Tag Archives: LGBTQ+

Headcanons, Queer Readings, and the Art of “Reading Too Much Into Things”

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The nature of media is that we will all look at it a little bit differently—we all have different brains in our heads, after all, and we’ve all had different life experiences that will frame and shape the way we perceive things. A result of this may be that you’re watching a TV show with your pal and you spot what you see as the blossoming of a beautiful queer romance, but when you mention it to your friend they blink in surprise and say they hadn’t noticed that at all. “Are you sure?” they ask, sincerely but bemused. “They just seem like good friends to me.” Maybe they’ll suppress a sigh, maybe they’ll laugh it off. “Not everything has to be gay all the time. You’re overthinking it.”

Damn, you think, suddenly unsure. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I am reading too much into this—maybe in my hunger for queer representation, for stories and relationships I could genuinely see myself reflected in, I’ve developed a habit of digging too deep and seeing things that aren’t there. Not everything has to be gay all the time, you think, even though you’d actually been headcanon-ing both characters as bi, though that feels like a technicality that will take too long to explain to your already-sceptical buddy.

You settle back on the couch, feeling kind of dumb. But then you hear another voice: there is a flash in the corner of your eye, and though you can’t quite see it, you get the sense that there’s a little human figure sitting on your shoulder, like an angel in a cartoon: a voice of reason.

The figure speaks, and he says:

Queer readings aren’t ‘alternative’ readings, wishful or wilful misreadings, or ‘reading too much into things’ readings. They result from the recognition and articulation of the complex range of queerness that has been in popular culture texts and their audiences all along.

“Wow, you’re right,” you say, smiling. “Thanks, influential queer pop culture scholar Alexander Doty!

Your friend says “What?” and you say “What?” and you get back to watching the show. Continue reading

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‘Let’s Talk About Love’, ‘Tash Hearts Tolstoy’, and the Asexual Coming-of-Age Story

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Sex is considered an intrinsic part of being human, and the development of a relationship with sex and sexuality an intrinsic part of growing up. This societal narrative leaves people on the asexual spectrum—those who do not experience sexual attraction—on the margins and considered abnormal. This can have an especially negative effect on asexual adolescents who are not experiencing the ‘rite of passage’ that is sexual desire and experimentation with sexual relationships. This is why—as with all queer identities—it is important to represent and normalise asexuality within fiction, particularly fiction aimed at young people.

In this paper I examine two young adult novels with asexual protagonists—Kathryn Ormsbee’s Tash Hearts Tolstoy (2017) and Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love (2018)—and how their protagonists’ asexual identity is woven into their coming-of-age stories and romance arcs. I explore the tropes, stereotypes, and misconceptions that have traditionally informed media depictions of asexuality, and how these novels divert from them to provide a more accurate and nuanced representation of the asexual experience; and, in doing so, establish patterns and tropes of their own from which a uniquely ‘asexual narrative’ suggests itself.

This academic paper is now published, out in the world, and free to read in RoundTable!

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Filed under Archetypes and Genre, Fun with Isms

Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Portraits, Premonitions, and Pink Hair

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Guess who did some reading during the blog break? This guy. Click through for yet more recommendations, from cute summer rom-coms to heartfelt non-binary coming-of-age stories to lesbians on a quest to defy fate!

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Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Broadswords, Birdwatching, and Band Geeks

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Here we are again, gang: this time with a sci-fi myth retelling, a quiet historical coming-of-age story, and a contemporary romance (featuring a love triangle that stays triangular). Read on… Continue reading

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Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Snow, Shapeshifters, and Spooky Castles

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The reviews and recommendations continue! This time round we have two different flavours of fantastical political intrigue and a gorgeously Gothic exploration of identity and freedom. Continue reading

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Not “Just a Phase”: How Bloom Into You challenges common yuri tropes

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Trying to figure out how romance works when you’re a teenager—especially a teenager who isn’t heterosexual—can be a befuddling mess, and few shows I’ve seen capture that like last year’s Bloom Into You. The yuri series captures the ups and downs of self-exploration, relationships, and identity, but it also has a lot of metatextual commentary about romance as a genre woven into its coming-of-age story.

Media—be it novels, manga, love songs, or movies—presents a certain set of common tropes that informs much of our idea about love and what it should look like. Bloom Into You interrogates these tropes and their potentially harmful influence, especially on young people, making it a story that provides important queer representation in fiction as well as talking aboutrepresentation in fiction within the story itself.

The narrative (and this thematic undercurrent) mostly focuses on main couple Yuu and Touko, and there is plenty to talk about there, but today I want to explore the character of Sayaka.

Read the full piece on AniFem!

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Filed under Fun with Isms

Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Unicorns, University, and the Underworld

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And we’re back, with three more gloriously varied entries in the field of queer YA! This time we have a contemporary Australian coming-of-age story, a cheesy urban fantasy, and an exploration of trauma and yearning after coming “home” from a quest in a magical world. Take a gander and see if any call to you… Continue reading

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