LGBTQ Fiction: Fitting In and Non-Binary Representation

I love LGBTQ fiction, and I love LGBTQ representation in the media. But despite the increase in LGBTQ representation in the media, for a long time I still felt left out. And it’s only recently that I realised why.

When I flick through description of gay novels, they appear either to be endless remakes of Dorian Gray or cheesy YA fiction.  Lesbian novels seemed great but still not quite right for me. But ultimately I felt neither lesbian or gay novels really fit me or depicted the kind of relationship I wanted. I felt the same looking at images of same-sex couples, imagining myself with someone of the opposite or same-sex. I was only then I realised, that what I really wanted was a non-binary relationship. For a long time I have been really open, warm towards the idea of dating someone genderqueer or intersex, and recently I thought about how nice it would be to date another nonbinary person, so I wouldn’t have to cross-my-fingers and explain and hope they understand, but instead have someone who understands my view of gender and what it is to be non-binary. However, I never realise that this was what I wanted until this week. There’s something about the way cisgender homosexual relationships are depicted or are that never quite felt like an easy fit for me, and then this is when I realised that I was interested in genderqueer/non-binary relationships more than any other form of relationship in both fiction and real life.

However, that’s where it gets a little shitty for people like me. Non-binary characters virtually do not exist in YA fiction, and hell, give me a call if you find a non-binary character in adult fiction. Mainstream fiction. Even in LGBTQ fiction, I do not see many non-binary characters (mainly YA I am talking about). It’s great to see gay and transgender literature flourishing, but there’s always that bitter tear of being left behind and forgotten.

This lack of non-binary representation is a reflection of the lack of discussion of non-binary identities in the media and real life. After Caitlin Jenner came out, transgender identities have been a hot topic for discussion for the past two years. Most people know what the term means. But being non-binary? Haha. Hell no. There’s been very limited media coverage, if at all. My ‘liberal’ friends barely understand the concept- they told me that it’s contradictory to be putting yourself in yet another ‘box’ or ‘label’! Yet anyone who is non-binary will know that being non-binary is the ultimate anti-box.

Anyway, hopefully in the future there will be more representation for non-binary folks. This is something we can strive to do, that I will do. As if making up for the abominable lack of non-binary characters in fiction, at least 3/6 of the main characters of the long-ass literary/comic series I am writing are non-binary ;). If something doesn’t exist, you can always make it exist.

Anyway, this is not all rain and grey skies. The depictions of relationships which I feel are close to what I would like are those found in certain anime.

uranus and neptune injred

Although the relationship between Michiru Kaioh and Haruka Tennoh in Sailor Moon is often seen as being a typical butch/femme relationship, there is something in that relationship that seems to transcend those tropes. Maybe it’s because both characters have traits that transcend their supposed ‘type’. Maybe it’s because they’re so well-written they feel real. I don’t know.

Image result for utena

And then there’s Utena! The ultimate non-binary character! Although Utena never exactly says “I am non-binary” since I don’t think the term was really in currency back then, everything about her character and about how she is framed and portrayed screams non-binary (one of the CDs is entitled “androgynous me”).

Maybe I’ll write something more coherent and better structured another time, when my life is less hectic and when I’m feeling better.

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“I feel like my opinion doesn’t really matter.”

 

Image result for voter apathy

“Do you not maybe feel a responsibility to vote?”
“Not really, I feel like my opinion doesn’t really matter. Like it’s only one vote, so…”

A dialogue with a millennial in a recent Guardian video.(7:38-7:48)

When one sees oneself as only as an individual voter, a sole political agent amidst millions of other, different individuals, one is unable to grasp the power and potential of the collective. That is the loss of contemporary society. That we should not vote, not do anything political, because it means nothing. Of course, if everyone thinks like that any chance of a collective movement is destroyed. The reason #BlackLivesMatter gained attention is because of the mass reaction it provoked and the thousands of activists involved.  In Postcapitalism, Paul Mason argues that the capitalism’s most effective opponent and scrutiniser was the trade unions- forcing capitalism to survive through innovation, not cutting wages (as would have benefited the factory owners). Marcuse lamented the situation of society, when people lost sight of themselves as a group and became “individuals” within a system that valued individuality and individual success above all else. For in abandoning the group to fulfil such an individual vision of success, workers lost their collective bargaining power. And thus they lost any power they really had, as financially disadvantaged or marginalised individuals in an unequal system.

Why else was Thatcher so eager to “atomise” society- to break it up into nothing more than mere individuals? Because the forming a political groups empowers the powerless through the sheer numerical strength and solidarity of a group, allowing it to challenge the privileged and powerful. It reminds us that discrimination and oppression exist in a systematic, pervasive and institutional way. That we are not alone. That these are not individual accidents or events. And that in seeing this pattern of inequality, we have the power to change it.

I am not saying that individuality is not important, I am saying it should not be the only mode of identification, nor the only way of thinking, especially when it comes to politics, where power is unequal yet the situation and cry for change is always paramount.