(I originally tried to say all this without spoilers, and I give up. Spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery.)
So, last night, the husband and I were watching a television show we’ve really been enjoying. A significant part of really enjoying this show for us? A out, open queer couple who obviously love each other, even when they bicker (and their bickering was fun), and who have some communication issues, and who are quite different from each other and even—fantastic!—not a pair of white guys.
Now, jokingly (but in that tired, worried way) I recall saying, “Which one do you think is going to die?” when they were introduced, but I’d dismissed being fully serious because, after all, we’d been told this was going to be awesome representation, it’s a franchise I love, and it was finally, finally giving us some queer love.
There was even incidental, albeit nameless/blink-and-you’ll-miss-it queerness: two women dancing together at a party. Rock on, ladies. It’s probably best if you never get names or lines.
Because last night, while we watched, it happened. And the thing is? We just turned to each other and sighed. I think I said, “Well, there it is.” Or maybe my husband did. It wasn’t shocking, it was exhausting. Because in some way, we were both braced for it from the beginning, just in case.
Now, the PR and actors and show runners and even organizations are chiming in to say, “No, wait, don’t get mad! It’s going to turn out not to be as bad as you’re thinking, and we’d never do that silly Bury Your Gays trope, this is a subversion! This was always the plan!” and so on.
And I honestly just don’t care. You made me watch one queer man die, needlessly and pointlessly, in front of the other queer man (who, bonus points, was already suffering and unable to help, and so can only watch it happen).
Do the queer characters have to be immortal and immune to danger and never suffer in any way? Of course not. But you know what? If you’ve only got two queer characters who have names and speak lines and who are given a relationship and you decide to kill one off? It’s Bury Your Gays. You might do something amazing later on. Really. But in that moment, right then and there? I can decide to eject. And that’s fair. Because watching one of the only two queer characters die needlessly?
I’ve been there and done that so often it could have been my subplot on “Cause and Effect.” Forget Beverley’s glass. I’d be the ensign in the science department going, “Welp, one of the queer guys died again. I can’t tell if we’re in a time loop or if it’s just another Bury Your Guys, though, because déjà vu doesn’t begin to cover it.”
And that’s the rub of it. I didn’t want to watch the surviving partner suffer and be oh-so-motivated-by-the-loss. Again. I wanted, just this freaking once, to finally have a show where the queer people fought the bad together. Where they protected each other when things were dire or they were in pain or injured or what-have-you. Where moral dilemmas didn’t mean one queer had to heroically sacrifice himself, or one queer was left behind, or… Well, basically, I just wanted the queer characters to survive the first whole damn season.
Now, it’s science fiction, and the actor is on record saying we’ve not seen the last of the character, and given the show is currently in an alternate universe populated by their doppelgängers, there’s a chance of doppelgängers, and again, I just don’t care.
The last time this franchise did the doppelgänger thing? It did a two-episode run that in many ways set up this show’s visit. It was separate from the main storyline, never referenced within it, and most of the main cast died. Because doppelgängers. These aren’t our beloved characters, they’re an alternate version of them. The franchise show prior to that that went to this alternate universe was incredibly brutal to the doppelgängers. Most of the main cast’s doppelgängers died, and some characters who had died in the prime universe who hadn’t in the alternate one ended up also being killed off, too. So we could watch them die a second time. Oh, and extra points? Some of the alternate universe—and, by the way, evil—doppelgängers were made to be queer, unlike the characters we got to see each week.
So, if it turns out the “solution” to this not being a trope is somehow the doppelgänger of this character will end up in a relationship with the surviving queer guy from the main plot, I’m not going to throw a parade, and I don’t think that undoes the trope at all, like they’re claiming the plot will do. That queer guy’s love is still dead—he’s still gone. Frankly, if they’re being honest that this character and love story isn’t done, I’m guessing time-travel will come into play, and maybe the whole event will be undone.
I suppose that’s the best that I can hope for, if I keep watching.
Anyway. If you don’t want to have a chorus of “Bury the Gays!” complaints, there’s a super easy way to avoid this pitfall. Have more than two queer characters. At least then it’s not “Oh look, there are queer people. And now they shall suffer a death. Yep. There it is.”
Or, y’know, stop treating “and then one dies” as the only damn plot line you could possibly come up with to tell the story. If the narrative is predicated on the death of a queer person, maybe it’s time to stop and consider how the rest of the queer characters in your tale are handled. If there’s only one other, and they’ve just lost the love of their life because—surprise!—the only two queer characters with names and lines are in a relationship with each other?
Well. That’s a choice. And you sure did make it.
Whoops. That turned into a bit of a long slog. Sorry. Writing Wednesdays is supposed to be my weekly check-in on how things are going writing wise with various projects. So I’ll be brief.
It’s going well. I need to polish and put together the actual pitch, but I’m beating my writing goal each day, or—in the case of one day—I let a headache run its course and have redistributed that goal to other days. I was already ahead of goal, but still. I’m looking forward to introducing new characters and revisiting old ones. The plot is gelling, but the synopsis is fighting me as I try to write it.
I doubled my word count goal for this today, so it goes well. I’ve never written a “Fake relationship” story before, and we’ll see how it goes, but so far, this novella has been fun to work on.
Saving the Date
Last year, Angela S. Stone and I submitted an alternate-view novella for the 1Night Stand series, and we just got our edits back. It’s always a little bit of work to get back into the heads of the characters when it’s been a while, but I like Morgan, and it’ll happen.
I’m going back to my usual goal of submitting something short once a month for the year, and also trying to remember reprints are a thing. I haven’t submitted anything just yet, but January isn’t over.
Open Calls for Submission
I also try to list off calls for submission I find (and find tempting) every week on Writing Wednesdays, so without further ado:
- Chicken Soup for the Soul—Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
- Mischief Corner Books—Open to submissions for various themes, including Legendary Love, Everyday Heroes, Cowboys and Space; these are open rolling calls, so no deadline.
- NineStar Press—Open to submissions for various length prose, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy and horror; Click “Currently Seeking” header for details; word count limit variable.
- Spectrum Lit—This is an ongoing Patreon flash fic provider, 1,500 hard word count limit; LGBTQ+ #ownvoice only; ongoing call.
- A World Unimagined— Left Hand Publishers; 4,000 to 9,000 word count limit. Speculative fiction, deadline: January 21st, 2018.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to F*** Them—Circlet Press; Erotic short stories with magical beasts and shapeshifter tropes; 3,000 to 7,000 word count limit; deadline February 1st, 2018.
- Lost—NineStar Press. LGBTQIA+ romantic pairing. Both HEA and HFN are acceptable, Click “Lost” header for the theme. 30k to 120k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.
- Happiness in Numbers—Less than Three Press; Polyamorous LGBTQIA+ anthology, non-erotic polyamorous stories that explore the idea of “Family”; 10k to 20k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.
- MLR Press—Quite a few different themes are open; 10k to 40k word count limit; deadlines vary, but the earliest right now is April 30th, 2018.
- Artefacts and Alchemy—Edge Books; Tesseracts 22 is doing a historical magical realism theme; 5k word count limit; deadline May 15th, 2018.