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Kyle writes...

Hello Greg,

While I adored both the first and second seasons of Young Justice, and I have gone on to enjoy many parts of the third, I have to say that as of right now, I am very disappointed with what I've seen so far of Outsiders. Please know that I mean absolutely no disrespect to you, Brandon, the writers, the crew, or the actual show, but I feel this needs to be said.

I have watched all thirteen available episodes (by the time you get to this ask, I'm more than sure the second half of the season will have already aired in its entirety and you'll be well on your way into making the fourth season *fingers crossed!*) and the show has yet to come through in the ways I -- and many, many others -- had hoped it would prior to the season's airing. By the time you read this, I hope my complaints will have already been resolved and you can tell me I should have been patient and waited for the whole thing to air, in which I would agree. Fair enough.

But as of right now my complaints are still very valid and I would very much appreciate you addressing them, if possible. (Honestly, chances are you have already addressed these issues by the time you read this, if not in the actual show then on your Twitter page or in an interview. If so, I am sorry for wasting your time with a subject you've already gone on to spend a great deal of time on, but if not, here we go.

The pure lack of LGBT+ representation is, frankly, appalling.

I mean no disrespect, but it is 2019 for crying out loud. Men can marry men and women can marry women; boys can dance with boys and girls can dance with girls at their high school proms; those of us that are non-binary can express such freely and openly, when with the right crowd.

You have gone on record saying that LGBT+ people exist on Earth-16; you've gone on record saying that there have even been LGBT+ members of the Team and yet, still, after thirteen full episodes AND a twenty-page comic story where you COULD HAVE represented LGBT+ people, you've failed to showcase even ONE character and/or relationship of the sort. All of the while finding the time in these very crowded episodes and comic for not one, not two, but THREE new straight couples.

There's Garfield Logan and Queen Perdita. Then there's Helga Jace and Jefferson Pierce. And then finally Prince Brion Markov and Violet Harper.

And that's not even counting the suggestion of a relationship between Will and Artemis. Or the hinting that Bear and Dreamer have become exclusive, which would pretty much go against everything the New Gods (Bear himself, specifically, if memory serves) had preached to Conner about them finding satisfaction when they all come together as one back in the first season, which I thought was a pretty interesting way to sneak in the idea of them all being in one big polyamorous relationship. Which would have been SO COOL and SO PROGRESSIVE for a show back then to do.

The one -- ONE -- actual confirmed LGBT+ character you've ever had on the show in its entirety, not just Season Three, was then killed BECAUSE of said-sexuality. The sexuality-in-question, might I add, that we don't even get to know for certain, as when you were asked if she was a lesbian or just bisexual, you simply commented "Yes," as if there wasn't a distinguishable difference between the two in the long run, which just simply isn't the case.

And that's not even really a confirmation since it's plainly just Word-of-God in the grand scheme of things, rather than canon content that was stated out-loud or depicted, either on-screen or on-panel, in the comic. (I know that you weren't allowed to acknowledge it out-loud or in writing back then, so I'm not arguing on that. But you deciding to make her the ONLY LGBT+ character we ever got to see and then having her said-only character killed later in the same comic issue? Not only is it near-downright insulting, but it also fails to come across as anything other than a cheap and thoughtless try at representation.

(And with you and Brandon both going on about how you wanted to include an accurate representation of the world with a diverse cast, the pure lack of LGBT+ representation justs adds insult to injury.)

You've had significant time with Kaldur, who you hinted may not be entirely straight. And, yes, during most of that time with him you couldn't have genuinely acknowledged it either way in-show or out, but with Season Three, there is simply no such excuse. You've got the Brain and Monsieur Mallah, who, I'll admit, wouldn't exactly be my first choices for representation under any circumstances, but they still qualify. You've got Wonder Woman, who, albeit, wasn't confirmed bisexual until after YJ had finished its first two seasons.

But since the start of S3, the show has introduced us to Batwoman, a very prominent lesbian character on-par with Batman and the rest of the Bat-family; the show has given us a cameo of Renee Montoya; and, most recently, the show has given us the gay, married couple of Casey Klebba and Dale Gunn. Both of whom were in the same scene together with speaking lines and still -- STILL -- not even an ounce of content.

You've even introduced Harper Row, who I can't help but guess was only added to the character roster simply for the Harper-confusion joke. I'm hoping she will lead to actual, on-screen LGBT+ content in the next half of the season since that was one of her and her brother's most defining stories from the comics, but I'm no longer getting my hopes up.

And while I know you made no promises of actually having LGBT+ content in the third season, which I won't fault you for nor should anyone else, you KNEW you had a very large, very apparent LGBT+ fanbase. If you knew people were hopeful, don't string them along. If you honestly didn't have any LGBT+ content in store for us, just say so -- lest you be accused of queerbaiting down the line, and while it wouldn't be the case in technical terms in your case, it can still turn many, many fans against you.

Young Justice has and, up until I'm proven wrong, will always be a heteronormative show. The first season's finale got that message across loud and clear, with the second season's finale hammered it in, after you plopped in the surprise, secret romances of not one, but TWO more straight couples in the already-vast sea of straight couples. First, there was Virgil's surprise that Tye and Asami had gotten together, even though we got absolutely zero screentime showing anything of the sort, and was only included because, to you and Brandon, it "Felt right."

Then there's Tim and Cassie, who spent all five seconds of screentime together prior, with them only exchanging a conversation once. (Who then promptly leave each other's sides and enter a fight we're apparently meant to care about less than ten on-screen minutes later, in S3.)

And, now, Young Justice: Outsiders is pulling the same tricks but in a far worse fashion. The twelfth episode alone -- an episode all about Garfield going through nothing but hell, living through every trauma he's ever faced and then some, including the death of his LGBT+ mother, mind you -- ends with him kissing his girlfriend SECONDS AFTER recovering from nearly ending up catatonic. Because of hormones, or something.

Never mind the fact that he'd just rewatched many of his friends' deaths all over again, relived BOTH of his mothers' deaths, AND just realized that his boss -- someone who helped found a META-HUMAN YOUTH CENTER -- was using the Goode Goggles to abduct potential meta-teens and was continuously doing so, all over the country.

But, hey, let me make out with my girlfriend real quick first, right next to my sister and her fiance of the opposite sex, who then promptly make out as well, and just NOT rush to tell the proper authorities, the Justice League, the Team, or the Outsiders about ANY of this until after we're done showing just how straight we are to the audience.

I know this may come off as rude, critical, and/or entitled, but it is truly not what I wish for you to take away from this. Again, I mean no disrespect and do love -- LOVE -- many aspects of the third season, but some of the more recently established relationships and the actions that result from those relationships are the weakest links of an otherwise fantastic show.

I know I may be way off the mark/way too impatient and you actually ARE setting up stories with LGBT+ characters and relationships for the second half of S3, big or small.

If that's the case, I am truly sorry for wasting your time.

But I feel this needed to be said, and while I believe you already know this, I'll say it anyway for the other readers on this site: hinting that a character is LGBT+ off-screen (i.e. in a Tweet or an interview or something) does not adequately represent LGBT+ people at all. Either say it out loud and on-screen/on-panel or just, you know, show it on-screen/on-panel -- otherwise, what do you actually accomplish besides later being able to cry wolf and say that you had LGBT+ characters on-screen and therefore cannot be accused of NOT having them?

Once again, I'm sorry if this came across as critical and/or insulting to you, Brandon, your team of amazing writers/animators/voices, etc., but I promise you all that was not my intent in the slightest, and I hope when you get the time to respond to this (assuming it makes it to you, which I hope it does) it will be to say that I just jumped the shark, so to speak, a little too soon and that LGBT+ characters are all over the second half of S3, confirmed on-screen. It would be amazing, if so.

If not, though, then I would greatly, greatly appreciate an honest answer of why you and Brandon still haven't shown LGBT+ characters/relationships on-screen or on-panel, despite having no restrictions preventing you.



Greg responds...

Hey Kyle,

You were very polite. I have no problem with what you wrote. As you noted, I'm hoping that by now you've seen that we have - where we were allowed - objectively shown LGBTQ+ characters since the time you posted this. Hopefully, you were pleased with what we depicted. And, in any case, there's more to come in Season Four.

Still, I would like to respond to some of your points, as some of the people reading this may not know all we've dealt with on this subject.

1. I just want to point out that in the first two seasons, the video game and the companion comics that we've done up to this point, we were not allowed to objectively depict any LGBTQ+ characters or relationships. So we did the next best thing, which was to write and depict them with consistency for the day when we could.

2. Even in Season Three, TPTB wouldn't let us objectively reveal that one specific character, whom we had (in our minds) set up as gay, was gay - though they did let us depict others LGBTQ+ characters objectively. So we took the S1&2 approach to this one character.

3. As you hopefully have seen by now, we did have plans for LGBTQ+ characters in Season Three, and it's a justifiable complaint, I think, to ask why none of that was depicted in the first thirteen. But we wanted to introduce this stuff organically, and it just worked out for it to be back thirteen stuff. Not trying to defend that, per se. But that's how our stories broke down.

4. Killing off Garfield's mother is consistent with him being an orphan in the comics. I guess we could have kept her heterosexual as she was in the comics, since we knew she was going to die. But we didn't want to do that. It seemed to fit her character, and we didn't want to have one less LGBTQ+ character only because she was going to die.

5. I won't apologize for depicting heterosexual/heteronormative relationships simply because we've had restrictions on LGBTQ+ depictions. Chris Jones and I did equalize the scenes between Queen Bee & Marie Logan and Queen Bee & Ali in an issue of the comic. When TPTB wouldn't allow us to show Bee & Marie kiss, Chris and I wouldn't let Bee & Ali kiss either, as they were exact parallel scenes. But generally, we want to be able to be as honest as possible with relationships. So we're not going to create artificial restrictions when we don't have to.

6. Specifically, Garfield had a cathartic experience in "Nightmare Monkeys," and was grateful that his worried girlfriend had stuck by his side. The idea of them kissing at that moment wasn't us shoving heteronormative behavior in the face of LGBTQ+ viewers, it was us depicting what we believed was the honest and real response to all that had happened to both characters.

7. Bear and Dreamer being a couple is right out of the comics. In fact, in the comics they got married and had a kid. Now, of course, we could have changed that, but it seemed to fit what we were doing, so we didn't.

I'm not going to pretend that we've done justice (no pun intended) to these concerns, even including what we did in Season Three. But we believe the back thirteen episodes took a positive step forward, and we believe Season Four will take us multiple steps forward after that.

Response recorded on July 26, 2021