Cosplay, Media Representation, and LGBT Identities
Written by Aesthel and CRM contributors
While cosplay can mainly be seen about being someone else, it has also helped many people discover and come to terms with their identities. Through being someone else, many of us have been able to learn more about who we ourselves truly are. In this article we wanted to highlight some creators who have been inspired by cosplay to share their stories!
“My name is Jynx Boyne, and I'm a cosplayer under the handle Jynx Tsilevon. I identify as asexual transgender-nonbinary. My pronouns are they/them/theirs.
Hilariously, cosplay helped me come out, if you will. It helps me express all facets of my identity -- never quite fitting a mold but finding a fun and potentially magical path forward. So maybe one day I'm a magical girl, and the next I'm ready to fight Colossi, but regardless, I'm still me.
When I saw the call for the submissions for Pride, I got really excited, and then a little...disheartened. Because the top comment I saw that day was someone asking if you were going to "weed out fan canon." (Paraphrasing). And for someone on the ace and nonbinary spectrum, sometimes, "Fan canon" is all you have. After all, how many confirmed enby or ace characters can yo think of?
It's getting better. After all, after more than 20 years, we finally have Sailor Uranus shouting "It doesn't matter if I'm a man or a woman, all that matters is I protect the one I love!", confirming what we've known all along about everyone's favorite "space gays." We have the entire cast of Steven Universe, breaking boundaries. But there's still so far to go to reach true acceptance. We have to keep moving forward. Keep fighting, you know?
I try to be a visible queer in the cosplay community, because I want others to know that you can be enby and dress however you want. There's no right or wrong way to be yourself. I want to break barriers, and be the mentor I didn't have when I came out the first time.”
The character I'm cosplaying is Larry Trainor, aka Negative Man, from DC's Doom Patrol, who is portrayed as gay in the show. Unlike Larry, I'm bisexual, but I just felt this instant connection to him when I saw him for the first time. He's got this fear of judgement, homophobia and rejection from his loved ones, but despite that he's also capable of loving so passionately and eventually gathering enough courage to stand up for people. His character seemed to step right out of fiction and say, "Acceptance takes time, but that's okay. You're not alone and you're only human." And it was so heartbreakingly real that I just had to cosplay him. It doesn't matter that I'm a girl or that I'm not 100% sapphic. Cosplay is an art form that can express all kinds of love no matter who you are and who you love. So screw it, I love Larry Trainor enough that I will walk out on the street with my head wrapped in bandages and lie down on an abandoned train track to show just how much this representation means to me.
“I am a nonbinary lesbian. I don't have very much representation explicitly in media but I'm appreciative of Stevonnie from Steven Universe, one of my favorite nonbinary characters because I happen to look a lot like them! I am also a very big fan of canon lesbian couples like Bubbline and Korrasami.
Tracer is one of the characters I've most enjoyed cosplaying. I was really happy when Overwatch revealed her to be a lesbian - it was super validating for a game with a large platform to have a lesbian as their posterchild.”
“As a mixed, trans lesbian, I often see more negative representation when it comes to characters I can identify with. I believe that representation alone is not enough, only through affirming and informed representation can media grow to have positive and valid forms of it for people like me. Despite the often minimal representation I have in media, it always keeps me motivated to see trans and lesbian representation like Tracer and Zoe from Monster Prom.
I feel like Widowmaker was made for me to cosplay. Ever since her appearance in the Alive cinematic trailer, I felt a need to make that possible spark of romance between her and Tracer come to life.”