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 want to say goodbye

to my old friend, Ennui.

For the last month I’ve gradually been slipping out of my very organised and high-stressed routine. I knew that the summer was coming and I didn’t want to fuck up. I tried to run a trial of what the summer holiday could potentially be like during half-term but it failed miserably because my eyes were hurting all the time from reading and going online  (and basically doing nothing else).

When the holidays come and my stress fades away, it seems like my motivation and ability to work just plummets. Even when I’ve been planning to finish a novel this summer and a million other things. I just need to figure out how to spend my morning and afternoon hours (since I can only go online for a few hours a day and I prefer to do it in the evening) instead of moping around trying to tidy my room and going to buy random things.

Ennui. Yeah. I don’t want to talk about it too much. I’ve been getting bored of people lately. I’m not sure if it was just that we had boring conversations. But maybe they were boring people. Or maybe I was just bored of life. I don’t know.

Ennui. A lot of that lately. When I’m under pressure, there’s a million things I want to do, but can’t. Now, there is plenty of time but I’m lacking in motivation. I don’t know what to do.

But I don’t want boredom or indecision to get the best of me the summer. It’s simply not happening. I’m going on holiday for around a week, so hopefully that will make me a bit more awake and energetic. I’ll come back, make a schedule, and do my shit.

I’ve got many headaches lately and I’m not sure why. Since I’ve not been around many people lately, I think I can rule out social anxiety. Stress is also unlikely. Reading or going too much doesn’t make much sense either because I’ve only been online for like 2 hours or less today (record! ha…). Maybe I’ve got the post-high pressure environment headaches that this person I know has… More pessimistically, it might be due to a deficiency in something.

Anyway, I’m ordering vegetarian supplements when I come back, a long with books I will definitely read! Although to be honest, I don’t have a piece of fiction that I’m dying to read this summer, which is somewhat concerning.

Things I want to do this summer:
– Finish my novel (the first one at least, I want to move on to the second if possible)
– Do subject-specific reading and prepare more for my application process
– Learn about more histories
– Pick up drawing again and improve skills
– Learn to cook
– Learn to programme
– Make revision notes
– Analyse anime
– Have fun and live!

 

The State of Waiting

While sprawling on my bed, it struck me how a phrase from Thounys “Waiting for a Messiah” could used to be describe my own life with a painfully startling accuracy. Thouny describes the setting of the seminal 90s anime Neon Genesis Evangelion as being neither in a state of war, nor in a state of peace and rebuilding, with citizens able to live a carefree, normal life again, but in a “continuous moment of waiting”: a “pathic” state (I originally read this as “pathetic”).

However it is not so much war and peace that I am suspended between.

During the summer of 2015, I took my first set of official exams. Something that had preoccupied my life since the start of that year, effectively blocking out every other source of existential meaning in my life. I virtually stopped writing my novel and reading during the spring of 2015. I delayed my every interest and desire that was not to revise. Day in, day out, I would lie on my bed (due to lack of motivation to actually sit in a chair or stand) and memorise my notes for endless hours, before putting my pen to a mountain of past papers (literally), some of which I was doing for the second time. This phenomenon, examinations, had become life-consuming. In those days, those 6 weeks, that was really all there was to my life, except from the unpreventable visits to the Internet that procrastination gave birth to. But there was a great desire for knowledge and for creativity that was in those days repressed and held back, it felt like killing myself and putting my soul in cryostasis. Intellect and creativity are the heart of my identity- without them I cannot truly be myself. I died for six weeks, but whether I could resurrect was another question. I promised myself that that day, that day of my last exam, it would be like the cutting of the umbilical chord- and I would be free again.

A splendid, unheard of 10 weeks of holiday were to follow, but those lay to ruin. The first four weeks I was made to visit China with my father, quite unwillingly and being obliged to mix with family members for long stretches of time and being away from a comfortable workspace, when really I just wanted to be immersed in studying everything I could not in those painful weeks and talking to my friend (I really only had one friend at that time). In the end I neither had a good time with relatives, nor did I manage to do the tons of work I had set myself to do abroad- which I anxiously knew I had to do because I would never get this time again. But in retrospect, I did endless amounts of research. I read an unbelievable number of essays on Revolutionary Girl Utena, which I may have never been forced to do if I had been in England, and I downloaded countless articles on politics and the lives of artists. But this didn’t matter. In my eyes, I had failed.

Then, upon returning to England, I saw a tight six weeks that remained. The first two weeks quickly disappeared to fulfil a deadlined project. The next 4 weeks were filled with dread and restlessness, unable to settle on a certain title or topic area, and knowing that my time was as scarce as ever. Although I read some fiction, I was never able to indulge in my interests on the scale that I wanted, and had promised myself in order to make up for the loss during the first half of the year. The pressure and the choices I presented to myself were like overwhelming gargantuan giants. This was my first period of ruin. My examinations had left me unable to rebuild my life again. During exam season, my organisation may have been impeccable, but now it fell to pieces as I became unable to make choices and my life became devoid of a structure. There also loomed the picture of school in autumn, which solidified my inability to truly escape from the “school” mindset into the “non-school” mindset and just relax and be happy. I had to study the things I enjoyed during summer break, or I would never have that chance again!

School came and my book on the Viennese fin de siecle remains unfinished, even today.

What I promised myself was a lie, a paradise of lies. The truth is that in the suspended state, there is no place for interests to flourish.`

My school life was an ceaseless torrent of homework after a long day at school in weekly cycles, in which every Monday I would count towards Friday. But what about my holidays, surely they would be the time to relax?Although I should really be in a state of joy at my results and at the fact that my first set of exams are over, the ominous shadow of next year’s series of official exams  loom over any rest that I may take. I am neither in a state of examination, nor in a state of relaxation. I am in a state of perpetual and relentless waiting. I will chide myself for not doing enough revision, I will chide myself for not having enough rest.

It is painful. I look into my holiday window only to see more revision in place of classes and homework, there is no real time for rest and interest fulfilment on a grand scale in my holidays.

Even more symbolic state is the very fact I am in a period of education which has the label “UNIVERSITY=END” stuck on its head. I had worked hard during 2014 to get to the school I am studying at now, I worked hard to achieve socially acceptable grades, but I am constantly reminded by teachers that this is a transitional state. I am not here to enjoy myself, I am not here to read the millions of books in the library that I can freely access (but I do not have the time to read), I am not here to fulfil my obscure interests, such as fin de siecle France, 90s Japan and semantics. Everything I do now is merely for university. Every society I attend, every book I read. There is no time to enjoy things in themselves, no. Everything is hankering desperately towards that assigned End that I must now achieve.

It is an existential pain. There is only waiting and dread, there is no freedom. I would like to think there is an end, but I cannot be certain of that.

It is driving and naively believing that the end lies behind every corner your are about to turn, when in reality you are stuck in an endless cycle of corners.

But I would like to believe that perhaps the corners will change shape, or that the rules of driving may change. But I am not the only driver of my fate.