I wanted to respond with a blog post rather than individually because there are points I want to address.
Supernatural has been mentioned to me a lot and I don’t watch Supernatural, so can’t comment on what’s going on there re: queerbaiting, the second is I did a quick straw pole of the people I work with (4, two straight girls, a gay man and a straight man) and they saw queerbaiting as something that happens when straight men go out looking for gays to bash, or when a young attractive straight ‘twink’ flirts with gay men for attention. The second is closer to what I believe people are calling ‘queerbaiting’.
Sherlock is not and never has been marketed as a gay show. Shows which have and do use homosexuality to promote or improve their audience ratings should be rightly criticised, but Sherlock is not one of these shows. Sherlock and John were never going to be a gay couple, the writers have acknowledged a long held wink-wink-nudge-nudge belief by many people, not just Holmes fans, that they were a couple and they’ve done it in a way that does not feel homophobic or insulting (or at least, to me it doesn’t.)
People project their own interpretation on to the shows they watch and the books they read, Sherlock Holmes being a perfect example of this. On my bookcase I have many books analysing the canon, including one which argues that Sherlock Holmes was actually a woman (Mrs Holmes of Baker Street by Alan C. Bradley, which I’ve talked about here). People have read the character of Sherlock as asexual, as gay, as aromatic and many other things my spell check keeps underlining in red. In this instance, I see Sherlock as straight and his relationship with John echoes the relationship between Denny & Alan from Boston Legal – they are two very close men and Sherlock is in a way a celebration of male friendship. A comparable relationship would be the one between Meredith Grey and Christina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy.
I don’t seek out shows with gay content and having a gay character is not a good reason to watch a show (for me). I’m not defined by my sexuality and I don’t want to be, I don’t want people telling me to watch something because it has a lesbian in it, I want them to tell me to watch something because it’s good or entertaining. This preoccupation with finding queerness in shows concerns me as it ends up ignoring or missing the existence of many wonderful shows which are about gay people or feature gay characters, two recent examples being ‘Last Tango in Halifax‘ (written by Sally Wainwright) and the Swedish series ‘Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves‘.
Finally, I addressed my thoughts on Irene Adler in a previous post.
I wanted to write a blog post to address the accusations of ‘queerbaiting’ and homophobia that’s been levelled at the Sherlock team. It’s something I’ve not felt I’ve been able to do before, which is a bit ridiculous as I am a lesbian so ‘queerbaiting’ and homophobia are things that affect me so I should be able to respond but I’ve always struggled to understand what exactly ‘queerbaiting’ is. Recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘queerbaiting’ and homophobia are essentially two sides of the same coin. It’s the same attitude.
The ending of A Scandal in Belgravia by Steven Moffat could be said to be polarising but opinions seem largely uniform within fandom and those opinions are overwhelmingly negative. One of the main criticisms is that in the canon, Irene wins whereas in the BBC version she does not but this is something I want to examine as I don’t believe this is as clear cut.