I really shouldn’t be blogging about this, but I feel compelled to. It’s a mistake to even dignify it with a response, but responding is the best way for me to organize my own thoughts for my own purposes, so what the hell. It’s my mistake to make.
Today I visited TVTropes.org to see if anybody had linked to anachronauts from it. Googling yourself is always fun. Well, almost always. There were two decent entries, one about the Mister’s tempting and one about Emily’s Perfectea fight; nice, nice… and then one entry that had been copypastaed in several places with slight variation, clearly coming from someone with a slightly homophobic axe to grind about my shoddy writing.
The main entry is over here but I’ll copy it for you:
“The female elf Nel was rescued by and fell in love with space-girl Una, who is straight. Okay, plenty of healthy relationships have grown out of a Rescue Romance. She doesn’t tell her. Okay, that’s reasonable. Nel decides to devote her life to being Una’s best friend. Um, what? Nel never gets any significant characterization, background, or personality traits other than being in love with Una. Hmm. Nel is tempted by a genie to kill one of the other Anachronauts in order to have Una. She refuses, saying that she’d rather have Una naturally. You go, girl. And then in fs03, Una gets her hands on the sense-recording earrings Nel has been wearing since the beginning of the arc, and is able to effectively be Nel as she talked to the Genie, including her declaration of love. She re-evaluates her interactions with Nel, and then instantly realizes she loves her. Please note that Una has been exclusively heterosexual up to this point, and realizing she likes girls in general and loves Nel in particular is portrayed as basically flipping a switch. Oh, and the author pretty clearly has a fetish for lesbians, as it popped up in his earlier Sailor Nothing, and in an aside in arc 2. Their friendship is written as exactly that; a friendship, with no romantic or sexual tension. Compared to the other romances in the series, which are written much more organically, it seems more like a Strangled by the Red String Romantic Plot Tumor than an actual romance. Nel and Una are given some “private time” at the end of that chapter, which would be ideal for showing their conversation before the inevitable sex and underlining the fact that they actually do have feelings for each other, except we never get to see it. Did I mention that there had been no other significant LGBT characters in the series up to that point? Yes, that’s right, the only known homosexual is there for solely for the purpose of Fetish Fuel. It’s kinda creepy, and I couldn’t read the series after that.”
This seems to be a page largely for personal rants, so, whatever. But a condensed version of the rant appears on several actual trope pages. TVTropes is hardly NPOV, but dag, yo.
This annoys me on a few levels.
1. On a Knee Jerk Emotional Level. “Heyyy! That’s pretty goddamn harsh, man!”
2. On a Puzzled Managerial Level. “Seriously? All the entries for Sailor Nothing on that site, and THIS is the most noteworthy thing about anachronauts, a series entirely built on juicy tropes?”
3. On a Factual Level.
Number three is the worst, because it has a kernel of truth — I didn’t go heavily into Una’s sexuality and justifications and backstory, because I felt implying it was enough. Apparently it wasn’t. I don’t mean that in a snarky way, seriously, apparently it wasn’t enough, and I really should’ve put more in.
It’s too late to back and re-edit the stories; all it’d take is a few references to Orbital culture that I’ve always had in my notes, but those stories are in print form now, unchangable. So, I’m going to be writing a bit into sf02, which already was going to heavily feature Una and Nel, to clarify. I’ve even got a good angle I can use to explore it from, which works itself into the plot, and won’t feel weirdly interjected. Good. Strong story is strong story.
I may as well lay it out here, though, in total as well.
First off, Orbitals have a very strange relationship to love and sexuality, which are two concepts that are either completely ignored by most or at least not frequently tied together. They run the gamut from asexuality to heterosexuality to homosexuality to bisexuality, and it tends to be very fluid throughout the course of one’s life, depending on how you mature and what you determine to be your life needs. And many simply ignore the question entirely, in favor of their careers. (Whether that’s a good thing or not I leave up to the reader.)
Remember, marriage in general was slightly odd, and Una’s parents were even odder — an Optimist and a Pragmatist. THOSE are the mores and taboos, not anything involving biology.
Orbitals frequently sleep in the nude and Una had absolutely no idea that bunking up with Emily in this manner would be even the slightest bit discomforting, to show how distant their attitudes on sexuality are. And, I quote exactly: “Given your reaction earlier, if I have interpreted its proper context correctly, rest assured I have no interest at this time in homosexual copulation with you, either.” Note “at this time”. Subtext! It’s outta sight.
Next, Una’s entire sexual history with men has been a series of failures, false starts, mistakes, and seriously long winded bungles like her run with Brell — which she even admitted straight up was a complete disaster, as she was more in love with the idea of being in love than she was with the actual man involved. For the early half of anachronauts, Una is constantly trying to figure out what she wants. All she knows is whatever it is, she wants it very badly. And it’s led her down the wrong paths as a result.
Her entire character arc has been based on finally understanding her mother’s views on love, that push it beyond the boundaries of a purely physical thing, and into a bond of the most true and wonderful comraderie ever. For months Una had been carrying on in what was absolutely a loving relationship with Nel in all but name, and hadn’t realized it. Once she DID realize it, everything clicked into place. She didn’t “suddenly go gay.” She’d adored Nel for a long time and failed to recognize what that meant. I quote a Tori Amos lyric that’s stuck with me for ages: Brothers and lovers, he and I were. Depth of romance flat out requires depth of friendship, and one can lead to another, if, oh, 94% of all romantic comedies are the slightest bit true.
TL;DR — Una is not any one sexuality. Una is Una and Una is constantly confused about what being Una really means. Which, in fact, is a state most people are in.
If you HAVE to stick a label on her we’ll call it bisexual and get on with our lives.