To see lgbtqia+ characters on screen is to see films that belong to a very specific genre, which I like to call ‘queer cinema.’
These are films that, by and large, are about being queer. These are art-house / alternative films that focus on coming out, inner turmoil, violent homophobia, and usually end with someone being beaten or murdered or at least dying horribly… because this is how the film industry sees our existences. When we get representation in cinema, it’s representation that portrays queer lives as dramatic and utterly tragic. It’s as though being queer is a never-ending hardship (and yeah, sometimes it can feel that way, and a lot of people have to deal with a lot of crap for their identities and sexualities and that’s terrible), when in reality, being queer is a multifaceted thing. Our lives are normal, bizarre, sad, joyous and just as varied and fluid as the lives of everyone else. I don’t know why Hollywood hasn’t been able to grasp this yet.
After all, there’s no such thing as straight cinema, because straight cinema is literally just… everything else. Straight cinema spans a multitude of genres: sci-fi and fantasy, crime and rom-coms, mysteries and thrillers, and everything that doesn’t deal with the apparently endless and deeply pervasive trauma of queerness.
When straight people go to the movies, they get to see representations of themselves up on the screen, doing all kinds of things. They get to see themselves reflected back as love interests in boring hetero romance after boring hetero romance, and they get to see themselves as troubled anti-heroes who end up saving the galaxy, and as scientists, and politicians, and spies, and survivors, and unlikely protagonists, and good guys and bad guys and every-kind-of-guy-in-between. The cinematic world is a straight person’s oyster, whereas all we get to see in our queer on-screen counterparts is tragedy and heartbreak set to pretentious indie soundtracks.
I want to see more than that. I want more options that than. Wouldn’t it be awesome, for instance, to see an asexual Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games? A Katniss who has genuinely faked all her interest in both boys in her love triangle, who likes them as people but has no interest in hopping into bed with them. Or… how cool would it have been if Chris Pratt’s role in Jurassic World had instead been played as a queer woman? God knows that movie needed more ladies in it. And imagine the sexual tension between the big, bad, possibly kind of butch Raptor Alpha and Bryce Dallas Howard. That’s the kind of dinosaur movie I could get behind.
So if anyone in the industry just so happens to be reading this, give me one less thing to complain about. Give me my gay rom-coms, my transgender superhero blockbusters, my queer morally-grey political thrillers. Give me everything that straight people get to see in cinema, but tweaked ever so slightly so that it reflects who I am. Who we are.
It’s not really asking for much, is it?