Memoir: I came out to my Muslim family after a decade of silence—and the fallout was brutal
“At home, I was in the closet. My dad grew up in a village in Pakistan, my mom in a Swiss farm town. There were mosques and churches and cultural norms. In both cases, any liberal views on sexuality were obscured by mountains…. I decided to [come out] via email. It didn’t take long to write—I’d been drafting it for a decade.”
By Sabrina Jalees via Toronto Life
Spotlight: Morishima Akiko [Yuri Kuma Arashi]
Since it was just announced that Morishima Akiko will be working on the manga for Kunihiko Ikuhara’s new anime, Yuri Kuma Arashi, I want to spend a little bit of time talking about her, for the benefit of Ikuhara fans who might not be familiar with yuri.
First of all, if you’re not familiar with Kunihiko Ikuhara, he is the creator and director of Revolutionary Girl Utena and Mawaru Penguindrum. Ikuhara is a visionary director who is incredibly skilled at combining wordplay, symbolism, humour and tragedy into his work. Seriously, if you haven’t seen Utena or Penguindrum just… just go watch them. You’ll thank me.
It seems that Ikuhara always makes very conscious decisions about who he wants to work with on his projects, and there’s a good reason why he chose Morishima Akiko for this one.
Morishima is a yuri mangaka; that is, she creates romantic stories about girls/women. She is probably best known for her distinct art style; her characters often have soft, cute features and round cheeks. But more important than her art style is what she writes about. She is a very unique mangaka who spends a lot of time breaking the “rules” of yuri and subverting tropes:
She often writes about adults: If you’re familiar at all with yuri, you know they are almost always about high school girls, but Morishima often writes about women who are 20-30 years old.
Why is writing about adults so important? Well, to answer that question, we need to know a bit about what Japan thinks of homosexuality. Basically, the culture in Japan is still quite homophobic, and this is reflected in subtle ways in the yuri genre. Most mangaka will include elements in their work that are non-threatening, so they are still appealing to a wide (potentially homophobic) audience. Writing about school girls is non-threatening, because there is an extremely pervasive idea in Japan that girls may “experiment” in their youth, and will form temporary pseudo-romantic relationships with other girls before they “grow up”, move on, marry a man, and become “normal”. Most yuri is not explicit about this eventuality, and the story ends while the girls are still in school, leaving it up to the reader’s interpretation. Other elements that make yuri non-threatening are all-girls schools, avoiding LGBT issues that characters would realistically face, and avoiding any mention of homosexuality at all. If the reader is uncomfortable with homosexuality, these elements help them interpret the story in a non-threatening way (as teenage hormones or experimentation or friendship or whatever).
However, writing about adults does not allow this interpretation. If an adult chooses to be in a homosexual relationship, it is a serious decision. It isn’t just based on hormones, or pseudo-romance. There is no room for interpretation: they are straight-up not heterosexual. And that’s pretty threatening to a homophobic society!
Pardon my wordy detour! I get excited about this stuff!
She writes about LGBT issues: When Morishima does write about high school girls, she subverts safe yuri tropes, and draws attention to society’s harmful views of yuri. For example, in Hanjuku Joshi, a snide upperclassman directly tells the main couple that their love is just a pseudo-romance, and they’ll grow up and marry men eventually. Directly addressing the issue in this way leads to the couple reassessing their love and overcoming the hurdle together (and causes the upperclassman to reassess her love life, as well). By addressing the issue instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, Morishima is challenging the reader to reassess their own interpretation of yuri in an active way.
- She writes about LGBT stuff!: Morishima has several series about adult lesbians living normal, social lives with other LGBT friends, and has written several times about gay communities such as Shinjuku Ni-choume, which I’ve never seen mentioned by other yuri mangaka.
Basically, Morishima Akiko is a talented creator who is genre-savvy, hyper-aware of gender/sexuality issues, and actively works to challenge society, and if that doesn’t sound like Ikuhara, I don’t know what does.
If you’re interested in reading some of her work, here are some picks:
(Note: some of her work is NSFW.)
- Hanjuku Joshi [NSFW] - Probably the most well known of Morishima’s works, about a girl who dislikes how feminine she is and her classmate who is her complete opposite.
- Honey Mustard - Story about two coworker friends who used to date, who both fall for the same girl. (Has a crossover chapter with characters from another of her short stories, Office Romance: Women’s Division.)
- The Conditions for Paradise [NSFW near the end] - Story about an office lady who relies on schedules and stability, and her travelling friend who drifts in and out of her life.
- 20-Year-Old Girl x 30-Year-Old Maiden - Comedic story about two inexperienced girlfriends with a big age gap.
- Happy Picture Diary - 4-koma about the regular life of a couple in their 20’s.
You can read more on Dynasty (including a bunch of one-shots that I didn’t mention)!
Alan Cumming spoke at length about his sexuality in a new Instinct interview.
I love him and appreciate this strike against bi invisibility, but mostly I’m enjoying mentally editing the headline to reflect other things that don’t affect whether a person is bisexual. “Alan Cumming Defends His Bisexuality Despite Being Allergic to Strawberries.” “Alan Cumming Defends His Bisexuality Despite Not Having Watched Final Season of The West Wing.” “Alan Cumming Defends His Bisexuality Despite Feeling like Beyonce’s New Album is Great, but Maybe Not Worth All the Hype, If He’s Being Totally Honest.”
Alan Cumming Defends His Bisexuality Despite Learning How To Juggle Flaming Torches In Aruba!
bisexual guys are assumed to be secretly gay
bisexual girls are assumed to be secretly straight
both are assumed to secretly like men
see what i’m getting at?
Don’t forget that gay men are gay because they lacked a “strong male figure”. And lesbians either haven’t found the right man or are gay because of a guy.
I am so tired of hearing about how I am supposedly privileged as a bisexual, and of having my sexuality outright invalidated by both the queer and straight communities.
I knew I was bi when I was fifteen, but I didn’t come out until I was nineteen. At that point, I was in the beginning of a long term relationship with a straight man. He reacted, initially, in a bad way, but in an hour or so, he was alright again. The people around us were not. To my face, the people we knew were open and accepting. Behind my back, they asked him if he was afraid I’d leave him for a woman.
My own family, when I finally came out to them, asked me the most ridiculous questions. How could I live with a female roommate? As if I was inherently attracted to everyone and everything and unable to control my raging sexuality (she was so not my type). Was I leaving my boyfriend for a girl? They assumed it was impossible for me to be monogamous, because I’d always want something else. I’d never be satisfied. Why couldn’t I just pick one? Hadn’t I always had a hard time getting along with women anyway (internalized girl-hate in me and in the women around me)? My younger sister reacted with horror, afraid of being seen as “gay by association”. Later, when I dated a woman, my mother reacted with surprise - “I know you said you were bisexual, but I always thought you’d end up with a man.”
That’s the thing about being bisexual, is that after so many years of being treated this way, you start to internalize biphobia. I have often questioned my sexuality, because I have been in relationships with men, but not really women. There are a lot of factors in this - mostly that straight men approach me all the time, but conversely, I am shy and can’t readily tell which women around me are even queer in the first place. Finding straight men to date is a helluva lot easier than finding queer women. But even so, I find myself justifying my sexuality to myself, and to others, when I’ve never had a real relationship with a woman - sexually or otherwise. As if that lack of experience negates my feelings.
Sometimes I FEEL like I’m not really bi, like I’m just being a “special snowflake”; but those feelings of uncertainty have nothing to do with my sexuality, and everything to do with my supposed failure to meet the expectations that society has of a bisexual woman.
My sexuality is fetishized by most of the people with whom I engage in a relationship. Its true validity is negated by nearly everyone who expects me to just end up with a hetero man (and if I do, then I was never bisexual at all!). It is erased by straight and queer people alike. I’m “too straight”, never queer enough.
And that’s bisexual privilege - always having to defend my sexuality, even to other queers. Never being queer enough. If I’m with a hetero man then I supposedly experience “straight passing privilege”, which really just means further erasure of my identity.
It’s all garbage, and anyone who buys into this crap should stop it immediately.
it’s been over 2 years since dragon age 2 came out and people are still complaining that it’s unrealistic to have four bisexual people in the same city