[Warning: some explicit language. This is something I am VERY passionate about and I won’t hold back. So be forewarned.]
An Open Letter to Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, and the cast and crew of X-Men Apocalypse:
I realize that this blog post will probably never actually reach any of your eyes, BUT on the strange off chance that it does, there are a few things I’d like you to know.
I am a lover of graphic novels. I got into them in my mid 20s and read everything I could get my hands on. Many of them were adapted into films, and only a few of them were worthy, in my eyes, of their comic counterpart. X-Men is one of those (I treat all your X-Men films as one massive story.) There’s a lot of passion and respect in the films for the characters and their individual tales, particularly the use of them as allegory for so many civil rights issues. I love the careful attention you paid, and are still paying to those issues- thank you.
Here we are, coming into the spring of 2016, two years away from Days of Future Past and just a few months out from Apocalypse. Things around us are shifting. They’re evolving. So many steps have been taken to preserve and expand rights for so many who have been oppressed- women, African-Americans, immigrants, the LGBT community. Yes, we’ve got a long way to go, but things are moving now at an unstoppable speed. Awareness is spreading like a fire. We’re all connected now in so many ways.
I am in my mid 30s. I’m a woman, a wife, and a mother, and a student of LGBT studies. I’m bisexual. Gender is completely irrelevant to me when it comes to my laws of attraction. I’m a passionate, fucking DIEHARD supporter of same sex marriage and equal rights. I not only support it, I believe in it. Total and complete acceptance of our sexuality is quintessential to our evolution as a species, and this goes for every one of us. We need- so much- to cut these chains, rid ourselves of these ridiculous labels that bind us, and just let ourselves love whomever we wish to love. Because the truth is this: loving someone of your own gender does not make you gay. Loving someone of the opposite gender doesn’t make you straight. All it makes you- all you truly are- is a human in love with another human.
I did not grow up with this belief system. I had to learn it- as many of us did. I was raised in a conservative household in a conservative town in the conservative 90s. When I became aware of my sexuality, I was young. I didn’t have words for my emotions until I started high school in 1995. I had girlfriends all through high school, college, and beyond. I had a boyfriend here and there. There was one woman, however, with whom I was very much in love. I had to hide how I felt. We both did. It was a stormy and passionate affair, and when my parents discovered what was happening, they separated us. The lengths we went to in order to hide our ongoing relationship were draining, and there was a terrible sense of paranoia in our every moment together that we would be found out. It tore us apart, eventually. I didn’t want to come out. I was terrified. When she left, I was absolutely crushed. Heartbroken. Destroyed.
I see this exact same thing reflected in Erik and Charles in the new X-Men trilogy. I can see the subtext for what it is- I’m a lover of that “hidden” language. However, this time around, in comparison to the old films, there seems to be a definitive shift in how Erik and Charles are presented. They’re more…obvious. The subtext of the earlier films is moving into text. The romantic, passionate love between them is *clear.* And I can’t help but notice those exact same tell-tale signs that these two are secret lovers who are terrified of being discovered- I’ve been here. I know what I’m looking at. The glances, the gazes, the secret “telepathic” conversations, the hidden trysts wrapped up in lies and deceit and illusions. The utter heartbreak when you part ways. It’s unmistakable. I did the exact same thing. *A lot* of us who have been involved in same sex relationships during a time or in a place that was less than tolerant would recognize this pattern in Erik and Charles. There’s *nothing* unrealistic about it- that’s what it’s like to have to hide a forbidden love affair.
This is the obvious part of their connection. There’s also, as I detail constantly in my little blog, countless signs and strange discrepancies and “hell is going on here?” moments in the films that all revolve around Erik and Charles. After several months of studying the films, studying Singer’s directorial style and Kinberg’s writing style, diving into queer subtext in depth and researching into the wee night hours, and drawing on my own personal experiences, I’ve become completely convinced that Apocalypse is going to see Erik and Charles finally “come out” as the lovers they’ve always been. I can’t shake it, this feeling. I know it in my heart. Something is up. Something is definitely up. I know what I’m seeing. I know exactly what I’m seeing here.
Bryan, your best friend and the mother of your child, Michelle Clunie, played the part of Melanie Markus in the Showtime series Queer as Folk. It’s really indescribable, but to be as blunt as possible, that show kicked my ass right out of the closet. It was shameless, and in your fucking face, and it changed my entire perspective on my own sexuality and on sex in general. QAF changed *everything.* It laid the groundwork for every single LGBT film, show, or character that’s followed since. I remember watching several interviews with the cast, and in one, Michelle talking about how she’d received thousands of fan mail letters, many of them from mothers and fathers who were so thankful for the show because it helped them understand their gay son or daughter. That’s *power* right there. I owe that show so much- without it, my path to self-acceptance would’ve taken so much longer. Michelle is a hero for going balls-to-the-wall and taking the role as a kick ass lesbian lawyer and mother. I feel so much gratitude to her for that, I can’t even tell you how much. THANK YOU, MICHELLE.
I see this *exact same* potential in the X-Men films. Perhaps even more potential because, where QAF was on a paid channel that could only reach so many in the early 2000s, X-Men is mainstream and on the big screen, nationally and internationally. It has the sword-wielding motherfuck power to cut down the bullshit and make a statement that would immediately change everything. X-Men is the *PERFECT* platform to do this- it’s a group of mutants who discover their “powers” during or after puberty, who are maligned or rejected by society, and are total outsiders. It started as a parallel to civil rights, now it also serves as a parallel to gay rights. It’s a great allegory, I get it. It’s beautiful. But, you all have taken such pains to put the mutants in the “real world.” In our world, this time around. Shouldn’t they reflect us then, truly? Shouldn’t we have more people of color? More strong, independent women? And where on earth are the gay mutants?
If my suspicions are right, that’s going to change with Apocalypse. I just…feel it in my bones. I don’t see how this is leading anywhere else, and there are so many LGBT family members, including you Bryan, and supporters (who are also family) in the cast who would understand Erik and Charles’ struggle. I know something is about to happen. I’ve seen so much progress in my lifetime, especially in the last decade or so, and I just *know* in my heart that Apocalypse is leading towards Erik and Charles finally becoming an official couple. If I am right, and these two are finally going to get the happiness they deserve, let me say this to all of you- Singer, Kinberg, all cast and crew:
You have an **enormous** community standing behind you. They are so jaded, so filled with doubt because they’ve been let down *so many times* by Hollywood’s incessant queerbaiting and heteronormativity that they don’t expect to see any real change on the big screen, especially not with an iconic couple like X and Magneto. I understand them, but believe it or not, I didn’t start out “shipping” Erik and Charles at all. I’m a very *stick to the book* person when it comes to film adaptions of established stories. But comics are a unique medium- there are several “canons.” Several universes and alternate universes. The possibilities are endless, so a romantic version of Erik and Charles would fit right into that, perfectly. (And let’s be honest- there is definitely some sexual tension between the two in the comics.) Not only that- it would finally be taking advantage of the perfect platform X-Men provides to address a VERY REAL rights issue in our current time, and my God, how powerful that message would be.
When it comes to the many people who wish so much for Erik and Charles, they have so little hope of ever seeing something like them officially becoming canon. I totally believe it, but I cannot convince them on my own, and believe me, I’m trying. But I *understand*- and feel so much- where they are coming from. I’ve been there, I’m still there. I know how much they don’t trust Hollywood, or the “establishment.” That’s why Apocalypse is so badly needed. This community, these gorgeous people who have been let down so many times, *deserve* to see their dreams and desires come to fruition. Charles and Erik may be fiction, but they are representative of so many people who have struggled with their sexualities. If you let these two come together, openly, it will change everything. Stories are our mirror- they reflect us. We may not be able to fix things in our own past, but in fiction, all things are possible. In repairing the separation of Charles and Erik, we repair our broken hearts. And so many people out there can look at them, and understand, realize, and recognize what they’ve been seeing between these two the entire time: LOVE. When we can see love for what it *truly* is, it no longer becomes an “unknown” or a thing to fear. Then, and only then, can we start the healing process.
So, if I’m right, and these two gorgeous men are endgame in Apocalypse, and I truly believe they are- with all my heart- then everyone in that entire cast and crew is a hero. All of you, every last one, down to the fucking bugs walking around on set. What you’re about to do is going to change the world in so many ways. Apocalypse will truly end one world and bring about another, and it will restore hope to a community that *so badly* needs it. Don’t sweat the haters. Don’t listen to the bigots. Fuck all of them. Stick to your guns, and tell that story I know you are going to tell. The Charles and Erik community- this huge group of amazing people- will stand behind you. The LGBT community will stand behind you. Straight allies will stand behind you. People who want to see love flourish everywhere will stand behind you. You’ve got us, all of us. Fuck the bigots. Because you know, as well as I do, that LOVE ALWAYS WINS. Always. Every time. You tell your story, and stand by it. Your victory will be our victory.
I know I’m just an unknown author on my little blog, and there’s not a big chance that this post will ever reach any of you. I hope it does, someday. I just want to put this letter out into the universe for whomever comes across it. To Singer, Kinberg, et al: You deserve recognition for what you’re doing, and for what you’re about to do. I believe in you. I have faith in you. I know where you’re going with Apocalypse, and I’m behind you 100-fucking-percent. Stick to your fucking guns, guys- do what you know needs to be done. These films will be legend, you will be legend, the cast will be legend, and it will be MORE than deserved. Someone has to do it, right? What better time than right now, when these issues are at the absolute center of our collective consciousness? What better supportive cast and crew could you ask for? And what better platform than X-Men?
Heads up. Hearts up. You’ve got us, guys, all of us. We’re not going fucking ANYWHERE. Love is now. Love is the future. Love is forever.
(P.S. When Cherik goes canon, any chance we can finally get Mystique and Destiny going in future films/shows? Because that would be great. 👍)