By Love Barnett
If you weren’t already in the know, Supergirl is back on TV and is fighting off baddies and saving lives — both in the DC Universe and in real life — and it’s about damn time.
Due to some lackluster ratings during its debut season, CBS passed off the cult favorite Supergirl to the CW, and at long last it looks like the DC heroine has not only found a home but also a fresh generation of emotionally invested fans, thanks in no small part to the recent introduction of a gay story arc.
Not that we didn’t love Kara already — get it, girl! — but when we get into those details that make characters interesting and relatable in the way that draws people in on a personal level ::sprinkles some gay agenda glitter everywhere:: writers are finally starting to understand just how much representation matters. And we mean representation in a real way, not just the token funny flaming sidekick inserted to keep the laugh track rolling.
In the show, Kara’s adopted human sister Alex is just now coming to the self-realization part in her journey when she admits to herself, and then confesses to others, that she’s gay. Some may find it odd that Alex is as old as she is and is just now facing these feelings, but the writers dealt with that reasonably well. And while Alex may not be technically a metahuman, super hero, or the titular character of the show, she’s the real MVP right now for many.
According to Twitter user @sapphicgeek, whose name is Mary and whose bio says that she works at a comic book store in Indiana and is “super duper gay,” she recently had an interaction with a customer and fan of the show that left her in tears.
“So, I want to tell you all what happened in the store today. It’s probably the single greatest moment I have ever experienced working here,” she writes.
In a series of tweets, Mary goes on to tell the rest of the story: “After the usual Saturday rush, a teenage girl comes in. She looks absolutely terrified and when I greet her, she jumped. She starts going up and down the new release wall and the poor thing looks completely overwhelmed. So, I make my way over to her and ask if I can help her find anything. She quietly admits that she was looking for Supergirl. We’re walking to the Super area when I ask if she watches the show. She smiles a bit and nods. Says Alex is her favorite. I mention that I’m a huge #Sanvers shipper and the poor thing just breaks down in tears. I’m trying to figure out what the hell I did to upset her. She’s crying and I’m freaking out. After a minute or so, everything clicks. I’m staring down a crying baby gay. One who was having some big issues. I tell her that it was hard for me when I wanted to come out too. She finally stops crying and asks me if it gets easier. She tells me that she’s just wanted to kill herself for so long and that she had tried but just made herself sick.”
Excuse me while I pick up the shattered pieces of my heart.
Why do we still have our precious babies thinking that suicide is a better option than coming out? Or if they’ve come out already, why is their world still so cold and dark and isolated and scary — in 2016 — that death seems like a better option than living gay?
Mary goes on to relay the teenager’s hopeful change of heart: “But as Alex’s arc continued, she said she realized that she started to see that she could be happy, that she could be loved. She didn’t want to die anymore. For the first time, she didn’t want to die because she got to see Alex be amazing and be queer.”
Representation matters, ya’ll. It matters. So many people in this world don’t have support systems in their family. They don’t have friends at school, people in their community, or role models to turn to. Finding someone to relate to on TV or in the movies may be the only example they ever have of someone living their truth and showing them that they can have a better life, that better things are out there for them.
Back to Twitter, where Mary continued: “She said she came to the store hoping to find something to get her through the hiatus, so she wouldn’t fall back in depression. She had no idea gay comic characters were a thing, but wanted to try. I tell her about Batwoman, Midnighter, and Renee Montoya. She had enough cash for one and was torn on which to get. She decides on Batwoman and asks if I can hold the rest for a while. I was having an internal crisis at that time, because this kid was me years ago. I was barely holding off my own tears. I ended up buying the other 3 for her and I make her promise me that in 10 years she’ll help another queer kid.”
“So, I’m out 60 bucks and I cried in the bathroom for an hour but it was damn worth it. So, @TheCWSupergirl @SupergirlStaff @chy_leigh and @florianalima the work you do means so much to us. Thank you. So, so, much.”
While you take a minute to wipe the mascara off your face (go ahead, we’ll wait), I will say that the responses to this story have been amazing to read. At first, there were tons of “favorites” and retweets, and then the magic happened:
@sapphicgeek @TheCWSupergirl @SupergirlStaff @chy_leigh @florianalima I will literally PayPal you the sixty bucks right now
And they kept going, until Mary told everyone that she’d prefer they donate to an LGBT charity instead. “Thank you to everyone for your kind words and offers of support. I only did what I wish someone would have done for me at that age.”
Mary (and fictional Alex) are proof that not all heroes wear capes, and these ladies illustrate exactly how we can touch people’s lives in a real way. The ripples created by the show and by Mary’s good deed will no doubt have a lasting impact on many lives.
Given the high — so fucking high — rates of suicide among LGBT youth, it is vitally important that we stop being dismissive of the reasons why people fight so hard for representation in the media and equality in our laws. It matters. It’s important. And for far too many people like this girl, it can sometimes be a matter of life and death.