megan rosalarian gedris
Do you think that gay pride parades are self defeating? The ones I’ve seen have outrageous costumes, half nakedness and just general weirdness. Won’t this just give people something to point to to justify their prejudices?

I used to think that. I used to see half naked people running around in glitter and leather and think about how they were setting us back, and alienating straight people from our cause, and why can’t we emphasize how most gay people are “normal” like everyone else?

My opinion changed this summer when I actually went to my city’s Gay Pride for more than 5 minutes, for the first time. It was really eye opening. There we’re a lot of activities or things to do. It was mostly people just standing in a park talking to each other. But, oh, those people…

Drag queens, leather bears, nudists, the queerest of the queer.

Gay pride is a chance for people to get together and be really truly themselves, however freaky that may be. For once, nobody has to censor themselves. They can wear what they want, say what they want, and do what they want, and BE who they want. All the shame we’re meant to feel for being ourselves goes out the window. I looked around me and saw some of the most blatant JOY I have ever seen in my life. It was one day of freedom for people who so often feel trapped.

Sure, we *could* tone it down for the sake of not justifying anyone’s prejudices, but that would DEFEAT THE ENTIRE POINT OF GAY PRIDE. We’re not fighting to be treated better so long as we act according to OTHER people’s standards. We’re fighting to be treated better on our OWN standards.

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Logic Problems

Sometimes, despite knowing that someone has a wrong idea about something, I can at least understand why they have that idea, based on various erroneous data they received and thus reacted on.

But then there are people whose thought processes that I will never understand, and one of those types of people are the parents who don’t vaccinate their children.

At this point, the original study that said vaccinations cause autism has been retracted, admitted as being false from the very beginning. Doctors are standing on street corners with megaphones telling this tot he world. There is no link between vaccinations and autism. Yet people still refuse to vaccinate their kids.

But let’s assume that the original study was true. That autism is somehow caused by vaccinations. I still see no reason not to vaccinate your children. Because you know what is worse than autism? Rabies. Tetanus. Measles. Hepatitis. Whooping cough. Polio.

Unlike autism, those things can be deadly. And worse, unlike autism, they can be spread to other children with similarly dense parents who didn’t get their kids vaccinated.

Autism is unfortunate, but it is not the end of the world for a kid. Yes, things might be harder for them, but there are so many autistic people leading perfectly wonderful lives. They’re contributing members of society, wonderful people, with families and people who love them. How is autism more scary than deadly diseases?

The only logical reasoning I can see for this mindset is that we have had these crucial vaccinations for so long, and have gone so long without a whooping cough epidemic, or a measles epidemic, that people truly think they aren’t a threat anymore, and thus autism is more of a risk than these various diseases. But they’re failing to see that the reason we don’t see those diseases anymore… is because of the vaccinations you’re refusing to give your damned kid!

So one more time: AUTISM IS BETTER THAN BEING DEAD FROM MEASLES SO VACCINATE THE OFFSPRING WHO WERE UNFORTUNATE ENOUGH TO BE SPRUNG FROM YOUR DIPSHIT LOINS!

surely race should be unimportant? it shouldn’t even register what skin colour someone is. people don’t make a big fuss if there are no blonde characters in a comic. it’s kind of racist to make such a big deal about it in my opinion.

People don’t get upset about a lack of blonde characters because there are already so many of them, both in comics and other media. Blondes aren’t a minority; they don’t need any sort of advocacy. In fact, people have been (rightfully) complaining that there are too many.

And again, while ideally race *should* be unimportant, our society has *made* it important. People who say they “don’t see color” are hiding their heads in the sand. Pretending not to see race doesn’t make racism go away.

When you aren’t part of a majority group, it becomes even MORE important to see positive depictions of people like yourself. White people never have to worry about not finding interesting stories about white people. There are a lot of diverse stories featuring white people, so if I don’t like this white character, I am guaranteed to find hundreds of others I will like. Non white characters are still not nearly as plentiful and diverse in storyline as white characters.

Attempting to balance that out by being conscious of it and making a conscious effort to include positive, interesting, relatable minority characters is not racism. Constantly denying how badly non white people want more representation in comics? Now THAT’S kind of racist.

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My scripts had multiple women with names. Talking to each other. About something other than men. That, they explained nervously, was not okay. I asked why. Well, it would be more accurate to say I politely demanded a thorough, logical explanation that made sense for a change (I’d found the “audience won’t watch women!” argument pretty questionable, with its ever-shifting reasons and parameters).

At first I got several tentative murmurings about how it distracted from the flow or point of the story. I went through this with more than one professor, more than one industry professional. Finally, I got one blessedly telling explanation from an industry pro: “The audience doesn’t want to listen to a bunch of women talking about whatever it is women talk about.”

“Not even if it advances the story?” I asked. That’s rule number one in screenwriting, though you’d never know it from watching most movies: every moment in a script should reveal another chunk of the story and keep it moving.

He just looked embarrassed and said, “I mean, that’s not how I see it, that’s how they see it.”

This frustrates me to no end. The mentality that straight white cis men are the only characters audiences care about. That anything that deviates from that is going to lose eyeballs on screens. Because nobody is willing to deviate from the target audience of 18-32 year old straight white cisgendered men.

Even in webcomics, those so-called bastions of indie creativity, I see a similar mentality. (Not all the time, but enough to make me tear my hair out.) That the target audience is those 18-32 S/W/C men. Every marketing guide I read, all the advice I get for succeeding in this industry, is to appeal to those guys. The golden demographic.

But you know what I’ve found? Appealing to people who haven’t been appealed to on a regular basis *might* get you fewer viewers, but those who do come are more loyal (and more willing to pony up some cash) than those who have a thousand other stories about them to choose from. And again, the keyword there is “might”. You can still succeed even if your main character is an Asian transgendered lesbian. But you won’t if you’re constantly having to apologize for making her.

And, because people tend to lose their shit if I don’t say this: it’s still okay to make stories about S/W/C dudes. Go ahead. Knock yourself out. There are lots of stories that I read and enjoy featuring those golden demo boys. But there is more to our society than those guys, they’ve already had their stories told a million times, and there are huge groups of people who have never had their stories told.

I actually consider it a good thing that you have an all white main cast.It could be fairly offensive to stick a token black/asian character in there for the sake of diversity. I think Mary covered the race thing plenty, and it has humour limit.

Good to know that having one black character in one comic that is finished has filled my minority quota for my entire career, but I think I’m going to exceed my quota.

Not all non-white characters have to be tokens. Not all non-white characters have to be there to make a point about racism. To assume they are is to assume that white is the default, the norm, and anything away from that must be for the sake of a diversity requirement or a lesson.

There isn’t just one black story to tell. There isn’t just one way to deal with race. If there is a “humor limit” with having non-white characters, it won’t be reached in our lifetime. Why is there no humor limit for having white characters? Surely that would be reached first, since more white characters are getting their stories told.

I’m including non white characters because why *shouldn’t* I include non-white characters? Sci-fi is horrible when it comes to remembering to include people who aren’t pasty, which is sad because there are so many non white people who enjoy sci-fi, and just want to see themselves reflected in it. I don’t think it’s a good thing AT ALL to have an all white cast. It’s unrealistic, and I know sci-fi itself is unrealistic, but part of what helps us get into a sci-fi story is that we identify with *some* parts of it, and can see ourselves in it.

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Why are none of the Lesbian pirates black? Or asian? Or something else but white? Not trying to offend you, just something I noticed.

Not offended at all, and in fact this fits in well with my unintentional, unofficial Megan Talks About Sociology Day that I’m having today.

So, waaaaay back when I was first creating the Pirates, I was going to have a racially diverse cast. But then I thought about my source material, the stuff I was parodying, and they were all white. Now, with any satire you have to pick which things are going to stay the same so they can be recognized as being a satire of the source in the first place. If you change too much, people don’t know what it’s parodying anymore. For example, the Pirates are lesbians, but still, for the most part, feminine. They don’t deal with as much homophobia as they would on Earth, and it mostly comes from the bad guys, but there is still a bit of commenting by other characters about the fact that they’re all lesbians.

So I decided that if I included a black character (or one of any other non-white race), it would have to be a Big Deal to the characters. I figured since LPFOS was a parody of lesploitation, that I would do a blacksploitation arc when I introduced a black character. But as time went on, I found myself putting off doing the blacksploitation, until I finally figured out why. I’m not as well-versed on blacksploitation as I am on lesploitation. Not *nearly* enough to parody it well, to lampshade the right parts and avoid accidentally *adding* to the problem. At least with lesploitation, I *am* a lesbian, so any problems i create for lesbians with this comic will effect me. Not with blackploitation. If I didn’t do it right, I would just cause hell for *other* people.

So blacksploitation was now out. I wrapped up the Odyssey arc of LPFOS and started on Sandy Starr. Originally, she was blue, but then I thought about how I’d still not had a non-white character, and did I really need to make a Big Deal out of it? So I changed her. So black people entered the universe of LPFOS not with a bang, but with a whisper (or however that saying goes). I just put her there matter-of-factly. And since LPFOS is about escapism and not having to deal with as much of the baggage that being a minority on Earth brings, I let her be black without making ANY deal about it.

The next arc will introduce a whole bunch of new Pirates. A rival ship, to be more specific. And there will be some not-white characters. With speaking roles! Who have names and do things besides sit in the background! I am truly sorry that my own inability to make up my mind about things meant that this took so long to happen. If I could go back, I would have had POC characters from the beginning.

You know what’s funny? Not funny-ha-ha but funny-strange? This is the first time anyone has ever asked me this question. I was always wondering when someone would ask this question, because I wanted to tell someone what I just wrote. But nobody ever asked until now. I didn’t think it would take this long, so I was overjoyed when I read this question today.

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Anyone else think romantic comedies are actually just how-to guides for stalkers?
(Click here to see full size)

Anyone else think romantic comedies are actually just how-to guides for stalkers?

(Click here to see full size)

A funny story about why I tend to avoid poetry

When I was in high school, I did a lot of acting. I liked it. It was fun and I was good at it.

My high school competed in forensics (not the “examining crime scenes” type, the acting competition type) and in my sophomore year, the drama teacher finally managed to convince me to join. “We’ll put you in a comedic duo,” she said. “You’ll do great.”

The weeks passed, and I wondered when she would actually get around to explaining to me what exactly I had to do for this comedic duo. Until finally the first competition was a few days away and I asked her if she’d dropped me from the team without telling me.

"Oh, no, my schmoopie, I just moved you to poetry."

"Poetry?" Wariness sets in.

"We only had one person sign up for poetry and we need more representation there." She handed me a few sheets of paper. "It needs to be at least 7 minutes and you need to have it memorized."

Wariness is full on, starting to look like a triple rainbow.

I took the poem and left the classroom. On the bus ride home, I read it. Complete shit of a poem. Some sort of long narrative that, were it one of my high school writing assignments, would have been handed back with the words “Try again” written in red at the top.

I thought about quitting right then and there. But so many of my friends talked about all the adventures they had in forensics, and dammit, I wanted in on it. Maybe they’d see how good I was and move me to something cooler later.

I spent the next few days trying to memorize the poem. You might not know this about me, but I am kickass at memorization. I will memorize things for the hell of it. For funsies. But if it’s not interesting, my brain can’t hold onto it. It just falls out.

That Saturday, we all get on the bus to drive a hundred miles away to where all the other schools are driving 100 miles for this competition. I try explaining to the drama teacher that I am so not prepared and I will be worse than no representation at all.

"You don’t have to have it memorized," she said, doing one of her classic I-was-wrong-before-but-I’m-gonna-pretend-I-was-right-all-along moves. "It’s not a big deal. Just go in there and read the poem." Friends are on the bus, it’s cold outside, Mom already left me at school. Fine. I get on the bus.

I spend the bus ride still trying to memorize that poem. But it’s no use. It will never be in there. There is no space assigned for crappy poetry in that lumpy pinkish-grey mass that is my brain. But whatever. It’s casual. Just read it.

It’s held in a high school, and I am directed to a classroom where 9 other girls sit. Apparently boys hate poetry. These girls have been doing forensics for years and a lot of them know each other. Most of them are talking about how much they hate dating men, so at least there’s one thing we have in common.

There is no set order for who goes when. So a girl pops herself up there. And she recites her poem.

She has it memorized. She has dramatic pauses, wild gestures, and she dressed like her poem’s main character. She recited the whole thing in a New York Italian accent. It was 10 minutes long.

She sat down, and I was feeling pretty sick. But hey, maybe she’s like a poetry prodigy. Maybe she came out of the womb bustin’ mad Keats out of her tiny infant mouth.

But no, 8 other girls got up in front of the class, with their clothes and their voices and their confidence and no crinkled sheets of paper to be seen. 7-10 minutes of poetry about slavery and “angry lesbians breasts”.

I wondered if I could skip out on doing mine. Claim that I was just there to watch, a spectator. But shit, they had passed around a sheet asking for everyone’s names and what poem they were reading at the beginning of the session. And I had stupidly written my name clearly.

I stand in front of the classroom, three sheets of paper in my hand. “I’m sorry I didn’t have time to memorize it,” I say, voice wavering as I watch the judge already knocking points off my score.

What followed was five minutes of some of the fastest rhymes outside of an auctioneer’s beat night. When I finished reading a page, I flung it out of my hands as if it was on fire. I was sweating so much that afterward, a friend asked me if my cat had peed on my sweater that morning. (I wish I was joking about that last part.)

When I was finished, I darted into my seat, tried not to cry, and tried harder not to pee my pants. The most valuable lesson I learned that day was to always use the bathroom before doing any public speaking.

There were three rounds of competition that day, and obviously I did not make it into round 2. They invited me to sit in on more of the sessions, to learn things and take notes, but I decided that I had suddenly discovered a strange desire to go pet some lions dressed in a bacon suit. So I declined.

Since that day, I have never been fond of poetry. I have, in my life, written a total of one poem that I actually kind of liked. And I tend not to understand poetry. It seemed to either be a boring narrative or some sort of purposely confusing bullshit that you think is about a cat, but it turns out to be about rape and now you’re in trouble because when you were in charge of laying out the arts magazine for that year, you surrounded the rape poem with black and white photographs of naked ladies. But dammit, maybe they should have been a little bit more clear about what they were talking about.

If you are ever in a poetry reading and you smell cat piss, look around you. It’s probably me.