There is a lot to be said about my obsession with Marvel and BtVS. I know that a lot of people don’t get it. That and my loyalty to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, especially in light of the ever-growing allegations against Joss Whedon and his apparent love of abusing his power.
How can I, who rails against those who abuse their power, and yet stay loyal to these shows? I can, and I will because I refuse to let the behavior of a cis, white man take away these shows that meant so much to me growing up – really told just about everything to me. There can be many said for so-called cancel culture and both the benefits and detriments associated with it.
Why am I loyal to these when in many people’s minds, they should be shows that I cancel out of my life? Along with the MCU, with the first two big team-up Avengers films being from Whedon and his name all over Agents of Shield. Logically, according to many, I need to cancel all of these out of my world because of Whedon’s allegedly abusive, sexist, and just downright douchebagy behavior.
These words will never be ripped from me. They mean too much.
Growing up gay in small-town America in the ’90s, I had nothing and no one to turn to know what I was. It was like looking into an endless void, knowing that I was okay with being gay, but not knowing how anyone else, including my family, would react. It was an endlessly lonely existence.
This is no one’s fault. It was a product of the times and of the location. I know that my family loves me, my wife, and my daughter. I am sure that my sisters would have been fine no matter when I came out, and also that my mother would have been. I know that my Dad had the worst reaction. Still, it was more of a not wanting the hate and discrimination that would come my way. Did I do this by letting her be a tomboy (he obviously knows that you are born this way, but he had his reaction and that is perfectly allowed and acceptable)?
I know now that my family is my most prominent advocate, and that is wonderful. I know now that the friends I lost when I came out to them weren’t my friends and weren’t necessarily people I wanted to be my friends in adult life. It was a shock, to be sure. I was not the popular or unpopular kid in my class. My best friends were older or younger than me and in different grades, and I had friends in my class that I hung out with, but I had no place or group to call home. I kind of floated, not making enemies or besties.
This was purposeful. I was terrified and could not let people know who I really was. I was different. No teen likes being different. I do not actually identify as a lesbian, but more pan – I do not fall in love with the equipment; I fall in love with the person. In my day, with my limited knowledge, the options available to me were Lesbian or Bi, and bi-sexuals were NOT okay with any group at that time. (Smalltown America here, people).
Again, let me set the scene. I was born in 1982. I grew up overhearing the news that my parents watched. Do you know what the LGBTQ+ kids of my generation grew up listening to? We heard words on the news like GRID – the Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, seen first as weird cancer in homosexual men. It became clear how the disease was transmitted, and it became the “gay disease.” Sure, people exposed to contaminated blood could get it. Still, it was primarily seen as a gay issue until ’91 when Magic Johnson announced his diagnosis.
So what did those 1980s and early ’90s LGBTQ+ kids grow up hearing? On the NEWS? That GRID was a plague affecting gay people – and that it was “God’s solution to the gay issue.” We saw signs saying God hates f*gs and saw protestors outside of hospitals and funerals shouting about the plague from heaven to cleanse the gays. Even though I understood that gay men and lesbians were different – because the news was apparent on these two things – all gay people were treated as this plague against society. Yeah, no wonder there were so many people of my generation that were hesitant to come out.
I felt like just by admitting that I was not straight to myself, I acknowledged that I was wrong with society. That is what the news made it seem like. You heard about GRID, and even when it was changed to HIV/AIDs, for years it was HIV/AIDs, formerly known as GRID which is a disease that affects mainly homosexuals…yeah, wonder why we had a belief that everyone was scared of us and wanted to fix us…
Enter Marvel (at that time, comics). Even as a kid, I could find someone to relate to in those books. Whether it was a group of mutants that banded together to fight for the world, even as the earth feared and hated them, or if it was a teen who got bitten by a spider and woke up to be someone totally different, you could escape into a world where you could see yourself.
It is the same with Buffy. No, I did not slay vampires, have super strength, or watch as my best friend blossomed into the most powerful witch around…but Buffy had this thing that she was – not by choice, not by desire, but by birth. She was born this way, and she couldn’t escape it. She had to accept it and love herself – and at that point, that is how many closeted small-town teens in the 1990s felt. They could watch this show and talk about it with friends, and there could be such a more profound meaning there than anyone knew.
So no. The behavior of the man who happened to create the characters of that world, of that same man who directed the two first team-up movies in the MCU, will not take those worlds, those memories away from me. I can love my shows, my memories, my worlds without condoning or accepting his behavior.
Like Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar said – she is proud to be associated with Buffy but refuses to allow herself to be associated with Whedon. Preach, Queen. There is so much more to be discussed on this topic. Still, before getting into it, I wanted to clarify why I am not canceling Buffy or the Avengers out of my life. Never gonna happen. Guess what. I love them 3,000.
That is how I see it…