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For Pride month, we’ve invited co-host of the YouTube show “Gayme Night“, Carl Li, to talk about the wave of LGBTQ content making it’s way into geek culture.
The Geek Community is as vast and diverse as any other community, and perhaps more accepting than most, considering they embrace ideas of aliens, monsters and fantastical species. I feel that Geek Culture in many ways is built on diversity.
That being said, there are a lot of LGBTQ fans of Geek Culture. LGBTQ geekdom, has always been huge. We see LGBT influence and trends in Geek Culture everywhere, and only growing more. Young LGBTQ fans grow up to be contributors to modern day Geek Culture in every medium. As more and more LGBTQ creators emerge to create their own visions, more and more of what is created becomes a reflection of modern day and the lives of LGBTQ people. And, like anything else “Geek,” what’s created will eventually become Popular Culture.
For clarity of perspective, I being Asian and Queer, feel it’s very important to be able to see myself reflected in the world I live in, to have real LGBTQ character portrayals and stories that do not only service those who happen to identify as LGBTQ. It helps our culture grow and be more understanding, regardless of sexuality.
Growing up, there were very few Asian role models in the media in general. I look at the show ‘Fresh Off The Boat,’ and I think to myself, “who would I be today, if I had grown up with a successful show like this on TV.” Being Asian would be a totally different thing. The exposure of Asian American stories being told and consumed by the masses would change everything. I know for a fact, my self-confidence would be completely different. I think the same can be said about LGBTQ stories. Can you imagine if you grew up watching a cartoon in which the lead protagonist was a boy who transformed into a girl, like the cartoon ‘SheZow,’ or Nickelodeon’s ‘Legend of Korra,’ whose lead character of the same name was more than alluded to as being bi-sexual, and VERY as a matter of fact. How amazing is that? There’s actually a whole history of LGBTQ characters and themes in video-games too! Not all are great representations, but still very interesting to discover that your boyfriend is in a same-sex relationship in a game he plays every night called ‘Dragon Age.’ It’s cool that option exists at all!
The first two ‘X-Men’ films by Bryan Singer used being a mutant as a metaphor for being gay. Though, it doesn’t straight-out say that it is, the idea of being different, and the human need to be accepted, is universal, and definitely helps one sympathize with those who identify with being different in any way. It’s like subversive cultural training. You like and identify with mutants, then maybe you can identify with LGBTQ people. There have been plenty of subversive or unintentional examples. Stories of outsiders, the under-represented, and anything with protagonists who are sexually ambiguous, or were anything but human, also served that purpose.
Diversifying in media to better reflect the world we live in, and appeal to more people, has been an ongoing growing trend. Attempts in regards to LGBTQ characters might look like tokenism, as almost every TV show, comic book, etc has a character that is LGBTQ, though some might even have two, or more, if it’s premise is LGBTQ specific.
In comics, such a trend resulted in, changing an existing character’s gender, race, ethnicity, or defining their sexual orientation, or creating new diversified characters. Mandates, coming from the top, could and has been problematic. Despite it all, many of the successful attempts have come through either reimaginings, reboots, or good storytelling.
DC Comics, for example, having assessed the merits of such practices, like a mandate for creators to ‘add’ diversity, has, in their new push branded as ‘DC You,’ instead been hiring diverse creators in which to inform their desire for diverse content.
I think this trend and philosophy of diversifying creators is sound and continues to grow in Geek Culture, and in the mediums and genres of media, all of which have plenty examples.
Here’s a great little video that introduces the History of LGBT Characters at DC Comics:
LGBTQ geekdom, has always been huge, but only now, are we seeing such things as Flamecon, the newest LGBTQ Comic-Con, in Brooklyn, NY, and Bentcon, in CA, this coming November. I see LGBT influence and trends in Geek Culture only growing more, and, like anything else “geek,” will eventually become popular culture.
Carl is a being, who enjoys playing at pretending, frolicking around, making senseless noises, and organizing. He is superduper passionate about ideas, inspiration and expression through the arts. He has self-trained, and professionally trained in the creative arts and is a performer who acts, sings and dances, and a creator in various mediums. He is currently living the life of an artist, trying to survive solely through his art, and therefore is broke, designing a game, doing the weekly show ‘Gayme Night‘, editing the forthcoming sequel to ‘A Love Story For Witches’ called ‘A Home For Wizards,’ novels by Jaysen Headley, doing an occasional blog at KCRRLives.Wordpress.com, while pursuing acting, writing and other creative endeavors. Oh, and playing lots of games, consuming TV, and films, reading, keeping up with social media. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter at carlkli, and practicing loving himself. carlkli.wordpress.com