I don’t have a normal job. I work at a very progressive, gay-leaning, millennial, nighttime FM radio show. There are eight of us who work there—three women, myself included, five men. Though everyone there is a phenomenal person and identifies as a feminist, I’m the only one who regularly yells about issues in the LGBT community and sexism. So naturally, I’m constantly prodded at about my feminist comments.
For example, I often say that I don’t watch any heteronormative movies or television shows. I joke around that I’m boycotting content about straight white people that involve zero queer women. My coworkers will taunt me and say, “Isn’t it anti-equality and non-inclusive to boycott stories that aren’t about you?”
This leaves me at somewhat of a moral crossroads because, well, I’m not actually joking.
I’m still decently new to being out and proud. I’ve been out for just over a year, and I’m still figuring out my place in a society that pressures its people to remain heteronormative. Why is gay marriage called gay marriage? When I eat dinner, I don’t call it gay dinner. It’s just dinner. Anyway.
This has been bothering me more than usual. On the radio show this week we talked about how I’m in a funk, and I want to be hot. I’m a slob, and though I consider myself to be femme-leaning, I also have some butch qualities. Many of the phone calls we got from listeners were people telling me to just be more feminine. Can I not be hot without being feminine? Are butch girls not hot? It’s like, even when I’m allowed to be gay, I’m not allowed to be gay.
So here’s my question: is it really that wrong for me to want to drown myself in stories I can relate to? I’ve spent the past week putting myself in my straight friends’ shoes, running them through scenarios that are realities for lesbians. Let’s flip the script. Picture this, straight people:
Your whole life, you grow up watching movies about lesbians. When you’re a kid, you watch Disney classics, like The Little Mermaid—the story of a mermaid who falls in love with a princess—or Pocahontas, the story of a woman who falls for the soft-butch English settler, Joanna Smith.
As you get older, you run home after school to watch TV shows like Hannah Montana, the classic tale of a pop singer growing up in the music industry while also going through the trials and tribulations of her blooming adolescence and her attraction to her best friend, Lily Prescott.
You adore romantic comedies like When Sally Met Sally, How To Lose A Girl In 10 Days—oh! And what about your favorite TV relationship of all time, Rachel and Monica on Friends? I mean, you totally always shipped Ross and Rachel, but…wait. Come to think of it, every movie you’ve ever seen is about two women who are in love. It’s cool to watch, but you don’t really feel an emotional connection to any of it. Why are your friends dragging you to the movies to see Kristen Stewart take her shirt off in Twilight? I mean she’s a decent actress with a good body but what’s all the hype about? (This part is so ironic even I can’t take it seriously).
The only straight people you can remember seeing on the big screen are secondary characters if they’re even mentioned at all. Straight couples are always either fetishized with aggressive sex scenes or made into some stereotype. But hey, straight people’s sex lives are just as real and intimate as lesbians’!
One day, you start watching Orange Is The New Black and you really, really like Piper and Larry’s relationship, but you just can’t figure out why. It’s different. It’s real. You can finally feel the heat between a seemingly real-life straight couple… You’re on to something: Why is the media so oversaturated with lesbians??
*End dream sequence*
You get it, right? I, like every other LGBTQ-identifying person, grew up without seeing stories being told about people like us. A study was just published by USC demonstrating how exclusive film and television can really be. Out of the 414 films and television shows they examined, and the 11,194 speaking roles, only 2% were LGB. Out of that number, 72.1% were male. That leaves only 49 lesbian speaking roles and seven transgender roles.
“Will Rizzoli ever end up with Isles?”
It’s hard. It makes you feel alone, like an outsider disconnected from “normal” love. So excuse me when I lose my goddamn mind when a new season of Orange Is The New Black is on. Pardon me for screaming about Clarke and Lexa from The 100 on Twitter. I’m sooo sorry for showing up for Carol but not giving one stewing fuck about 50 Shades of Grey.
So to Brad Pitt: At one point in my life, we really had something, but I think we should take a break. Ryan Reynolds, you seem like an adorable dad, but you’re just…boring to me. And Matt Damon—oOh, sweet, straight white-privileged Matt Damon. I’m moving on. Maybe we’ll see each other sometime soon in a Jennifer Aniston rom-com where she falls for her kid’s quirky Muay Thai teacher, Jada Pinkett Smith. You can be another kid’s parent who hits on Jen and then calls her a “whore” when she denies your advances or something.
Sorry, angry white baby man, but for now, it’s goodbye.
Editor’s Note: This article was first featured on AE in February 2016 (so the author has been out for almost two years now, not one).