Although I am very pleased with the success of Black Panther, there’s something that really rubs me the wrong way about it. This is an issue that isn’t so uncommon with LGBT representation in fantasy and much less Marvel film adaptations.
It’s a term called Erasure.
Simply put, erasure happens when core parts of a character or even a real-life person are quite literally erased for whatever reason. This can also happen to words a person has originally said but in official print, their original words are non-existent. In Black Panther’s case, the characters Ayo and Okoye of the Dora Milaje were actually in a relationship which exists in the spinoff comic series, World of Wakanda. I was of the mind that since this was from a spin-off and not necessarily canon in nature, I was willing to let it go. That is the actress who plays Ayo, (Florence Kasumba), revealed that the scene in which confirms her same-sex attraction was deleted.
Too many people this wasn’t as big of a deal as it is compared to the box office smash hit that is Black Panther and in fact, her revelation didn’t really strike many ears because of the money and positive reviews that are rolling in. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel angry about this news considering Tessa Thompson also had a deleted same-sex attraction scene in Thor Ragnorak. Not to mention that Loki is bisexual in comics but doesn’t appear that way onscreen.
Prior to Tessa Thompson’s and Florence Kasumba’s words of confirming erasure, LGBT representation seems to still be a thing that makes folks uncomfortable for no justified reason. People will argue that same-sex attraction will ruin the minds of kids and yet the movie theaters to see Deadpool were full of parents with their kids. And furthermore, if same-sex affection ruins the minds of kids those same people are once again feeding into the narrative that pushes LGBT youth to suicide or adults that never fully adjust to being comfortable in themselves psychologically.
And even furthermore, I have to be honest. If there was really a correlation between showing affection on screen and sexuality in real life, literally everyone on the planet would be straight. There are far more truly unnecessary sex scenes and forced romances between heterosexual couples in films and television so there would be little to no homosexuals.
In reality, heterosexual people don’t care about this kind of news because they don’t really have to worry about their sexual preference being erased. Homo/Bi-phobic comic geeks will still say they don’t find the sexuality of the characters we connect to necessary but were some of the first to question why Storm wasn’t the love interest in Black Panther. And I never hear them complain about anything of a sexual nature until it comes to LGBT characters. There are even nerds out here that refuse to acknowledge that the Joker is a rapist and an abuser but will quickly open their mouths in distaste of LGBT comic book characters.
Rather than being LGBT like the source material dictates, we get clouds thrown around our sexual preference as the T’Challas and Nakias of adaptations get to make out before the credits roll and have romantic/sexual tension throughout their films. LGBT erasure implies that we’re still viewed as “other” or “sexual deviants” or “immoral” all of which blocks us from having a simple kiss on screen or flirting or confirming there was more than just having a dead friend that motivated rage against a foe.
Erasure fucking hurts, but of course people like me live in a world where the vast majority will never understand what that feels like.
How fucking lucky they are.