In a Pride month fraught with complications for Disney, Loki has managed to shatter the hinges off of MCU’s closet doors. The move was largely unexpected, but incredibly delightful and welcomed by queer fans who have been waiting for quite some time.
As someone who has been writing about and advocating for LGBTQ+ representation in the MCU for the better part of a decade, last night’s episode of Loki almost felt like an incredibly queer fever dream. When I woke up this morning I had to double-check online that it had actually happened, like, for real.
We’ve been through hell waiting for representation, with 23 films led by all cisgender heterosexual protagonists and one brief throwaway line in Endgame that fell terribly short, but was being touted as actual representation. Our only scrap of actual canon content from the MCU has been from Runaways, which is largely disconnected from the main MCU plot and rarely discussed in wider MCU fandom spaces, so for many, it doesn’t quite count due to the inaccessibility. We also almost had something more substantial before in Thor Ragnarok, but it was cut from the film. So we’ve been sitting here with practically nothing since the franchise began back in 2008.
So when Loki dropped this on us out of nowhere, I’m not at all ashamed to admit I started crying. I cried loudly and unashamedly, much to the concern of my cat, who had no idea why I suddenly got up and got super emotional in the middle of the night. Then I rewound the scene twice to watch it again just to make sure I didn’t mishear it. And then I consulted social media to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating the words I was hearing, because after 13 years, I wasn’t actually prepared for this to happen just then. I was expecting to be waiting for a heck of a lot longer for this. I was expecting to be disappointed many more times for many years to come.
But guys, it actually happened. This wasn’t a queer fever dream. Loki is canonically bisexual and genderfluid in the MCU. We have won. Happy Pride month everybody!
Sylvie: You’re a Prince. Must’ve been would-be-princesses or, perhaps, another prince.
Loki: A bit of both. I suspect the same as you.
It’s been less than a day since this happened, and I already see (largely cisgender heterosexual) people saying that this wasn’t necessary to include in the show, that representation isn’t important, and many wondering why any of this matters to us. The amount of tears I’ve shed from the intense joy I’m feeling should be enough to convey how important it is, but some people are still going to question it. Because they don’t need to see themselves in fictional characters, they assume that nobody does, and thus they want us to be silent, unseen, and good little invisible queers who don’t take up any space in their world.
If you don’t need to see yourself reflected in media, that’s great for you, but for a lot of us, it’s a huge deal to see it. For many, myself included, fictional characters are a vehicle for self-reflection about aspects of ourselves that we may struggle to process. The inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters also acts as a measure of how certain aspects of ourselves are viewed in society, so having a major franchise essentially ignore a major aspect of who we are as people for 13 years has been a pretty big blow and left many of us horribly demoralized about our place here.
The type of connection to a character that we find beneficial can be almost anything, from something as major as their sexuality or gender identity, or down to the smallest minutiae, such as the placement of a scar that parallels my own and makes me not feel so bad about the flaws on my skin. Basically, the aspects of a character we can latch onto is pretty broad, but sexuality and gender identity are pretty high on the list as we still struggle with acceptance about these aspects of ourselves in the real world. You don’t have to understand why we relate to characters and find importance in our parallels to them, but it’s undeniably there for many of us and it holds a great deal of value both on a personal level, and for the wider community.
A lot of our community has turned to transformative works to fill in the gaps that canon has left for us. Through fanfiction and fanart, we’ve created a space for us to relate to characters through a queer lens, because canon simply hasn’t given us a chance to do so. This fandom community has been a godsend for many of us, but exploring the queerness of these characters in fanworks can only sustain us for so long before we grow tired of the canon offerings and feel like giving up on canon altogether. Many of us have chosen to continue advocating for canon representation while utilizing fan spaces to fulfill this need as we wait. Being able to have open fan spaces is incredible, but being acknowledged canonically is even better. Canonical representation means the world would finally see us, instead of us being ushered off to obscure online spaces and kept out of view.
The advocacy work has been tiring, but we’ve persisted. Heck, in the past month I’ve written four different articles about the topic, and that’s just a small taste of what I’ve written over the course of my career. After what happened in Endgame, I’ve been very cautious about taking any buzz or rumors as a serious sign that something was about to happen, so my articles have remained hesitant and cautionary to my fellow queer MCU fans. A few weeks back when we got a hint that Loki was canonically genderfluid, I cautioned everyone to wait and see before forming an opinion on what it could actually mean. I didn’t want to see even more hurt as we set up expectations that went unfulfilled.
But we got it. Finally. And it was done very intentionally and carefully, clearly by people who had been paying attention to the conversations in the community and knew how to deliver it in a respectful and meaningful way. Hell, most of the episode was draped in bisexual lighting, which is a thing you wouldn’t know about if you weren’t tuned in to what we talk about in our fan spaces. It’s not really an aspect of film that gets talked about seriously, but it matters to us, and they gave it to us as they delivered a couple of canonical bisexual genderfluid characters to the MCU.
The actors and creators behind this moment were also very quick to hop online and confirm that what we saw actually happened, and that they have our backs in this endeavor.
From the moment I joined @LokiOfficial it was very important to me, and my goal, to acknowledge Loki was bisexual. It is a part of who he is and who I am too. I know this is a small step but I’m happy, and heart is so full, to say that this is now Canon in #mcu #Loki 💗💜💙 pic.twitter.com/lz3KJbewx8
— Kate Herron (@iamkateherron) June 23, 2021
— Sophia Di Martino (@sophiadimartino) June 23, 2021
Oh god, I didn’t even get into Loki mentioning his bisexuality. That was always part of our discussions in the writers’ room and we felt it was important for him to be open and without shame or embarrassment about it. it’s just who he is. #LokiMidnightTheater
— Eric Martin (@MrEricMartin) June 23, 2021
There are some in our community who are approaching this with caution still, and that’s a perfectly valid approach. We’ve been through a lot over the years and the scars left on us run deep. Some fear that this will be all that we get ever, and that any further requests for queer characters will be met with the response “but you got Loki.” And while we do have word that Eternals will have some representation, I’m still cautious about getting my hopes up about that one until I actually see it. Others fear it’ll somehow be retconned, erasing this beautiful moment with later installments of the franchise and rendering it meaningless to the wider MCU. Some would prefer an actual on-screen same-sex relationship in order for it to ‘count,’ which isn’t a position I necessarily agree with but I acknowledge exists in the community nonetheless. Hell, some even fear that people like myself will take this one canon character and give up the fight now that we got something.
These are all valid concerns whether you agree with where they are coming from or not, and it’s worth paying attention to what others around us are saying about this. We’re a community, and the conversations about this topic are collaborative. On that last point, though, I can assure you that I’m not done advocating for us. We have a win here – a HUGE win – and we can enjoy it, but Loki is just the first queer major character in the MCU and should not at all be the last.
When we got Captain Marvel, we didn’t decide that we didn’t need any other women-led films. We’re now getting a Black Widow film in just a couple of weeks and The Marvels a bit further down the line. Black Panther was the first MCU film led by POC, but we’ll soon be getting Shang Chi and Wakanda Forever, as well as many promising Disney+ shows. Someone needs to take that first step, but they can’t be the only ones to walk that path. Others need to follow, and a diverse cast of characters needs to become the norm.
Loki is not the token queer character sent to appease us and make us be quiet about any future representation. I won’t allow him to be. Loki is the dynamite that’s been strapped to the hinges of the MCU’s closet doors, and the explosion was draped in gorgeous bisexual lighting and preceded by an intro set to Hayley Kiyoko music. Now that the doors have been blown off the hinges, other characters are free to step through. And I hope they do. We’re eagerly waiting for their grand entrances.
I want to conclude this with two notes. First, please keep an eye out for our weekly episode reviews of this series by Khai, who is also an LGBTQ+ advocate, proudly bisexual, and our designated reviewer for this series. Her review for this episode is located here.
Secondly, while I’ve been doing a large (and, some may say, frankly absurd) amount of writing on this topic, I’m just one member of this very big, very active, and incredibly excited community. As such, I want to end with some of my favorite tweets in celebration of this moment.
Continue to be proud, be loud, and fight for the cause. We’re here, we’re queer, we’re being represented by the God of Mischief, so get used to it. Happy Pride month.
— stevie 🌈 (@aandlatitude) June 23, 2021
— rex ! loki era (@91WILSONS) June 23, 2021
— chain master of lokius au in 📌! loki spoilers! (@lokiusnation) June 23, 2021
— sal !! check pinned !! (@monojoyy) June 23, 2021
(Slight Ep 3 Spoilers)
— c 🍊 comms full (@clakearts) June 23, 2021
The fact that marvel used a Hayley Kiyoko song for the opening credits on the day the make Loki canon bisexual pic.twitter.com/ZNRpVK2Sgr
— micha (@leei_317) June 23, 2021
— ًhannah (@friggasdottiir) June 23, 2021
— Loki’s word of the day (@loki_wotd) June 23, 2021
— Ecco (@chaosbabiey) June 23, 2021
— ً li ♡ loki cannon bi!!📌 (@wandaswidow) June 23, 2021
— Ava Arson 🧷|| Bo Burnham hug me pls (@Awetiz_) June 23, 2021
cw #Loki spoilers
SYLVIE’S ACTRESS TWEETING THIS?? THE WAY WE WON???
They’re both canon bisexuals????
Im????? CRYING???? pic.twitter.com/exlCC8PA1e
— bi-derman — Loki era (@IR0NSPIDEY) June 23, 2021
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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