Back when Ryan Lewis and Macklemore were writing the songs for their album The Heist, Ben Haggerty (Macklemore) was having a hard time coming up with the lyrics for “Same Love.” He finally decided on an idea of telling the story from a gay individual’s perspective. However, when he showed this to Ryan Lewis, Ryan shot it down immediately. He stated to Ben that there was no authenticity behind these words, and that if he really wanted to make an impact, he should tell it from his perspective. Ben rewrote the song with this in mind, taking his own perspective and feelings of support for the gay community and translating them musically. The song went on to be an anthem for the gay community and a banner for allies to rally under as they pushed harder to finally enact legal gay marriage in the United States.
As someone who likes to write in his free time, I always suffer trying to find how to write characters that aren’t the same background as me, whether it’s a different ethnicity or a different sexuality. To be honest, it genuinely is an impossible thing to try and do this by myself. I can’t understand the struggle or the abuse people have gone through for being gay because I’m just not. That is why I always talk to those around me from these backgrounds in order to help me understand on some scale, and then constantly keep the conversation going as I write. Any writer who is gay would far better be able to detail how that feels than me, and we should encourage them to write those feelings. However, for those of us that are allies, I feel that if we want to express these types of characters in the stories we tell, we have to make damn sure we do it right.
That is why I love My Brother’s Husband as a series. This short but endearingly sweet manga very much acts as an instructional guide for the ways allies can help and make the best of being the support class in the Equality Squad. Gengoroh Tagame in this manga shows people, such as myself, how to be that ally that the gay community needs, how to accept them and work with them to make a better place.
This is genuinely one of the most heart-warming things I’ve read in awhile. My Brother’s Husband is a multiple award-winning story about a single father, Yaichi, living in Japan. His twin brother Ryoji, had moved to Canada and there found love and legally married his fiancé. However, after ten years living abroad, Ryoji suddenly died. Now, a month has passed and suddenly, Ryoji’s husband, Mike, has decided to come to visit Japan to learn more about his husband and his family that he never got a chance to meet. While living with them, Mike helps to change the lives of our main character Yaichi and his daughter, helping them to not only come to terms with his brother’s passing, but also his own biases that didn’t allow Yaichi to fully accept his brother.
Man, it’s been a while since I’ve had to do this but forewarning, the content in question is Not Safe For Work. Before that scares you off, though, this graphic novel is sold in the normal kind of stores and has a beautiful point for it’s use of sexual imagery. Also, while this topic may not exactly be anime related, the author of this work in question is a super nerd and takes obviousinfluences from Japanese media. Plus, it’s my own damn article and I just wanna write about this, okay?
Sorry, that got a little confrontational… Lemme just start.
Sex is often a very taboo topic, particularly when it comes to where I live here in America. We’ve become more accustomed to talking about violence and aggression than all that other stuff that gives you cooties. Basically, you can watch people die horrifically and it’ll get a PG-13 rating but if two girls kiss “OH NO! Grab the pitchforks ‘cause it’s time fer a burnin’!”
With a bit of a flipped morality like that, it can be hard to find well-written stories that approach the topic of sex with the right respect and openness that it deserves. Honestly, it seems to me that it’s sometimes easier to find a story that uses rape as a means of moving the plot forward than one that uses consensual intercourse. And while there are efforts to educate and make things better. Education is only one side of the coin. We also need it represented tastefully in our media to expose and normalize the topic along with all the other aspects and types of affection and love.
Enter my exhibit A for the court hearing on tasteful representation of sex: the graphic novel Sunstone.