Entertainment, Opinion

‘Unapologetically queer’: Seeing ourselves in the media we love

In this world of uncertainty and uncontrollable chaos, one thing that remains true is that more queer actors should be cast in queer roles. 

How many times have you heard that an actor doesn’t need to live the experiences of their character? 

While it’s true that plenty of cishet actors have played queer characters, it shouldn’t be the norm. 

Allies are important, but they shouldn’t always be telling the stories they’ll never truly understand. 

The fact is that there’s a certain impact, especially for young LGBTQ people, that comes from seeing queer actors play a queer character.

Think of the excitement that come from finding out a character you love is played by someone from the community. 

Which brings me to the topic of the new series Yellowjackets, a bit like The Wilds, only much darker in tone and more of a genre mashup. 

It follows a group of high-school soccer players who survive a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness as they descend into war and cannibalism, while tracking their former lives. 

Not only is Yellowjackets intense and well-written, it has queer actors playing queer characters: Jasmin Savoy Brown as teen Taissa and Liv Hewson as teen Van. 

Horror fans will know them from Scream 5 and Santa Clarita Diet, respectively.

These two give unapologetically queer performances, and they happen to be lovers in the show. 

The representation alone isn’t to be ignored, but impact isn’t discussed enough where queer actors are concerned. 

By all means, appreciate a queer character played by someone not from the LGBTQ community, but don’t pretend homophobia and transphobia aren’t still prevalent in Hollywood, playing into how roles are cast. 

LGBTQ actors still face many struggles, and the more marginalised they are, the worse it gets. 

Casting two cishet women for the teen roles of Taissa and Van would have been lacklustre. 

Seeing cishet women make out, wade naked in the water, and have sex in the forest on shrooms wouldn’t have felt that impactful. 

It wouldn’t be as exciting, especially when the scenes aren’t shot for the male gaze. 

There’s a power in representing yourself, even in fiction – not only for personal reasons, but because LGBTQ actors couldn’t always be out and proud like that. 

Jasmin Savoy Brown helps impact other queer Black women in her role, and Liv Hewson (who received the 2020 Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award for their LGBT+ advocacy) impacts other nonbinary gay folk in their role. 

Characters can literally change a person’s life in incredible ways, which is why media continues to be discussed the way it does. 

We dissect content and hopefully see ourselves in what we love. 

Knowing we don’t always have to scramble to see representation and be impacted by it is a relief. 

Queer representation and impact will always go hand in hand. 

To be impacted by people who belong in our own communities is special; knowing that something genuinely links us to others helps, even if for a moment, to know you’re not alone in your experiences. 

Dismiss anyone who tells you it doesn’t matter if an actor is queer. 

Brush off comments about being a snowflake who has to constantly see themselves in everything. 

Be excited about finding out one of your faves is a queer actor and potentially decent person. That’s something that will always matter. 

You can watch Yellowjackets on ShowtimeParamount+, and Crave

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