There is so much mass media is finally getting right. We finally have well-written female characters with great story arcs, representation of trans characters played by actual trans actors on shows like ‘Orange Is The New Black’ and ‘Sense8,’ and we may finally be winding up the tradition of using same-sex relationships as comic relief.
But as far as representing the entire spectrum of sexual and romantic identities goes, that’s going to take time. And for a whole generation of people, growing up confused, scared or angry with their identities, having to wait to be represented will be tiresome, lonely and incredibly uncomfortable. Luckily there’s a bunch of artists online who are taking these matters into their own hands. Or, to be more precise, to the drawing board. Here are a few amazing pieces of art that bring to the attention of even casual scrollers the existence of identities that are seldom discussed.
Kristen Halvorsen is an art and psychology major based in the United States, and her profile lists ‘earl grey tea’ and ‘gay mermaids’ among her likes, and you really gotta see her motivational sharks. But it’s her adorable ‘Whales’ that really caught our eye. It became immensely popular with these first three designs, that incorporated the pride flags of oft-erased orientations – bisexuality, pansexuality and asexuality. They’re available as stickers on her redbubble store, and have also surfaced as tattoos
Stephanie’s short comic pretty much sums up the feeling of being aromantic. Aromantics (or aros) do not experience romantic attraction towards any gender. It should be noted aromantics are not necessarily asexual also. They can also fall anywhere on the sexual spectrum. Therefore, straight, gay, bi, pan or polysexual aros may also find this piece very relatable!
Artist Jaiden combines the awesomeness of Pokémon with the defining colours of individual identities. The illustrations are smooth, delicate and are super creative alternatives to just plain pride flags. What’s great is that the entire spectrum is covered in Jaiden’s art, so along with a gay Beautifly and lesbian Spritzee, Lithosexuals, Autosexuals, Skoliosexuals and other lesser known identities are beautifully represented in their gallery.
Sometimes wide eyed doodles, like Swiss artist tiredrussian‘s, are the best way to get across the frustration of having a lesser-known sexual orientation. This comic quickly – and dramatically! – sums up the questioning process asexual people have to constantly deal with, and also some of that inner rage.
Secret Queer Newsletter, or S.Q.N. (that’s pronounced ‘sequin’, by the way) is an 11 member team that has taken on the task of “bringing you moral support and combatting homophobia.” Here’s a comic they created with a lithromantic character who did not want those feelings reciprocated. Lithros are rarely recognized, but they do exist, and the comic wants to remind everyone about this.
Written and illustrated by Elizabeth and Emily, respectively, this piece is from “an ongoing online comic about recovering from domestic violence, and figuring out what happens next.” Even though bisexuality is part of the acronym ‘LGBT’, it’s often ignored. Worse still, people misconstrue it for ‘frivolity,’ ‘indecisiveness,’ or ‘justifying unfaithfulness.’ These illustrations take a very sombre look at the unique struggles of bisexual individuals.
The Tumblr community has also produced much larger visual projects related to the experiences of marginalized orientations. Among these is linguistics graduate Chekhov’s “Autobiographical Story about A Hopeless Aromantic” titled ‘Becoming Loveless.’ And while you’re at it, check out self-taught Canadian artist Kate’s continuing series on bisexuality.
Tumblr has this and more to offer to anybody who’s interested in learning about ‘+’ in ‘LGBT+’, and the artists sure have a way of combining the grave, the immediate, the humorous and the annoying.