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Dear Hollywood: LGBT People Deserve More Than Crumbs

Dear Hollywood: LGBT People Deserve More Than Crumbs

Dear Hollywood: LGBT People Deserve More Than Crumbs

Queer characters deserve more than a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment!


When it was first announced that the new Power Rangers reboot would have a gay main character in it, and that she would be "questioning herself" and having a small, "pivotal moment,"  I couldn't help but think of the gay character in the new, live-action Beauty and the Beast film. Although the latter's gay character is a sidekick to a villain rather than a hero, the character is also questioning himself, and while said gay characters in both films have been praised by some, to others, they feel less like characters and more like tokens.

Early reviews of Power Rangers have stated that the gay moments are "small," "lackluster," and "muted." Meanwhile, the gay moment in Beauty and the Beast has also been called "subtle" by critics. While some queer people do actually question their sexuality, this experience deserves to be portrayed in a more respectful manner. Questioning your sexuality isn't something that can be resolved in a minute.

People have wanted to see LGBTQ+ characters for quite some time, especially in fantasy and science fiction movies. To have an entire spectrum of sexualities and gender identities be reduced to one gay character in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment is insulting. It is not difficult to show queer identities in a movie without cutting down their screen time. After all, the Oscar-winning feature film Moonlight was an entire coming-of-age story about black, gay men.

If Hollywood wants to add more LGBTQ+ characters onscreen, then the first thing we must realize is that a gay character is not the end-all-be-all to queer representation. There are other people in the community that still need representation, such as bisexual, transgender, and asexual people. Not to mention those who embody more than one queer identity and more than one identity besides queerness. 

Although it can be difficult for Hollywood to try to represent everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, that doesn't mean they shouldn't strive to. Once Hollywood comes to terms with the wide variety of identities that make up the community, then we can take the next step of greenlighting more original stories instead of churning-out remake after remake. There are plenty of ideas, actors, and movie filmmakers that could make the movie industry more inclusive. You just have to know where to look.

One place to look is the adaptation of teen fiction books. We've had straight white female heroines in the movie versions of The Hunger Games and Divergent, but there are so many more narratives and identities out there to represent. A movie adaptation of Chinese-American author Malinda Lo's lesbian Cinderella retelling Ash would've been more interesting to many than a Beauty and the Beast remake. By casting Chinese actresses such as Arden Cho and Jamie Chung as the lead characters, this movie would be a groundbreaking move for gay representation and gay people of color.

Besides queer fairytales, we could also have better queer superheroes and other queer sci-fi stories. Instead of making another Captain America film, Hollywood could adapt Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's diverse Young Avengers comics and have Latina lesbian superhero America Chavez onscreen with other queer heroes. Alternatively, we could adapt Magdalene Visaggio's space bounty hunter comic Kim & Kim and get some transgender heroes played by transgender actresses like Kitana Rodriguez and Harmony Santana.

If fictional characters aren't enough, you can always base the films on real-life queer people. Black, lesbian director Dee Rees has done a film on black bisexual blues singer Bessie Smith called Bessie, while black, gay director Rodney Evans used black, gay writer Wallace Thurman as the basis for his film Brother to Brother. With the right amount of research, public support, and more directors like Dee Rees or Rodney Jenkins, there could be more films like these. There are plenty of untold stories of queer history that has long been ignored, and it is high time someone told them.

Until characters with marginalized identities get the same amount of representation as white, cishet characters, Hollywood films will never be as inclusive as they claim to be. Queer characters deserve to be more than just a gay character questioning their sexuality. Queer characters deserve to be actual characters with original storytelling. Since there are plenty of actors, directors, and material waiting to have the same success as Moonlight, they should be given a chance.

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Latonya Pennington

Latonya Pennington is a non-binary queer freelance writer. Their writing can be found in places like Wear Your Voice magazine, EFNIKS, and Black Girl Dangerous.

Latonya Pennington is a non-binary queer freelance writer. Their writing can be found in places like Wear Your Voice magazine, EFNIKS, and Black Girl Dangerous.