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Why Representing Gay Characters Matters in Kid-Friendly Entertainment

Thornbrake

I found this blog post about the impact of having a gay character in the new animated film "How to Train Your Dragon 2" incredibly moving.

The post is exactly why I'm so excited for Elfquest to finally fully come out of the shadows in its depiction of those with same-sex attractions, and why the days of needing to fear a backlash for showing such gay characters in kid-friendly entertainment are over.

It's SO encouraging to think that in the real world, we are making such progress towards the attitude that Wendy and Richard have always depicted the elves having on such matters: love is love is love and and there's nothing dirty or wrong about showing such consenting love amongst adults in kid-friendly media.

To think that Elfquest could have the same impact on the next generation on this issue in the same way it already has on issues such as gender equality, environmental awareness and horrors of war on my generation makes me giddy.

Now, the real question is WHICH characters are going to be in the same-sex pairing that Wendy and Richard have hinted will happen in Final Quest???

SweetLeetah31

Oh you had this discussion on the show! While it defeats the purpose of cub bearing through recognition I think it's a great idea to show that love is love no matter the gender with same sex recognition

Thornbrake

SweetLeetah31 said: While it defeats the purpose of cub bearing


The elves are perfect example of the fact that there's a lot more to love and lovemaking and relationships than just procreation. Just like in real life.

SweetLeetah31

Most definitely, my thought process was just in line with the result of the recognized elves, that along with deep everlasting love and a bond that is unbreakable, cubs are always produced.

SweetLeetah31

Cutter and skywise are recognized soul to soul,and eventho they didn't bear cubs together,they have reared cubs together which I think is another great example of love is love :)

Thornbrake

But part of my point is that cubs aren't necessary to have a real, meaningful lovemating or lifemating. Think of Treestump and Clearbrook.

SweetLeetah31

Of course not,I agree....the love between two ppl doesn't hinge on kiddies or no kiddies....I'm anxious to see who it will be and how,I'm a sucker for the way Elfmamma develops the love stories,the gazes and the embraces..pure gorgeousness

You spoke on Dart in the show and it got my vivid imagination running lol!

Thornbrake

SweetLeetah31 said:
  • You spoke on Dart in the show and it got my vivid imagination running lol!









Yeah, I just kind of think of Dart as an elf that prefers what the lads have, just as Skywise prefers what the maidens have, based on his lovemating with Shushen and his close friendship with Kimo. But who knows, it could end up being Shenshen and Timmain that become the same-sex couple in Final Quest for all we know!

:D

RedheadEmber

Thornbrake said: Yeah, I just kind of think of Dart as an elf that prefers what the lads have, just as Skywise prefers what the maidens have, based on his lovemating with Shushen and his close friendship with Kimo.


Not to mention lifemating with Talmah. Yes, I know it was Serrin he recognized (obviously) and Talmah was already Serrin's lifemate when it happened. I just always assumed it was an equal pairing between the three of them.

Rob



P.S. It's OK to talk about same-sex attraction in EQ without having to reassert a hetero-normative counterpoint right away every time.

Mkal

I think it is way past its time for this.

Mkal

Thornbrake said: But part of my point is that cubs aren't necessary to have a real, meaningful lovemating or lifemating. Think of Treestump and Clearbrook.


Love is much more than just sex....

Heather

Thornbrake said: To think that Elfquest could have the same impact on the next generation on this issue in the same way it already has on issues such as gender equality, environmental awareness and horrors of war on my generation makes me giddy.

Now, the real question is WHICH characters are going to be in the same-sex pairing that Wendy and Richard have hinted will happen in Final Quest???


While the changes in equality have been slow, I am so pleased to see progress in the right direction. I was so excited when I heard the news about 'How To Train Your Dragon' and now am even more excited to see how EQ is going to make its continued influences.

I have my own ideas of who the same-sex pairing may be, however, I do wonder if it will be new characters we haven't truly met before.

Thornbrake

Heather said: I have my own ideas of who the same-sex pairing may be, however, I do wonder if it will be new characters we haven't truly met before.


Do tell?! You're right, it could be two background characters or new elves that we haven't even met yet.

Heather

Thornbrake said: Do tell?! You're right, it could be two background characters or new elves that we haven't even met yet.

Dart and Kimo would be too obvious. But possibly a another pairing with Dart.
Part of me has wondered if we will see Maleen and Vurdah. We have already seen Maleen a few times in the background and with the sudden death of their long time lovemate, perhaps they became even closer.

lunakat

If Dart isn't hovering toward the gay end of elven omnisexuality, then Wendy Pini has fooled us all. There did seem to be some sort of set up for him in the prequel, didn't there? They whisked away Kimo, right after he had that little talk with Dart about his being unable to commit. That works if Dart is about to find himself a new flame/"steady glow"... or it could just have been Wendy's way of ending that pairing.

Why would she conclude the Dart/Kimo ever-so-friendly pairing if she didn't have plans for one of them?

On the other hand... we do have two new female characters. Chitter and Korafaye. Maybe the pairing will be two girls? Who knows?

MrsGrizzley

Chitter/Freetouch seems to be one of those who prefers what the lads have. Particularly if her conversation with her mother is any indication.

I'm very curious about how things will work out, but only time, and ElfMom, will tell.

lunakat

Maybe it's Korafaye then. Maybe Shen Shen? Maybe Freetouch doesn't discriminate. Maybe she just hasn't met the right girl yet.

MrsGrizzley

Ooooh... ShenShen!

"Shine where you love!"

TOTES SHENSHEN!!!

Leanan

I think it will be Pool and Sust. :P

RedheadEmber

Personally my votes are for... Shukopek and Khorbasi!

Yes, I know Shukopek talks about "talking a wife" in the Special, but that's just because he - at that time - still thinks that the way it has to be.

Tavie

Heather said: Part of me has wondered if we will see Maleen and Vurdah. We have already seen Maleen a few times in the background and with the sudden death of their long time lovemate, perhaps they became even closer.


I've always sort of assumed that they were a couple (and that that when Ruffel was around they were a... triple.) I mean romantically, emotionally, the whole shebang.

Tam

Tavie said: I've always sort of assumed that they were a couple (and that that when Ruffel was around they were a... triple.) I mean romantically, emotionally, the whole shebang.


Agreed. I don't know that I really want it to be them, though...the big official same-sex pairing. I mean, they can still be together without being in the spotlight. I feel similarly about Dart and Kimo. I would prefer that the couple who gets the spotlight is someone new, like Sust and Pool. ;) I mean, we've seen them before, of course, but like...they still have plenty of time left in the story.

I'm thinking super long-term here, and that's probably my downfall. *laughs* But Final Quest is supposed to be the end of Cutter and co.s story, yes? I want there to be more about who will remain in the story after FQ, so that the transition is a little easier. We're definitely getting more development for Ember's tribe...I'm just hoping that the same-sex couples don't all rocket into space at the end of FQ. XD

Tam

SweetLeetah31 said: While it defeats the purpose of cub bearing through recognition


*laughs* No it doesn't. Two elves who happen to be the same sex and a couple can still recognize someone else. Recognition doesn't discriminate. ;)

SweetLeetah31

@Tam, a tri-relationship yes i agree, but the same sex couple wouldn't procreate....which is fine. I didn't mean for my statement to spark so much,i was just speaking on the rules of recognition as a way to ensure that the pack has a next generation as it applies in EQ....my thoughts go to when leetah was concerned about recognizing cutter,one of her fears was the cubs she knew recognition would bring
I'm not saying that procreation is the main reason for recognition, just as in real life it's not essential to ppl falling in love...I was just pointing out that one factor

Tam

Yeah, a same-sex pairing wouldn't procreate, but the elves rarely procreate outside of Recognition anyway. Like you said, Recognition is around to make sure the pack has a next generation, and it'll do that just fine...because procreation IS the main (though not the only!) reason for Recognition. A same-sex Recognition, like Cutter and Skywise, doesn't defeat its purpose, but strengthens it, creating a larger network of support for parents and children, and strengthens the tribe as a whole by bringing elves together in more ways than one. :)

LaymanK

I was pleasantly pleased this past weekend at Denver Comic Con, where we (Cheeky Dingo Entertainment) were promoting the ElfQuest Adventure game.

I had placed the EQ game prototype right next to our HouseBoy Board game (http://cheekydingo.com/games/houseboy.html) which has a rather overt gay cover, of course. I did not notice one single parent the entire weekend attempt to shelter their children's gaze from falling on the HouseBoy games and mercy. Some even pointed it out to their families, including young children.

Clearly much of society has moved past any previous hangups about same sex imagery.

RichardPini

Tam said: I don't know that I really want it to be them, though...the big official same-sex pairing.


Whoa! Please don't take hints that Wendy and/or I make and blow them out of proportion. While everything we create as part of the story is 100% true and meaningful to us, we definitely do not intend that it be seen as coming with some "big official" stamp of approval. We like to avoid shining obvious spotlights. Readers are free to infer all they want, whatever they want, but we give Elfquest to you only as a portrait of our deeply held beliefs, never as any kind of gospel.

Tam

RichardPini said: Whoa! Please don't take hints that Wendy and/or I make and blow them out of proportion.


Uh...I wasn't? O.o Or that wasn't my intention...I was just saying that I'd rather see younger characters be the ones to fulfill the whole "we're finally going to see two characters create an obvious, romantic same-sex pairing" thing.

Perhaps to clarify further, what I meant by "big official" is simply that there's no questioning the bond. Dart and Kimo, for example...it's never stated clearly what their relationship is, not in any place I can remember. Many assume they're lovers, but they could be just really close friends...we dunno. I don't want another Dart and Kimo. I want to see a relationship between two members of the same sex that is unquestionably romantic. That's all I mean.

RichardPini

Tam said: Perhaps to clarify further, what I meant by "big official" is simply that there's no questioning the bond.


Thank you for making that clear. We see the word "official" and, from long experience, tend to take it to mean, well, what the dictionary says it means - coming from a source of authority, which is us. As for the rest, only time will tell. These threads are rife with speculation; people wish and hope - some of it strongly expressed - for many things.

Tam

Well, I did mean it in terms of coming from a source of authority, but I guess our sources are a little different. While you and Wendy are, of course, the ultimate authorities, I mean more like...from the characters involved. And the characters are, of course, an extension of your own authority.

There's tons of speculation, and y'all throw out so many red herrings. The banter and the wondering is fun, but I won't believe anything until it's official, and by that, I mean either directly from the story, or from an obviously marked announcement from either you or Wendy.

RedheadEmber

Personally I'd like it best of the big "official" same sex pairing is just there without really being payed that much attention to, just a natural part of life.

skyward

I'm still holding out for Dart and Kimo. Hey, it would at least explain why Kimo knew Dart's soul name in New Blood...

Tam

RedheadEmber said: just there without really being payed that much attention to, just a natural part of life.


Agreed. I don't expect the elves to start throwing pride parades or anything. XD Just want them treated like any other couple.

Thornbrake

LaymanK said: Clearly much of society has moved past any previous hangups about same sex imagery.


And that is a good thing!

RedheadEmber

Tam said: I don't expect the elves to start throwing pride parades or anything.


You could argue the elves have a pride parade every day. Celebrating love in all its diversities.

Tam

Too true, @RedheadEmber. :)

RichardPini

Tam said: ...I won't believe anything until it's official, and by that, I mean either directly from the story...


That's ultimately the best source, because it's where we've put the most thought.

Thornbrake

RedheadEmber said: You could argue the elves have a pride parade every day. Celebrating love in all its diversities.


That's a lovely way of putting it!

Trollbabe

FWIW, I saw this movie, and the secondary character simply mentions there is another reason why he never married. It's left to speculation, and isn't emphasized. I guess the Viking characters ride dragons and have multiple gods, but still don't make arrangements for same-sex unions.

RedheadEmber

Pssst... @Trollbabe. I'm pretty sure the How to Train Your Dragon example you're referring to is the reason this thread got started in the first place.

Trollbabe

Yes, articles about the movie says the character is gay. However, it isn't obvious in the movie. That makes me wonder if they are going to mention it in the next one. I admit I haven't read the books.

Heather

Trollbabe said: Yes, articles about the movie says the character is gay. However, it isn't obvious in the movie. That makes me wonder if they are going to mention it in the next one. I admit I haven't read the books.

The books and film are nothing like each other, so it's not in the books. The comment said in the film actually wasn't in the film script either. It was said as a joke by the actor (who is gay) and they decided to keep it in.

Trollbabe

That was a good idea. I didn't know how much animation voice actors could ad lib, until they did "Aladdin" with Robin Williams as the genie.

Thornbrake

Kudos to Dungeons and Dragons for being inclusive of players of all sexes, genders and orientations, and for encouraging all players to think about how these things are part of their fictional characters' stories.

Here's the full article on this, which I think is another great example of recognition in a fantasy product aimed at young people (teens and young adults).

lunakat

cool!

Trollbabe

The mention of a female bearded dwarf reminds me of one of the storylines in "Castle Waiting" (http://www.amazon.com/Castle-Waiting-Linda-Medley/dp/1560977477) It involved a convent inhabited by women who grew facial hair.

Presenting gay characters in kid-friendly entertainment is a good way to intitiate dialogues with pre-teens and tweens.

Kids may be too young for romance and dating, but they still have questions about how other families live, how other kids' parents are different, what certain words mean, and especially about name-calling and bullying. If the media and entertainment industry bring up a new topic in a comfortable atmosphere, they can also ask what their parents believe about it.

This allows parents to explain alternate lifestyles to their kids, as well as teach them about bullying - how not to be a bully, and how to stand up for someone who is being bullied. They can learn not to use cruel words for gay, bisexual or transgender people, and that people with conservative views are not "bigots" and "haters." (My late father had the wisdom to teach me that "hate" was a bad word.)

"Day of Dialogue" (dayofdialogue.com) encourages discussion among high school and college students, who can also reach out to their younger brothers and sisters if the subject of homosexuality comes up.

lunakat

Trollbabe said: Presenting gay characters in kid-friendly entertainment is a good way to intitiate dialogues with pre-teens and tweens.

That is a great point!

Arfurido

I'm still not over the 'break up' of Dart and Kimo. I was convinced they were in a loving relationship - I 'shipped it hard' (and still do) to put it that way. When it was pointed out (by Richard? I think?) that there isn't anything particular about Dart and Kimo that's more special than, say, between Strongbow and Redlance, I was just so thoroughly disappointed, to the point where I just threw my hands up and went 'that's it - I don't care anymore.'

I'm a het woman. I don't know why these two touched me so much. It might be a case of yaoi 'adorable' shipping - 'aawww look at the gays' - but I've thought a lot about this, and I do really think their relationship touched me, even for lacking the possibility for self-insert. Dart is a fantastic character, and Kimo just seems to complete him (and vice versa).

Okay I'll stop rambling. I'll just add that I salute pointing out the elves' omni/bi/anything sexuality*. There's enough het representation in the media already, and anything that supports non-het relationships in a loving way (AKA helping to reduce the whole 'being gay is all about sexuality and sexual organs) is fantastic. Bravo!

* I know this isn't anything new - W&R has pointed out several times how the elves are omni. But it never hurts emphasizing.

lunakat

Of course they were closer than Strongbow and Redlance. When was the last time we saw Strongbow and Redlance just hanging out together? Or even acting like close friends? Um... never?

Arfurido

Yeah... but just because we never saw it...

That's the impression I've had from this topic, anyway.

lunakat

I think there is a difference, even among the Wolfriders, between being friends because you are tribemates- and therefore like family... and being close like Cutter and Skywise...or like Tyleet and Dewshine... or even Leetah and Nightfall or Kimo and Dart. Elf relationships are clearly not all equal. That has been explicitly shown.

I think it's probably like having a group of friends. You are going to be closer to some people in that group than to others.

Arfurido

Oh I agree with you. Which is why the whole 'elves can't be gay because they are omni, and everybody has slept with everybody' made me frown. True, it aligns with other things about the elves that separates them from humans and human behaviour, like the fact that they are immortal. (I'm one of those who almost cried when Skywise had his wolf blood removed. Then having your wolf blood removed became a thing elves just do. Here we've been told the importance of death and pain and coming home and all of a sudden those things means nothing? <-- my immediate reaction. I do understand why Skywise did it, taking the events of KotBW into consideration.)

I do understands that elves != humans and that elves have an alien feature to them that is hard to grasp as a human being - it's just that I can't let go of the fact that this is a story told *to* humans, so human emotions are not negligible. What I loved about 'Wild Hunt' Mender is that he's one of very few elves to actually portray jealousy. Real, important, valid jealousy, and then he learns from it and manages to handle it.

idk, I guess I'm too much into stories with internal conflicts that feels real. Conflicts that mirror human life.

Kind of going off topic now. I think it was fairly obvious that Dart and Kimo have something very special going on, particularly since the Forevergreen - but even before that, when Dart was with Shu-Shen, Kimo was always by his side, gentle and supportive. I love how the soul-name thing was revealed completely randomly in the Forevergreen. To me that felt very natural - there was no big recognition thing for us to see, just that subtle confirmation that yes, Kimo does know Darts soul name, strongly suggesting there must have been a very private moment between them at some point. To me that made their relationship more tender than any 'recognition' moment would have (although I do cherish some of the moments of displayed recognition, Cutter and Leetah being the favourite, of course.)

When I saw the teasers of Dart and Kimo playing with Chitter as a baby, I was all OMG CANON but then it turned out to be something of the opposite, and well - shrug.

lunakat

I think you can love someone without having made a lifelong commitment to them. When I was younger, I had a close friend- my best friend- and I loved him more than anything. We were together in every way possible. Except for the commitment factor. Because we hadn't worked our lives out yet. He left- and he never came back. It was okay. It didn't mean we didn't love each other- just that we weren't ready to be married at that time. I sort of see Dart and Kimo the same way. They are essentially friends.

RedheadEmber

Arfurido said: Which is why the whole 'elves can't be gay because they are omni, and everybody has slept with everybody' made me frown.


I think the everybody has slept with everybody Things shouldn't be taken too literally. I don't think Yeyeen has slept with Cheider, just to make an example.

As for 'elves not being gay because they're omni'; I think that it's basically 'some prefer what the [opposite gender] have (the "straight ones"), some prefer what the [same gender] have (the "gay ones"), and some like both equally. However, the majority of the "gay" or "straight" ones wouldn't scoff at being with the 'other option', of course Recognition (as with Dart and Serrin) sometimes forces the matter.



Arfurido said: Then having your wolf blood removed became a thing elves just do. Here we've been told the importance of death and pain and coming home and all of a sudden those things means nothing? <-- my immediate reaction. I do understand why Skywise did it, taking the events of KotBW into consideration.)


Might just be me, but you sorta makes it seem like the Wolfriders have had their wolfblood removed villy-nilly. The only one who's even considered it is Moonshade.


Arfurido said: I think it was fairly obvious that Dart and Kimo have something very special going on, particularly since the Forevergreen - but even before that, when Dart was with Shu-Shen, Kimo was always by his side, gentle and supportive.


Great... now you're making me ship Dart-Shushen-Kimo.


lunakat said: I sort of see Dart and Kimo the same way. They are essentially friends.


Friends with benefits?
;)

Arfurido

RedheadEmber said: I think the everybody has slept with everybody Things shouldn't be taken too literally. I don't think Yeyeen has slept with Cheider, just to make an example.

...well, don't interpret it that literally. ;)

lunakat said: I think you can love someone without having made a lifelong commitment to them. When I was younger, I had a close friend- my best friend- and I loved him more than anything. We were together in every way possible. Except for the commitment factor. Because we hadn't worked our lives out yet. He left- and he never came back. It was okay. It didn't mean we didn't love each other- just that we weren't ready to be married at that time. I sort of see Dart and Kimo the same way. They are essentially friends.

Since it's not confirmed they're lifemates - aye, that's another interpretation, that friendship is all there is to it. (This probably being the canon interpretation.)

I guess what it all comes back to, and related to topic, is that I wished for representation. I thought they were representation. But then I learned that basically, elves can't be gay (because they are omni, even for having preferences), and in reference to what I wrote about elves vs humans - it made me realise you will never see (the very important) 'gay representation' in ElfQuest in a way that you (scarcely, sadly) see in other media.

Although I see great flaws in my interpretation of Dart and Kimo, and in both of them as gay. Dart recognized, and if he was 100% homosexual, recognition wouldn't be a very pleasant experience for him. I understand omni in the light of recognition, and reproduction, and how the elves are built. I understand Dart's role as bi-ish, having males as his preference rather than his exclusive - it makes sense. I just... I don't like it.

What it boils down to is: I can't really agree to 'omnisexuality' being proper representation for gay/bi/asexuals, even if it does literally mean 'everything is up for grabs'. It just doesn't do it for me. Personal preference. I do, however, salute anything that diverts from the heterosexual norm (because a 100% heterosexual society is not natural and pretty pointless to strive for) so hooray for that.

(Still just slightly butthurt about Dart and Kimo. X)

Tavie

Arfurido said: I guess what it all comes back to, and related to topic, is that I wished for representation. I thought they were representation. But then I learned that basically, elves can't be gay (because they are omni, even for having preferences), and in reference to what I wrote about elves vs humans - it made me realise you will never see (the very important) 'gay representation' in ElfQuest in a way that you (scarcely, sadly) see in other media.


Yeah, this is totally valid. It is something of a cop-out so that they don't have to specifically portray same-sex relationships. They're already not given visibility and heterosexual coupling is very much presented as the norm in Elfquest. Which is fine, it's their story to tell, they get to decide whether or not they want to write those types of relationships, but saying everyone is 'omni' and then not really showing anything but heterosexual couples for forty years... well, what is it that they always say? "Not to decide is itself a choice"?

I'm heterosexual, but I see how this would be disappointing if you've always 'read' a certain relationship, like Dart and Kimo, one way, and then that gets sort of casually brushed aside with the "all elves are omni" explanation. Yes, they're different species/cultures than we are, but it doesn't make our human readings any less disappointing because, well, fantasy and sci-fi, they're stories we tell to make sense of the world we actually live in. They're metaphors for real life.

lunakat

I actually wasn't saying that friendship is all there is too it. I was suggesting they are probably close friends who sleep together regularly. I was just trying not to say that explicitly because I don't know who is reading this. But basically- that's what I meant by "together in every possible way."

You need intimacy for friendship. You need lust for sex. For a long term relationship, you need commitment. If it's possible for human beings to have intimacy and lust without the commitment, it's possible for elves as well. I think you can have any combination of the three.

lunakat

You guys... all elves were always omni. That's nothing new. That's been a known thing since... well before this. At least since the 90's.

The general gist is that elves just have preferences- but aren't exclusively anything. LIke- Skywise said he prefers Tn'A. But Cutter clearly wants to have both a boy and a girl in his bed. (When he lost Leetah, he hooked up with both Nightfall and Redlance. Why? There were plenty of single females at that time. More than usual among the Wolfriders. Must be his preference.) Dart prefers boys. But when recognition calls- he hits that.

I actually think this is perfectly natural sounding- and it's probably the way we would all be if we didn't have a fear of violating cultural norms.

Arfurido

lunakat said: You guys... all elves were always omni. That's nothing new. That's been a known thing since... well before this. At least since the 90's.

Oh I know. I've known since around KotBW, when Cutter treed with Redlance and Nightfall. At first it didn't bother me - shrug, you know, they're elves, it's all fine and dandy - although it did puzzle me that even for being omni and the stories starting up with the threeways, why we'd so far mostly been seeing heterosexual lifemates, like Tavie said. It probably has a neat explanation, like there seems to be a neat explanation for everything (the Wolfriders had a reason for lifemating as boy-girl because of recognition, while in the Sun Village... etc) but when it came down to Dart/Kimo... it was like, 'here you have an opportunity to take a very masculine character who, if you look at his relationship history, obviously has a preference for males, and lifemate him to a male, but you don't'.
lunakat said: I was suggesting they are probably close friends who sleep together regularly.

Bah, what I meant by friends was 'not lifemated'. My bad.

Trollbabe

http://news.yahoo.com/archie-shot-saving-gay-friend-comic-book-174419810.html

Tam

Godspeed, Archie.

Sifra

Arfurido; I know what you mean. I always loved Dart and Kimo together too, in the Forevergreen story, and it took a while for me to get over the fact that they are not a couple.
It would be nice if there would be a gay couple in Elfquest.

Arfurido

I just wanted to add that I found this, and I want to say that my rant is pretty much just venting about Dart and Kimo XD I have the deepest respect for the Pinis and their work - everything that's problematic in and with what I wrote surely is 190% known to them.

I'll have some cheese with my whine now. :D

Rob

"consexual" -- a preference for anything capable of consent -- is the newfangled and rather puntastic term for this sort of thing. It's a powerful term, too, because it inherently incorporates the implicit freedom of all parties rather than merely labeling one of them.

Tam

Hahaha...I'd always thought that referred to sex at conventions. But I think I like the consent version better.

Trollbabe

Sorry I don't have much luck viewing videos on this computer. Will have to take my headphones and go to the library sometime.

Sifra mentioned couples. I wonder what constitutes a "couple" by Elf standards. in human society, the definition of "couple" can vary from place to place.

Tavie

Trollbabe said: Sifra mentioned couples. I wonder what constitutes a "couple" by Elf standards. in human society, the definition of "couple" can vary from place to place.


I think they have two terms for "couple" (as we generally understand the term to mean a romantic pairing of two partners) - "lifemate" and "lovemate". Right?

Trollbabe

To humans, "couple" can be a romantic pairing, or two people who are on a first date, or two people who leave a bar to spend the night together, or two people who just met and are dancing.

Elves have "lifemates" and "lovemates," but do they have a term for two Elves who decide to get together for one night, one week, ten years? When Cutter and Skywise left on the Quest, were they a couple?

Tam

I would call Cutter and Skywise "lifemates," but not necessarily a couple. For me, "couple" implies a romantic involvement, and I don't really see that with Cutter and Skywise. There's certainly an intimacy, a very strong closeness that comes naturally with an exchange of souls. I don't think we have a word that fully encompasses what they are...it's always "they're x, but kind of like y too..."

Which is fantastic. Not everything needs a strict label, and boundaries like that are very blurred in Elfquest. But Elfquest is definitely an advanced-level sexuality course. It introduces relationships in a very fluid sort of way; orientation doesn't really matter, and while elves sometimes have preferences in furmates, it's about as important as preferring deer to ravvit. I know SO many people who wonder why labels are important in the first place, and think we should just erase them all. But human society doesn't work that way. We like labels, we like putting people in boxes, to help us better understand our world.

I think that kid-friendly entertainment can teach about the many different shades of humanity in this fluid fashion if it's taught early enough. But once a kid is exposed to boxes and labels, it gets harder to break out of that...you have to be exposed to the label, then the people who fit in that, then later realize that not everyone who shares a label is the same kind of person...and it takes that process with many, many different kinds of labels to start seeing the world more fluidly again.

RichardPini

Tavie said: Yes, they're different species/cultures than we are, but it doesn't make our human readings any less disappointing because, well, fantasy and sci-fi, they're stories we tell to make sense of the world we actually live in. They're metaphors for real life.


In this instance, you're conflating "telling" and "reading" and that's not kosher. I can't speak to or for any other author, but with regard to Elfquest, it's a story we (that is, Wendy and I) tell to make sense of the world we actually live in. No one else is telling it. Anyone else who reads it - which is everyone else in the universe - will have a unique reaction because, as clichéd as it may sound, everyone is different. (Clichés get to be clichés because they're true.) Any reader's reaction of disappointment is simply that - one reaction. And everyone's will be different, even if only by a little. We cherish our readers, each and every one, but Ricky Nelson got it right in "Garden Party." We will continue to craft - perceived patches and all - what we started so it feels right and whole to us. Because, in the end, as we've been shown again and again over the years, any reader can, at any time, up and say "I've had it with what you're doing, I quit." And that's OK; it's a valid choice that anyone can make. Except us.

(Suddenly I am reminded of the powerful metaphorical ending of the film version of "Jesus Christ, Superstar." Yeah, this feels like that.)

Davrille

I can see why Warp avoids using the label 'gay' for their characters: it has a lot of (American, because, hey, W&R are American)cultural baggage attached to it. There's expectations of how someone who is gay behaves: look at the "Sassy Gay Friend" videos on Youtube, the book/movie trope of the gay yenta who helps the (usually female) main character with romance problems, and so on.

Gay men aren't supposed to have anything to do with women, either.(There's been some of that expressed in this thread.) Not just sexually; the stereotype of a gay man who is jealous of a woman/women because they're competition for straight men, and is disdainful of women in general, can still be found in various media.

And with Elfquest, that concept doesn't make any sense. The elves don't have the history of assuming that one sex is naturally inferior to the other. Jealousy over a romantic interest has been portrayed as a personal issue, not a compliment. (The origin of the Trial of Head, Hand and Heart described in Journey to Sorrow's End points to romantic jealousy as potentially a community-affecting problem as well.) Sending means an elf can know unequivocally if someone is interested in them or not. It can be a matter of **I'm sorry, I'm not interested in you( as a male/female partner)** and **I'm sorry, I'm not interested in you(as a person).** Recognition means that even if an elf has no interest in the opposite sex, they may wind up joining with someone who is, anyway.

I get the impression that many fans (from various places) who are disappointed over the lack of a "gay character/couple" in EQ want that "gold star" gay. (ie, no sexual interaction with a female, ever) character/relationship. The attitude that lesbian sex and characters "don't count" still exists in sf/fantasy fandom as a whole when it comes to representation. Which makes me wonder people would react if W&R came out (pardon the pun) and created a gold star female same-sex couple.

Sifra

Post removed.

Tam

I don't know who you're talking to @Davrille to get the impression that fans want gold-star gay couples, but I cannot STAND that whole concept, because it's bull, and I don't think anyone should be judged based on who they love. I've fought crazy hard against my own identity and not being "gay enough" because I'm not a gold-star...the idea is preposterous. And I think that life-long Elfquest fans feel the same way. Now, regular comic book fans? Sure, I could see that kind of attitude. There's definitely still a belief, in regular society and many fandoms, that lesbian sex "doesn't count." But I don't think Elfquest fans, at least the very devoted ones, are terribly representative of popular culture.

I personally don't care if they call a same-sex pairing "gay" in the comic. They shouldn't do that. Cuz elves aren't gay. But they're not straight either. They're omnisexual. I don't think anyone is really advocating for Sassy Gay Elf, or Fag Hag Elf. But if they're omnisexual, you'd think we'd see more same-sex pairings than there are.

Thornbrake

Tam said: I don't think anyone is really advocating for Sassy Gay Elf, or Fag Hag Elf.


LOL, no, not unless it was pure parody (which admittedly, would be hilarious).

RichardPini said: We will continue to craft - perceived patches and all - what we started so it feels right and whole to us.


As you absolutely should. What I love is that we have the opportunity to share our thoughts and perspectives on all of this with you. The very fact that you and Wendy have given us a way to express our reactions with you, and that you listen and sometimes respond directly, is pretty phenomenal. We trust you do with that what you will and to tell the story as you see fit.

Llannen

I am really trying to get one of my best friends to read Elfquest and this thread topic is the reason why. Her brother in law "prefers what the lads have" and she blew me away recently when she said, "How do I explain to my kids that BIL is gay?" I was floored because my kids already know that some girls love other girls, etc. and they are the same age as my friend's kids (7 and 5). We have taught them that's just the way it is and some "mean or evil" people in the world don't agree with that. I used the term omnisexual with her and talked about Elfquest for a bit, but trying to explain the level of acceptance, wholeness, goodness vs. evil....I couldn't do it justice. Regardless of what the Final Quest has in store for relationships....it's that "rightness" of them all.

Arfurido

@RichardPini
That was a good, satisfying and very just response.

Davrille said: Gay men aren't supposed to have anything to do with women, either.(There's been some of that expressed in this thread.) Not just sexually; the stereotype of a gay man who is jealous of a woman/women because they're competition for straight men, and is disdainful of women in general, can still be found in various media.

I have a gay male friend who has a ton of female friends, but still refers to the vagina as 'the hairy hatchet wound'. I know his disdain for women as 'competitors', but these, I think, are connected with his frustration for not being 100% accepted as a person in society. Finding out a guy is straight can kind of feel like 'why aren't you playing on my team, you're on the side of the Imperial Army of Preferance to the Evil Women *grumblegrumble* and I understand his frustration. Gay people are still seen as deviations, something strange, something sexualized, and they're the first to know: Gay people question all the time why they are gay, and they are often fighting a lonely battle, both internally and externally.

But as to stereotypical gays in media: Aye, I agree. Which is why we need to see more of them - to deconstruct those stereotypes and show the world that non-straight people are regular people, they just fall in love a bit differently than what we consider the 'norm'. But we can't do this without representation.

(We also need more stories where 'being gay' isn't a part of the story driven plot.)

Davrille said: I get the impression that many fans (from various places) who are disappointed over the lack of a "gay character/couple" in EQ want that "gold star" gay. (ie, no sexual interaction with a female, ever) character/relationship.

I agree with @Tam that this is a horrible term. This is the first time I've heard it, and it sounds terribly outdated. What we're asking for in games, movies, etc isn't "gold star gay", it's proper representation. Gay males don't fall in love with, or have sexual relations with women. They will not feel represented in a bi/omni character.

And there's a chance neither will see representation in the omnisexual elves, because if everybody is omni, then nobody is really deviating.

Tam said: I know SO many people who wonder why labels are important in the first place, and think we should just erase them all. But human society doesn't work that way. We like labels, we like putting people in boxes, to help us better understand our world.

Requesting 'label-removal' is another form of ignorance, in my opinion, because it's pretending a problem isn't a problem. When it's still very much a problem.

Tam said: I personally don't care if they call a same-sex pairing "gay" in the comic. They shouldn't do that. Cuz elves aren't gay.

Aye.
Tam said: But if they're omnisexual, you'd think we'd see more same-sex pairings than there are.

Dingdingding

This is the 'missing link' for me. It's been properly explained with recognition and how elven societies work depending on external elements. It makes me think of (but is not related to, seeing how RP explained it, also taking into consideration that ElfQuest originated in the 70's and needed to cater to a probably more conservative audience than the one we see today - that is a guess from my end though) the argument game developers tend to respond with on the topic of representation: 'We recognize the issues of minorities and LGBT, and those kind of stories exist in our universe, but those stories are not the ones we're going to tell for this game.'

I believe we're getting somewhere though, like with the BioWare games. But the industry is still terribly conservative. (And Hollywood is a joke.)

Tavie

@richardpini

In this instance, you're conflating "telling" and "reading" and that's not kosher. I can't speak to or for any other author, but with regard to Elfquest, it's a story we (that is, Wendy and I) tell to make sense of the world we actually live in.


I was speaking there of scifi/fantasy in general, not Elfquest in particular. And you're saying you're telling stories about YOUR world in Elfquest, about the world YOU actually live in. So what does it mean that your stories don't reflect same-sex couples? That you don't encounter any in your world? I don't believe that for a second. :)

Again, you are absolutely free to tell the stories that you WANT to tell, no one in this thread has challenged that for a second! But you choose to tell a a story that portrays only heterosexual pairings of a group of elves that enjoy combinations that include more than that. That sends a message, whether or not you want it to.

I don't read elfquest for its portrayal of "omnisexuality" because it doesn't show much of that. That's fine because there is PLENTY else in the story for me to enjoy. :)

RichardPini

Tavie said: That sends a message, whether or not you want it to.


No.

Long experience suggests you and I will never agree on this, and that's fine. I will state here for everyone my unwavering conviction about the creative process, communication, and personal choice: Just because you (any "you") receive a message from our work, doesn't mean I/we send that message. The claim that we do is fatally illogical on its face - all you need to demonstrate it are two readers who take away two different messages from the same content.

Do we allow that our words and pictures can be interpreted a multitude of ways? Absolutely. But (and this is directed to everyone, not just Tavie) we are not sending the message you are receiving. There may be many points of tangency between what we put in and what you take out, but even so your reaction - your analysis, your elation, or your disappointment - is all yours.

Or, put more simply, we do not imply. You infer.

Tavie

@richardpini

Long experience suggests you and I will never agree on this, and that's fine.


I agree to disagree! Also, it's gratifying to know the intention/lack thereof in this instance, from the nohump's mouth. 3:-O We can argue until we're numb- fingered about whether authorial intention should/does matter in art, but frankly, we've got better things to do! And I concede that you're the ultimate authority when it comes to your (plural) intention.

Now you concede that I'm good at arguing and we'll call it a draw! ;) =P~

RichardPini

Tavie said: Now you concede that I'm good at arguing and we'll call it a draw!


Of responses, there can be only one.

Tavie

=)) =)) =))

JRoseberry

I believe that there can and will be a gay relationship at some point, whether it's kimo and Dart or another pairing I am going to hold out for it. It does not have to be an in your face storyline, they could be background characters for all I care, as long as we have a pairing that makes sense. I won't hold my breath though...LOL

lunakat

@Richard- I studied literature in college for a while. One of the points we often talked about was the the issue of author's intent vs how a work is interpreted.

I think Walter Benjamin gave the best analysis of this. He described the author as a producer... who may or may not be aware that what he/she produces is a product of his/her own perspective, which is, in turn, a product of his/her position in society. This can't be escaped- only faced and acknowledged with a certain amount of honesty and integrity. Benjamin pointed out that middle class author is writing from a middle class perspective, even if he/she is writing about poverty or wealth. It's not a great leap to go from that understanding to acknowledging that any given author is writing from their own perspective on race, sexual orientation, culture and gender. It's not really possible to escape that. You can imagine outside of it- but you will never really know for sure what it feels like to be in a different situation than your own.

Benjamin also, in a separate essay, spoke about the gap between what the author produces and what the reader consumes. As soon as you create a work of art or literature- as soon as you release it into the world- it becomes it's own animal. And the reader, operating from their own pov, rewrites in the process of interpreting it.

I sort of agree with that. I think that having intentions and communicating what you intend are not always the same thing. I think that Elfquest is a great story for bucking gender norms. I have no idea why or how, since Tavie has a point and almost all of the romantic relationships in the comic have been male-female, but Elfquest opened my mind to the notion that same sex relationships were just as valid and good as opposite sex relationships. It caused me to have a different opinion than my family about this by the time I turned twelve.

I think that, when it was first published, Elfquest was a pretty revolutionary comic. You went against the grain in a lot of ways- from showing interracial relationships, to reversing gender stereotypes. But times change. And we are now in a different era. And I think Tavie has a point, in that, even though you say the elves are omnisexual and don't discriminate- that hasn't been shown. There is the vague impression of it, but nothing to demonstrate it in the storyline. You and Wendy started producing this in the 1970s, when same sex relationships were not something you could really put into a kid-friendly comic. At least not overtly. A lot of us younger folk don't realize that homosexuality was considered a mental illness until 1973- it was considered deviant. But the time when that sort of thing had to fly under the radar to avoid angering parents and other authority figures is well past. So it does makes sense, now, for Elfquest to start showing equivalent relationships in that regard.

Now, that said, I am going to go on the defense and point out that the elves are probably all messing around now and then with each other, if they are close at all- but that, thanks to recognition, the only elves who really form life-long bonds are going to be opposite sex couples... unless they pull another Cutter-Skywise.

lunakat

Dang... if anyone read all that- I'm impressed by your patience. I sure went on a tangent there! Hope it wasn't too didactic or boring.

Tavie

Great analysts,@lunakat-- articulate as always. And I think you're right that Elfquest has managed to put across, from the start, the feeling that all love is normal and good, and it definitely subverted gender stereotypes, and showed interracial relationships, and just altogether put forth the idea of inclusiveness and all kinds of family groupings. It's not that far a leap from that to "homosexual relationships are just as valid as heterosexual relationships". Even if it's not really been shown outright.

Nothing wrong with hoping that we'll "get there" some day with Elfquest too, right?

lunakat

I love Elfquest.

(I don't feel analytical anymore.)

Thanks Tavie- well said!

Thornbrake

This isn't an example of a "kid-friendly" show but thought it was germane to the discussion.

Remember way back during the Original Quest when people freaked out over sex in EQ but seemed totally ok with graphic violence and war? Well a very similar thing is now happening with the Walking Dead TV series. Great example of the shades of homophobia that are alive and well among fanboys and how we still have a long way to go.

That said, Buzzfeed nails the absurdity and hypocrisy of all those who freaked out over this week's episode. I think we EQ fans are a lot more advanced when it comes to this stuff but I'm fully anticipating that we'll have to deal with this when the same sex couple gets more of a spotlight in the Final Quest. And I say bring it on! We only grow when we are challenged by the visibility of new and different things.

Rob

On the other hand, it's another "public outrage" story sourced to random tweets. Was there any real outrage over WD's queer couple? Or just a few pseudonymous Twitter trolls with 150 followers.

lunakat

I have no idea why people get so badly worked up over homosexuality. There's nothing about it that's any different from being straight.

You know what also gets my goat? The whole "it's not a choice" business. I'm bi. I've been with men and women. I definitely have a choice. I could have chosen not to date the girl I was with for many years. I chose her. I chose to be, basically, a lesbian. I was going to choose to be with her for the rest of my life.. except she dumped me one day (awkward).

But yeah- for me, that was totally a choice. And guess what? There's nothing wrong with making that choice. It's a perfectly valid choice. This shouldn't have to be involuntary to be considered okay or acceptable. It shouldn't be presented as something you would never choose if you could help it. Because there's nothing bloody wrong with being gay or being in a gay relationship.

lunakat

Now, I've chosen my boyfriend. And guess what? I chose him over a really hot chick- because I love him. And let me say... this girl was hot. (Did I say she was hot? She was hot.) It's all the same thing. There's no difference. At some point, we won't need to justify being gay by saying "I just couldn't help it no matter how hard I tried!" We'll just say "yeah- I loved that person (or had the hots for that person) and chose to be with them (or just hit them up) because it was, quite frankly, a great decision to make."

Leanan

Luna, I have to say I don't completely agree with you here. You're bi and I'm bi (technically I'm pansexual but bi is what I usually call myself to avoid long explanations). We can choose to be with a male or female. But if I was gay, my choice would be from among the selection of females I was acquainted with. And if I was a gay male, from the selection of males, likewise.

Tam

I do think the "it's not a choice" thing can be problematic, but I will take it any day over, "but you just haven't been with the right person yet!"

I've tried to choose men. A couple times. I've had sex with them, I've been in relationships with them, I just don't LOVE them. Not at all on par with how the men I've gotten very serious with loved me. I mean, I guess I could have chosen them anyway, but it wouldn't have been fair to either of us. I'm a scientist, so I won't rule out the possibility that I may, one day, fall in love with a man in a way that will actually last. But that feels on par with the idea that the universe may not actually be logical and may operate on a set of laws deceptively similar to logic.

I can choose who I have sex with, certainly. I'll still have sex with men. Men can be fun that way. But I don't think I can choose who I have the capacity to love...I think it's hard-wired and ingrained and carved in my very soul that women are who I love.

lunakat

I think you are missing my point. I'm not saying everyone has a choice. My sister is straight and wouldn't be comfortable dating a woman, ever.

But some people do. And I'm just saying- there is nothing wrong with making that choice. The whole "we can't help it" argument just caters to the mainstream notion that it's wrong. But it's not wrong. It sort of pisses me off that we have to cater to that negative, prejudiced fallacy.

Leanan

lunakat said: The whole "we can't help it" argument just caters to the mainstream notion that it's wrong. But it's not wrong. It sort of pisses me off that we have to cater to that negative, prejudiced fallacy.


I don't see it so much as a 'we can't help it' argument than as a 'it's a natural part of who we are' argument...

Tam

I agree with you there.

edit: I meant lunakat, but I agree with you too, Leanan. We could probably benefit from a wording change in that regard.

Thornbrake

lunakat said: I think you are missing my point. I'm not saying everyone has a choice. My sister is straight and wouldn't be comfortable dating a woman, ever.

But some people do. And I'm just saying- there is nothing wrong with making that choice. The whole "we can't help it" argument just caters to the mainstream notion that it's wrong. But it's not wrong. It sort of pisses me off that we have to cater to that negative, prejudiced fallacy.


It pisses me off too. But the fact remains that the notion that it's purely choice to be non-heterosexual is the backbone of the argument for why such non-heterosexuals are "abominations" and to justify why we should be disenfranchised, ridiculed, bullied, denied the ability to life an authentic life, and in the worst case, actually beaten or killed. So we can't dismiss the importance of driving home the message that no, you can't just choose your sexuality willy-nilly.

But of course, like most things (maybe even more-so) human sexuality is very, very gray and is a fluid thing. In reality we all fall somewhere on a spectrum and in light of that there is some choice involved. And I fully agree that there's nothing wrong choosing a consenting sexual relationship with another consenting adult -- of any sex or gender.

But we're nowhere near close to making that argument with the masses at large. Baby steps.

Thornbrake

Rob said: On the other hand, it's another "public outrage" story sourced to random tweets. Was there any real outrage over WD's queer couple? Or just a few pseudonymous Twitter trolls with 150 followers.


Good point. I did see this covered on several blogs and websites today, not just Buzzfeed, which would indicate that there's a larger thing going on.

Rob

The headlines definitely claim a larger thing, but there doesn't seem to be.

All I can find is the same formula: "outrage" and "controversy" sourced to random twitter accounts with few followers, found by searching twitter for keywords.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/24/walking-dead-gay-kiss-fans_n_6746762.html

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2015/02/23/walking-deads-gay-kiss-ignites-controversy-online/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lanesainty/cannibalism-a-ok-but-gay-kiss-too-much-for-walking-dead-fans#.soy7V446Q

http://uproxx.com/tv/2015/02/last-nights-the-walking-dead-aired-a-gay-kiss-that-set-the-internet-on-fire/

http://www.thebacklot.com/jerks-on-twitter-are-upset-about-the-walking-dead-gay-kiss/02/2015/

http://heavy.com/social/2015/02/walking-dead-gay-kiss-aaron-eric-youtube-video/

http://www.sheknows.com/entertainment/articles/1076391/twitter-spews-hate-over-the-gay-kiss-on-the-walking-dead

http://www.refinery29.com/2015/02/82741/girls-abortion-walking-dead-gay-kiss

http://www.masslive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/02/gay_kiss_on_the_walking_dead_d.html

http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2015/02/walking-dead-gay-kiss

This one doesn't even bother embedding the tweets -- it just links to the search results!

http://www.cleveland.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/02/the_walking_dead_introduces_a.html

Sometimes there is at least a b-list celeb or media figure to hang the story on, using tweetrage as filler. But controversy here is the missing ingredient in the controversy. QED.

The Daily Beast and EW have article about the gay characters, but they're standard PR puff pieces. There are no negative comments.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/22/the-walking-dead-s-big-gay-love-story-ross-marquand-on-aaron-s-coming-out-party.html

http://www.ew.com/article/2015/02/22/walking-dead-star-ross-marquand-aaron

http://www.out.com/popnography/2015/2/23/walking-dead-first-gay-kiss

Uproxx claims it is a momentous event -- http://uproxx.com/tv/2015/02/the-brilliant-irony-to-the-gay-kiss-in-last-nights-the-walking-dead-that-you-might-have-missed/ -- but has no commentary from anyone who thinks it is momentous. Commenter oneupmanship seems to revolve around saying it's no big deal.

Which poses a question: why are we (and the media) so eager to find controversy in queer things in the media? "Controversy" is a story about debate, about a society whose opposing forces respect one another and share common ground. But we're really at the point where all that social cohesion is a thing of the past. There are instead two sides fighting to the death, forced to use shared communication technologies (twitter!) that permit any fraction of any conversation to be posed as representative of an imaginary whole.

The media likes controversy stories because they star The Media as referee!

Some queer people maybe like controversy stories because they suggest that conservatives are still participating in the debate, rather than stockpiling guns and bibles and credit card debt.


sulken

I stopped watching the Walking Dead show in the middle of the last season, however, there are several gay people in the comics (isn't the creator, Kirkman, gay?), one is actually called Jesus^^

hm, sometimes there are those very, very straight people, who get foam all over their muzzles when they see "their" manly shows "invaded by gay agendas" (happened with game of thrones, too)

lunakat

Rob said: Which poses a question: why are we (and the media) so eager to find controversy in queer things in the media? "Controversy" is a story about debate, about a society whose opposing forces respect one another and share common ground. But we're really at the point where all that social cohesion is a thing of the past. There are instead two sides fighting to the death, forced to use shared communication technologies (twitter!) that permit any fraction of any conversation to be posed as representative of an imaginary whole.

Good point here! And good question.

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