Hope all of you in the U.S. who do Thanksgiving things had a great time doing it. I’m on the road again and things got crazy this week and I haven’t had a chance to do much fangirling, so today’s Fangirl Friday is a little different in that I’m not specifically fangirling over anything in particular, but rather fangirling itself.
Those who know me personally figured out years ago that I geek out over a lot of different things, and some of those include movies, TV shows, comics, spec fic things, music, and books. As you can see from my Fangirl Fridays here at Women and Words, you’ve gotten a taste of what makes my little geek wheels turn.
I tended not to let my fangirl flag fly too much in years past because it was sort of an independent kind of thing, but then I found like-minded people on social media and realized that I just really enjoy geek-speaking with others. So I got back into comic booking when DC Comics launched lesbian-identified Batwoman. At that point, I decided I’d check around various comic universes to see what was happening with LGBTQ rep, POC rep, and women’s rep in general.
And I will totally fangirl over lesbian Batwoman in a different Fangirl Friday, but right now, suffice it to say that getting back into comics got me super-interested in queer/POC/women’s rep in pop culture and geekdom. So I started paying a lot more attention, and found a whole lot of people out there in various fandoms engaging on all kinds of levels.
And there is a whole lot of awesome going on in pop culture. Here’s a list of a just a few of them so you get a sense of why I think that fandoms just might be an answer to all that ails us. NOTE: This list is in no particular order. It’s just things I think are cool.
ONE: DC’s Batgirl introduces the first openly transgender character in mainstream comics, Alysia Yeoh, who was Barbara Gordon’s (Batgirl’s) roommate (Issue #19, 2013). This was when the amazing Gail Simone was writing Batgirl, and she is a great ally to LGBTQ people.
TWO: Marvel Comics had a great (but miniscule) run of Fearless Defenders in 2013, in which archaeologist Dr. Annabelle Riggs let her lesbian flag fly amidst a team of all-women and diverse group of superheroines. The comic was short-lived, unfortunately, but I strongly recommend you give it a look.
THREE: Marvel introduces Kamala Khan as a new Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani American Muslim super-smart teen with all the angst and geekness of teenhood in general, who also has to find a way to balance her culture and family with living as a superhero. I’ve been following this one since its launch in early 2014 and it’s a treat.
FOUR: The CW drops The 100 on us in 2014 and the post-apocalyptic show creates an iconic strong woman character in Lexa, the commander of the Grounder clans. It also launches one of the most iconic ships in fandom, Clarke Griffin and Lexa (Clexa). After Lexa’s death in season 3 (this is not a spoiler, friends — you can find it discussed virtually EVERYWHERE because of how badly it was handled and the queer-baiting that went with it), fandom organized and raised over $100K for the Trevor Project, an organization that helps suicidal LGBTQ young people. In the wake of the character’s death, discussions about queer rep in pop culture — especially queer women’s rep — has become more of a thing, and in March of 2017, the first con that deals exclusively with that, ClexaCon, will be held in Las Vegas.
FIVE: Feminist writer Roxane Gay and poet Yona Harvey are tapped to write a Marvel comic series based in Wakanda, the world of Black Panther (written by Ta-Nehisi Coates). That launched this month (November). Gay and Harvey are writing the story of Ayo and Aneka, two members of Black Panther’s all-female security team who fall in love.
SIX: SyFy launches the TV show Wynonna Earp in April, 2016 and it proves a balm for many a Clexa fan who continue to reel in the wake of what happened in The 100. WE, adapted for TV from the comics by writer and showrunner Emily Andras (of Lost Girl writing and showrunning fame), is a plethora of human, strong women, and another iconic ship between Wynonna’s younger sister Waverly and local cop Nicole Haught. The WayHaught ship is sailing just fine, thank you very much, and the fandom for this show is quite possibly one of the most engaged I’ve seen in years. More power to you, people!
SEVEN: DC is trying again with another launch of Wonder Woman, a penultimate superhero with resilience and historical staying power. The latest incarnation dropped in summer, 2016 and writer Greg Rucka made a stir when he said that Wonder Woman is canonically queer (in this case, bisexual). It’s, like, DUH. She’s from an island populated exclusively by women. Hello. But do keep in mind that in that society, there’s no construction for “queer” because being with people of the same sex just “is.” It’s normal. Hard to wrap your brain around that, right? lol
EIGHT: Another SyFy show that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy is the swashbuckling and ass-kicking Killjoys, with lead character Dutch, possibly one of the most underrated strong women in TV. I don’t hear enough about her, but she’s one of my all-time fave characters, and brings a woman of color front and center. She’s complex and well-written, and I would freaking space pirate in a hot minute to get on her crew. There’s also queer rep, from Dutch’s delicious hate-flirting with a woman villain, and Pree, a queer bar owner.
NINE: The slow burn (?) of a possible relationship between female characters on the CW’s Supergirl, which is currently in its second season. From the DC universe detective Maggie Sawyer (who was Kate Kane’s [Batwoman] GF in DC’s most recent Batwoman run) was introduced this season, and there appears to be some sparkage between her and Alex Danvers, Supergirl’s adoptive Earthling sister. It’s slow to start, as Alex is just coming out and Maggie’s just getting out of a relationship, but there could be some potential here for another great fandom ship. Stay tuned on this one, friends. We shall see. And, as an aside, I do wonder if the show’s moving from CBS to the CW may have helped create this opportunity for some queer rep. The CW sometimes pisses me off, but it’s got some great hero rep, and it’s also bringing some queer rep, what happened to Lexa notwithstanding.
TEN: Marvel Comics’ bilingual and Latina Ms. America (America Chavez). The story in the comic wiki goes that she was raised in a parallel universe by her mothers (DID YOU CATCH THAT PLURAL?) but ended up in a different universe where she adopted the name Miss America and joined the Teen Brigade. Eventually, she became Ms. America and is currently teamed with the Ultimates. Moar queer rep, friends. Ms. America identifies as lesbian. In Young Avengers #12, she says she’s a flying, dimension-hopping, virtually indestructible lesbian.
So there you go. This is only a barely-scratch-the-surface of some of the cool-ass things that have been going on in geekdom and fandoms, and I’ve come to realize that my descent (ascent?) into fangirling especially over the past couple of years isn’t necessarily an “escape” from the real world (which is kind of sucking everywhere right now), but a quest to find my peeps — those who appreciate all kinds of people engaging in all kinds of fandoms and putting diversity into pop culture. There’s a social revolution going on in fandoms, and traditionally, fandoms have incubated that and encouraged it. Through fandoms, I’ve been introduced to whole new worlds and perspectives, and I’m consistently humbled by the amazing people I meet therein.
So I fangirl to help open my mind to possibilities, to expand my imagination and apply it to my writing, to develop and strengthen communities, and dammit, to boldly go where I haven’t. I love the diversity, I love the debate, I love what fandoms can do and what I hope they continue to do: push envelopes, welcome all kinds of people, and help push that diversity into every manifestation of pop culture. Especially now, friends. I think it’s needed now more than ever.
Thanks for joining me on my ruminations and please do feel free to leave your lists of what makes you fangirl/fanboy/fanboi in the comments. I love finding new fandoms!