Image: Sunni Colón, taken by @micaiahcarter.
Do y'all watch cartoons? No? Lovely. Please bear with me.
If you DO watch cartoons, you probably know of this Cartoon Network show called “Craig of the Creek.” It’s about this lil’ Black kid named Craig who basically has all these dope ass adventures in a creek near his house. We really out here in 2020 with a whole children’s cartoon show about a Black kid and his Black ass family. (There’s also a lot of queer vibes and racial diversity among secondary characters. You should definitely watch this show.) Watching this show had me hype, always. But then, I found out it was created by two cis, presumably straight white guys.
And it honestly made me feel some kind of way at first. I don’t want white people telling our stories. Period. But in an industry where Black people (especially if they’re queer and/or trans) don’t have the same opportunities to get projects and art greenlit to go mainstream… Who else is going to tell our stories? If it’s done with the intention to accurately portray our lives and succeeds, do I really need to be that pressed about it? After a long time of sitting on it, I decided that I don’t.
This of course opens a door to the discussion of how we can get our shit seen, but I brought all this up so I could swing open another door. So, we’re gonna go there instead. (Though, I personally am a firm believer in creating our own platforms to lift our art above the surface and to not rely on cis, straight, white peeps and their fake attempts at diversity.)
Most music until it gets a music video, an interview with the artist, or an obscure Instagram post about how the song COULD be talking about a queer person or a queer relationship is almost always cishet assumed. That’s partially because 9 times out of 10, the artist is a cishet person. Which, understood… I guess? Well, not really because a lot of the time, we’re just assuming someone is a cishet person simply because they haven’t said otherwise. In a society where cishet people are the majority in all of our media, of course we right off the bat assume a stranger is cis & het. I still don’t know how to stop doing that.
We have plenty of queer artists doing their thing in the mainstream right now. Chika, Tyler the Creator, Janelle Monáe, Troye Sivan (Don’t judge me.) The list goes on and unfortunately the amount of white queers in the mainstream media outnumber us. The amount of cis people unfortunately outnumbers trans and/or enby folx as well. They really out here. But so are we!
Until we can start getting the same visibility, though… I want more cishet people telling our stories. I actually think this is a crucial stepping stone that will allow us to uplift our own people. Shit doesn’t go mainstream until cishet people show it and/or steal it from us. And until non-celeb cishet people get more comfortable seeing us being represented in t