Welp, kids, here’s hoping that bulletproof vests are going to be the new look this spring, and even if they aren’t, I recommend you stockpile the fuck up. Cause if television has taught me anything, it’s that no one can quite catch a bullet like your lady-lovin’ lady friends. The latest victim of this tragic Dead Lesbian Syndrome is canonical lesbian Dr. McFucking Awesome—also known as Denise Cloyd—from the gruesomely fantastical series The Walking Dead.
Now, while deaths in a show about a zombie apocalypse aren’t necessarily something you should be shocked about, cause I mean, c’mon, zombies, Denise’s death continues a problematic trend of mainstream media creating queer characters to fill some diversity quota, only to throw them away (with minimal to no actual character development) by shooting them in the face with an arrow or, you know, something as equally asinine. What really blows is that this isn’t even the first fictional lesbian character death of the year. Hell, it’s not even the first lesbian character death of the month, and that, my friends, is a big fucking problem.
Considering the trope “Bury Your Gays” is an actual thing, watching Denise’s death unfold on screen shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me. Still, even though this is a trope as old as time, it never stops me from screeching at my television like a rage wraith whenever another queer character bites the dust. I know I’m not the only TV junkie tired of watching the few lesbian representations available on the small screen get taken out by pesky flying projectiles. There has recently been a strong outcry on most social media platforms shaming the CW sci-fi show The 100 for falling into this trope with the killing of lesbian warrior queen Lexa. And they are shaming with fucking gusto. The movement has been trending on twitter as LGBT fans demand better from television writers, and they’re god damn right. We do deserve better.
It’s hard being a queer fan of shows on big name networks. Showrunners manage to drag us in with the hope of representation, but somehow, these characters always get left by the wayside to make room for the tired stories of the (mostly) straight white leads. How is it that I can watch a straight male teen (fucking Carl, no less) get shot in the face and survive, yet episodes later, the lesbian is taken out by an arrow not even meant for them? Sorry, Carl, but that bullet wasn’t for you, it just got confused by your young, baby gay haircut. (And anyone wanting to argue comic canon with me can fuck off because Denise survives to die another day in a much more epic turn of events, but that could also just be because she wasn’t queer in the comics). What makes this trend even more problematic is that these deaths are usually the end result of the big ol’ gay love confession or sex scene. From the beloved Tara from the oh so classic Buffy to new baby gay Lexa from The 100 and now to Denise from The Walking Dead, showrunners are trying to teach us that gays just ain’t gonna get their happy endings. Well, fuck that noise.
Considering we all live in world so wonderfully diverse, it’s just bull that there isn’t a network show working to rep that. It’s sad that no major studio is working to tell these stories. It’s 2016. Everyone deserves to be represented and not marginalized. Where is my black James Bond? My queer-as-fuck marvel superhero? My snarky group of New York friends that come in different shades and sizes besides average and white? When is it going to be the time that our stories get to be told? When are we no longer going to be sidelined as being secondary and tertiary characters? It seems like the odds may never be in our favor at this rate. But lets be real here, it’s time to say so long to the “Bury Your Gay” trope. And may we never meet again.
Lear is a high concentrate of obnoxiousness masquerading as personality.