With the recent increase in LGBT+ characters, the community has more representation than ever before. Granted, the media still has a long way to go, but it’s progress from where we were five years ago. And with the rise of queer characters, we’ve developed many more queer ships. And that’s all well and good.
Now, a whole horde of new problems has befallen the fandom sides of websites like Twitter and Tumblr. It’s a sick mess of shaming people and fetishizing. If you don’t ship a queer ship, you’re homophobic/biphobic/transphoic/*insert here* phobic. If you do ship them, they’re probably two men you write poorly researched sex scenes and fanfiction about. And all the while, you pat yourself on the back for shipping something oh-so-progressive.
Obviously, this isn’t the case for everyone nor does shipping something queer automatically make you a disgusting human being. A lot of people just genuinely like the dynamic between the two characters. If this describes you, then I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about the people who act like they get a point for each queer ship they ship and yet don’t really care about the queer experience. I’m talking about the people who act like you have to ship every queer thing just because it’s queer and that you’re problematic if you don’t. The people who act like the ship itself can’t be problematic or refuse to see its flaws. The people who obsess over the idea of the two characters (pretty much always two guys) having sex. Those people.
As a queer person, this agitates me so much. It’s so disrespectful and basically makes a game out of our existence. Let me drop a few truths on you:
- No one is required to ship a queer ship. Sometimes a person just… doesn’t. And that’s okay. No one ships every heterosexual ship, so why should it be required for queer ones? It doesn’t make the person any kind of phobic. Some people are and it is incredibly easy to tell which people are. When they use language like, “It makes me uncomfortable,” it’s a pretty safe bet they’re no ally. But for people who just don’t happen to ship a queer ship, it’s a ludicrous claim and you need to stop making it.
- Queer ships can be toxic, unhealthy, and/or abusive. They are not all unproblematic #relationshipgoals by virtue of being queer. I actually wrote an extensive Tumblr post on this topic recently in regards to the Mark/Kieran ship from The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare. It has every marker of a toxic relationship, and yet people get so wet for this ship. Queer ships are not somehow purer than hetero ships. They’re exactly the same. All it says to actual queer people when you defend and support these ships is that you don’t actually care about queer people and that the queer nature of the ship is more important than whether or not it is good for the people involved. I don’t want to see you claim to be an ally if you support a ship like this and try to defend it on the grounds of “gay!!!!”
- If you only ship M/M ships and obsess over the idea of them having sex, you’re just fetishizing them. And that’s just sick. These are lives real people live and all you care about is how often they fuck. Do you honestly not realize how disrespectful and objectifying that is? But you collect these M/M ships like Funko Pops, meanwhile eschewing all things F/F (and that’s even before we get in into trans, nonbinary, and asexual people). (Not to mention little to no research goes into how anal sex actually works.) You’re transparent and disgusting. Don’t you dare claim to be an ally when all you care about is how much these ships titillate you. You’re no better than homophobic men who still watch lesbian porn.
Plenty of authors are guilty of this as well. Hell, once again, Cassandra Clare is a prime example. She keeps releasing content for Magnus/Alec and Mark/Kieran, but gives us squat on Helen/Aline. And what’s the majority of the content we’ve gotten from them of late? Sex. And one of these ships is, as I pointed out earlier, incredibly toxic. So, case in point.
I greatly and sincerely want this behavior to stop. I want my community to be respected, not collected as trophies. I want our characters to be treated well or, if an abusive relationship is portrayed, everyone (including the author) acknowledges that it is abusive and therefore not to be shipped. I want the oversexualization of my community to stop. We are not here for your entertainment.
How about this? Just use this rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t treat a M/F ship like this, don’t treat a M/M or F/F (or other) ship like this. It’s just basic human decency and, more than that, common sense.
Or, you know, at least acknowledge that you don’t actually give a shit.