Now Reading: News Flash: Black LGBT+ People Exist and Deserve Representation Too


News Flash: Black LGBT+ People Exist and Deserve Representation Too

February 18, 20184 min read

On February 12, an article titled “Marvel Misses Another Easy Opportunity for LGBTQ Representation With Black Panther” was posted on the blog, io9. The article discussed how Marvel failed to incorporate the sexuality of one of the characters, Ayo, who is canonically in a relationship with another woman in the Black Panther comics.

The article also mentioned reports of Ayo and Okoye, two of the soldiers in the Black Panther’s all female army, the Dora Milaje, being romantically involved in the film. However, Marvel decided to cut that idea.

When the article was posted on io9’s official Twitter page, many people responded negatively. A lot of the replies were along the lines of “stop trying to put LGBT people in everything” or “there’s already a lot of LGBT representation.”

It is clear that a lot of the people did not properly read the article, and merely formed an opinion based on the headline. The author was not trying to overshadow how important this film is to black people by inserting LGBT+ issues. All that was said was that there was an easy opportunity to explore the sexuality of the women in the Dora Milaje since Ayo, who is a main character in the film, is a lesbian in the comics. He also pointed out that a film that was so centered on the female characters could have at least tried to incorporate their sexual orientation.

The author was simply trying to bring light to LGBT+ erasure, which is still a major issue in today’s media.

Obviously, Black Panther is an extremely important film for the black community; a film about superheroes with an all-black cast is not something we see often (or at all, for that matter).

But, the truth is that black LGBT+ people exist, and they are not represented either. LGBT+ people want to feel represented, just like any other minority group. A black, gay woman being a main character in a major movie could make strides in the issues of representation and diversity.

Black Panther is a film that is already changing the game when it comes to representation on the big screen, and that is absolutely incredible, and speaking against Marvel’s gay erasure is not trying to undermine the rest of the film.

Second of all, many people were pointing out that there is already enough LGBT+ representation, and that is completely false. Yes, many shows and movies do include a non-straight character, and that is great. But often times, those characters are not well-written and are pushed to the side.

Non-straight characters are almost always white and exclusively gay; the LGBT+ community involves many people who are not just gay (some are bisexual, transgender, asexual), as well as people who are not white.

Arguing that LGBT+ representation doesn’t belong in a movie for black people is wrong because it implies that there are no black people in the LGBT community. Black Panther is an incredible movie, and it is one that black people deserve to have.

Nobody is saying that the film is not as good because there aren’t any LGBT+ characters, but let’s not ignore the intersection between race and sexual orientation, and, instead, let’s work to diversify films even more, in the best ways possible.

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Tharushika Hetti

Tharushi is a 17 year old living in Toronto. Besides social justice and writing, she's also interested in Broadway musicals, a countless number of TV shows and drama!