Why Welcome to Night Vale is Important

WTNVRainbow
Image by Rin

As I’ve mentioned before, in American entertainment, you’d be hard pressed to find a queer protagonist on a show that isn’t specifically about homosexuality. We do have a few, but they are all on shows that center around their sexuality (Queer as Folk, Will & Grace, The Fosters) or are generally part of a larger ensemble cast (Glee). If you step away from the US, you’ll find Jack Harkness in Torchwood, who embodies much of the attributes that are severely lacking from American media. He’s bisexual (or pansexual or omnisexual, but definitely not heterosexual), but the show itself isn’t explicitly about his sexuality. He just happens to be the protagonist of a science fiction show and, hey, he’s queer too. Canadian produced Lost Girl, which also embodies these traits, is another example. Neither of these shows are produced in the US, though, leaving our own networks rather stark when it comes to this type of representation.

The sad truth of the matter is there simply isn’t a queer protagonist for a show that isn’t about gayness in the United States.

Art by Viria on Tumblr
Art by Viria on Tumblr

But here we have Cecil, the protagonist of our little science fiction podcast Welcome to Night Vale. His sexuality isn’t the focal point of the show. It’s just a facet of who he is. Many episodes pass by without his sexuality being mentioned at all, even now that he’s entered into a relationship with Carlos the Scientist (perfect of hair and stature). There is so much going on that sometimes that topic gets edged out by the plot or other things that are happening around town, and you know what? That’s okay. While Cecil and Carlos’s relationship is definitely my favorite part of the show, I’d be disappointed if that was the only thing they ever talked about. I want it to be like Jack and Ianto’s relationship: it’s important, but always just flavor instead of the crux of the entire plot. For many people in the queer community, that makes him very relatable. He’s more than just his sexuality.

Comparing this little podcast (that has grown oh so large) to major network broadcasts might be a bit unfair. They are completely different mediums, after all. Network television has corporate sponsorship that they have to appease. They have network executives breathing down their neck and telling them what to do. Podcasts, however, tend to lack corporate sponsorship. Some podcasts charge per episode, but in the case of Welcome to Night Vale their income comes in the form of listener donations and merchandise sales. While I don’t have access to their books and can’t say with any certainty that they are making more money now that Cecil and Carlos are officially an item, I can say that they exploded in popularity after the episode One Year Later, where the pair has their first serious romantic interaction (though Cecil’s infatuation with him goes back to the beginning of the podcast and it became clear that it was serious, not just played for laughs, as early as episode 16 The Phone Call). There was even a T-shirt contest with two separate entries. One was a general design contest and the other was specifically geared towards Cecil and Carlos.

Art by PolarArts on Tumblr
Art by PolarArts on Tumblr

This lack of corporate sponsorship has allowed the creators to do what they want with it. Since their donations come directly from fans with no middleman, they don’t have anyone to answer to but themselves and their fanbase. And clearly their fanbase has spoken. Cecil and Carlos’s relationship is well-loved by many. There’s a strong desire for queer representation like this and they’ve delivered it. Whether major networks will notice the reaction to the pairing or not and follow suit, it’s hard to say. Welcome to Night Vale seems to be mostly an Internet phenomenon for the time being, but as they travel around the country doing live tapings, conventions, and interviews, mainstream outlets will begin to take notice.

Cecil and Carlos have the power to be trailblazers for queer representation in the US. They are setting an example for how to get representation right and showing mainstream media that the “risk” is worth taking. They are proving that fans will still be drawn to a show even if the protagonist isn’t heteronormative. Hell, fans will be drawn to it because of that.

WTNV
Art by Lady Malchav

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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About the author

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.

Comments

  1. Hi, it’s a beautiful day and there’s this cold calming rain coming down where I live and I take infinite issues with this paragraph.

    “But here we have Cecil, the protagonist of our little science fiction podcast Welcome to Night Vale. His sexuality isn’t the focal point of the show. It’s just a facet of who he is. Many episodes pass by without his sexuality being mentioned at all, even now that he’s entered into a relationship with Carlos the Scientist (perfect of hair and stature). There is so much going on that sometimes that topic gets edged out by the plot or other things that are happening around town, and you know what? That’s okay. While Cecil and Carlos’s relationship is definitely my favorite part of the show, I’d be disappointed if that was the only thing they ever talked about. I want it to be like Jack and Ianto’s relationship: it’s important, but always just flavor instead of the crux of the entire plot. For many people in the queer community, that makes him very relatable. He’s more than just his sexuality.”

    The idea that Cecil and Carlos’ relationship is the only thing Night Vale will ever talk about and (how disappointed you’d be if that were the case) is really weird strawman concerntrolling. Because focus being afforded to queerness is not the same thing as focus being afforded to a romantic subplot that happens to be queer? Glee is a good example of this, Kurt’s queerness was turned into a plot device so very often, his queer struggle was elevated to an extent where it was almost othering and commodified, but the moment Kurt and Blaine ended up together their relationship was completely chucked out of the focus. If you think the problem is putting too much focus on a gay relationship instead of putting focus on the fact it’s a *gay* relationship and the dynamics of not being heteronormative (which, while having the potential to be awfully othering if insisted upon for no consequential narrative reason, also has its own place when dealing with issues of queerness and shouldn’t be demeaned) you are so, so far off the mark I don’t know where to begin. Turning the concept that a relationship shouldn’t be defined by its queerness into “I’d be disappointed if this queer relationship received more focus” is disturbing, damaging, and also sets very ominous invisible markers too reminiscent of the whole “be gay, but not too gay” argument which is harmful as hell to trot out given our current media atmosphere with regards to representation. Hey, it’s harmful as hell to trot out *anyway*.

    It’s the gay-park my car thing, really. Someone’s queerness being the focal point where it needn’t be so isn’t the same thing as someone’s queer experiences being the focal point. Mixing up the two only leads to tears, miscommunication, and the vague, unsettling whiff of internalized bigotry.

    Also uh. “flavor”? I’d rather my experiences as a queer person weren’t used as a condiment to some greater, loftier sandwich.

    Tired of being told my happiness receiving focus is a bad thing and detrimental to how people perceive me. Tired of being told that this is perfectly fine with heteronormative people, because then it’s a romantic subplot, but in my case it’s intrinsically linked to my queerness and thereby it’s othering by default. I’m sorry if I come off rude, but this is such a rookie mistake yet nonetheless taxing and I’m honestly tired of seeing it everywhere.

    1. You are perfectly allowed to disagree with me, but as a member of the queer community I take issue with you stating that I am a bigot. I am not. I am queer. I am part of this community and I’m tired of queerness being the main focal point for queer characters. It’s great that you enjoy that, but I don’t. We can be members of this community and disagree with each other about what we need. I feel that this is what we need, though. I feel that we need a protagonist that just happens to be queer without the queerness being the sole focal point of his characterization. There are plenty of shows where this is already happening. You might want to check out Queer as Folk, the L Word, or the Fosters. The queerness of the relationships there are the focal point. I enjoyed those shows (well, I haven’t seen the L Word yet), but I’m pretty tired of the only representation that we get coming in the form of the queerness being the focal point of the characterization. I’m sorry, but I’m ready for it to just be a facet of the character, not the main thing ABOUT that character. I crave it. I need it.

      So while it’s perfectly fine for you to disagree, I’m pretty offended by being called a bigot towards… myself. I am queer. I’m not talking about some “other.” I am talking about my community. I am talking about my preferences. And you can have your preferences. Our differences in preferences does not make either one of us a bigot.

      As far as the “flavor” comment goes, I have a preference for stories that aren’t focused on the romance. All romance is better as flavor in my book, not just queerness.

      1. Considering I stated multiple times that I’m uncomfortable with queerness being the focal point of a character where the narrative doesn’t call for it and that construing a focus on a romance that just happens to be queer as focusing on the queerness itself is problematic, I’m not sure how to continue this conversation given you completely disregarded all of that and latched onto my comment about how the inability to tell the two apart *sounds* like (keyword:) internalized bigotry. It feels like you’re responding to an argument that I didn’t even make, if not made the opposite of.

        The whole idea that romance can’t fulfill plot is another can of worms I’m not touching with a ten foot pole. Preferences don’t exist in a vacuum, and perhaps some preferences shouldn’t be trotted out when the majority of queer romantic plots/subplots *without* a focus on the queerness are shoved off-screen and swept into footnotes. It’s fine to have whatever preferences you do about the narratives you like to indulge in, but please don’t throw those preferences around as evidence of why something is progressive with regards to queer representation or act like they’re necessarily progressive preferences in a queer context.

        I’m honestly curious as to why you think the romantic focus between two characters is necessarily ‘focusing on the queerness’ just because it’s a queer romance, since it’s not like straight characters are ever going to be placed under that constraint.

        1. I’m heading out the door to work and will respond to this as soon as I can. I am not ignoring you, but I have a day job. If I can respond from my phone on my break I will.

            1. The difference with straight relationships to me is that straight couples already have representation all across the board. We do not. We have some representation but mostly focusing on the romance aspect instead of having our love lives just being a part of who we are, not the main focus. Straight characters have this. I’m not saying get rid of romance narratives, but give those of us who want it downplayed something as well.

              I also hate straight romance as being a focal point. I strongly support shows with heterosexual friendships such as Elementary or Sleepy Hollow (that might change). I want gay relationships as just an aspect of who they are, not the focus, and I want straight narratives with the friendship as the focus, not te romance.

              I’m on my phone on my break and I have to go back to work now. Sorry for typos and not being logged in.

        2. In this comment you turn everything into Double-Speak, without any proper way to figure out what it is you are actually saying.

          Care to clarify… you appear to have two notions here.
          * Romance in plots is bad
          * Not having Romance in plots is bad

          That have both been wonderfully expanded with a lot of words… but your thesis appears to be self conflicting and this ultimately is the confusing part of all of this to me.

          Care to clarify this further?

          And yeah… English **profanity removed** sucks as a way to express yourself/myself. So I’ll be patience in amongst these issues. Creole langauges teed to have that issue.

            1. I ran into the same confusion. It seemed as if you were at once critical of the author for appreciating WTNV not focusing on the relationship but making it just another element of the show, and at the same time critical of shows that focus on the relationship until they’ve worn that plot threadbare, with a generous dose of both wanting/not wanting to see such relationships specifically focused on/not focused on as non-heteronormative.

              It was a wee bit unclear what you were disagreeing with and why.

          1. Hey, thanks for your addition to your conversation, but profanity isn’t allowed here. I just removed the curse and left the rest of your comment as is. Thank you

            -Admin Angel

    2. A tendency of creating a queer character whose homosexuality is a focal point of a story, most of the times creates a fake expression of this character being different from anyone-else, simply because he/she has a preference in romantic partners. Difference leads to isolation and, in many cases, creates stereotypes. I myself tired of media presenting a category of people I belong to as different from anyone else. The fact that I have attraction to the same sex doesn’t make me differen. I’m happy to be presented with a character whose story develops on something else, besides orientation, and the orientation stays as a background, like “yeah, I’m a guy who likes other guys, so what?”
      And that opinion doesn’t make me a bigot.

      1. Absolutely agreed. What I take issue with is the fact that Night Vale has never called his orientation into context, yet the author here is equating any mention of his relationship whatsoever as doing so. Talking about a romance that happens to be queer doesn’t mean you’re talking *about* the queerness of that romance, you know?

        I absolutely love how Night Vale has handled it.

        1. You’re totally right about the whole “Talking about a romance that happens to be queer doesn’t mean you’re talking *about* the queerness of that romance” bit. It reminds me of the episode where Cecil spent the majority of his time on air talking about his first date. That was anything but “othering,” if anything, it was totally normalizing. He talked about the date and how he felt, instead of shoehorning something about being with another man.

          This is actually why I DON’T take issue with what you take issue with, “Night Vale has never called his orientation into context.” Who says Cecil’s orientation needs context? In mainstream media, a character’s “straightness” is never called into context (save for a few bits where it’s used as comedy). Cecil doesn’t need any reason to be gay or anything—it’s just like being straight, being gay is normal, and it’s being represented as such.

          In any case, I agree that Night Vale is doing a lot of things right, and I can’t wait for the new episode this Friday!

          1. “This is actually why I DON’T take issue with what you take issue with, “Night Vale has never called his orientation into context.” Who says Cecil’s orientation needs context? In mainstream media, a character’s “straightness” is never called into context (save for a few bits where it’s used as comedy). Cecil doesn’t need any reason to be gay or anything—it’s just like being straight, being gay is normal, and it’s being represented as such.”

            I was agreeing with this as well! I didn’t mean I took issue with the fact Night Vale hasn’t called his orientation into context, just that the author thinks episodes such as First Date automatically contextualize his *queerness* and should remain background “flavor” instead of receiving focus (which I think canon dutifully affords them). I’m sorry about my phrasing there! I was saying the way canon has handled them is super awesome.

            (Have you heard the live show episode? I died a thousand joyful deaths.)

            1. You are definitely misinterpreting my article. My issue is that with queerness the focus tends to be placed on the romance and only the romance instead of having it just be an aspect of who they are. I’m specifiially saying that WTNV DOES NOT do this. DOESN’T do this. At all. And it doesn’t have to. It never has and the way they are handling it proves to me that they never will. I absolutely adore the episodes that focus on their romance because, as I said, it is my favorite part, but I don’t need it to be, nor do I want it to be, the main focus of the show. In almost every other show if there is a queer protagonist, the romance is what takes up the bulk of their plot. That isn’t the case here and I appreciate that.

              I feel like you’ve put a lot of words into my mouth and assigned a lot of opinions to this post that simply isn’t there. I never said I wanted less of their romance. I never said I wanted none of their romance. In fact I said it was my favorite part of the show. What I want is for it to just be part of it, not the main thing. And I’ve restated my thesis to you 10 times and I am not doing it again because I’m not sure how else to word it.

              WTNV gives the perfect balance of what I want in a queer character. THat’s it. That’s my opinion.

        2. Huh, I re-read the article again, and in my opinion the author talks about the same thing. I don’t know, but I think that it became a case of not different opinions, but a case of different semantics of the same opinion.

          1. I wish, but this bit —

            “While Cecil and Carlos’s relationship is definitely my favorite part of the show, I’d be disappointed if that was the only thing they ever talked about. I want it to be like Jack and Ianto’s relationship: it’s important, but always just flavor instead of the crux of the entire plot.”

            — kills that interpretation and reeks of the damaging idea that focusing on a (cis) straight romantic relationship in a narrative is a ‘romantic focus’ while focusing on a queer romantic relationship in a narrative is always a ‘queer focus’ regardless of whether the queerness of it is called into context or not (and in Night Vale, it isn’t).

            It’s cool if the author just doesn’t like romantic narratives, but bringing that up here, in the context of this article and as pertaining to Cecil and Carlos instead of stating it as a general dislike is kind of really iffy.

        3. Oooh! Shoot! You are expanding upon the point in the article in an agreeable manner!

          Well… now I just feel silly!

          Sorry yeah… I’m now on the other side of something I do all the time… hahaha!

          Yeah, I agree with you… sorry -blushes-

          Yeah, I get it now. ROCK ON! BOOOOYEAH!

    3. My issue with Glee is everybody on that show is offensive stereotypes. I’m surprised they haven’t had black people rapping about fried chicken, grape drink and stealing VCRs on it… maybe they have, I don’t watch it… as I have another show with offensive stereotypes to enjoy: Drawn Together.

      On the “be gay… but not too gay”… way to not get what is going on.

      As a lesbian… I HATE how I become some central f***ing focal point like some f***ing unicorn. Well that and the fact I am transgender too… just makes it all f***ing worse. I do other things other than f***ing have my eyeballs pop out of my skull for girls in jeggings. There is MORE to me as a person.

      It is about the whole “you know… there is more to life than who you f***” side of things that the LGBTAQFAHTYEJTRGARHTRHAGAGEA-alphabet_soup-FHTAEAVFDGADFAD(Other Letters, Sorry for missing yours, eh)DAGAD tends to often forget and ignore and why I feel alienated by the whole thing… and why I don’t think it will ever go anywhere.

      I do artwork, I do parkour, martial arts, tarot readings, program computers, make AWESOME Bannock (First Nations Hunnies gather around, YO!), have a sense of humour, enjoy dark gothic things, and so many other things… that are not me pretending to be a bicycle seat that doesn’t really work that well as a locomotion device.

      Cecil and Carlos are gay… yes… but they do many other things. Being gay is just like a favourite or lucky t-shirt to wear when they do it. Like Cecil’s fuzzy pants–anything else would just be uncomfortable.. and weird. Cecil comes off as a bit of a raver as a result of that.

      There are also entire episodes where it plays as “Cecil is gay fitting over Carlos” which is nice–and there are episodes where “Cecil is a normalish person”… which ultimately has “Cecil is gay fitting over Carlos” become generally viewed as “Cecil is a normalish person” episodes if only due to lack of the general obsession factor.

      What is more, since Cecil is more likely to obsess over Mountains not being a real thing… that becomes more of his, “weird obsession”… and drives “being gay” to be just something normal about him.

      I think this is awesome as a result… and yeah… we need more weird stuff series in the world (You can only watch Addams Family, The Munsters, The Hilarious House of Count Frightenstien, etc. so many times)… but we also need this style of “they are gay… so what?” style to characters in more mainstream media… and not just in Star Trek EU and internet original fan works.

      As Mainstream Media Homosexuals tends to turn into the opening musical number from Team America World Police of “Everybody has AIDS” in that parody of Rent, Lease. Which has my urge to stab people rising.

      To paraphrase Fight Club… you are not what you enjoy. What you enjoy does not define you. I enjoy tw*t… that does not define me or require me to conform to any particular way to dress, act and behave. I HATE how the world seems to tell me otherwise.

      1. My issue is really that Cecil having a fit over Carlos automatically becomes “gay fitting” instead of, you know, just him fitting over another person. Who happens to be a guy.

        And the fact this author writes, “Many episodes pass by without his sexuality being mentioned at all” — all Cecil and Carlos have done, post-First Date, is throw out off-handed information about cooking for each other or anniversary gifts. I’d like to see an instance where straight couples giving out this kind of flippant information are ever told they’re “mentioning their sexuality”.

        My problem is this author is connoting an otherness to the way Cecil’s relationship with Carlos is handled that isn’t present in the canon, and also disregards the fact that Night Vale is technically not plot-focused and a character study of an entire town which makes their relationship as significant as any other character interaction, and not “flavoring” as they’ve downplayed it for whatever reason I can’t fathom.

        1. I’ve addressed this in a previous post, but to clarify, when it comes to queer characters the romance tends to be the main focus for almost all the other queer protagonists I can think of. I have no issue with it being brought up nor do I have issue with it’s presence. In fact I stated it was my favorite part. I love it. My favorite episode is One Year Later. What I don’t want is for every single episode to be about it. I don’t want another show that focuses entirely on a queer protagonists love life. We have plenty of that. And if people enjoy that fine. I do too on occasion, but I’m tired of it being the only option available. I crave a queer character who, while they may or may not be in a romantic relationship, has a lot of other stuff going on in their lives.

      2. Please view our policies: https://thegeekiary.com/policies/

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    4. I would agree with you if WTNV were a different kind of show – if it were a personal blog like the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, say. But I think perhaps, in reflexively reacting to the idea that the romantic relationship should not be the focal point, you’re losing sight of the format of the show: this is not Cecil Baldwin’s personal blog. It’s his job. The character is a professional broadcaster being employed to host this community radio station under the auspices of the terrifying Station Management; he’s not SUPPOSED to be yakking away about his private life, and now that he and Carlos are an item it would be forced (not to say manipulative and fetishising, and a cheap form of fanservice) to have his relationship be the focus of the show.

  2. I think that the fact Cecil can casually mention he ‘fell in love instantly’ with Carlos and appease Station Management at the same time alone deserves an award.
    I personally hate media that trots out the same cookie cutter tragic narrative for us in the LGBTQIA community, I relate more to characters that have been created as believable individuals, than say the L Word’s use of stereotypical lesbians. Sometimes I want my protagonists to go on cute dates that may include screaming at the void together, why not? The fact that we do get little hints into their relationship is natural when I’m talking to friends I don’t completely skirt around my relationship, but my sexuality isn’t the only focus of my existence either.

    (I would like to point out though that some of us come from cultures/countries where ‘queer’ is still very much a violent slur and while I understand it’s usage, it is quite alienating)

    1. I do apologize for the use of the queer. It’s my preferred term as it leaves him open to being bisexual, pansexual, homosexual, or any number of other things. It’s the term I use for myself for that very reason. The only other term I can think of is “not heterosexual.”

      But thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you are enjoying their relationship as much as I am.

  3. I agree… this is something that needs to show up in mainstream media much more often.

    It mostly only exists in Internet Original productions and Star Trek EU novelisations.

    Internet Fandoms that have casual homosexuality instantly skyrocket. Between Homestuck, Welcome to the Night Vale and Torchwood… just having characters who’d consider not be okay with Homosexuality as weird… such as the Homestuck Trolls, everybody in Night Vale… and everybody who has met Captain Jack Harkness… it is honestly something Mainstream Media SHOULD look into.

    Homestuck is a noteworthy example, as I’m fairly certain Andrew Hussie observed 4chan’s /b/ and decided, “let’s make a web comic that has a fandom SIMILAR to that… and mobilise my own little mini-army AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD”… which is mostly my own head canon.. but Homestuck being what it is, that stuff gets to be an amusing, “we’ll have thinking about that happen, and The Huss, MIGHT make that canon if he finds it amusing enough of a concept to do.” The fandom is the only fandom you cannot really pick a fight with–as well, Furries, Bronies and what not will get irritated over the sort of joshing that Homestuck accepts as hilarious… they take that picking on and make it canon. It is the sort of fandom that troll fics like My Immortal get seen by the Author and he is like, “Well… that is now a main plot point now–yes I know I said now twice… THAT IS HOW IMPERATIVE IT IS!”

    Homestuck has one of the main things that show up being: all the homosexual imagery shared between Dave, Bro and Dirk–the Strider Clan–as how they ironically mess with people. Knowing that once homosexuality is well accepted they’ll need to move onto a new level of irony, like ironically being homophobic. Then the trolls show up, which had no understanding of human gender–and their whole blood cast thing ends up being a weird parody of using skin colour and gender to decide who is who… and they are puzzled at human hierarchy as much as humans get puzzled by theirs. Which their biological structure and preparing for the Incestuous Slurry (You’d better have those two buckets ready when the Imperial Drones show up knocking on their door), gender discrimination seems REALLY alien to them. With the trolls calling the humans the “weird freaky aliens” and calling their practices weird, “WH4T?!? NO YOU C4NNOT US3 M3 4S 4 BUCK3T!! 1 LOV3 YOU STR1D3R, BUT YOU’R3 NOT US1NG M3 4S 4 BUCK3T”

    When Adventure Time gave the suggestion one of the Princesses might be more interested in the Heroine than boys… that is when the Adventure Time fandom had its biggest bursts of interest ever. Hell, that is the main reason I started to watch it. It’s original justification, before executives had to retgone that plot line, was “princess likes girls, like how some like boys”… with nothing else put onto their stuff.

    There is more than enough stuff on the Internet to suggest that having gay people viewed as about as ordinary as hetero people is an AWESOME idea.

    Yeah… having Homestuck’s view come from, “4S 4L13NS W3 DO NOT UND3RST4ND YOUR HUM4N BUCK3T PROBL3MS” might be a bit indirect… but we might need that at first. What with Reed Richards being useless being something that is needed in Science Fiction media. Guy can build machines to treat a fantastic Mole Person Parasite and jump into dimensions unknown… but poverty, cancer, disease, social distress and other normal things? He cannot do anything to bother with. Love how Fantastic Four put the world into danger regularly, and are heralded as heroes… but Spiderman is a wall crawling menace and a problem and must be destroyed (unless he happens to be part of the Fantastic Four at the current time).

    1. I keep hearing about Homestuck in the conversations I have about queer representation. In fact one of their couples (Rosemary?) came in #3 in our Canon Queer Couple poll. Someday I may try to give it a shot, but wow, it’s huge and scary and I’m a little hesitant to dive in.

      I have not read the Star Trek EU novels, but color me intrigued! There’s queer protagonists? I’m very interested.

  4. I really appreciate WTNV for the very reasons you have mentioned above. There are too few examples in any genre of fiction where the characters are gay and it’s not the focus of the story. I actually can’t think of a single US TV show where it isn’t a plot point when a character is gay. There are a few book that manage it, but not many-The Legend of Lochlinlea by Micheal Helgens comes to mind, but I’m not even sure if the character I’m thinking of is gay. A great deal of effort is made by the author to side step pronouns to avoid making a strong declaration, but I have my suspicions that, like Dumbledore, there is more than what we get from a surface reading of the book (sadly HP doesn’t get to be included in a discussion of how America is handling homosexuality). I guess my point is that WTNV isn’t all alone, but it’s pretty stark out there. Thanks for your article.

    1. Yeah, literature and comic books are way ahead of TV shows and movies. I’ve tried to analyze representation in those before but I don’t have the breadth of knowledge to make an accurate statement on it. And WTNV isn’t even a TV show or movie. It’s a podcast. It’s so beyond any other popular media format and yet it’s gaining an enormous fanbase. TV and movie producers: take note.

  5. Lovely article.
    Another thing I think is great about Welcome to Night Vale is that it’s not overly stereotypical. In a lot of shows I’ve seen with homosexual characters they’re often stereotyped representations. Overly flamboyant and girly gay men, for example, are a big thing that I’ve seen in media. In WTNV Cecil and Carlos are anything but stereotypical. Their characters have so many different facets to their personalities where some gay characters in media are simply gay and that’s all. Cecil can be giggly and excited, but then dark and ominous. He can be funny, creepy, and loveable. Too many times are characters made out like ‘gay’ is their only characteristic, which makes it seem as though you’re defined by your sexuality.
    Just a little point I think is important about the podcast.
    Again great article. You make some great point. Thanks.

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