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What if you bite a gay person….? Twilight: The Texts and the Fandom Week 10 re-cap

November 5, 2010

This past week of class we focused on heteronormativity, the vampire as a queer figure (though not in Twilight!), and the importance of viewing/analyzing texts in relation to homophobia and heterosexism. To this end, we viewed The Lost Boys and contrasted its homosexual subtexts with the heteronormative (not so)sub-text of Meyer’s saga.

Several students are writing their papers on the subject of heternormativity/homophobia in Twilight and are having a hard time digging up any quotes or comments from Meyer on the subject. I feel their pain – when I wrote this post last year in the wake of Prop 8, I couldn’t find any public statements Meyer has made about homosexuality.

We know her religion does not support homosexuality, but her own views on the subject are a mystery. However, given that her church gave a Cullen-load of money to help pass the Prop 8 anti-same-sex marriage law in California (and given that she tithes a pretty penny to this church) it would be ever so nice if she could come clean regarding her views on homosexuality.

Thanks to Ana, a regular commenter here at the blog, I was alerted to a “Personal Correspondence” post at the Twilights blog where Stephenie Meyer is quoted as saying: “When vampires are choosing companions, they are drawn to the most special and beautiful of humans.” Hmmm, since ALL the vampires “choose” heterosexual mates that are supposedly “the most special and beautiful of humans” are we to surmise this means non-heterosexuals are less special/beautiful?

Later, in the same post, the authors pose the following question: “This is not meant to be offensive in ANY way, shape or form, but do gay vampires exist? What if someone changed a human, intending them to be their permanent companion or something and it turned out they were… er… well, gay?”

This question is of course problematic in its presumption that even mentioning the dreaded word “gay” might be offensive, let alone *gasp!!!!* the notion that one of the sparkly Meyer vamps might desire a gay companion – oh the horror!

Anyhow, Meyer answers as follows: “If someone was to bite a gay person, that person would still be who they were before, so they would still be gay.” Well, at least she didn’t say that as the turn to vampire makes one more perfect it would entail a turn towards heterosexuality!

It’s true that if Meyer does support LGBTQ rights and is not herself homophobic, publically announcing as much might result in discipline from her church. As  one Mormon website notes, “Gays and lesbians are at particular risk of being subjected to the Church’s disciplinary practices” and the church also threatens excommunication for supporting gay marriage (as noted in this article). Thus, Meyer’s silence on the issue is to be expected.

However, from my point of view, her silence is problematic –  especially at a time when gay bullying is resulting in many youth suicides, when hate crimes against the LGBTQ community are all too common, and when the religious right is feverishly working to whip the nation into a homophobic panic. If she is NOT homophobic, she owes it to her readers to speak up.

What do you think, dear readers? And have you ever come across other comments from Meyer regarding her views on homosexuality and/or same sex marriage?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2010 9:19 pm

    Ohh I contributed with something useful to the class!? NEAT!

    I think the person that made the question was like many people assuming that Smeyer being a Mormon would feel uncomfortable with the question, I don’t think it reflects that she herself might be homophobic but tried to make sure that the question didn’t looked like some sort of attack to her or her religious POV. I mean like it or not this is a delicate matter if not we wouldn’t have to vote for them.

    J.K. Rowling never had an scene of DD kissing another man on Harry Potter to make clear he was gay during the books or had him have any kind of romantic life not even hinted or revealed he was gay till the books were sold and successful and Smeyer is not done with the saga so maybe we will find out some characters being gay (there has been speculation that Vladimir and Stefan might be a couple) so who knows if a few years down the line she pulls a Rowling. One never knows I wasn’t surprised by DD being gay, but I know plenty of people that were so who knows.

  2. November 5, 2010 11:56 pm

    Sorry Ana,

    I have to disagree. If you give 10% of your earnings, which amounts to a vast fortune in itself, to support an organization that plainly condemns homosexuality and that probably took, at least some of that money and pumped it into the anti-Prop 8 push in CA, then by default, you stand with them in their philosophy. That’s a lot different from J K Rowling’s post publication admittance of DD being gay and in no way ties her to or against any tax exempt organization that openly calls homosexuality a sin.

    Quite honestly, I am having a twist of conscience with spending money on any Twilight merchandise; when I do so, now that I’m aware of the complete LDS/Mormon philosophy, I can’t help but think of some poor gay kid who hangs himself due to propaganda that my money helped to fund. Geez, that’s dark.

  3. November 6, 2010 12:22 am

    Well Lin not sure if you belong to any religion but is more complex than just supporting everything they stand for or not.

    Giving 10% to your church is one of the duties you have, sometimes they use the money for charity like shelters and food and education for the poor and some other times for things you might disagree with. There is plenty of church goers that are pro-gay rights in the same way there are Gay Republicans and gays that attend to church (I recommend you a search on Mormons and gays on the internet) no to mention that even the issue of gay rights is complex among gays themselves that don’t care any way or other if they can get legally marry, specially the ones that live on states where civil unions are legally protected, but care about the “don’t ask don’t tell” or care about adoption and hate crimes and some others that don’t care about any of those. Not all gays are the same neither all the supporters or detractors of their rights are.

    And for all we know Smeyer could secretly be doing what I do (and you might if ti makes you feel better) I donate a bit more of money to LGBTQ rights organizations that I spent on Twilight related merchandising so I know I’m contributing to the cause and not only indirectly against it.

  4. Ellie permalink
    November 6, 2010 1:10 am

    So I have to ask, do you think Smeyer is required to leave the church on this issue or stop her religious duties based on an ? For instance, should Catholic families stop worshiping or donating to the Catholic church based on official church positions? Should Christians overall stop giving to churches because of the cultural appropriation of Judaism? I mean, there are few religions that could stand up to such strict scrutiny.

    I don’t think anyone has a right to ask someone to be possibly thrown out of their religious place of worship based on what a person should ideally do. It’s why we have the word hero, because it’s what is up and beyond what most people will do.

    Would it be heroic? Of course. But she’s a writer, not a hero.

  5. Leah permalink
    November 8, 2010 1:39 am

    When did Meyer say she wasn’t done with the saga? Did I miss something?

    First, I think what J.K. Rowling did with Dumbledore’s character was admirable. Adding his sexuality to the plot wasn’t necessary for the story. She knew when she wrote him who he was. The outburst over the reveal is a reflection of our heteronormative society that prefers to see all people as heterosexual by default so that those who are not are deviating from that norm. This view is contributing to the struggle LGBTQ teens are dealing with because many parents and other students and teachers feel uncomfortable with something they view as abnormal. It may have been removed from the DSM IV but it is not treated as such.

    Second, I have often considered the fact that homosexuality is missing from the saga. I had never thought about the element of religion in what might have contributed to that decision, if it even was a conscious decision. I don’t know what her personal beliefs are and it’s not really fair to assume we know. I find it disturbing to learn that her church donated money towards Prop 8. I find it even more disturbing that in todays day and age something like Prop 8 could even be voted on. The fact that people think it is okay to make desicions about other people’s lives is appalling. Children are killing themselves and I don’t see anything positive about religion contributing to this stigma.

    • November 8, 2010 3:33 am

      Mmm maybe I’m the only one here interested enough to read the news. But yes, Smeyer said that she will write in the future a book from the POV of Leah and one from the POV of Reneesme. She even mentioned that Bella and Edward will be secondary characters in the same way Alice and Jasper are. And for all the ones here that read the last book we know that even Edward tell us that the Volturi will come back and I have my personal theory about how Bella becoming a vampire will change the vampire world forever. All this info is on FAQ of her personal website and Twilight Lexicon as well as the wiki for the saga.

      Not sure if she will just write one book and divide it among both characters or if she plan to write a book for each. My guess is that she is waiting for Reneesme to look seventeen, because she would be old enough to have a conflict that is attractive and interesting to her readers, and given that Leah didn’t had a mate at the end of the other book she possibly will have a love conflict for herself, surely one where she ends up with someone to love that will love her back. Since she wrote Twilight on real time she will likely do the same with the other books and that is why she hasn’t continued it yet. My guess is that we will have news for those books around 2015, more or less.

  6. Alyce Davis - WMST 300 permalink
    November 21, 2010 2:23 am

    The Cullens: Living a Heteronormative Lifestyle

    In our readings, an argument is brought up about what the Cullen family is representative of in our nation. Kane’s article says that the Cullen family can be depicted as a heteronormative family in a world with queer surroundings. The Cullens represent this idea in several ways.
    First off, in the vampire world, it is the norm to drink the blood of humans. However, the Cullens deny this part of themselves and choose to drink the blood of animals instead. Human blood can almost be considered, of sorts, a “sin” And by denying their bodies the sin of flesh, they seek to maintain some sort of humanity in a life that was once drenched in sin. By not drinking human blood, they represent a minority of people who live a pure lifestyle, unlike the rest of the vampire world, with the exception a few other covens.
    Also, the Cullens symbolize a strong heterosexual family. Each member of the Cullen family is matched with a significant other of the opposite sex. An emphasis is placed on these relationships by the family’s maker, or father, Carlisle, as he sees it fit to find partners for his children. Each member subsequently finds a partner and with Carlisle’s permission (or bite), they are joined to the family for life. Before Edward met Bella he was the only single member of the family. His status as a single male is very much cast in a dark shadow, as Edward is seen as an angsty, depressed character. It is not until Bella comes along that Edward’s spirits are lifted. His happiness is found in a heterosexual relationship.
    The heterosexual pairings of the Cullen family greatly contrast those relationships seen in the rest of the vampire, or queer, world. The other vampires travel in groups of odd numbers, much like Victoria, Laurent, and James. Together these three roam about Washington, feasting together without regard to remaining under the radar. It is almost as if they are participating in some of feeding orgy that catches mass attention and worry in the community. Also, the Volturi in Italy have multiple wives, which is quite out of the ordinary for the ideal heterosexual family. And Maria and her two female counterparts who turned Jasper are another group who are outliers to the heterosexual ideology.
    Finally, unlike the vampires of the world, Edward Cullen had the ability to reproduce his own child, an ability only capable in a heterosexual relationship. While vampires can create newborns, or children of their own, it can more so be seen as an adoption. These newborns do not carry the DNA or blood of two heterosexual partners and are neither conceived. The capacity for Bella to give birth to a half-vampire child only further bolsters the idea that the Cullens are representative of a heteronormative family.
    The only thing missing in the Cullen family is a dog and a white picket fence. But with Jacob imprinting on Renesme, and Edward and Bella having the quaint cottage in the forest, they pretty much do have what would be considered the “heterosexual American dream”. Their behaviors are reflective of the heteronormative majority in this country and are greatly in opposition to the queer or homosexual minority.

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