It's been a less than impressive year for LGBTQ characters on TV. Sure, there has been a fair amount of representation, but time and again, exciting, compelling LGBTQ characters have been abruptly killed off — and the consensus is that it's not just mere happenstance, but an epidemic.
Thankfully, several TV writers and producers are listening to these concerns, and have penned a seven-point pledge to assure viewers that LGBTQ characters will be treated with respect and to respond to calls from the public for "meaningful change." Dubbed the "Lexa Pledge" as a reminder of the controversial killing of Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) in the CW's The 100, the letter was created by Saving Hope writer and co-executive producer Noelle Carbone, producer, writer and director Michelle Mama, Saving Hope producer Sonia Hosko and Gina Tass, the creator of the Trevor Project fundraiser, which provides suicide prevention services for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in crisis."
The seven tenets include promising to introduce characters with significant storylines and arcs, refusing to kill a queer character just to further the plot of a straight character and never baiting or misleading the fans on social media channels. You can check out the full pledge from the writers and producers below.
The death of Lexa was the most high-profile LGBTQ character death of late, but it was far from an outlier. Within the months of February and March, three other prominent characters were killed, including Rose (Bridget Regan) on the CW's Jane the Virgin, Kira (Yaani King) on Syfy's The Magicians and Denise (Merritt Wever) on AMC's The Walking Dead.
Denise's death had a particular resonance, as the character was killed in a scene taken straight from the comic book source material, and transposed to her in place of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), who was killed in the same fashion in the comics. Thus, the decision to kill one of the show's few gay characters was an off-putting, but intentional, decision.
"While being a lesbian doesn't mean a character should be bulletproof — anyone and everyone should be ready to die on The Walking Dead — the writers did decide to swap the gay character in for the straight, white alpha male," Joanna Robinson wrote for Vanity Fair. "They had to do a lot of plot contorting to get there, too."
In light of the increasingly troublesome "Bury Your Gays" trope, the writers behind the pledge also emphasized the importance of positive representation — and the ramifications for a younger, queer audience if this isn't achieved.
"I don't know what my experience would've been like if I was a teenager now and watching queer female characters get shot or stabbed or drowned one after the other after the other," Carbone said, in an email to the Mary Sue. "I don't know how that kind of representation wouldn't burrow into your subconscious and send a message of pain and futility. Which I guess is why the pledge is getting the response it's getting online. It contains a message of hope that lots of people, especially young people, need to hear."
The "Lexa Pledge" certainly isn't going to change the TV landscape overnight, but the fact that the writers are responding to these concerns is a step in the right direction.
h/t the Mary Sue