This put up incorporates spoilers for Season 1 of Our Flag Means Dying.
Because the inaugural season of HBO’s Our Flag Means Dying performed out final month, survivors of the Tumblr-era queer fandom discovered themselves anxiously holding their breath, apprehensively awaiting the present’s second of fact.
Was this clearly LGBTQ-coded present going to really ship on its homosexual promise? Or have been we being arrange for one more devastating queerbait, the place the closely implied romance between a present’s same-sex protagonists would abruptly be deserted — together with the devoted followers who so desperately yearned for the legitimacy of express, canonical illustration?
Some managed to stay hopeful, assuring themselves that 2022 is a greater time for LGBTQ tales in Hollywood than the early aughts. Over time, an growing variety of male-on-male love pairings have been allowed to exist on fashionable TV, slowly however absolutely permitting them to come back out of the AO3 slash fanfiction closet and into mainstream canon. Nonetheless, others could not shake the disappointments of previous queer bait-and-switches from again within the SuperWhoLock days, when a particularly homosexual mega fandom propelled Supernatural, Physician Who, and Sherlock into much more avid cult following by means of dedication to same-sex ships that the creators and forged members typically wound up brazenly mocking.
The present is permitting us to study to like and belief once more, after so a few years of our thirsty craving going ignored or outright exploited
However then, Our Flag Means Dying‘s aptly titled “This Is Occurring” episode arrived on March 17. Queer followers did not simply set free a sigh of aid (and perhaps even just a few tears). They inhaled the contemporary ocean air of what appears like a brand new period of LGBTQ illustration on TV. On the very least, the present is permitting us to study to like and belief once more, after so a few years of our thirsty craving going ignored or outright exploited.
Episode 7 confirmed that soft-spoken Gentleman Pirate Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) and fearsome Ed “Blackbeard” Train (Taika Watiti) are certainly not one other homoerotically charged odd couple pairing pink-washed right into a heteronormative “bromance.” Our Flag Means Dying is the full-blown love story that its creators had been laying the muse for all season alongside. And queer-loving fandom did not simply get to observe their wildest goals leap from the digital pages of AO3 and Deviantart to lastly be delivered to life with the complete would possibly of an HBO funds, both.
We acquired our personal viewers stand-in, too, within the pivotal scene the place scribe Lucius Spriggs (carried out with countless appeal by Nathan Foad) calls for Watiti’s Blackbeard deal with their blossoming homosexual love with the care and respect it so deserves. It is a dialog that each avid JohnLock shipper (aka followers of the favored Sherlock Holmes/John Watson romantic pairing) most likely fantasized of getting with the Sherlock TV present creators, who infamously didn’t make good on the clearly non-platonic chemistry that their most avidly devoted followers have been so positive would finish in queerness.
Actually, the entire scene reads like a metaphor for the stress between the HBO present creators and an LGBTQ viewers they’re clearly focusing on. It is apparent not less than one particular person within the author’s room was very conscious of simply how a lot baggage courting this under-represented demographic got here with, as an viewers so typically left within the margins of a fan board.
The primary completely homosexual second of Our Flag Means Dying occurs after Stede entices Ed to hitch him on a treasure hunt, as they piece collectively the obscure clues of the map promising to cause them to bounty. It is not in contrast to the LGBTQ followers who spend numerous hours on-line, piecing collectively a present’s queer hints to develop fan theories that they sincerely believed would result in the coveted treasure of canonical homosexual romance. However within the present, the map burns by chance whereas Stede helps Ed get some meals out of his beard, a basic rom-com second that leaves each the viewers and Spriggs to lift some eyebrows.
Embodying all of the combined emotions of that queer-loving viewers burned too many occasions by these sorts of homosexual will-they-won’t-theys, Spriggs’s expression is equal elements skeptical hope and exasperated longing. However when Ed tells Stede to simply surrender already as he tries to “repair” this underwhelming “pure conclusion” to their misadventure, the often mild-mannered Spriggs unleashes a tirade of anger on the fearsome Blackbeard.
“Do not be a dick!” he calls for below his breath. “That weird little man likes you very a lot, and you want him.”
The conclusion dawns on Ed’s face at about the identical time that it dawns on the viewers. That is taking place. It is actually, really taking place.
Instead of either Ed or the creators backing off of the charged exchange, though, Sprigg’s confrontation appears to only open the LGBTQ flood gates. We don’t just get to witness one of the most endearing male-on-male love stories to ever grace TV. There’s also the casual non-binary representation embodied by Jim/Bonifacia (Vico Ortiz), who goes from disguising themselves as a man to escape a bounty to abandoning the getup but asking everyone to just keep calling them Jim. No one questions them. Of course, even Spriggs gets his own gay-ever-after with the idiosyncratic Black Pete (Matthew Maher).
As Our Flag Means Death grew gayer and gayer with every episode, the internet sure did take notice too.
While the show flew under the radar for a bit, the online discourse exploded after the final two (very explicitly queer) episodes aired. One viral tweet deemed it the new SuperWhoLock, which others have been fast to jokingly name that labbel out as a menacing risk as a result of… no! It is really the precise reverse of that complete mess. One investigative TikToker even began monitoring the spike in fanfictions printed onto AO3 post-gay explosion, going from a measly eight pages for almost all of the season to a whopping 1,600 within the 16 days following episode 7’s launch.
What the success of “Our Flag Means Dying” goes to point out is that we’re actually all nonetheless right here, nonetheless queer, nonetheless thirsty as hell for extra sincere illustration.
The ability of queer audiences to champion TV reveals that champion us has been confirmed time and time once more. As we grew savvy to the false promise of queerbaiting, although, we began demanded higher. However what the success of Our Flag Means Dying goes to point out is that we’re actually all nonetheless right here, nonetheless queer, nonetheless thirsty as hell for extra sincere illustration.
To its pirates, the present’s flag might imply dying. However there is no doubt that it will imply love when it is inevitably waved at numerous Pleasure parades this coming June.