Tag Archives: queer

Who Did It Better? Coming Out with J.K. Rowling and Overwatch Lead Writer Michael Chu

It’s the Year of Our Lord 2019 and storytelling is still important. In some cases the stories are the same, like the age-old tale of good triumphing over evil, but they’re being delivered in increasingly more novel ways. Comics are drawn and fan fiction is written and YouTube sketches are filmed, and sometimes the collaborators aren’t even in the same city, let alone country. In other cases the stories, while nothing new, are finally being given the opportunity to be told. The idea of finding yourself isn’t an original one, but the narrative of coming out as gay or lesbian or transgender or any other identity has only recently found a foothold in popular media.

rowlingchuStorytelling and identity are crucial building blocks to our culture, and both are heavily intertwined (as are all things, these days) with the internet (it would be remiss of me not to mention that I chose to do so in a podcast I co-hosted). This is certainly as true for a multi-award-winning online first-person shooter as it is for a series of books that wrapped up a dozen years ago. The Overwatch and Harry Potter universes are like ours in that they are populated by a myriad of different characters, some straight and some LGBT+, but I want to delve into how the similarities, and ultimately the differences, of their respective coming out stories (in both cases the term “coming out” feels accurate, as none of the characters discussed were initially introduced as being anything other than straight).

“Yer a Gay Man, Dumbledore”

Before touching on her approach to revealing one of her characters’ sexual orientations, it’s worth making note of how the billionaire author has reentered our collective conversation. Two years ago a BuzzFeed writer was one of the first to report on a shocking revelation found on Pottermore, a site Rowling created for her legion of fans to learn more about the Wizarding World. Most people online will have come across this by now, but the page in question was about the Chamber of Secrets, and explained that wizards once vanished their excrement in lieu of using toilets. It resulted in one of my favourite Tumblr posts:

brooke

The user has since deleted their blog, so no direct link, sorry!

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Coming Out, Moving Forward

When I was last dating a man, I talked long and loud about my queerness. I objectified female celebrities with the gusto of a barely post-pubescent male; I loudly debated the finer plot points of such luminous queer media as MTV’s Faking It; I was here and I was queer and I was proud, and god forbid anyone think I was straight, just because I was dating a man. I was all too familiar with that sort of misconception, but in reverse: when I had dated a woman for the first time, in my last year of high school, we had done that most high school of things and changed our relationship status on Facebook. This led a group of people – people who had known me over the course of multiple years and witnessed many ridiculously dramatic and public instances of romantic interest in men – asking me over and over again if I was a “lesbian, now”.

Being tacitly bisexual is a constant parade of those sorts of questions (as is being openly bisexual, unfortunately, but to a lesser extent). My unwillingness to announce my sexuality to everyone I met meant that when I was dating a woman, people assumed I was a lesbian, and when I was dating a man, people assumed I was straight.

And I was tired of it. I was tired of desperately trying to flip my self-presentation every time I was in a relationship, tired of worrying if I was queer enough, not to mention whether I seemed queer enough. Those worries became even more present when I became the co-editor in chief of my college’s only LGBTQ+ campus publication. How could I position myself as a leader in the queer community when I was in an ostensibly heterosexual relationship? Would anyone take me seriously as a queer advocate and writer if I happened to be dating a man come publishing time? Continue reading