LGBTQIA+ Rep in media


Meredith Moser, Journalist

There has been a rising interest in representing the LGBTQIA+ community in all sorts of media. From Yuri and Victor in the anime world, to Steven Universe and Owl House for cartoons, to Hulkling and Wiccan from the comic verse.  There has been a huge rise in representing that part of humanity. 

However, this is not a new interest for some people. Even back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, there were a couple of characters, such as Willow from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Ellen Morgan from Ellen, that gave the community hope that one day they would be represented in all media.    

Things have certainly changed in how characters’ sexualities and gender roles are presented, handled, and received. Just recently, the Owl House, a Disney show for children, has shown Luz, the main character, in a same-sex relationship with her friend Amity.  This was met with largely positive reviews and little backlash. Granted, this did happen in 2021, when good reviews for LGBTQIA+ “media” were becoming more normal. 

So what happens when the same thing happened in the late ’90s? In the case of Willow from Buffy The Vampire-Slayer, there was a larger amount of backlash, but not more than the cast and the crew of the show were expecting.  Their efforts would pay off for them, as a small part of their audience was thrilled. They were so excited that a character from a huge beloved show was just like them or their family members or friends. 

There is another history-making gay couple. They made history by having one of the first gay kisses in anime to be shown on national TV!  Yuri and Victor from Yuri On Ice scored a huge win in representation for the LGBTQIA+. The audience was quick to pick up on the signs between these two but most of the viewers were thinking it was queer-baiting, which is sadly known to happen. This is why when the kiss happened the LGBTQIA+ watchers were over the moon. Even though it was not officially confirmed that it was a kiss, since the kiss was covered up by Victor’s arm.

Another show that had one of the first same-sex kisses was Steven Universe.  It includes the pansexual character, Sadie, the ACE character Peridot, and the two gems that loved each other so much that they lived in the same fusion body with each other almost all the time, Ruby and Sapphire.  “There was a lot of focus on the Ruby and Sapphire relationship and it helped move representation to what is possible today,” Rebeca Sugar, creator of the show told the executives of Cartoon Network.  The gems were genderless, knowing full well that they would never let a same-sex couple kiss on the lips or the neck or do some pretty intense dance scenes.  With this information, and Sugar constantly pushing for it, she was finally able to make history and show the first same-sex marriage on a kid’s TV show.  This may have come at a cost, as Steven Universe was canceled shortly after, but because of her there was a huge leap in showing LGBTQIA+ characters on mainstream television for children. 

Finally, go to the comic verse, where representation has been going on for a bit longer than TV.  One of the first modern couples being Scarlet Witch’s lost children, Billy aka Wiccan and Teddy aka Hulkling, a half scroll child. Even though the intention to show them as a gay couple happened later on in the story, many fans picked up on the flirtation.  It was quickly revealed that they were intended to be a couple.  

Yet their first kiss wouldn’t come for years later in a different comic series. They also received some backlash; in Brazil, there was a push for the comic to be banned. In retaliation, some newspapers put the kissing panel on the front page.  Now, they are officially married, as of August 7, 2020,  being one of the first married gay couples in the comic series. 

Whether you are looking for someone like yourself in the “media” you watch or you just want to see more diversity in the things that you read and watch, we seem to be going in the right direction. So let’s hope that whether you are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual, Asexual, Transgender, Genderfluid, or anything under that umbrella, you will one day see someone like you.