Being the Queer-Coded Villain
Rain Marie (She/They) // Columnist
I’ve always considered myself a very proud and vocal member of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community. Despite the fact that coming to understand my gender and sexuality has been a constant journey that I still am on today, I feel like I have overcome a lot of internal and external biases towards my identity. But, some biases have dug themselves too deep under my own skin to be able to simply overcome them.
The idea of Queer thoughts, actions, or behaviours being perceived as predatory, specifically the idea of the “Predatory Lesbian” was cemented into my mind at a very young age. Most of my first introductions to Queer characters in media came from queer-coded villains, such as HIM from Powerpuff Girls, Ursula from The Little Mermaid, or Trunchbull from Matilda, and characters whose queer behaviour was framed as predatory such as, Janis’s alleged crush on Regina in Mean Girls, Cynthia Rose’s entire characterization in Pitch Perfect, or Kurt’s feelings for Finn in the first season of Glee. In my mind, there were two ways that the world perceived lesbians. Either as predatory or as a category of porn. All these images of what being Queer meant infected my own feelings towards my sexuality and grew into a heavy knot of internalized homophobia. One that I could not pull out of me no matter how hard I tried.
Although I have been very lucky in having a supportive community around me as I grew—and for many of my friends, me coming out didn’t change our relationship at all—the people where my relationship changed unfortunately had a deeper impact. Girls who were very physical people often stopped touching me and as a response, I learned to take a step back as well. I became a lot more physical with my male-identifying friends and was only physical with female friends my brain decided were “safe” friends.
Other than these few safe friends, the idea of touching other women was terrifying. What if it made them uncomfortable? What if they thought I had feelings for them? These kinds of questions dug their heavy claws in the back of my shoulders and had me pulling back from many people.
There’s an unspoken list of rules that developed in my mind to avoid being perceived as predatory. They are as follows: don’t let your touches linger, always keep your eyes on the ground in a changeroom, don’t tease or flirt unless with anyone who has not initiated it, and always keep your compliments casual and friendly.
The overthinking and fear only spiralled and worsened in me as I began to grow older and develop crushes. I started seeing myself as dirty and wrong from having something as simple as casual feelings for a girl.
Not all crushes are mutual, in fact, most are not. Especially, as I was, attending a high school with so few people, experiencing mutual feelings is truly more of a once in a blue moon sort of thing. Logically, in my head, I knew this and I knew that when on the other side of this situation, learning about someone else’s unrequited feelings for me would not change my perspective of them at all. In fact, it generally resulted in my own guilt for not being able to feel the same way about them. Still, though, the fear continued.
In Grade 12, as I entered my first ever Queer relationship, I remembered thinking, “hey, this is it, this is when the fear stops.” And it did lessen—whether that was through a lot of mental retraining, or if it was the knowledge that someone I liked was both not uncomfortable with my feelings towards them and actually returned them is still a mystery to me. But unfortunately, a fear that is built that deep into you doesn’t just slip away like that.
Being able to slip into the routine of showing or initiating affection didn’t come naturally to me. The constant fear of doing something wrong or making her uncomfortable still held tight to me and slowed me down.
Leaving high school brought a whole slate of different problems. By this time, I was single again, living in Lethbridge (which had an even smaller Queer community than Calgary had), and incredibly tired of feeling like this. Romance was hard, scary and painful, and sex and casual relationships just seemed a hell of a lot easier. If I could see myself and someone who only existed in the fun and casual party scene of university, I didn’t have to worry about caring about or whether they cared for me. And it worked for a while, but emotions are not made to be controlled and contained like that.
As time goes on, I make connections and develop feelings—sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. I met more Queer people, and although no one’s experience is exactly the same, learning the similarities in the things we’ve all experienced is a truly comforting and vindicating experience. The fear still sits there. It’s smaller now and easier to understand. Maybe it will never truly leave. Maybe I’m just meant to grow around it.