On Shaming Queer Viewers of Sherlock
I have seen quite a bit of people commenting on the response many of the queer viewers of Sherlock had after the airing of The Final Problem. Some have ranged from bewilderment to condescension to downright mockery–the latter even being written about on separate blog platforms. I can easily say, “don’t be a fucking dick” but what’s the point really? They are dicks and me telling them not to be will not change their essential nature. I’m writing this for you, the queer viewers, the allies, or anyone with a heart.
Sherlock is not just a television show. Things are not just anything. I can’t believe people are willing to live their life so blandly and without passion. But I’m digressing.
Sherlock is a story and stories have always and will continue to be the defining factor of a civilization’s understanding of what it means to be human. When we look at history, we observe the events, we examine the artifacts, and we piece together bit by bit of what they may be like. But it is the stories that have the most prominence. The stories don’t just say what they ate or what materials they had access to, the stories reveal the soul, they reveal the values, they reveal their hopes and fears. They are so much more than just entertainment. The heroes of these tales are what we as a people aspire to. Sherlock is not a real person. He is so much more than that. He’s a hero of the scientific age; a man who wins through intellect and careful procedural study. He is the hero of the modern world. I would go more into this but surely some of the more passionate readers of the ACD oeuvre can add to this.
Representation is about humanity. It’s about affirming one’s humanity. The lack of women, the lack of POC, the lack of LGBT+ and anything in between is about the denial and the dismissal of those individual’s humanity. They are not allowed to participate in the most human of activities, the story.
The explicit queerness of BBC Sherlock’s hero is a clear and undeniable inclusion into this overdue right. For once, a gay love story would be the main feature of one of the most popular tv shows. The show was not about being gay, nor advertised as gay tv like Queer as Folk or the L Word nor does it just have LGBT side characters. Furthermore, regardless of whether one agrees with the reading of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories as queer coded, you cannot deny that for decades, the Sherlock Holmes tales were a refuge for many LGBT+ readers to finally see themselves in the narrative even if it was a hint there and hint here. They were so hungry for it, so hungry to be seen as person.
Now, I’m not LGBT. I’m a straight woman. But I’m also a Native American woman and I can tell you that it is feels almost exactly the same. Whenever I see an actor that may or may not be Native, I alert my family. We stare at the TV in delight. We’re just so sadly excited to see that one maybe native guy. I can even name the few that were in Supernatural. The security guard that tells the boys that the bag containing the tablet is missing and then the one pot smoking kid in the pennywhistle episode. Isn’t that sad? I knew that shit from memory. Hell, EVERY NDN person I know has seen the movie Smoke Signals, sometimes 20 times. What I am saying is, I GET IT. I know what it’s like to long to be seen. To see yourself as the hero. And why do we? Because these stories are where the myth making happens. It’s where are values are hashed out. It’s where we realize good and evil. AND It’s where we learn what it’s like to love.
When TFP didn’t have what we all thought, it was heartbreaking. It was like someone spat in your face and said, HA! You thought you were a person! You seriously though YOU could be the hero. And when I read some of your posts that night, I couldn’t help but cry for you.
Now, to the mockery. First off, I think this is born out of an inherent misogyny and additionally on top of that, homophobia. Now why would I say that?
I’m also from Chicago, IL. Some of you may have remembered when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series and how big a fucking deal it was. I remember watching it live and screaming my head off. We busted out the door and screamed into the night sky. The neighbors were clanging cow bells. It was such an emotional moment. The day after I fucking cried. No lie. I cried. My sister went to the stadium where a bunch of people were writing the names of lost loved once in chalk on the bricks and all over the sidewalk and on the name plaques of all the former players. We were one of them. My father died a couple years ago and all I could think about was how happy he would be. I can imagine him now watching that final play and starting to cry and pretending not to. It meant so much to him. Hell, the news was running features of all these grown ass men crying. AND THIS WAS FOR A BASEBALL TEAM. I bring this up to you because if someone laughed at these people, I wasn’t aware of it. It wasn’t just a baseball game. It was more than that. And how on earth is a seeing a queer hero not even more important? How is it not worth our hearts?
In the end, what I am saying is. These stories matter. They matter more than we realize and it’s ok to care about them. Anyone who laughs at you is a dull boring idiot. They live a small stupid, uneventful life. We ought to feel sorry for them.
I’m still a part of the conspiracy. I believe in Sherlock Holmes. I believe in Johnlock and you best believe I will be crying tears of joy with you all once it is finally realized after all these years.