “Love, Simon” was a movie focused on Simon Spier and his journey to accepting his sexuality while trying to have a normal, happy senior year. The movie focused a lot on Simon’s struggle to not only accept himself but his struggle in keeping his life the way it has always been. It is his last year of high school and he wants everything to stay the same, but when he meets the love of his life online, he doesn’t want to keep his sexuality a secret anymore. The movie is beautiful and heartwarming, and a must-see for 2018.

In the T.V. universe, Netflix series “Voltron: Legendary Defender” came out with its 7th season this year. It had already hinted at several LGBTQ+ characters, with characters like Pidge Holt, who pretended to be a boy for much of the series. With the new season, Dreamworks guaranteed that the character Takashi Shirogane, also known as Shiro, would have a male fiance. This caused great upset with fans because, despite the big hype in trailers, Shiro’s fiance had less than a minute of total screen time throughout the season. Fans, outraged, claimed that Dreamworks used the promise of a gay character to increase the number of viewers. Despite all of the drama surrounding the series, Shiro and Adam did have a meaningful implied relationship, and with the 8th and final season coming out on December 14, some fans still have hope that these to will get more screen time together.

Unlike Voltron, the Netflix series “She-Ra and the Princess of Power” showed no hesitation in displaying LGBTQ+ characters. In the series, the character Bow is confirmed to have two dads, a fact that was accidentally leaked by one of the voice actors at a comic-con. The two characters are most well known for being LGBTQ+ however, are Spinnerella and Netossa. The lesbian couple stole the heart of fans and got a lot more screen time than Shiro and Adam.

Over the years, media platforms like Youtube and video games have slowly gained popularity. This brings us to our next couple on the list. The video game trailer for “Last of Us II” Characters Ellie Williams and Dina (last name unknown), were confirmed to be LGBTQ+. While not a lot of details have come out, the two of them are shown to kissing, but nothing will be confirmed until the game comes out in 2019.

As I mentioned earlier, Youtube is a huge media platform. Since 2014, when Tyler Oakley became widely popular on Youtube, many other LGBTQ+ artists have come up around the platform. This year, a hugely popular Viner who moved to, Thomas Sanders, came out. Thomas Sanders is well known for his “Sander Sides” in which he dresses up as different parts of his personality and works to solve life’s problems. He recently told the press that he was open to dating any gender. Fans, who have been conspiring for years to find out what his sexuality was, were thrilled to learn that he is pansexual, a sexuality rarely explored in media. “We should start representing everyone in the media, not just gays. There is a whole LGBTQ+ spectrum, and people fall all over it. If we can show everyone then it helps people accept themselves, and saves them from a world of pain and confusion,” says S.A.G.A. member Jahlia Dickey. “Yeah if I had had a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ spectrum it would have made my life a lot easier when I was younger and trying to figure out who I was,” says fellow S.A.G.A. member Lina Guardado.

Another pansexual person who came out this year, who is a huge LGBTQ+ advocate, is singer/songwriter Brendon Urie. He came out as a pansexual, and even though he is married to a woman, he is open to anything. His non-profit organization High Hopes raises money to help homeless LGBTQ+ kids who are kicked out by their parents. Urie also has many songs, like the song “Girls/Girls/Boys” talking about sexuality. He is well known for wearing gay pride flags on stage.

There are many different people coming out this year, and so many LGBTQ+ characters throughout media. 2018 is a definite step in the right direction, and while we could stay here debating the hundreds of LGBTQ+ characters this year, these are the ones who stood out to me. So what are your favorite characters? Post your 2018 LGBTQ+ pride and support on the Morro Bay Spyglass Instagram page.

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