Guest Blogger: The Importance of Representation in Media

Good morning followers!

We enjoy reblogging as much as the next guy, but there’s something extra fun about collaborating with people we like and having them write a blog post for us to feature. To kick things off, my good friend Erin agreed to let us feature her story about how positive representation in media changed her life. Enjoy!

– three

“My sexuality is not the most interesting thing about me” – Cosima Niehaus, Orphan Black

It isn’t, not by a long shot. It is, however, one of the parts of my identity that I have been navigating through a lot recently. One of the biggest influences of this journey has been the basic portray of sexualities other than straight in books, television, and movies.

Up until a year ago I struggled with coming up with a synonym to describe my heterosexuality and the fact that, while I had always been attracted to men, whenever one started to show a bit of interest, I panicked and shut down all forms of communication.

I remember telling Three one exam season, when we were both procrastinating at completing those super fun accounting practice exams, that I thought I had finally nailed it down. I was demi-heterosexual. I felt like I had to build up a strong emotional connection with someone before I felt I could be attracted to and want to date them. It fit, I felt content with it and I ran with it. I will add that another part of my identity includes severe social anxiety (an illness I am now after many years of suffering being treated for) which makes building strong relationships with new people extremely difficult. I accepted the fact that I would probably be single forever.

Fast forward to the summer of 2015. My sister recommended the book Black Iris by Elliot Wake (written under the name Leah Raeder) which is about a mentally ill, but also bisexual girl named Laney. It features the scene that kicked off my serious questioning phase where Laney was involved in a threesome with her two best friends Blythe and Armin. The entire time I read that scene I could not shake the fact that I was way more interested in the interaction between L and B and that I would be happy if A was not there at all.

Weeks later while attending the wedding of a friend’s aunt, I drunkenly voiced those questioning thoughts to that friend’s sister. Could I be straight and also think that some girls were pretty? Was the fact that I related so much to this character proof that I might also be bisexual?

Those questions went unanswered until I started watching Orange is the New Black (I know I was super behind on Netflix) in September. Episode 9, Fucksgiving, was my Gay AwakeningTM. I felt so much pain for Piper when she was brutally thrown in the SHU after dancing slightly provocatively with Alex. The entire episode I was rooting for her to not stash those feelings away. My reward was witnessing Piper walk confidently down the hallway to the song Walking Backwards by Leagues (which I immediately downloaded after) and started making out with Alex in the chapel. There was no going back after that realization.

For the next week I felt nothing but euphoria. I went to work like normal, sat down beside my Trump supporting, now quit-before-he-got-fired seat mate, and went about my day. To everyone around me I looked as I always had, but I felt like a weight had been lifted inside of me, I could finally breathe easier. I felt like I was so much closer to understanding who I was.

Three was the first person I came out to, and it was the next day. I came out as bisexual and while I cannot remember her exact words, she was super supportive and said everything right (not the typical responses you normally hear). I waited a week before telling anyone else to make sure that I was still comfortable with the label.

I identified as bisexual for the rest of that year. After a little soul searching, I thought that pansexual fit better and switched over to that. It still did not feel like I was finished navigating through all of the feelings I was having. So I started to consume wlw (women who love women) media like there was no tomorrow.

My collection of fem slash books grew astronomically, I joined fandoms for television shows on tumblr, and for the first time in a long time, I felt a strong connection with a large group of people I shared similar interests with. It was during this stage of my so called coming-out that I stuck on a new label, homo-romantic. While I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was attracted to men, trans people, and those who didn’t identify themselves with the gender binary, I only felt romantic attraction, I.E. to date women or people who identified more feminine.

Since then I have felt a lot of heartbreak over the treatment of queer women characters in television (a blogpost on its own), felt so much love from the online community of wlw, and have been inspired to write my own fem slash books. It has been such an emotionally hard, but rewarding journey. I’ve met some pretty great (and some not so great) queer women using the dating app Her, and feel very excited about starting my dating life.

While there were many real life moment where I could have explored my sexuality, having a gay best friend for grade 11 and 12, having an out bisexual girl hit on me in chemistry class, or even living with a pansexual girl and a trans guy for two years in university, I never felt safe in the so called real world doing so. Media representation allowed me to imagine myself in different scenarios. It gave me the safe place I needed as a sufferer of anxiety to explore within myself. I cannot thank those who included queer characters in their stories enough. And I hope to help create even more media for all of the queer girls who deserve to see proper representation in mainstream media so they can explore their sexuality as well.

About the Author:

Hats I wear: INFJ, vegetarian, feminist, pansexual/homoromantic, Slytherpuff, animal lover, nerdfighter, reader, writer, clexa lexark trash, proud fangirl … the list goes on and is constantly evolving

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