‘First LGBTQ+ Marvel character’ is not a publicity stunt

The past few weeks have been big for female minority representations in the media. We’ve had announcements of the likes of the new 007, the live-action The Little Mermaid, and now, the announcement of the “first LGBTQ+ Marvel Movie superhero”, in the form of Valkyrie.

Of course, it didn’t take long for the backlash.

Announce an LGBTQ+ character and get ready to fight off the swathes of people crying: “Snowflakes! Political correctness gone mad! Who cares what your sexuality is???! Why is this news-worthy?!”.

I think it’s important to clarify a few things. Firstly, this is not Marvel’s first LGBTQ+ character. This will simply be the first openly LGBTQ+ storyline in a Marvel movie.

And you know what? I’m sick of every single film that attempts to represent a minority being labelled as a snowflake-pandering, politically correct publicity stunt. Despite the claims, Valkyrie has not been “made” bisexual for this movie as a publicity stunt, and people (particularly Marvel fans) would realise this if they hadn’t ignored the obvious fact that Valkyrie’s character has always been queer, you know, when she’s kissed girls and clearly had on-off relationships with them (aka, with Dr. Annabelle Riggs in Fearless Defenders).

In fact, actress Tessa Thompson has confirmed that the only scene that made it explicitly clear that Valkyrie was bisexual in Thor: Ragnarok (2017) was cut (surprise surprise). Producers claimed they did not want to “distract” from the storyline with the character’s sexuality. Hang on; nobody says it’s “distracting” when we have straight relationships and love stories shoved in our faces at every opportunity in every movie ever. If finding out a character is queer will detract from the rest of the plot, we clearly still have a very long way to go when it comes to acceptance and normalisation of the LGBTQ+ community.

Valkyrie was bisexual all along; this is just announcement-worthy because they’re actually going to let a gay relationship take the spotlight in a Marvel movie rather than have a few wishy-washy hints towards it. And yes, that is something to be celebrated, cause it’s taken damn long enough.

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