Breaking news: not every disabled character is secretly queer!
So Elsa of ‘Frozen’ has psychological issues stemming from being taught to hate herself, keep others safe from her, and hide a condition she was born with that causes her body to do things that other people’s don’t. But that’s not a mental illness or disability acceptance narrative, it’s a queer acceptance and coming-out one? Okay.
Remus Lupin of ‘Harry Potter’ has psychological issues stemming from being taught to hate himself, keep others safe from him and to hide a condition he’s had almost his whole life that causes his body and brain to do things other people’s don’t. But that shouldn’t have been a disability narrative, it should have been a queer one instead… and his queerness, not his explicitly stigmatized condition and the resulting self-hatred, was the reason he was distressed upon entering a committed relationship with a woman? Also, his disease being a parallel to a real life stigmatised disease with some gay associations means it’s an insult if he isn’t gay because JKR is implying it isn’t a gays-only disease (an idea which got a lot of LGBT people killed in panic), and she totally should have implied exactly that? Uh, okay?
Tonks of ‘Harry Potter’ (the woman whom Remus Lupin is in that relationship, incidentally) showing symptoms of depression is a sign of weakness and neediness despite explicitly having mental health issues running through her mother’s side of the family and having her entire society plunge into war and terrorism at the time of her depression, because she was supposed to remain colourful and tomboyish in order to be relatable for queer little girls? Oh, okay.
Toph Bei Fong of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Aang’ leaving her parents to follow her own path has nothing to do with claiming her personhood and competance despite her disability, and everything to do with a coming out of the closet analogy because they tried to make her meek, vulnerable and feminine? Also, Toph earthbent Lin into existence because you know Toph Bei McAwesomesauce could have never had Lin by means of anything so pedestrian and heteronormative as a biological father? OKAY THEN IF YOU SAY SO. (You think I’m making this one up, don’t you? I’m not.)
Dear able-bodied, neurotypical queer fans: yes, you deserve narratives where queerness is both explicit and positive. But why, out of all the narratives of healthy straight white people you could hijack and claim for your own, it’s almost always the narratives of disabled/chronically ill/mentally ill characters? Especially the ones that portray us as three dimensional human beings? Do you know how rare it is for a disabled character to be portrayed as having issues and genuinely struggling with said issues while still being portrayed as positive and likeable characters anyway? Do you realise how many Good Cripples are out there in fiction, who are granted equal status to other characters only due to expressing superhuman patience and endurance in the face of suffering and intolerance? Do you realise how many characters representing us are out there for the sole purpose of being Good Cripples and/or inspiration porn, both in-universe and out-of-universe? For people to complain that Remus Lupin failing to remain the Good Cripple or Tonks actually succumbing to depression was out of character because they should have been totally gay in both the sexuality and upbeat senses, or that Elsa and Toph’s real story is one of coming out of the closet, derails what is an incredibly valuable narrative for us.
Please derail someone else’s narratives for a change. You deserve your narratives, but not at the expense of outright stealing ours and calling us queerphobic when we object to the theft. Because we aren’t exactly swimming in a plethora of well-rounded options either.
Okay, so, I wanted to respond to this with angry venom, but both queer and disabled fans deserve more than that. So:
You’re right in that saying that any of these characters don’t count as disabled, or that their disability is just a metaphor for queerness, is wrong, and shows a fairly messed-up worldview to boot.
However, what I read this post as is “if these characters are disabled, then they can’t be queer - if they’re queer, then they’re hijacking disabled narratives”. And that’s just not true. I mean, it’s not like the two things don’t overlap in real life. Reading Elsa as a lesbian with anxiety issues is pretty well-supported by the text.
I read the OP as a critique specifically of queer fans without disabilities taking canonical disability narratives, erasing the disability of the narratives and replacing them with queerness, and then accusing fans with disabilities of bigotry when they point out their narratives are being erased. The dichotomizing language I saw as paraphrasing of the arguments non-disabled queer fans use to erase disability: in other words, the people behaving as though queerness and disability can’t co-exist are the same ones lupinatic is critiquing.
I wish I’d seen lupinatic’s original tags at the time I first reblogged because I think they underline zir position:
if you’re not disabled chronically ill or MI then these aren’t your struggles to steal, just don’t do it, these characters are disabled and if they were queer their disability wouldn’t disappear, we are just as deserving of representation as you are, actually disabled, actually queer, getting real tired of this bullshit