I told you about my fan theory about The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher in my last entry. Tarot cards and all that. I offer that as proof that I am indeed a fan of the book series. I’ve been reading it for years. I’ve reread the whole series multiple times. Most of my editions are hardcover. I even own the role-playing game.
It is from the standpoint of a disappointed fan that I say this; there’s no place for someone like me in the Dresdenverse.
As I was rereading the series earlier this year, getting ready for Peace Talks, the first half of the latest entry in the series, I came to a realization. Where are all the queers?
I’m not saying that everyone has to write stories about LGBTQ+ people. I’m not even saying that everyone has to include a queer person in their tales. But these are novels, short stories, graphic novels, and a television show about the magical community. In Chicago. And you’re telling me that there isn’t a single Lesbian, Gay man, Bisexual person, Transgender person, Queer person, or any other gender or sexual minority in that community. If you’ve ever hung out with witches or at an LGBTQ bar, you know that there is a great deal of intersectionality in those groups. So where are they?
Butcher wouldn’t have to make a main character gay or bi. He wouldn’t even have to make a recurring character question their gender identity. I’d be happy for a cute couple in the background at Mac’s. A rather butch but competent police officer. A minor character from the Paranet talk about their partner. Something.
The closest Butcher has come to writing about this population wasn’t until these last couple of books, and let’s just say Harry didn’t handle it well.
I know some of you are going to say, “but I remember when . . . ,” but of all the things you could bring up, were any of them not problematic?
All the times that Harry had a bad reaction when someone thought he and Thomas were a couple?
The time Harry pretended to be a gay man by flouncing around and “trying not to lisp?” Are there effeminate gay men? Yes, of course, but having Harry resort to that stereotype for a laugh just seems lazy.
How about when an enchanted Murphey made out with a Greek goddess to entice Harry or the time two Sidhe women made out to entice Harry? Do you know how tired gay women and especially bi women are of that trope? Like their sexuality is all about seducing men. God, that’s haggard.
“There’s the time Harry said he didn’t have a problem with gay men,” I imagine someone objecting. But did he? No, he didn’t. He said, “Boink and let boink.” That is hardly the language of a friend or ally. It’s the words of someone who has a problem with gay men, but he’s willing to ignore it as long as they stay in their lane.
Consider where that scene takes place, The Magic Hedge, a location in Chicago where gay men cruise for anonymous hookups. He talks about them having lookouts for the cops. When asked what he thinks of the men who come there, he says he thinks it’s sad that they have hookups instead of having real love. Sigh. So he finally comments on gay men, and it’s how he doesn’t have a problem with sad men meeting in secret for unfulfilling sex. Does he explore why places like the Magic Hedge exist? Nope. Does he talk about the history of gay-bashing? Nope. Does he speak about social ruin and familial abandonment gay people fear and experience? Nope. They’re just swinging penises out for a good time.
But finally, in Peace Talks, we discover that Marcy and Andi are bi and living in a thruple with Butters. Harry’s reaction was so obviously negative that Butters warned him from saying anything at all. Later, Harry admits that he “doesn’t know how to feel about it.” Who cares? It’s not his life. If Harry has an issue with Waldo, Andi, and Marcy, it’s Harry’s issue. Why is Butcher making negative comments about polyamorous people in the first place? It seems he just wants to make sure his fans know that he has a problem with it, so he wrote it in using a scene so shoehorned into the book that you can practically hear the leather creaking.
When it comes to trans people like myself, I have nothing to write about, at least nothing positive. No, the closest Jim Butcher has ever gotten to having a trans or non-binary character in The Dresden Files was the emotional vampire who kills by inducing despair leading to suicide and gets close to his female victims by dressing up as a woman. OH DEAR GOD, HOW HACKNEIED CAN YOU GET?! It’s like he and J.K. Rowling are taking notes from the same transphobic playbook.
Butcher has shapeshifters in his universe. Creatures that can become anything or anyone they choose. He has Fae who can make you see them as whatever they want. He has gods who can assume any form imaginable. With all that, the closest he has come to exploring gender is a serial killer who pretends to be a woman, so he can get close to women, emotionally abuse them, and eventually kill them. Really, Jim? Really?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want Butcher to introduce a trans character. It would probably be some mentally ill person or another serial killer, or something else out of the transphobic master list of stereotypes and misinformation. Probably a trans athlete who wants to change their birth certificate so that they can compete against goblins or some such nonsense.
I’m just a fan who is disappointed that an author whose books I have read and loved for years thinks so little of or even about people like me. The most he has said about the LGBTQ+ community is that gays are flouncy, sad men, and trans women are serial killers in disguise.
I will keep reading The Dresden Files and all the short stories. I mean, I’ve got to find out if my Fools Journey theory turns out to be right. Besides, I really want to know what happens to Harry and all the other characters I’ve come to love over the last 20 years. I just think it’s sad. It’s sad to know that Harry Dresden would have an issue with a transfeminine non-binary person like me and that there is no place for me in the Dresdenverse.