Queer Coded: chatting about queer media

Tasha Hall, Campus Life Reporter

In an effort to diversity subscriber bases, many streaming platforms have added new shows featuring members of the LGBTQ+ community to the genre of queer fiction. With these new releases, many might want to gather around a proverbial campfire to fangirl and talk shop about whether they like the shows, hate them or want to write fanfiction about them. 

A new club at Whitman was created in January to be just that place: Queer Coded. Queer Coded meets every Wednesday from 7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. in the Glover Alston Center (GAC). Rachel Freeman-Cohen is the director of the club and of LGBTQIA+ Student Services at Whitman. 

“[The club is] a space where we discuss queer-related or queer coded pop culture, so whether that’s in movies, TV shows, animation, books and I guess music to a certain extent,” Freeman-Cohen said. “[We] talk about the different unique identities within the community and whether or not we ourselves resonate with the character who we see as queer coded or if we just resonate with their experiences.”

Junior Astrid Ketcham attended the first Queer Coded meeting.

“I find queer media fun to watch; I like that it’s becoming bigger in TV shows. It’s not just the same thing over and over,” Ketcham said. 

Freeman-Cohen plans for the space to be fun and judgment-free, and they have hopes for the club’s future. 

“The way that I’m envisioning it is that each week we would talk about a different topic. I definitely have some really fun topics in mind,” Freeman-Cohen said. “One of these days, I want to talk about how villains are queer coded. Another day, I want to do something [where] you guess what the tag is of this fan fiction based on just the title, kind of like Jeopardy.”

Discussions don’t have to be centered around openly queer folks. The club can be a place to vent about the frustrations of past media, where harmful stereotypes of the LGBTQIA+ community have been overwhelmingly more common than true well-rounded queer characters.

Sophomore Melody Arche found it difficult to quickly come up with a show that didn’t feature obvious queer tokenism — where the queer person was basically the elephant in the room and adheres to the template. 

“It really kinda opened my eyes knowing that there aren’t a lot of shows that come to mind that I’ve watched that have been marketed towards queer people but that don’t fit into the stereotype of what a queer person should be,” Arche said. 

In a world of media that seeks to progress and attract new viewers, students can find themselves opening up to new possibilities regarding their sexualities and how they want to express themselves. A club that’s open to such ideas, without judgment, where experiencing queerness through pop culture is a fun norm, is what Freeman-Cohen envisions.