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Transcending Binaries

A Reflection on My Personal Connection to The L Word: Generation Q

For quite some time, I have been struggling with the portrayal of my queer presentation, balancing on the tightrope between the binaries of femininity and masculinity. I feel a self-prescribed sort of pressure sometimes, to compromise my femininity so I will fit society’s mold of a queer woman, which translates to being more masculine-presenting.

But, I don’t necessarily feel myself when I do that. There’s a big part of me that is very feminine, and when I present myself as the opposite, I feel like I’m compromising that part of myself.

But, when I present myself as very feminine, I feel like I’m straight-passing, which isn’t something I want either. It boggles me that this fine line of gender norms exists in my mind even as a queer woman: dictating how I talk, dress, stand, sit.

This ridiculous binary is initiating a battle within myself as I attempt to combine and intertwine these two forces of my being into one. It has been so difficult to let myself simply be.

In previous years, the media has generally presented lesbians and queer women in a very monolithic way, only showing very stereotypical, butch queer women: hyper-masculine, sporty, and agressive. While I do appreciate any form of LGBTQ+ representation in television and film, it has been very difficult for me to see how I fit into that narrative. Some days, I want to paint my face with colorful makeup and place flowers in my hair. On others, all I wish is to go barefaced and wear all men’s clothing. I have never seen any films with characters possessing these dual identities.

The narrative is always very singular, it has been overwhelmingly masculine, queer women.

When the original The L Word television show came out, it was a complete contrast: almost all of the women on this show were extremely feminine. Not to discredit its monumental importance to the queer community, but it fell short in its representation of us in all aspects, along with its biphobia and transphobia. It was another show that yet again, lacked the intersectionality that literally makes the queer community of the world so beautiful and interesting. And this time around, instead of the masculine narrative, it overwhelmingly showcased the feminine one.

When The L Word: Generation Q premiered, I decided to watch it in hopes of a more realistic depiction of our queer world. I flew through this series, watching each episode obsessively; it was phenomenal. In addition to having more diverse characters in terms of race, ability, and gender identity, a mix of feminine and masculine characters existed as well.

Finally, I saw fluidity within different women’s presentations. This new reboot has soothed me like medicine because it has allowed me that chance to breathe by showing me that I don’t have to pick from this binary; that choosing simply one or the other is not all that exists.

The new reboot show is much more appropriate for the queer community than the original. I understood the importance and necessity of representation within film years and years ago, but as a white, and what I thought at the time, straight woman, I found people who looked like me in almost every form of media.

Now, in 2020, we unfortunately still have a very lengthy journey ahead of us in regards to representation in Hollywood. People of color, disabled people, poor people, queer people, and people of a multitude of other identities are still largely absent from film and television.

However, The L Word: Generation Q, was in my opinion, the best attempt of showcasing intersectionality within the queer community than any other show or movie that I have seen. Not only are there characters with multiple identities that weave into their queer lives, there are characters who embrace their dual, shifting, masculine-feminine aspects of their beings.

It is so detrimental for the LGBTQ+ community to be portrayed as either singularly feminine or singularly masculine because it inhibits the ability for us to be seen as intersectional beings. The inflexible binary that the media places upon queer people minimizes us to one-dimensional clichés and only fosters stereotypes.

What lies at the core of queer progress is intersectionality, and until we are presented as intersectional, diverse characters in the media, we will continue to be compartmentalized for the comfort of heteronormative society.

The Generation Q reboot of the show is of such importance for this precise reason: it fixes the original’s enforced binaries and lack of diversity, and showcases the much more realistic, inclusive queer community that we know and love in real life. It not only includes more diversity in terms of race, ability, and gender, but also in regards to queer expression and presentation.

All that I had been struggling with, the juggling of my masculine and feminine energies, was shown exactly and effortlessly in front of me through this show. There are queer feminine women, masculine women, women in between, and women who choose to appear more feminine in one scene and then more masculine in the next. But all of this does not negate the fact that they are queer.

I used to feel that if I embraced my feminine energy, it negated my masculine energy. That it thus negated my queer existence. This show has given me the understanding through other representations of women that my queerness will never be minimized based on the way I choose to present myself.

My being transcends constructed binaries, and I will always be queer.

Belle Samko

Belle Samko

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