Monday, January 17, 2011

The Homomonument

Just saw the news that a new LGBT History Museum ever is now opened in San Fransisco. What a wonderful news! All the more reason for me to keep saving to go to the US. Here's a link to the site:

The news brought back a memory to me. As a member of LGBT society, there's some kind of unidentified pride in my soul every time I looked back to our history. LGBT society has perhaps a sadder history than even Jewish people, even in the time of Holocaust. It's true that there were more Jews died in Holocaust than any other minority group (about 81% of all victims of Holocaust are Jews), but the percentage of gay people who died after getting caught is more than in Jews group (I forget the exact numbers, sorry). That was caused by the terrible treatment not only by the Nazis but also by cell mates and other groups as well. One story I heard and couldn't forget was about a couple of gay men. One was forced to watch his lover being chased by Nazi's dogs and bitten to death before he himself was killed. To this day I couldn't get that image out of my mind. To make it worse, after the US freed Jewish people from various concentration camps, the homosexual groups remained criminals because they were not listed officially as 'victims' of the Holocaust, and they remained so till years later.

There were many monuments around the world to commemorate gay people's struggle throughout the history (one more is about to be built in Barcelona... ugh, how I wish it was already there two years ago!), and I've been lucky enough to visit one of the biggest and the oldest, Homomonument in Amsterdam.

In that plaque, these words are written (in Dutch, English, and French): "Commemorates all women and men ever oppressed and persecuted because of their homosexuality. Supports the international lesbian and gay movement in their struggle against contempt, discrimination and oppression. Demonstrates that we are not alone. Calls for permanent vigilance. Past, present, and future are represented by the three triangles on this square."

This plaque stood just beside the triangle of the past, which was built just below the street level and leading down to the water in the canal. This triangle represents the past when gay people were often oppressed and killed just because of their sexual orientation. Most time of the year there are lots of flower bouquets placed here and lots of people coming here to pray, to celebrate, or just to contemplate, but I was there on a very cold day... hence the quietness. It made the place all the more solemn, though, and I almost cried when I finally stood there and looked up to the other two triangles.

The second triangle was built on level with the street, and it pointed to Anne Frank's house. It represents the hope for freedom, equality and human right - what we strive for nowadays and what Anne once wished for in her diary. On the triangle there were words inscribed in Dutch, "Naar vriendschap zulk een mateloos verlangen." Translated freely as, "Such an endless longing for friendship".

The last triangle, built just above the street level, is the one to represent the inspiration and hope for the future. All three triangles are placed such that they actually made a big triangle of their own. It remains one of the fondest memory of mine, seeing such a thoughtful and beautiful monument spread wide in the middle of Amsterdam - in front of a church, no less! It's a shame that this monument was built in 1987, and yet the fight for equality is still going on... and in my own country I think we're still in the 'past' stage.

Well... you may think that, "Ah, who cares about gay people?" and you may even believe that we deserve it, but please remember, it's not only gay people who are faced with discrimination and being oppressed. Jews faced it, black people faced it, women faced it, people of many religions around the world faced it. I never could understand why people can't just live and let live - being afraid of something or someone different is one thing, but why not learn about them before deciding that they're evil and need to be eliminated? History has it all written down and yet we still make the same mistake. We just never learn, do we?

Deep down inside, I think we're all the same
Try not to judge someone and never shame
I do believe that people are good
Just want hope and respect, and to be understood 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Subtext Special

Although it's really late, I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the jolly holiday spirit last us all year long until we get another Christmas and meet another new year. 

So, I've just read a marvelous post today by another blogger, and I was inspired to write this post. It reminds me how I first fell in love with the internet, with fan fictions and fandom in general. In turn, I owe it my improvement in English and my love for analyzing. But let's start at the very beginning.

Subtext: "is content of a book, play, musical work, film, video game or television series which is not announced explicitly by the characters (or author) but is implicit or becomes something understood by the observer of the work as the production unfolds" (Wikipedia). In my own words, subtext is something that you see implicitly behind the presentation of a story. It's a little bit different from the term 'shipping' in fandom, as shippers "variously assert that the relationship does exist, will exist, or simply that they would like it to exist" (Wikipedia), while with subtext, you only read between the lines. If anyone is familiar with Sailor Moon, a subtext would be to see Haruka and Michiru's feelings for each other, while a shipper would probably ship Mamoru with Amy (I personally would like to see Mamoru and Amy as siblings, not lovers... but that's only me. Hahah). Of course as subtexts are usually about character pairings, the results are usually popular shippings - be it a heterosexual or a homosexual way.

It'll be no surprise to anyone who know me that Xena is my ultimate object for subtext analyzing. It's actually a kind if pioneer for subtext and fan fictions, and I'm lucky that I was just at the right age to be in the middle of it all. Xena was on air for the first time 16 years ago (OMG! Has it really been that long ago???), and that was BEFORE Ellen came out. Mind you, even in the States homosexuality was still much of a taboo back then. The relationship between Xena and Gabrielle actually developed unintentionally, but as the story evolved and the fans picked it up, it became undeniable. One of the things that made me thankful for the production team was that even though they gave them the frustrating on-off storyline (for every episode where X&G's relationship strengthen, an episode with a male suitor would follow), they were consistent with the relationship between the characters and even finally let it flow freely during the final season.

I have to admit that I haven't watched that many TV series, but even I can tell that Xena's subtext content is one of the most brilliantly subtle and yet obvious enough for even a casual viewer to pick up. That might be the reason why there was a cyber battle between the subtexters and the non-subtexters. The subtexts in Xena's series is so obvious so that by a few pointers, anyone should be able to see it (the fan videos 'Subtext for Dummies' are still in youtube if you search for them). Therefore, many subtexters assumed that the non-subtexters who wouldn't accept it must be ignorants - they simply chose not to see it because it made them uncomfortable. I can't defend either group because not all non-subtexters are bigots. There were really people who, hard as they tried, couldn't see what the fuss was all about. I myself didn't want to admit that they were lovers, back then, because of my own bigotry, but even then I accepted their relationship as 'romantic friendship'. More than friends but not lovers. That was how 'obvious' the clues were.

That was one of the things that made Xena an epic. It gathered fan bases from a very diverse audiences without fail - thanks to the subtlety of its subtexts. A conventional religious man has the same chance of loving the show with a liberal gay woman. Maybe that's why the show could last for a whole six season without being cancelled with the accusation of being 'too gay' a la Ellen. Even nowadays there are TV series that still use subtexts as a shield to maintain the mainstream rating and popularity. I'm looking at you, Rizzoli and Isles. I have to say, nonetheless, that I actually like subtexts. It leaves a lot to imagination and perception so you wouldn't be confirmed, but wouldn't be denied either, no matter what your perception is. Plus the fact that most shows with subtexts are able to focus better on the storyline without worrying much about building a relationship and breaking it up. 

Well, today I found a post that broke down the subtext I didn't see before in Glee. When I first read it, I thought it was just a Faberry shipper making a point to her favorite pairing. But after I finished the whole article, I realized that could very well be a subtext - one without a pairing, but with a storyline on its own. It's a new kind of subtext and it's very inspiring to me. Here's the post:

It was broken down matter-of-factly and analyzed logically that I couldn't argue on most points. I think the show would be much more interesting if Quinn was really a lesbian (or even a bisexual) in denial. First of all, it'd give a touch of humor to her all-serious character, that she actually bullies Rachel for no other reason than because she likes her. #2, an unrequited love story is always interesting, especially like in Quinn's case that she can't even tell anybody about her crush (because she has to keep her popularity, that is). #3, it would make much more sense to have that bullying/obsessing plot offered to Quinn, since it would be consistent with the first season, than having Kavrosky (did I write his name right?) kissing Kurt. #4, that'd explain the friends/foes relationship between Quinn and Rachel. #5, it's more unique and deeper than the boring girl cheated on boyfriend and got pregnant, then girl got dumped and found new boyfriend-storyline now, especially since we've seen as far as Quinn's family condition. It'll give the character a new depth while being consistent and connected with the previous stories. 

I wrote in my Glee confession before that I don't like Faberry pairing because I have a serious crush on Rachel. But should the plot change this way, I might have a crush on Quinn instead - cause I can relate to her much better that way. So whaddaya think, Gleeks?? Ryan Murphy???