On Page Rep Matters: Why diversity doesn’t count after the fact

The drama has been dying down over the last few days, but the sentiment that diversity cannot be an after thought remains.

albus-dumbledoreFor someone who might not know what I am talking about, I am referring to the current outrage regarding the second Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film in which JK Rowling has defended their disregard to represent Dumbledore’s homosexuality. Several years ago Rowling stated that Dumbledore is a gay man – a statement rejoiced over by some but regarded with confusion from others. If Dumbledore is gay, why not tell us in the books? Why not show us in the films? Why must being a part of the LBGT+ community be something to hide for the sake of the bigots convinced their children won’t understand?

It’s not just JK Rowling using this false sense of “diversity”. Countless books and television shows “queer bait” fans into watching, only to be stupidly confused when said fans get upset. It is not fair to viewers young and old, viewers who might need the reassurance that they belong in this world, to erase who they are from page and screen.

5452f84db8745bb176802040_tumblr_n26kkugio01tujppao1_500To make this personal: Willow Rosenberg of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a very important character to me. It’s because of her I learned more about my own sexuality. It’s because of her I wasn’t ashamed of having same sex crushes or love interests. To my memory, Willow was never asked to justify her relationship with Tara and no one ever doubted her commitment to their relationship because of what she shared with Oz.

Queer characters matter to those of us confused or afraid of our feelings. They tell us we can be who we want to be and that there will always be someone to help us through the hard times. By just stating a character is one of us without truly showing us, isn’t that just an example of exploitation?

It hurts to be ignored. It stings to be used as a marketing tool.

It is not okay.

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