Persons Of Interest

COMMENTERS: What character in fiction who was a person of color, different orientation, different background, different… interest really opened your eyes or made a difference in your life?

One that really sticks out to me was Hedwig, played by John Cameron Mitchell, from Hedwig And the Angry Inch. I saw that movie when I was in my early 20’s and still suffering from some residual homophobia. I thought gay people were great, but actual, real, dude-to-dude romance was gross. Hedwig just melted my heart with an amazing and universal love story, and told that story with music that became extremely meaningful and important to me. That story and those songs were so honest and so correct about love, alienation, rejection, freedom, identity and what it means to be a human person on Earth that I quickly forgot they were written from the perspective of a biological man, living as a woman, in love with another man. It wasn’t gay love. It was just love. It was the same thing I felt, and it flipped a switch in my head and my heart that I’d spent most of my life trying to keep un-flipped.

TARDIS Necklace from Science & Fiction

tardis necklace on etsy from science and fiction


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  1. The Phantom from 'the Phantom of the Opera'. Traumatized because of his physical appearance, the man was a psychopath and a genius. He built torture chambers for a living before making his home in the Opera and becoming a very lonely and deranged person with an obsessive appreciation for the fine arts, leading him to commit crimes in a misguided effort to get someone to love him. It's both disturbing and romantic and gives fantastic insight into the way someone can become a horrible person due to isolation and exclusion – be a monster and at the same time so very human.

  2. Pippi Longstockings was always the main character in her stories to me, I never realized you're supposed to identify with Tommy and Annika. She showed me you can get away with being different from everyone else as long as you're insistent and tough and self-sufficient enough.

    Which I never realized until just now I've been trying to do all my life.

  3. Joel's face in Panel 3: "Regretting that 7th Quesarito"

    Willis' face in Panel 4: "SENPAI NOTICED ME!"

    Joel and Willis' faces in Panel 5: Untamed, wild, animal lust for each other, aching to be unleashed.

  4. That was a really nice story, Joel; thanks.

    Sal from DoA (along with follow-up explanations on tumblr, and school lessons with good timing) made me realize racism can be very subtle and sort of deeply ingrained in people's minds. And it can be hard to notice the everyday stereotyping and discrimination. I always used to reason that if the intentions were good/harmless, then the act was not racist/sexist/etc. Now I've been seeing it everywhere.

  5. Mine was Jeph Jaque's Questionable Content characters. I grew up in an extremely strict conservative home where pre-marital hanky panky was not allowed. I was out of the house once I started reading it and was becoming more open minded. I loved the characters and slowly realized that having sex (one night stands, steady relationships, homosexual, or polyamorous) was not a bad thing. That among other experiences sparked a complete 180 in my worldview.

  6. Valentine Michael Smith in Robert E. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. I was 12 and had just gotten my "Adult" library card and it was the first Heinlein I'd read that wasn't a YA novel.
    Power and naivete; ecology and fascism; circumstance and destiny: holding paradoxes in my mind expanded it, and in the center was Michael, who grokked, and then I grokked too.

    P.S. Wow, spell check knows "grokked".

  7. To Kill a Mockingbird was a huge one for me. I'd never thought about racial issues much before that, which is weird as I grew up with my white mom in a mostly white neighborhood that clashed hard with the environment of my weekly visits to my Hispanic dad and grandparents. I guess because I fit in both places, I was just like, "Oh, racism is over." But this book opened my eyes that it wasn't. (Though it actually took me watching the movie to realize that the Finches weren't black.)

  8. I think I was about ten when I saw the sci fi movie Enemy Mine on cable. It rocked my world.

    I haven't seen it as an adult. I'm guessing it was pretty heavy-handed, but that's probably why it scored such a direct hit on my wee brain.

  9. Kinda silly answer: do hobbits count? Merry and Pippen were pretty hardcore when the humans they joined just treated them like mascots.

  10. For me, I have to turn to the Russians. Solzhenitsyn's Ivan denisovitch is full of very alive characters who feel like walking corpses, its both traumatic and beautiful. And Konstantin from Anna Karenina. His journey is something I could relate to.

  11. Judge Doom in "Who Framed Rodger Rabbit?" Was 6 when I first saw it, and when that mask came off in the final scenes, the world of deception, hiding oneself, and just how much those around me were trying to hide parts of themselves, all the time, kids and adults alike, blew wide open.

    • I hope you aren\’t kidding, because that\’s a really interesting perspective for a kid to have.

  12. I think cartoons and TV series (but also upbringing) have had their effect on me. Thinking of it, one of the first shows that come to mind is Captain Planet… 5 kids, each from their own background and ethnicity, all helping out and being the hero. Never in my life have I thought less of someone as a person just because of who they are or where they come from…

  13. These kind of questions always take me a while to come up with answers.

    I finally remembered my reaction to reading "All Quiet on the Western Front." in high school (I think it was early high school? maybe? or late middle school?). It was a totally new thing to be reading about a war from the "bad guys' " perspective. I remember realizing that they were just people too.

    The other (far more geeky) one that came to mind was reading one of the Ghost in the Shell novels. I think I knew intellectually that different societies are at different places along the line between "individual first" and "community/family first" but it was clear in the book in a way I hadn't encountered before.

  14. Ridiculously, the main six ponies of MLP Friendship Is Magic taught me both a woman's perspective and a neurotypical's perspective.

    • Also, I finally got "check your privilege" after watching Cloud Atlas… and had to explain it to my parents, who totally didn't get it.

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