<Update: this picture may be fake. Which is just going to help future attackers say what they say about rape accusations, “you’re making it up.” Thanks for that… >
I had to make a few regrettable unfriend decisions on Facebook today. The “Whoo Trump!” people are long gone, but these are people who said, stop posting hate, let’s come together, let’s respect each other’s opinions, and if you can’t do that, unfriend me.
So I did. Because this is not Pepsi vs Coke. I’m gay. I’ve got chronic illness and (obviously lol) mental health issues. I’m a loud and proud atheist. I’m everything they want to kill. And if you support those who want to kill me, or even think I should just lie down and respect their opinion on the subject of kicking me to death, I’m done with you, because clearly you don’t have skin, so to speak, in the game. Or, worse, you do and you have your head in the sand.
And if you enjoy reading gay romance? Let me give you a little taste of what your favorite characters’ lives are like now.
Tyler and Skylar come back from their HEA honeymoon to find Tyler’s business vandalized, the windows smashed, and Fuk U Fagits Trump 2016 spray painted on the wall. Skylar loses his subsidized health insurance and suffers a recurrence of the illness that Tyler so lovingly nursed him through, and with Tyler’s business in ruins, they can’t make the out of pocket costs and Skylar dies in an ER waiting for care with all the other newly uninsured.
Think about that next time you think you can cheer for a gay HEA and not take sides in this struggle. Think about that when you close that book and snuggle into that comfortable feeling that everything will be okay for these guys now.
Romance is fantasy, but even fantasy has rules. You have to engage in a “willing suspension of disbelief.” That is, you’re going to believe in things like dragons or fairies or neverending happiness, but… To believe, the author has to have created a world in which these things are possible. We believe in White Walkers and dragons because GRRM has created a world in which magic feels real. Conversely, LOTR: Return of the King loses me near the end when all of a sudden, deus ex machina, here come the Eagles to save the day. “The Eagles!” Pippin cries out (or is it Merry IDK) as if oh yeah, of course, we forgot all about them… And I’m like WTF? Sure, Gandalf sent them a Moth-O-Gram in another movie but they’re not like the Ents, we don’t know shit about them but here they are to save the day…
The other thing required for an HEA, in any fiction, is a world in which evil has limitations. Draco Malfoy (a Trump supporter if ever there was one) cannot smash in Harry Potter’s head with a hammer, leaving him with irreversible brain damage, the end, even if he wanted to. And, it has to be a world in which evil can be defeated. And we all know from watching Harry Potter that evil is not defeated if half of the students and faculty of Hogwarts say, “Well, I like Harry a lot, but Voldemort won the support of the Ministry of Magic and we all have to come together and blah blah blah.”
In other words, you cannot root for the happiness of the main characters and still accept a world in which those who would kill them are a threat we can all just ignore, it’ll be fine.
And for the last ten years, as MM romance has grown, we’ve been able to believe in MM HEA because more and more, every day, it’s been possible to believe that two gay men can build a life together without being beaten, without their homes being vandalized, without the government making an about face and undoing every bit of progress in gay civil liberties.
Guess what? Not so much now. Do you really think they didn’t mean it, the GOP, when they included in their platform “opposition to same-sex marriage, support for state laws limiting which public bathroom transgender people can use, and support for a parent’s right to subject gay and transgender children to ‘conversion therapy’ to change their sexual orientation or gender identity”?
Do you really think Trump won’t fulfill his promise “to nullify all of Mr. Obama’s executive orders, including one that bans anti-L.G.B.T. discrimination by federal contractors and another that protects the rights of transgender students”?
What about a VP who said that federal funding for H.I.V./AIDS treatment should be renewed only if the government could certify that no money went to “organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the H.I.V. virus”? (In other words, welcome back to that classic paragon of effective education, abstinence-only sex ed.)
Do you still think your favorite characters are going to ride into the sunset, where they will find nothing but everlasting bliss in each others’ arms, which no man can tear asunder?
Well, you’re fucking wrong.
We can’t “agree to disagree” that things like what happened to the guy in this picture are okay. We can’t “come together” so I can lay down and get kicked. We can’t “unite for the common good” when you think the common good requires my extermination.
Ever heard of “cognitive dissonance”? It’s the psychological term for holding two incompatible beliefs at the same time. And believing that you can cheer for two gay men’s HEAs (never mind a couple with one trans character, or a biracial couple), and still think Trump will “make America great again,” is just that: cognitive dissonance.
The days are gone, the days of gay jesters, of Paul Lynde and Rip Taylor and Richard Simmons, who will mince and preen and squeal for your half-scornful entertainment, who will dance and sing and let you leave with a smile, back to your lovely home, while we go back to our ghettos and fear for our lives. We will not let you forget what happens when we go offstage.
Will and Grace are about to be evicted by their homophobic landlord and Jack will be fag bashed. The cast of Glee will have to flee a gang of marauding teenagers shouting “White Power!” in the hallways. Cameron and Mitchell are going to get a fucking Molotov cocktail thrown through their living room window.
And I’m not going to let you forget it.
Edit: my follow up post is here.