Why Does it Matter?

[Author’s Note:  This is going to get me in so much trouble, I’m almost sure of it.  Oh well…my opinions, obviously.]

Well, the question jespah put to community this time around can be found here.  The questions are interesting, and have us wondering about canon characters and our own with respects to a level of IDIC that has been controversial and very prominent in recent years.

Character Sexuality and Relationships.

I was thinking how best to answer these questions.  I’ve read a few other blogs.  And I have to say…I really don’t know what to say.  While I realize they’re supposed to be headscratchers, and there really isn’t a right or wrong way to answer…

The truth of the matter is, it shouldn’t matter.

Flashback to TOS.  Kirk kisses Uhura, in what is the first mainstream portrayal of an inter-racial kiss.  It was abhorent to some, incredible to others.  People didn’t bat an eye when Kirk goes and bangs the green alien chick (which would also be religiously wrong, but we’re not going there), but heaven help us, cover the kids’ eyes!  Blacks and whites kissing!  OMG THE SKY IS FALLING!!

As you can see…the reaction (by today’s standards) was stupid.

And yet, those standards are still here today.  And before you cry foul, no, I’m not comparing homosexual rights movements to the NAACP.  Race and Sexuality are two very different things; people are facing much of the same prejudices and extreme hate, but they are two different things, and I don’t want to lessen the impact that either group has had to history.

The fact is, racism still exists today.  There will always be people who believe they are more entitled to this or that because they look or sound better than someone else.  In Star Trek, while most of it has been tramped out, you still see people dealing with race issues; Humans versus Klingons, Andorians versus Vulcans, Romulans and Remans…it still exists in our utopian future.

For that same reason, I offer these two statements:

1)  Homosexuality will continue to exist into the future, regardless of what religious nut jobs try to say or do today.

2)  Homosexuality will still be frowned upon by some people.  There will not be this sudden, collective “hey, it really IS ok to be Takei.”  I’m sorry.

That said…there is no reason why we should shy away from and ignore the topic as writers of Star Trek.  One of the things that hit home Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future was that, had Star Trek continued, he wanted to explore homosexual characters.  It would have been groundbreaking for that time period, for sure.  It would have gotten him a lot of nasty fan mail, too, but it would have been amazing, because he would have portrayed them as…people.

Normal, everyday people.

The questions in this prompt ask “how would characters change if their sexuality changed?”  I feel the question can be answered with, “why should they?”  To answer that question, you need only look at modern, mainstream media.  So many Reality TV shows, new comedies, movies, whatever, portray homosexual characters in two ways.

Lesbian couples are butch, masculine females (or at least one of them is, while the other is drop dead gorgeous and thus the punchline of a joke against any male characters and watchers).

Gay couples epitomize the phrase “flaming.”

And no, it isn’t EVERY show, I realize that.  But the problem is the preponderance of those portrayals.  Gay men are very feminine, and lesbian women are very masculine.  It’s as if the writers don’t know what it is they’re doing, and decide “well, I’m a guy…I like girls…maybe girls who like girls are kinda like guys” and then roll with it.  It’s sickening.  And it does nothing to help the case of LGBT Rights groups, because it gives a caricaturization of people like them.

There is absolutely no reason for this.  LGBT people are people.  Yes, you have your men who are feminine.  Yes, you have your women who are masculine.  That’s true REGARDLESS of sexuality.  There are plenty of gay men who are the epitome of macho, and there are incredibly beautiful lesbian women who love to wear dresses and high heels and work the sorority scene.  There is no cookie cutter mold to human beings.

For those reasons, there is no reason Kirk would have to change at ALL if he were to be Bi, or even Gay.  There shouldn’t be a change to Janeway’s black coffee loving ways just because she suddenly finds Torres very attractive and is competing with Tom.

Part of my reasoning for Jessica and Justine’s relationship is because that relationship already existed, prior to their Star Trek incarnations, in City of Heroes.  Justine had already been in a committed relationship with another girl, Bridget; neither girl was completely sure where they stood in regards to their sexuality, but they both knew they loved each other.  Bridget could best be seen as bisexual; she had had boyfriends and then one girlfriend prior to Justine.  Justine was in her first committed relationship, but wasn’t 100% sure of her being homosexual.  They were teenagers; as much as they were learning about math and science, they were learning about themselves, too.

Enter Jessica.  She had had more than one crummy relationship with boys.  She was damaged goods, dealing with self-image and self-injury problems.  She was desperate for a friend.  She found herself attracted to Bridget because she was beautiful and always there for her when she needed her…but to say she was in love with her was odd for Jessica.  She’s not gay.  Even after she was pulled into the relationship, in a very unorthodox triangle where her, Bridget, and Justine were in a committed relationship with each other, she would swear she was not gay.  For her, it wasn’t a matter of liking girls over boys; she was just, simply, in love.

Yes, I have a little bit of experience writing less than normal relationships and playing them out.

When Star Trek Online came out and Justine and Jessica migrated there, we brought the relationship as well, opting to go a little simpler and leaving out Bridget.  Justine, again, is not 100% sure on the “I’m gay” front; she’d describe herself as being bisexual (or, now that she’s in a relationship with Jess, omnisexual since Jessica isn’t really a *true* female, but that goes into alien biology topics for later).  Jessica, on the other hand, is an incredibly skilled biologist.  Her life revolves around science.

Female and Female relationships don’t produce offspring.  It’s not logical; it goes against everything she knows as a scientist.

Her relationship with Justine allows me to explore an area that everyone talks about with homosexuality, but very rarely portrays.

Love versus biology.  The need for human beings to love and be loved…not necessarily to pass genes.

Jessica will continue to swear that she is not gay.  For now, she’s willing to accept that there are more possibilities, other options, than what she has learned through most of her life, that love isn’t just about biology, but about emotions.  And that’s why she seems very unsure of things when Justine first kisses her.

But, it’s very easy to over portray it as well.  For this, I don’t have a specific example of written fanfiction.

Instead, I direct your attention to a pretty well made fan-production called “Hidden Frontier.”  It was one of the first fan-productions I had seen and really began to follow, and I enjoyed it greatly.  It bothered me a tad bit, since it didn’t seem plausible that, on a Galaxy-class starship, practically everyone on board minus two or three characters was gay.  It just didn’t seem…believable to me.  And maybe it’s my own bias, I don’t know.  And I realize the production company was comprised of many gay men.  That didn’t bother me at all.  The gay characters were refreshing, and I enjoyed seeing very believe people who just happened to be gay.  That is one thing, despite the overabundance of characters, that they did right.

There was nothing that set their characters apart just because they were gay.  Everything that set their characters apart took center stage, and their sexuality was explored in the background.

That, I feel, is how it should be done, if it matters enough to be said at all.  I realize this turned into a bit of a rant, and I realize I’ll probably offend some people with the way I say things.  Please, hit me up if there is something you would like to discuss further.  But, in the end, it shouldn’t matter.  It is a non-issue, something that should be relegated to a character’s bio as much as their birthdate and where they call home.  Sexuality is a fun topic to explore, for sure…but it should never be what defines a character.

People are defined by their actions, by their words, by the relationships they build and burn with other people.  People are people.  Just like soylent green.

 

On a somewhat related note, could someone tell me where the term “slash” came from?  I saw that and at first thought it had something to do with, like, blood and gore horror.

2 thoughts on “Why Does it Matter?

  1. Slash = Kirk/Spock. Yes, ST fan fiction created the term.

    And I agree, it doesn’t matter (but it does, because there’s still so little …). I asked the questions I did in order to tease out that it does not matter. It shouldn’t change things outside of shown relationships.

    I have seen overdoing. I recall a fic (but not its name or author, sorry), where TNG was more or less done as 100% alternate sexualities. Some of it worked for me, a lot of it didn’t. It was very PWP and it was not properly labelled as such. To my mind, it clanged (but PWP tends to clang for me no matter what the combos are or the names are – I find it makes the characters into interchangeable body parts, and I find myself, in my head, changing the names in order to see if I can get away with Ross and Chandler, or Kirk and Spock, or Sheldon and Leonard. When I can, that becomes laughable to me).

    Writing characters who are not heterosexual is, I think, another means of being a writer and also being something of an actor. Writing is a bit like acting; you inhabit characters. Some characters are easier to inhabit than others, but you should be able to inhabit all of them. You should be able to be King Lear and Ellen Ripley and Inigo Montoya.

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