Category Archives: Queerness

So uh, in case you weren’t aware, I’m a queer writer and while I may keep it somewhat less than blatant and may just seem like a nice ally or whatever, I do still write a BUNCH of stuff that relates to queerness in media and how it’s expressed.

Homestuck 1/2

Alright, look, I made the banner graphic let’s tear the bandaid off.

a banner in the Ranma 1/2 style that says 'Homestuck 1/2'

I make fun of Homestuck and have no intention to stop doing so, but I do so based on the series and interactions with its fans and the creator’s opinions and – look I’m not doing a good job of setting this up, this is a very meta and tortured introduction that doesn’t get to the point, and therefore, by Homestuck standards, it’s good. But what I am trying to get to is that Homestuck is a space that’s super important to people in a way that to me, an older internet denizen, rings true of the Ranma 1/2 fandom.

You know, it was a space full of romance roleplays and weird sexy exploration, and a bunch of queers used it to work themselves out and in the process learned from one another about what it meant to be queer.

I think the overlap between these spaces is a synthesis of three ideas: Isolation, Play, and Smoochiness.

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Pride Month 2023!

In the major English-speaking parts of the worlds I’m familiar with (which weirdly, is not Nigeria, despite it having four times as many English speakers as my home country and Canada combined), June is Pride Month. This is because a number of inter-linked corporate interests have been able to maximise sharing economic value by treating England, Australia, Canada and America as if we all operate on roughly comparable time scales and interests. For this reason, June is the month where America celebrates Pride, in the ways America does, and the rest of us are already buying your t-shirts, so your rainbows show up on all our soda cans anyway. Happy Pride! Buy something.

The obligatory response is of course, ‘well, why?’ and not just why do we do Pride in June, but rather, why do we need Pride at all? After all, isn’t homophobia solved and fixed and now we’re just kind of tidying up around the edges? Of course not, and if you’re reading this you know that’s not true, because I am not some general access explainer, I’m the blog of a weirdo who likes board games and anime and has somehow captured an audience just barely larger than a really suspect church congregation. But why not talk about it anyway, in the specific vein of Hey I’ve been thinking about this a lot.

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Chemistry and Catalysts

Chances are, if you know me, you know that I’m a person who isn’t particularly fond of the idea of reading characters as queer as if that makes a text queer. This comes out of a stubbornness, perhaps misplaced, that I grew up in a period where a lot of the ‘queer’ media I was seeing being touted was often just extremely standard heterosexual media where two characters of the same gender were friends. This kinda rubbed me the wrong way, at first because I wasn’t comfortable with queerness in media, and then later on because I and people I knew were making queer media with queer characters in them and they weren’t getting attention that I felt was being unduly given to, y’know, something like How I Met Your Mother for some goddamn reason.

I’ve been watching a lot of anime lately and part of that has been learning more about how anime gets made, the material conditions of it, and how the image I had of Japan in my mind growing up was always just that, an image. It means that I’ve come to terms with how and why these really queer-seeming series that aren’t queer keep getting made, often where in the middle of a series about boys’ friendships, the story jerks to a halt, looks out of the screen and says ‘this is where a romantic couple would kiss, and we are obviously not kissing, because that is what we are not.’ It’s stuff I’ve mentioned in the context of the idea of the unbeard, too.

And that brings with it a feeling of caution, and a little sting of hypocrisy, too. I mean, I’m shipping characters, and I used to talk about shipping as if people doing that were being an exploitable resource for the people who wouldn’t put actual queerness in their media. Look at me, the terrible fan, the terrible queer. Part of how I got over this was by being a bit less of a stick in the mud in general, but another part, and the more important part, was considering that I was looking at texts expecting declarations when what was interesting to me was the chemistry.

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Nurse Chapel Is Bi Now?

I have no idea who this character is but I asked a friend who likes Star Trek a lot, and when they were done talking the sun had come up, so, I figured I’d go check that out and see what was what. And oh boy, howdy, did I learn a lot.

Particularly, I learned that there’s basically nothing about Star Trek that hasn’t been written down.

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Transformers: Acid Storm

It’s weird that the Transformers series are het, right?

It’s not weird, when you look at it from the outside, that it’s primarily an advertising vehicle made to sell toys to a particular market, which has been isolated to the cooties-averse category of young boys aged seven to eleven, as set out in around the 1980s, and every change to the franchise since then has been a matter of a modest step away from that same base narrative. In the original G1 continuity, there are around 400 characters, and of them, there were three women, but there were a few dozen stories about robots getting crushes on human women, or vice versa. The default was heterosexuality, which, y’know, that’s what heterosexuality wants.

But the robots are robots and they have an enormous amount of control over their identity and expression. Like, there’s no Robo Boobies to signal femininity, unless you actively choose to have them. When you view these creatures as people of a culture, then it kind of stands to reason there’d be robots that chose a different gender. Heck, they’re called trans formers, why would they have a specific gender as a constant?

Anyway, hey, let’s talk about Acid Storm!

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The Unbeard

A beard is a slang term describing a person who โ€” knowingly or unknowingly โ€” is recruited as a companion to someone in order to hide, well, usually, to hide that they’re gay. That’s uh, that’s the point, a Beard is someone you go on dates with or even marry, so that you can convince the people around you observing your life that you’re straight. Oh, you can make the case that if you tell your wife you’re going to Vegas to hang out with Tony Baloney for a minigolf tournament, and the inherent Dudes Rockness of that covers for the fact that you are, in fact, going to Vegas for some entirely heterosexual infidelity, and that makes Mr Baloney your beard, but let’s not kid ourselves, when people talk about ‘someone’s beard’ they mean the gay thing.

Beards are a longstanding tradition in media, and you can view them in terms of the real world people doing real things, or you can consider them as a media trope. In sitcoms, it was not uncommon for a Love Interest to get dropped in to a media vehicle for a bunch of male comedians just to make sure that this show full of dudes who hung out with dudes and did all their emotional engagement with dudes didn’t look, ah, gay?

What I want to present to you now is the Unbeard: A heterosexual love interest who is so unconvincing and undeveloped that it makes the character interested in them seem gay.

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3.5: Sex Is Bad

The Satanic Panic did things to the culture. We can pretend it wasn’t really a thing (because it was a thing about a thing that wasn’t a thing), but undeniably, a bunch of angry parent-types bellowing about the way their kids were being exploited until the exploitation changed colour did pervert the course of business interests. It was largely, just not worth the fuss to do things that could annoy that vocal body, and you could just change the decals on some of the stuff you did. I mean, having a bunch of weird outsider kids who liked playing D&D doing things like ‘being friends’ could be super upsetting for the parents of those kids, especially if those kids were having fun with their friends and not wanting to have fun with their family. Maybe the family sucked? Anyway, point is, that the Satanic Panic had a direct and meaningful impact on the big business juggernaut that was Wizards of the Coast. Famously, they stopped using demonic imagery on Magic: The Gathering for seven years.

Was that why 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons and its followup edition 3.5 thought sex was bad?

Nah probably not, this was probably just further building on the game’s pre-existing protestant ideology that thought Sex Was Bad. Let’s talk about the Ace Rights prestige class.

Content Warning: Acephobia! And uh… amazingly, just general talk about sexual assault? THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A FUN ONE.

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Azurill Says Trans Rights

Okay, get a load of this. This here is an Azurill.

History has been kind to this little mouse, but that helps that it started out as kinda mean in the origin. Azurill is a particular type of Pokemon we tend to group as a baby Pokemon; when they first showed up, Azurill couldn’t be found in the wild, but you could breed one, and then it would evolve into a Marill, which you could encounter in the wild. This was some of that gameplay thingummy, where there were Pokemon that, if you wanted to catch ’em all, you’d have to, you know, make sure some of ’em all were even around to catch.

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Don’t Buy (Corporate) Pride Shit

This month you’re going to see a lot of companies putting rainbows on their products. A bunch of what they do is going to look very cool, even whipping some degree or measure of ass. Consider these rad shirt designs from Wizards of the Coast, which if you like their iconography for their games, integrates really good design aesthetics with the brand.

Don’t buy them.

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Being An Expert On The Blacklist

I have not watched Season 8 of the Blacklist. I mean, did you see how Season 7 of the Blacklist ended? I may, by the time this article goes up, have done so, but if that happens you should view it as a failure of Netflix, a moment where clearly nothing better seized me to do, an attack of boredom so distinct that I exhausted other, better options like Goosebumps 2 or watching Venom again. I mean I did write about it, back in 2018 and 2019. That’s where I had were the article about how the story had seemed to be setting up a twist where Raymond Reddington was secretly a trans dude.

Then they revealed that uh, no, they weren’t going to do that.

At that point, I lost all faith in the storytelling and the ability of these storytellers to plan anything and I thought ‘what a bunch of idiots’ and left it. I did not write a word about Blacklist in all of 2021, because I had simply given up on the show and not watched it. I was done. It was ‘gamer’ to me.

But then I started getting hits.

I started getting a lot of hits.

Like the year I wrote that article, it got a total of 25 views.

In 2020, it got 300 views, which is weird.

In 2021, it got over 1500 views.

And that 25 views, that’s what I think of as, you know, normal. That’s a totally okay number of views on an ordinary article, and this absolutely blew the doors off it. And that meant that eventually, even as someone who tries not to pay too much attention to his stats, I finally noticed that Is Blacklist Queer? was getting attention.

And that led to me looking into why.

See, it seems that this is a thing that Blacklist teased might be the case in Season 8. And I guess, in the interest of protecting people from the ‘twists’ of this ‘story’, I’m going to put down a sigh spoiler warning.

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Cis, Explained

I’m seeing this one needing some explanation, and I’m also seeing some goofy people talking nonsense about it so let’s give you a nice, easy place to check on this one without TERFs getting all up and angry about it.

The complaints about cis are that it’s a slur, that it’s a made-up word, and that it’s unnecessary.

First things first, slur. Cis is not and cannot be a slur. Slurs are words designed to direct structural power against individuals and other people with the same group characteristics. It’s a threat. Non-cis people do not have systemic power, and the closest they can get is being mean. You’re not going to lose a job or be refused housing because you’re cis. You’re not going to have crimes against you ignored because you’re cis – crimes, not ‘people were mean to me’.

Cis is not a new word. Cis a term from chemistry, where it’s the opposite term to Trans. It’s been used for a century like this, because back in the day, chemists all used Latin terms to refer to technical objects, because that way everyone could use the same language and grammar to talk about them. And since we use the word trans in discussions of gender, cis is a handy opposite.

And cis is totally a necessary word. When you’re talking about relationship to gender, transgender or cisgender if you say ‘transgender’ and ‘normal’ then you’re explicitly calling ‘transgender’ ‘not normal.’ Notice the people who are mad about being called ‘cisgender’ are often people who feel like it’s calling them ‘not normal,’ so imagine how it feels to the trans folk being told they’re not normal.

Cis is not a hard concept to explain. It’s like on and off. Something is cis or it’s not. Open or not-open.

If, at birth, you were assigned a gender, and you decided that gender works for you, you’re cis. If you’re not cis, you’re – linguistically – trans.

Now that’s not to say everyone who isn’t cis wants to be called trans. There are plenty of nonbinary or agender people who don’t call themselves trans, and in that case, saying THE TECHNICAL MEANING IS- isn’t helpful.

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How To Talk To Your Trans Dude Friends About Boobs

One thing that exhausts trans people and wastes a lot of their time is explaining Some Of The Most Basic Stuff. I try to make sure I offer some basic explanations of things, not because I have special insight, but just as a basic footing. And this time, we’re going to real quick talk about how you, a cis boy, should approach talking to your trans boy friends, about their boobs – not boobs in general, but their boobs, this is important.


Okay, no, that’s not helpful. It is – you really don’t need to ask your friend about his boobs because, let’s face it, there’s lots of things you don’t ask your friends about and really, how interested are you in how your friends’ bits get sweaty? But anyway, let’s take it as a given that you’re going to open your mouth and try and Have A Conversation.

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The Singular They

There are more than a few of you who I consider friends, who I consider to be dear friends, wh ohave never heard me speak aloud. Aside from one video up on Youtube where Iw as off-the-cuffing all the answers to the questions I was being asked and trying to avoid filler-words and ‘um,’ I didn’t necessarily dedicate a ton of thought to what I said as much as how I said it. Really, that one video was the single thing I was the most proud of in the Hackagong experience.

Nonetheless: I’m something of a stickler for my manner of interpersonal communication. That’s a sentence I would say aloud, just to prove the point. I go through these articles and read them aloud to test if they convey the pace and rhyhtm of what it is I want to say, to make it easier to absorb my point. I was schooled in formal grammar – one of the only things that the ACE system did decently well, if not for the fact those ironclad grammatical rules are themselves, much more fluid and meaningless than the rules wanted me to think as if this clause isn’t enormously overstating my point – and this has informed my manner of speech.

The word ‘they’ is a word that my father, for example, will resist ever being used as a singular personal pronounce; this is because people like my father feel incomplete if their lives have to deal with ambiguity or nuance. I’ve been thinking about this in light of Holland, in the story I’ve been writing this year, and trying to avoid using the word ‘he’ or ‘she’ – or any other gendered pronouns. In the stories, I don’t use any pronouns to describe Holland, because Holland is meant to be one gender, transitioning from an assigned one, and I don’t know which of the two Holland is.

How’s that work when I talk about Holland to you know, people? I say ‘they.’ I say ‘they,’ and I have been saying it for about a year and not even realised I’ve been doing it.

Today, shit’s going down because someone said he, was told to say they, told someone else to fuck off, and decided then was the time to get picky about it. This was brought to my attention four times, with the fifth time coming up because someone, angry about the implications of He Vs They, decided the best way to improve technical word usage was to call someone a Nazi. I’m not going to tell programmers their way around language in code – they know how to make Pythons dance with the Rubies and Web Up The Code Cowboys or whatever. I can, however, as a seasoned asshole, offer these two pieces of advice about how not to be an asshole:

  • The word ‘they’ is easier to use; you already use it; and it’s more inclusive. So just, you know, use it.
  • Calling someone a Nazi only ever helps if the person is actually a self-identified Nazi.

Addendum: Let me add this. Just have some damn sense of perspective, for the love of fuck.

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