As Loki has shown, there is something to say to tell more proud and open LGBTQ+ stories. It seems that most of the main suggestions in this regard tend to come down to fleeting references or scenes that are easy to miss. This certainly seems a bit unbalanced, given that the same projects often involve a number of lengthy sequences and stories involving heterosexual and cis couples.
One of such controversial moments is connected with the series “Loki” for Disney Plus from Marvel Studios, which in one line confirmed that his titled deceiver god is canonically bisexual. On the one hand, many celebrated Loki’s moment. Bisexuals, especially men, tend to be much less represented in mainstream media than a number of other groups in the LGBTQ+ community. But, on the other hand, a considerable number of viewers felt that the show did not go far enough, and one such outspoken fan turned out to be quite a prominent figure.
The screenwriter and showrunner of the Doctor Who series Russell T. Davis, who will return to the series next year after many years of absence, spoke out about this scene last year. According to him, the people who worked on Loki hardly did the bare minimum for further representation of the bisexual (and pansexual) community. “Loki once mentions that he was bisexual, and everyone is like that: “My God, it’s like a pansexual show.” It’s like one word,” Davis criticized. “He said the word ‘prince,’ and we had to say, ‘Thank you, Disney! Aren’t you wonderful?” It’s pathetic. This is a ridiculous, cowardly, weak gesture towards vital politics and stories that should be told.”
Now “Loki” director Kate Herron, who unfortunately declined to return for season 2, has an answer for Davis, but it’s not as confrontational as some might expect. During a conversation with Variety, Herron was finally able to respond to the Doctor Who author’s comments, defending her position and pointing out how important it was to touch on Loki’s sexuality, even to such a small extent. “I don’t agree that bigger stories should be told, but — and I think he’s entitled to his opinion—I’m very proud of what we did in the series,” she commented. “Russell is my hero, but like I said, I hope we’ve at least opened the door and there will be more stories.”
Herron’s point of view has some merit. In a world where bigotry against queer people seems to be almost on the rise, it can be difficult to incorporate proper representation into mainstream media without risking some particularly violent backlash. But, on the other hand, such restraint may seem almost an agreement with the limited views of those who want to keep marginalized communities in the shadows. Until films and shows openly and unambiguously show the main characters of LGBTQ+, without downplaying their identity, the situation will continue to stagnate, and studios like Disney constantly declare that every tiny piece of almost representation is somehow “the first gay character in a Disney movie.” again.
It’s nice that Herron didn’t lash out at Davis for his comments, especially since this issue is very close to her as a proud queer woman. But I hope she’s right, and the small but important scene with Loki really opened the door for more explicit examples of representation in the future. Viewers see straight people in the media all the time, and it’s never called “heterosexual propaganda,” so why should weirder stories be different from others?
The first season of “Loki” is available to stream on Disney Plus.