Things to keep in mind WRT: Joey WLW subtext and her conversation with Xefros
The year is 1994 in Joey’s universe.
In 1994, LGBT issues were almost universally kept completely hushhush from kids. For example, “Ellen” was taken off TV and cancelled after Ellen DeGeneres came out, in 1998.
Even in the 2000′s, while great strides were made in open conversation about LGBT issues, I remember it was still VERY taboo to even acknowledge as existing. I was in high school through 2006-2010 and people would still whisper the word “gay” under their breath.
In the 90′s, the internet wasn’t really a thing. You had online bulletin boards that would take 2 hours to get onto and often forbade any talks of politics, sexuality, or the like. The only place you could find information on LGBT topics was the library, in old encyclopedias possibly from the 70′s classifying homosexuality as a mental disease, IF (and big IF) you could find anything at all.
This persisted even into the early 2000′s. It improved somewhat during what I call the Forum Renaissance wherein everyone had their own more or less functioning web forum and were free to write whatever they wanted in whatever context they liked without having to cowtow to a company’s rules, but that didn’t start until around 2003 on.
Now back to Joey. 1994. Joey seems to live in a small town, with very little of a social ring (just her brother’s friends, apparently), and therefore very limited access to information.
Joey is 14 years old, clearly having trouble at school from her diary entries, and clearly very, very lonely. Joey, like many young WLW, particularly young lesbians (although not limited to just lesbians, of course), doesn’t seem to realize that being attracted to women is even an option.
This is a concept that resonates completely with me, in fact. I didn’t realize I didn’t have to force myself to like boys until I MET someone who was in a relationship with someone of the same gender. However EVEN THEN I still tried, because I was 13, and struggling, and wanted to be liked, and very very very afraid of how people would see me because I was already being bullied and just added fuel to the fire.
Joey’s questioning of Xefros actually echoes a conversation I, in fact, had once. Her quiet contemplation right afterwards is really telling.
Joey hadn’t realized, until this moment, that being in a relationship with someone of the same gender was an option. Joey’s life has been one of sheltered heteronormativity.
She accepted it very quickly. Now she can blossom. Maybe she’ll have a Thing with Xefros. Who knows? I sure don’t. Perhaps Joey is bi. Perhaps Xefros and she will become moirails. WHO KNOWS.
All I know is, her being a WLW is not subtext. At this point, it’s blatantly Text. I do believe Joey is a great realistic WLW character as well, and one that young struggling WLW might be able to relate to if they’re going through the same things as she is.
I know I related to her a lot. She reminds me of me at that age.
This is not Hiveswap’s team being homophobic or what-the-fuck-ever, and it certainly isn’t ‘qu**rbaiting’. It’s literally being realistic for the era, and I have full faith that they WILL address these issues people have over the course of the continuing story. A young LGBT character is allowed to question themselves and society on their own time. That’s part of what makes Joey so realistic.