I guess this is always the fear when it comes to these panels—especially when people are just seemingly plucked from nowhere and asked to speak on a fairly important topic. The panelists at Saturday afternoon’s LGBTQ were Author Michael Jensen, Podcaster Danielle UberAlles, and Cosplayer (?) Whitney Johnson. They seemed to be picked for the event simply because they can identify themselves as included in the ever-growing alphabet of homosexual labels.
Jensen, who wrote the sci-fi novel “Woven,” started the panel off by telling the story of how his book was dropped by a local partner because the “about the author” talked about having a male partner. It was very relevant, and was set up nicely. From there, though, the panel meandered through a pile of off-topic, personal stories with token references to gay comic book characters randomly mixed in from time to time.
A few relevant discussions did pop up during the Q&A session, but it still felt more like an impromptu gay pride assembly rather than a pertinent discussion about homosexuality in pop culture. At one point, Ms. UberAlles launched into a tirade about the injustice of Jared Leto playing the transgendered Rayon in Dallas Buyer’s Club rather than an actual transgender person. “Why would a straight, white guy play that character,” she said.
So here we have a complicated LGBT character in a major motion picture, captured flawlessly by an incredible actor, and rather than celebrate that fact, UberAlles feels it is a crime against the community. She is free to have her own opinion, as misguided as it might be, but what makes her comments feel particularly hypocritical, was the fact that moments earlier she was celebrating the fact that Neil Patrick Harris, a gay man, could play a straight “Lady Killer” (her words not mine) in How I Met Your Mother.
Overall, nothing was accomplished in the hour and only a smattering of relevant discussion was had. For the future, the organizers should select people that take the subject matter seriously and, I don’t know, do some research beforehand. Rather than just picking some semi-geeky people who happen to be gay.