THIS IS SO IMPORTANT
Can we just talk about how perfect Community’s 6x04 “Queer Studies and Advanced Waxing” is?
Like there’s so much to it, from Chang’s concern that he was only cast as Miyagi because he’s asian, to Abed (canonically recognized as having ASD) having intense empathy for the baby birds (with the wonderfully tragic subtle parallel of his mother having left him when he was young).
But the best part was the amazing discussion of sexuality and it’s complexities.
Dean Pelton has always been assumed as somewhat queer. He is very attracted to Jeff and he often dresses in drag. But sexuality is so much more complicated than just liking boys or girls. There are more than two genders, more than monogamy, more than monosexuality, more than physical attraction, etc etc. And while any kind of positive LGBTQIA representation is awesome, it’s usually something like what the school board tries to do in the episode. They want the Dean to be a neatly packaged, cardboard cut out of the gay white cis male. But that denies so much of who he is and also reduces him to a symbol of how not homophobic they are rather than a complete person.
I cannot get over how well Frankie sums up how problematic this is
“When a person becomes symbolic, they gain symbolic power at the price of independent power.”
Omg. I am obsessed with how perfect that line is. Frankie Dart is my hero. Plus, she subtly comes out to Jeff and the Dean as queer like it ain’t no thing. New fave characacter.
But most importantly is the vagueness of the Dean’s metaphor. Personally, I took the never ending handkerchief metaphor to mean his sexuality is complex and constantly evolving, while still having some things in common with being straight up gay. Both handkerchiefs and rabbits can be pulled from a hat. But the rabbit is pulled out once and done so it is much simpler, while the handkerchief progresses over time (hence “never ending” handkerchief). Additionally, the rabbit out of a hat is a magic show trope; it is the example non-magicians use as what a magician does (like how heterosexuals only think of queer people as simply gay). Whereas the handkerchief trick, while there is sometimes of an awareness of it, isn’t really as commonly thought about or represented. There’s even a ton of variety within how the handkerchief trick is performed; it doesn’t even have to be out of a hat but can be from a sleeve, mouth, pocket, or behind an audience member’s ear. I think I’m letting this metaphor run away with me, but you get the idea.
I also like that they don’t say what else the Dean is. Because, as Frankie said, your sexuality “is nobody’s business.” The Dean is simply himself.
Sexuality and gender is a spectrum that extends in a multitude of directions, not just gay or straight. And when we stop having to label and understand something in order to accept it, then we will have truly made progress.