g: slash

On happy endings

Slash fandom loves them. And who could blame anyone for that, when things get so bleak irl?

It’s just…I keep seeing the same ones. Two men at home. They’re in the kitchen, barefoot and kissing in the morning. Or they’re in bed, feeding each other pastries. Or they’re having such passionate sex that the rest of the world disappears. Sometimes these aren’t even the endings; sometimes they’re the whole story.

Whose happy ending is that?

It’s not that queer people don’t love kissing our partners in the soft morning light, or rapturous sex, or a good breakfast pastry. We do. But that’s such a small sliver of a queer person’s life, and in this happy ending I keep reading it is almost always detached from the context - from the history and lived experience of persecution, fear, shame, discovery, revelation, release, grit, community, resilience, strength, pleasure, rightness, fullness - that makes that moment sweet, that makes it victorious, that makes it precious, that makes it love, that makes it happy. 

I wonder: who decided that happy endings meant being at home alone?

I wonder: after all of the fighting queer people have done to be able to live public lives, why does the go-to happy ending take us out of the public?

I wonder: who is this happy for? the characters whose romantic love is kept separate from their friends and jobs and extended families? the straight writers and readers who don’t have to think about what it means to live as a queer person? who reproduce narratives they’ve never had to question without considering whether those are the stories we should be retelling? the writers and readers who end up suggesting - implicitly, since of course they’d never say such a thing out loud - that queer love and queer happiness should only exist where other people don’t have to see it?

People often say this is in the service of queer readers and writers who want to imagine a happier future. Is this what that happiness looks like?

Consider: queer people with friends over for dinner. queer people in restaurants. queer people in queer bars. queer people at family events. queer people in the classroom. queer people giving presentations. queer people getting promotions. queer people in the park. queer people in the supermarket. queer people at the baths and the piers and the loos and the back rooms. queer people in the lab. queer people fixing cars. queer people writing books. queer people slaying dragons. queer people defusing bombs. queer people unraveling government conspiracies. queer people fighting evil. queer people doing magic. queer people experiencing love and happiness in full view of other people. 

Ask yourself: why, in these so-called happy endings, do queer people have to be hidden away? 

Ask yourself: why aren‘t we writing happy endings for queer couples that are about multifaceted, full lives in addition to sex and domesticity?

Ask yourself: can’t we come up with fuller, realer, richer happy endings?