Why Wasn’t Alice Gay?


Ok I’m writing this in the middle of the night after the first day of school I’m p tired and this is p long bear with me here Phyllis.

I read most of the Alice books when I was in middle school ish age? And now that I understand it more there were serious gay undertones in how she talk about women and what she sees as beautiful and who she wants to be like. I feel like her ‘crush’ on the sub-par neighbor boy (and follow up, was he supposed to be so… vaguely disinteresting? Like if he were a spice was he supposed to be flour or did he just sorta turn out that way?) anyway I feel like her crush on the dude Patrick was mostly just… heteronormativity and internalized homophobia. Like, she doesn’t ever meet a gay person as far as I’ve read? Why? lgbt+ people exist even in areas where cishets think they couldn’t. I feel like it was super damaging to me as a gay child to see such blatant erasure. I did eventually find some gay kids media (Steven universe is my favorite anything rn cause it treats issues like this as a serious part of your identity that should be found by you. But like, in your book, Alice never like, identified herself. We just sorta assumed she was cis and het cause that’s ‘the norm’ and no I promise Phyllis I’m not hating on you in any way (in fact I think your work was pretty progressive as it questioned things like relationships and bullying and differences in friends) but I feel like it really lacked…. Gays. And I’m not talking about the flamboyant gay man that cishets call friends to excuse their homophobia I’m talking about like normal characters who happened to be gay? Or main characters? Did you notice main characters who are lgbt+ have storylines that center around that? Like they’re nothing more than their sexuality. Idk tho I sorta feel jealous cause hets can go to space and conquer schools and have adventures but like, with stories about lgbt characters (sorry I’m using gay as an umbrella for lgbt here I mean no disrespect to members of the community btw) stories about lgbt characters are just like, an inner monologue of like… ‘Am I [whatever they so clearly are]? But, heteronormativity shows up here so I’ve got to be faking the whole thing. Nope nvm I’m gay’

Tbh that’s sorta what my childhood was like. I’m getting off topic. My main question is, why was Alice not openly wlw? To me it’s pretty obvious she wasn’t het. Maybe not cis. Idk. I really don’t want a four word reply about ‘the characters create themselves, I couldn’t change them’ Because you totally could. Like a character arc or a redemption arc. It’s all about growth. Are you like homophobic? Oh holy shit authors write themselves into the story are you closeted that is so cute I love gay old people they completely destroy the idea that being lgbt is like a trend now. Anyway I would really appreciate an answer about why you simply couldn’t write an lgbt character into your books cause I think they really make the story better and yeah one day I am gonna write a story the way I want but i wanted answers about why heterosexuality was shoved down my throat in every piece of media a child could get their grubby little paws on. Like honestly wth.

In conclusion I am petty and gay and your character Alice is totally gay (and tbh I think she’s on autism spectrum and probably has Aspergers as well cause of how smart but socially awkward and introverted the is but that’s for another email probably this is getting old) but yeah it’s 1:59am now and I have to be awake in 5 hours to go to school for 8 and a half more hours and repeat this process every weekday for 179 more weekdays so I’m gonna be p busy but thanks if you read this far ttyl Phyllis vaguely enjoy your work even though it’s heavily gender binary coded and heteronormative and fails to address racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or any other oppressive system in America because they fail to apply to Alice and are therefore nonexistent nevermind Phyllis sorry I was totally hating for a sec but I’m trying to keep an open mind thx

Phyllis replied:

Ohhh, your email made me smile, thinking about all the Alice books you have yet to read and enjoy!

No, Alice isn’t gay, but you haven’t met Lori and Leslie yet!  I’m not sure in what book it was that Alice first met Lori, but you will find more about these lesbian girls in alice on the outside,  alice alone, including alice, and alice in the know.  No, I’m not gay, but my brother is, and you will see a photo of him on my website here.  I have many friends and acquaintances who are gay or lesbian, but you know what?  To remember all of them, I actually had to think awhile, because the first thought that comes to mind when I think of most of them is musician, editor, college friend, artist, great story teller, beautiful woman, etc.  Their sexuality is only one part of them.  I’m so glad you wrote to me, and I hope you got a good night’s sleep!

Posted on: August 12, 2016


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