Class Blog

Fanfiction from the Queer Perspective

In her letter, “Speaking in Tongues” Gloria Anzaldua states “they convince us that we must cultivate art for art’s sake. Bow down to the sacred bull, form. Put frames and “metaframes around the writing. Achieve distance to win the coveted title “literary writer” or “professional writer” (Anzaldua 167). This sentiment is extremely reminiscent of the treatment fanfiction and fanfiction authors receive when they try to claim they are real writers and that their works are real writing. Fanfiction is fan-written work based around a subject with any fanbase one could think of. It is commonly thought of as weird and shameful to take part in when in reality there are fanfictions out there that are leagues above many applauded works of literature and cinema. 


Fanfiction is written for a multitude of reasons, the primary one is exploring the possibilities of a piece of media. Anzaldua expresses why I enjoy fanfiction so much: “the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me” (Anzaldua 169). A huge theme in this class is the erasure of queer history and media. Even today there is a stunning lack of representation of LGBTQ+ people in popular culture. Fanfiction is a popular outlet for people who want to see more of themselves in a piece of media they like or relate to. A lot of the authors we have learned about in this class wrote so that people like them could feel represented, and that is essentially what fanfic writers are doing on a smaller scale.


Gloria Anzaldua wrote “Speaking in Tongues” to reach out to other women like her, who do not often see themselves in the media they wish to pursue. Fanfiction is a similarly comforting thing to me and many others. Those who write fanfiction can interpret pieces of media they connect with in ways that make themselves, and the readers, feel seen. The incredible thing about fanfiction is that it does not exist to appeal to everyone, it exists for people to find something that appeals specifically to them. 

Yesterday and today of the LGBTQ+ community

Option B:

One story that I can relate to our LGBTQ+ class is the graphic novel and TV series “Heartstopper.” This story is about young teenagers in high school who are going through a process of discovering and finding themselves. Although it can sound superficial, what I like of this story is that it is a cliché, however, I consider that we are used to watch these kinds of stories but mostly represented by heterosexual couples. A heterosexual boy or girl in high school who falls in love and discovers himself or herself in the process. Heartstopper offers different gay and lesbian love stories, that are not only represented with homosexual young characters, but also with actors and actresses members of the LGBTQ+ community.

I consider that Heartstopper can be related to Angels in America because both are a fictional story with visual and written support that show stories of the daily life of gay people, however, in different times and realities. The LGBTQ+ community has historically been shown in the most representative mass media as a community full of suffering, losses, pain and sickness, and represented with adults, not youth. We can see that representation in the fictional play (and TV show) Angels in America. It is a story where adults not only have to deal with the problems of their lives like any other adult, but also with the troubles, worries and weight of being gay. Hearhopper allows us to see that the LGBTQ+ community is not something that happens in very specific or unfamiliar situations. It is a reality around us, that can occur everywhere, at any age, and that can be more than suffering. It can also be romantic, hopeful and with happy endings, as any other love story we are exposed to in movies, series, books, social media, etc.

These two stories are contrastive because they show the two different parts of the gay community, but both equally real and important. It is essential to acknowledge the background behind the LGBTQ+ community, but also to see it as past and visualize a better present and future where the community is growing and finding more support among them.

El fenómeno del momento es Heartstopper: los libros más adictivos hablan  del amor entre dos chicos y tendrán una serie en Netflix Podrás escuchar a Andrew Garfield en Angels in America | El Aquelarre


When I was in middle school, I remember reading a comic book series called Lumberjanes. This series was about a group of girls at an all-girls summer camp discovering the often supernatural mysteries of the area. The cast of characters is full of LGBTQ+ individuals and POC, which I had not seen much of up to that point. Reading it back then, I simply enjoyed the story, not thinking critically about some of the choices the author made.

Now, having read The Legend of Auntie Po, it occurs to me how intentionally the setting and title were chosen. Both books take the route of subverting the hypermasculine stereotype of lumberjacks to set the stage for a queer story. It is also worth noting that one of the five main characters is a transgender girl. By placing this story at an all-girls camp, the author immediately shuts down any questions about the validity of her identity. Her presence at the camp confirms that she fits in with all the other girls just fine.

This also leads to an interesting dynamic, as none of the girls are particularly “girly.” They choose to spend their summers at a camp advertised towards “Hardcore Ladytypes,” which is in the actual title of the camp. This means there gets to be a story about a transgender girl who is still allowed to be in touch with the more traditionally “masculine” parts of her identity without it invalidating her girlhood. I did not fully appreciate this kind of representation in middle school, but after reading so much about the intersections of identities in this course, this detail strikes me as remarkably important in literature.

Khor’s point in the Author’s Note about their hopes for publishing in “a vibrant landscape of stories from all kinds of marginalized voices” also guided my thinking here (285). Lumberjanes being published, and the success it found, gave an opportunity for so many queer and POC stories to be told to adolescents. Although the plot of series itself is not centered around being queer or POC, the characters are obviously affected by their identities, bringing casual representation to many more young minds.

Queer Divinity

The way in which Tony Kushner’s Angels in America converses with the relationship between queerness and the Divine is one of the best and most complex I have seen in media.

From the very start of the play we see the pairing of queerness and spirituality with the Jewish funeral which is depicted. Then, we are introduced to Joe who struggles with his sexuality and Mormon faith. But the pairing of religion and queerness which I find the most important and interesting is Prior’s relationship with spirituality and religion. The choice to to make a gay man who is dying of AIDS the character in play who is the self proclaimed prophet, most connected to the divine is important especially in a post AIDS America, with so much stigma still surrounding the illness. The moment which stands out to me is when the Angel itself refers to Prior as the prophet, “Greetings Prophet! The great work begins!” the Angel proclaims when meeting Prior. In having the divine itself recognize Prior as a prophet Kushner challenges traditional ideas of religion and inexplicably connects the queer to the divine.

Elder Queer Joy and Love

The piece of queer media which stands out to me as being valuable in terms of this class is the film The Birdcage starring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams. What I find so valuable and resonant in terns of this particular piece of queer media is how it depicts elder queer love, queer community, and queer joy. Granted, the men who are in love in the film are not old per se, but they are queer people who are beyond their twenties or thirties, which is something that I think more queer media needs representation of. A lot of the texts we have read and that I have read in other classes discussing LGBT issues were written or written about younger queer people (ex. Saeed Jones is in his thirties, Eli Clare was in his thirties when Exile and Pride was published, etc. ). Which of course is valuable but it is also valuable for the voices of elder queers to be heard so that the younger generation can not only appreciate its history but look forward to its future. Obviously I understand how the AIDS epidemic has impacted how and how much we head elder queer voices, so I recognize that that poses a challenge.

Also, I think this film, while it does fall into certain queer stereotypes, it also depicts the presence of queer joy.  Certainly some of our texts discussed similar themes but a lot of what we have read focuses on the struggles associated with queerness and I think it is just as important to read and study and prioritize the joy that is being queer and experiencing the LGBT community.

Queer at Every Level

Young Royals is a Swedish Netflix series that follows a fictional Swedish prince, Wilhelm, and his time at the Hillerska boarding school. Hillerska caters to the upper echelon of Swedish society, and all of the boarding residents are the children of the extremely wealthy. A few day students also attend this school, but it is known that it is because of scholarships and that these students do not hold the social clout of the boarding students.

Wilhelm finds himself entangled with one of these day students and struggles with his feelings that he might be gay. What sets him apart from his love interest, Simon, is not only a financial divide but a class divide and difference in societal expectations. Arguably, Wilhelm has anything that a person could want—wealth and power. But, while Simon has neither of these things, he has a warm and accepting family and lives his life out of the closet rather than burdened by the weight of discretion Wilhelm is forced to upkeep. 

I think that this story represents the idea of myth making particularly well. American society, specifically, is drawn to this story as a result of our intense interest in the English royal family. Although this story is Swedish, the audience is still drawn to a story of royalty because it is a perspective we will never know. This story is also influential because the family it writes about is fictional but the Swedish monarchy is real. This story could, in one way or another, happen in real life. It makes us draw connections between the show and the real world. We wonder how many times something similar has happened to a real monarch. While royals are few, statistically some of them must be queer. Yet, we never hear about it.

The idea that something that could be real, is similar to the mythmaking we see in The Legend of Auntie Po. Mei develops a story based on a “real” mythical character Paul Bunyan. Even though Mei’s story isn’t necessarily true, the circumstances in which she lives are historically accurate to some degree. While the book is a work of fiction, it, like Young Royals, invites the reader to consider our relationship with history, as well as the relationship that groups we are not a part of have with history. Ultimately, I think the way both of these works contribute to the genre of myth making is important because they accomplish the goal of myth making: by providing representation for underrepresented groups. Individually, I also commend these works because they help an audience recognize that queer people exist beyond a single setting and time period.


“Then I’m crazy. The whole world is,… that this is real, it isn’t just an impossible, terrible dream, so maybe yes I’m flipping out.” (Kushner, 175)

Whenever we address HIV/AIDS, back in the day, it emerged as a really powerful physical and mental sense – a notion that those who were affected must be engaged in the work of fighting this disease, physically and mentally. Nowadays, it is something we take for granted, everything that is related to AIDS is easier to approach, because, with medical and social advances, the conversation around HIV/AIDS became much more open-minded, to a point where the disease itself is somewhat neglected due to its irrelevancy.

Nowadays, we kind of take it for granted that AIDS could be something that could be talked about in a polite and more effortless manner, without thinking too much of it as an immediate threat due to medical advancement. An HIV/AIDS patient back then would probably die a few years after their diagnosis. If we look at this conversation from this scene, AIDS was so devastating to the point that it would break down even the strongest of men. The discussion regarding the severity of AIDS has changed nowadays because even if you have AIDS, living for another 30-40 years is still possible when you have a lot of money for treatment.

We also take it for granted how openly you could have a conversation about AIDS nowadays without offending anybody. However, we have come to forget that it was an extremely sensitive topic because you couldn’t talk about HIV without talking about gay men, junkies, or whoever the conformed society deemed to be the potential AIDS-carrying agent.

Finally, the emotional struggle of being an HIV patient is somewhat forgotten nowadays. Back in the 90s, it was hard to hide HIV after a certain point. It was likely easy to see someone emotionally drift away and say, they probably have AIDS. That’s not the case today because it’s invisible due to how manageable it has become. This is by no means a bad thing, and it’s great to see the decline in deaths caused by AIDS but coming along with that is the concern about AIDS and its existence also sharply declined.

Kushner, T. (2013) Angels in America: A gay fantasia on national themes. Theatre Communications Group.




Our Flag Means Death: Representation in Media


Our Flag Means Death is a show in which two worlds collide. It follows the life of the protagonist Stede Bonnet, an upper class gentleman who leaves his life and family behind to pursue his life’s goal, to become a pirate. Alas, Stede is not used to the life of a pirate and quickly realizes the dangers of his new life. But, he’s determined to be a pirate, no matter what. As his journey progresses, Stede meets Blackbeard, the king of pirates. Blackbeard is known for his dangerous exploits, and yet Stede falls in love with him. Surprisingly, Blackbeard falls in love with him as well. The rest of the show follows their relationship as it progresses.


Our Flag Means Death means many things to me. It has taught me to pursue what makes me happy, regardless of obstacles in my path. It has shown me that being queer does not mean the loss of a family. Of course as Eve Sedgwick states, some parents will wish their child’s death over their queerness, but blood connection does not define family. Stede meets his chosen family throughout his journey as a pirate. His crew became his family and they stood by each other, even during fights and through many disagreements, regardless of sexual orientation.


Identity and sexual fluidity are two key themes in Our Flag Means Death. Stede hasn’t completely found his identity yet, but he’s tried many throughout his journey. As previously mentioned, Stede was raised as an English nobleman. He had extreme wealth and a peaceful life, but he never identified with his life as an English nobleman. When he left his life behind, Stede began exploring his identity. He no longer identified as a nobleman, but as a pirate. He didn’t identify with the traditional pirate life, so he decided to become a “gentleman” pirate in an attempt to mesh his personality with his new identity. Stede also explored his sexual identity.


Sexuality is fluid, it can change over time. Stede was a husband to a woman of similar social status. He never loved her. Stede hadn’t explored his sexuality until Blackbeard. In the beginning, Stede was hesitant to love a man because of old social expectations. However, the sea did not care who was in love with who, the life of a pirate meant freedom, especially sexually. Once he realized this, Stede allowed himself to embrace the concept of loving Blackbeard. Although he remains unlabeled in the show, Stede’s sexual identity can no longer be considered heterosexual exclusively.


I relate this concept of sexual fluidity to “Growing up Gay”. In “Growing up Gay”, an individual of Hispanic descent spoke of exploring his sexuality in secret. His family was strict in their decision that they would only accept his relationships if they were heterosexual. His family restricted his ability to be free and to explore his sexuality. This can be connected to Stede as he was forced into a loveless heterosexual marriage and he didn’t explore his sexuality until he was a pirate out at sea.

I also connect the theme of identity being complex to Eve Sedgwick’s definition of queer that states that queer could not be made to signify monolithically. Even though he is unlabeled, Stede still falls under the umbrella term of queer. In Our Flag Means Death, Stede explores many facets of his identity and still isn’t completely sure but his identity is, and that’s okay. Being queer allows one to explore the many facets of their identity without feeling constrained to a label. I feel that the storyline of the show truly portrays the complexity and intersectionality in regards to being queer.

Unlikely Friends

The movie Pride, by Matthew Warchus, is based on a true story about the unlikely support and cooperation of a queer activist group in London and a rural mining community. A member of the queer activist group sees what is happening to these mining communities and unions that are striking and suffering from lack of money, support, and resources and, after much convincing, starts the formation of LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) with the other members in the group. Their support was not taken too enthusiastically by the mining community at first, with much of them seeming to be homophobic. However, they later grow tight bonds with them, even leading one of the lead miner house organizers later coming out as gay as a result of the love and support received during this experience no doubt. In the end, some of the people from the mining community surprise the LGSM group by showing up to the pride parade to walk with them and show their support, coming full circle. 

I absolutely loved this movie and it was extremely heart warming because it was so real about the reluctance to support a community that you (thought you) knew would not support you in the first place. However, it showed that those who are struggling together, even about things that seem completely unrelated to each other, can show their support in numerous ways. I also thought it was so important how it showed the development of the miner community going from seeing the queer activist group as “those” people to later people they respect and can call close friends they can fight for. These unlikely identities coming together reminded me of Eli Clare’s battle with the seemingly contradictory identities as “redneck” but also queer. Through this movie, we saw that these identities do not have to be mutually exclusive or contradictory, which is not only important when coming to terms with our own identities, but also when looking in at social issues and our own prejudices we have, consciously or not, about our in-groups and out-groups. It relates to the constant framing and battle of the us vs them mentality but shows how that can be overcome, though obviously not always smoothly or immediately.

“So you like show tunes. It doesn’t mean you’re gay. It just means you’re awful” – Sue Sylvester

The most revolutionary show in the history of American television, Glee, employs several devices and themes that we have examined in the context of this class. In and of itself, the show’s use of camp as a mechanism of relaying important themes parallels that of Susan Sontag’s “Notes on ‘Camp.'” In doing so, the show represents queer issues with both the gravity and celebration queerness deserves.

The premise of Glee revolves around a group of high school students in suburban Ohio who are brought together through show choir, despite their diverse social and interpersonal backgrounds. Show choir is camp on its own, involving synchronized song and dance routines that students compete against one another with. The characters perform on stage at various show choir competitions, but a bulk of the show’s musical numbers occur in more casual settings like during their rehearsals and walking down the halls. Sporadically bursting into fully choreographed musical numbers in a random Ohio high school speaks to one of the elements Susan Sontag posits as definitional of camp, “[…] Camp is either completely naive or else wholly conscious” (Sontag, 6). Additionally, “Notes on ‘Camp'” describes the idea of camp as “art that proposes itself seriously, but cannot be taken altogether seriously because it is ‘too much’ (Sontag, 7). Clearly, Glee‘s writers and producers intended on creating a musical show, which implies such theatricality is a conscious artistic choice. The characters, however, often perform these musical numbers as asides. They will often burst into song mid-conversation, as seen in this number and many others, suggesting they do so in a completely random, non-premeditated, and naive way.

These spontaneous performances in Glee are seldom completely random (though occasionally, they are… which is camp) — these characters break into song and dance as a reaction to the otherwise serious issues they are facing in their personal lives. Take this aforementioned scene as an example. Santana, one of the main protagonists, is being pestered by a guy on the rugby team to go out with him. Given she has recently come out as a lesbian, she declines, and the rugby player proceeds to make homophobic/invalidating remarks. Her female friends from the Glee Club gather around her with support, and together they perform a rendition of “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry. Through this interaction coupled with the song choice, Glee addresses several themes: the prevalence of casual homophobia, the hostile propensity of high schoolers, how unconditional friendship buffers against the isolating effects of interpersonal hostility, and most importantly, that queerness is valid and the right people will accept, support, and love you for your sexual identity. The use of “I Kissed a Girl,” a popular song about queer experimentation, serves to connect Santana’s fictional push-back against homophobia to the gradual normalization of queerness in real-life. Both “I Kissed a Girl” on its own and this Glee performance attempt to popularize and destigmatize queerness by conflating homosexuality, something often seen as divisive, with music, an art form considered to be largely unifying and accessible to all. Both address such serious constructs in a fun, lighthearted way, which “Notes on ‘Camp'” describes as a hallmark of campness. Sontag asserts that camp is “[…] the sensibility of failed seriousness, of the theatricalization of experience. Camp refuses both the harmonies of traditional seriousness, and the risks of fully identifying with extreme states of feeling” (Sontag, 10). It is clear that these contrasting elements within camp work in tandem to foster empathy from the general public. Glee’s campification of queerness brings self-expression and social support into the national discourse around homosexuality.

It is important for queerness to be represented as both serious and theatrical — both worth defending and worth having fun with. Homophobia is inherently very serious; throughout American history and into the present day, queer people have been berated, tormented, and even murdered for their sexuality. Addressing how commonly and pervasively homophobia affects the LGBTQ+ population is integral to fighting against this robust stigma that can cost people their lives. Integrating peer-supported queer joy in the plight against homonegativity works to deconstruct the “phobia” element of anti-queer hate: it demonstrates that all people can share excitement and enjoyment and community, especially through culturally accepted and enjoyed entertainment like music. There are a lot of other aspects of Glee I could connect to camp and across other texts from our class (and I would do so happily but I am already way over the word count), but it is clear that its general campness can speak for itself.