October 10, 2015

Korra, Captain Jack, and DA:I - QUILTBAG in Geekdom


Geek Girl Con, 12:56 PM
Status: Need Lunch. Badly.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the line for “QUILTBAG in Geekdom: Queer Representation in the Media” stretch all the way down the hall by the room, curl around it, and nearly wind back to where I was sitting (first in line, by the way). Seeing so many people interested in QUILTBAG (otherwise known as LGBTQ) was a very welcomed sight, even at a convention filled with alternative, accepting people. Room 302 was a larger panel area complete with a massive screen and well-lit stand for the panelists. I took a seat in the sixth row back, got my notebook out, and awaited the excitement.


The panelists were varied and very fascinating. Korra Q. from the Seattle Gay Scene, the soon-to-be-published author Tony Martel, and local psychotherapist Stacy Weber sat while Megan Spurr, writer for Dorkadia, stood tall at the main podium with a laptop and some snazzy dyed hair. (Seriously, it was soooo fab!) What sparked my attention in particular was that Martel referenced his writing multiple times throughout the panel, and that his main character's struggles reflected some of his in a world where QUILTBAG perspective and representation always changed and has always been double-sided.

“Self esteem is a social collaboration,” Weber began, referencing the works of professors and thinkers. Applied to the QUILTBAG scene, it means that acceptance and integration into society, media, and more means that people have to have support in their standpoints if they are to be accepted, and that becoming confident in oneself and comfortable in one's own skin may be highly dependent on knowing that one stands well socially in the ways that they want.

“It's important to establish safe spaces and [reinforce] that self esteem,” Weber continued. It was mentioned very early on that Geek Girl Con and the panel were safe spaces for everyone, and the audience seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. It occurred to me at that point that, since I spend much time on the internet's reaches of acceptance and positivity, that places even close to home – Seattle, where QUILTBAG pride is celebrated and appreciated – contained within themselves places where some people would feel uncomfortable or unsafe.


One of the major issues discussed during the panel was the topic of bisexuality, and even more importantly, a rather new concept called “bi-invisiblity”, an idea pointing out that bisexuality even in progressive media was often lacking in either substance, correctness, or even existence. While in some progressive shows bisexuality is handled and introduced, the characters are portrayed as hypersexual or even mentally inept, which is a major misrepresentation of what bisexual individuals really represent. Luckily, there are also many shows which correctly display bisexual characters, like “Legend of Korra” (Can we hear a 'Korrasami HYPE!'?) or “Lost Girl”*.

*even though the main character in “Lost Girl” is a succubus, she displays very committed relationships and has thus achieved a correct representation of bisexuality.

Tony Martel noted within this portion that while bisexuality in women is very well-represented, the bi-invisibility applies heavily to men. Captain Jack Harkness of Doctor Who then TORCHWOOD was a fantastic representation of male sexuality differentiation and representation, fans buzzing that Russell T. Davies, the creator of TORCHWOOD, had exactly intended for QUILTBAG male existence to be destigmatized through the show. However, my references to QUILTBAG men end there, and Martel proved a very strong point.

As well under the umbrella of underrepresentation included intersex and asexual characters. While the panelists referred to a single comic series featuring the sweet and touching trials of a relationship between an asexual and a highly-sexual bisexual, there are few other implementations of asexuals in popular media, and no references found to intersex individuals.


Video games as well are more recently incorporating QUILTBAG representation. Of note in the panel thanks to Spurr was the openness of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Besides including options to flirt and interact romantically with any gender of the player's choosing with no regard to their own character's gender, it was highlighted how well Bioware represented transgender characters, of note one with who players could have a very intimate, sensitive discussion with about gender identity. In this, Bioware (and later noted, the minds behind Star Wars: The Old Republic) provided a safe space for all sorts of players, leaving plenty of options open and keeping the game accessible and progressive.


 On the topic of creating safe spaces, the panelists mentioned finally that it was important to create safe spaces for QUILTBAG individuals. Though they specifically focused on the Seattle area, it's vital that there are worldwide safe spaces for people to express themselves fearlessly and be met with absolute acceptance. If you're in the Seattle area, here's a list of resources that may be useful.  

I absolutely adored this panel, and I'm having a great time at the con! More updates soon. 

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for attending the panel! I'm glad you enjoyed it. We're going to try and find a way to do ECCC as well.

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    1. Hi, Tony! Just letting you know that I'll be purchasing and reading your work once it's out. Thank you for presenting today. :)

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