The Problem With Sense8

“Sense8” has gained a reputation of being an inclusive, progressive show; but it isn’t nearly as revolutionary as it claims to be. Here’s a look beyond the colorful surface and into the problems that run through the show.

You can read an extended version of this essay on Medium


LGBTQ+ Characters of Color In Media

Co-created with the amazing s4karuna! Check out her fancasts on tumblr!

[An image of Avatar Korra, Buck Vu, Captain Raymond Holt, Sophia Burset and Selina Kyle with the text

[An image of Avatar Korra, Buck Vu, Captain Raymond Holt, Sophia Burset and Selina Kyle with the text “LGBTQ characters of color”.]

Note I: If you send me a character for the list, please tell me their ethnicity in your comment/message and as much detail a you can!
Note II: Mixed-race, white passing actors are totally counted as long as they consider themselves non-white, even if the piece of media whitewashed their characters. Actors who don’t match the race/ethnicity of the character, specially in the case of white actors playing non-white roles, will also be clarified.
Note III: If you see any character is missing details or has any incorrect information, let me know!

Same-gender couples with people of color in 2016


Chiron and Kevin
(Moonlight; USA; Dir. Barry Jenkins)

Lady Hideko and Sook-hee
(The Handmaiden; South Korea, Dir. Park Chan-Wook)


Kelly and Yorkie
(Black Mirror, 2011-still running; episode s03e04: San Junipero)


Amanita Caplan & Nomi Marks, and Hernando Fuentes & Lito Rodriguez
(Sense8, 2015-still running, the 2016 Christmas Special is on Netflix now)


Annalise Keating and Eve Rothlo
(How To Get Away With Murder; 2014-still running)

Kevin Cozner and Raymond Holt
(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, 2013-still running)


Kisa and Manola Jimenez
(From Dusk Till Dawn, 2014-?, no renewal for a fourth season confirmed)

Root and Sameen Shaw
(Person of Interest, 2011-2016, ended/cancelled)


Kareema and Sofía
(No Tomorrow; 2016-?; first season will be up for streaming on Netflix in January 2017 and it might get a second season on Netflix depending on its views)

Corey and Mason Hewitt
(Teen Wolf, 2011-2017, last season airing now)


Amy Raudenfeld & Sabrina; and Noah & Shane Harvey
(Faking It; 2014-2016, cancelled, you can read the creator’s Goodbye Letter here)


Alexander Lightwood and Magnus Bane
(Shadowhunters, 2016-still running, second season premiered January 2nd 2017)

Anne Bonny and Max
(Black Sails, 2014-2017, last season airing January 29th 2017)


Chantall and Nova Bordelon
(Queen Sugar, 2016-second season confirmed, first season will be up for streaming on the WatchOWN app in January 2017)

Dizzee Kipling and Thor 
(The Get Down, 2016-?, second half of the first season will be streaming on Netflix during 2017, renewal hasn’t been confirmed)

Celebrities who came out in 2016


[images: square pictures of the celebrities listed below, arranged in rows of three square pictures each.] // #coming out cw, #outing cw, #transphobia cw

Rowan Blanchard, in January 2016, tweeted about being “open to liking any gender in the future, which is why I identify as queer”.

Amandla Stenberg came out as bisexual in January 2016 via the Teen Vogue Snapchat, though they later talked about preferring the label “pansexual” and not using it due to people’s ignorance. They also stated that they prefer gender-neutral pronouns, though they’d rather keep it low-profile so it won’t affect their career.

Mara Wilson came out as bisexual in June, while expressing her pain about the Orlando Shooting. She began by talking about her experience in gay bars and, when someone asked if she was gay, she replied with “Bi, but yeah.

Vincent Rodriguez III made his marriage public by posting a collage for his year and a half anniversary with his husband on Instagram.

Rebecca Sugar came out as bisexual during the San Diego Comic-Con.

Robin Lord Taylor made his marriage public by posting on Twitter a picture of his and his husband’s wedding rings for their 5th anniversary.

Sara Ramirez came out as bisexual with a speech during an event for LGBT Youth in October 2016.

Clea DuVall publicly declared her sexuality during a panel for LGBT writers, explaining that “I’ve played a lot of gay characters, but I haven’t really played a gay character that is gay in a way that is the gay that I feel like I am.

Lilly Wachowski publicly announced her transition in a statement after various publications threatened to out her without her consent. After addressing the transphobia in the media and the terrible consequences it has, she said, “So yeah, I’m transgender. And yeah, I’ve transitioned.

Lauren Jauregui was outed when someone leaked her pictures kissing a girl on Twitter, but days later she made her own, public coming out in an open letter to Trump supporters about being “a Bisexual Cuban-American Woman & So Proud of It”.

Gina Rodriguez was asked if she was gay on Twitter, to which she answered “I don’t need anyone to define their sexuality to me nor do I feel the need to either. I love hearts.

Stephanie Beatriz came out as bisexual on Twitter, quoting Aubrey Plaza’s “I fall in love with girls and guys. I can’t help it” in a tweet.

Jordan Raskopoulos came out as trans in February 2016, in a Facebook video where she said, “I am transgender. No shit. That’s right, I’m a girl. I am transgender.

Brianna Hildebrand announced that she has a girlfriend on Twitter. She was asked if she had a boyfriend, and she replied, “Kind of except she’s a girl”.

Gigi Gorgeous came out as trans back in 2013, and this year she announced on a YouTube video that she is a lesbian.

Rape scenes in Black Sails

Trigger warning and timestamp for the rape scenes in Black Sails:


  • From 39.05 to 40.20 we see Max chained and bloody, talking to Vane.
  •  From 47.00 to 47.10 we get a glimpse of Vane’s crew grabbing her.
  • The scene of the gang r*pe begins at 48.00.
  • At 48.25 Eleanor comes in to rescue her, and fights with the men until around 49.30.
  • At 50.45, after the fight is over, Max talks to Eleanor and tells her she’s staying with Vane and his crew.


  • At minute 20.00 one of the men attacks Max.
  • The scene switches to a shot of Anne at 21:15.
  • Max’s screams can be heard until 21:35.

Cute and quirky fight with your significant other: “Me and my S/O stayed up until three AM fast-forwarding through episodes of a show because I said that X character kissed Y first and they said that Y was the one who initiated it, and neither of us wanted to give in. The winner got breakfast in bed.”

Abuse: “Me and my S/O stayed up until three AM yelling at each other because I went through their phone without their consent and burned their personal belongings.”

Respectful and loving relationship habit: “I try to invite my S/O to events with my friends because they all get along well and we have fun together, but I understand that they don’t do the same because their friends are kind of boring. We keep each other updated on our whereabouts via text so we don’t worry for the other’s safety.”

Abuse: “My S/O doesn’t let me go out with my friends / doesn’t let me go out unless they’re with me / keeps texting me and calling me every time I’m out and demanding to know where I am and what I am doing at any given moment.”

Trauma is a White Thing™

#nazi mention cw, #rape mention cw, #abuse mention cw

We (collective we, as people raised in a white supremacist society) tend to find it easier to empathize and sympathize with white characters than with non-white characters, and with light-skinned characters than with dark-skinned characters. It takes actual self-examination and a willingness to unlearn that racism, to be able to read a narrative without any kind of racial bias, just like it takes self-examination and unlearning to live life without racism or any other kind of prejudice.

The issue is that we are not willing to look at ourselves and see why we prefer certain characters over others, and so we make excuses. We yell “it’s not about race!” and, to back that statement, we say “it’s because she’s a woman”, “it’s because they’re queer”, “it’s because they’re neurodivergent”. And I’ve already written about the “oh, it’s because they’re queer, not because they’re white” argument, but the mental illness/trauma argument is just as prevalent.

White characters who’ve experienced some sort of trauma (from their parents’ divorcing or moving towns as a child, to assault or a violent accident); who are canonically disabled or who are coded as neuroatypical (or sometimes not even coded, just have a few Quirky Character Traits™ that we, desperate to see ourselves represented positively in any kind of media, might cling to) can get away with being racist, misogynistic, ableist to other characters, abusive or just plain assholes.

And, of course, white characters who are in no way mentally ill or coded as such have mental illnesses and traumas invented for them by the fandom, just so they can become “tragic” enough for their misdeeds to be ignored.

If a white character is mentally ill/traumatized (or if White Fandom™ has decided they are, based on even the flimsiest canon evidence) they deserve all of the attention, all of the screentime, they can never do no wrong and anytime a character of color dares to disagree with them it’s ableism, just as it is ableist for fans of color to dislike this character.

  • In Teen Wolf, Kira and Scott are just as patently coded as mentally ill and traumatized as Lydia, Derek or Stiles (whose “canon mental illness” is a joke about ADHD in the first season). Yet Scott is called whiny, has all of his trauma reduced to “obsessing over Allison” and is expected to bend over backwards to conform to every single one of Stiles’ or any other white character’s wishes; and Kira is forgotten or used as comic relief while fandom cries over the white characters.
  • In the 100, Raven suffers from PTSD, chronic pain and physical disability; while Bellamy is obviously deeply traumatized. Yet only Clarke and Octavia’s trauma matter; and Raven “deserves” to be disabled for sleeping with “””Clarke’s man””” (?), just like Bellamy deserves to be violently abused by his sister.
  • In The Flash, Cisco is expected to forgive Barry instantly after finding out that Barry is the reason his brother is dead, but Barry is allowed to try and save his mother as many times as he wants. Caitlin’s metahuman arc is taken more seriously and given more attention (both by fandom and by canon) than Cisco’s ever was. And Caitlin’s loss of Ronnie is never forgotten, but Iris can’t grieve for Eddie for more than five minutes.
  • In HTGAWM; Wes, Annalise and Michaela have all had lives full of trauma and loss, and the three of them were suffering way before the plot of the show started, yet fandom only cares for Connor and, occasionally, Laurel. A mentally ill afro-latino was violently murdered when he was about to find happiness and White Fandom™ didn’t say a word, yet they were ready to start fires if Connor was the one under the sheet.

There are endless other examples (and feel free to add more):

  • In Pacific Rim; Stacker Pentecost’s chronic terminal illness and PTSD, and Mako’s PTSD; vs. Hermann canon’s disability or Newt “neurodivergent coding”. 
  • In the MCU; Sam and Daisy’s PTSD vs. Tony and Bucky’s. Elektra’s, Luke’s or Malcolm’s trauma after being abused vs. Jessica Jones’. The fact that the Stand With Ward people still expect people to empathize with a literal murderer, rapist N*zi because he was abused as a child.
  • In Scandal, Abbie and Mellie’s PTSD versus Olivia’s.
  • In Star Wars, Finn’s trauma versus Rey and Kyle’s; or Cassian and Bodhi’s versus Jyn’s.
  • In Person of Interest, Root’s neurodivergence versus Shaw’s.
  • In FDTD, Kisa and Scott’s trauma versus Kate’s trauma and Richie’s neurodivergence.

Just imagine how many people would be hauling Rosewood as revolutionary for its portrayal of chronic illness and mental illness if the two leads weren’t a black man and a brown woman. Or how little fandom would actually care about Wendy Maximoff if she was actually played by a brown Rromani-Jewish actress.

Or don’t even image. Look at how fandom rushes to excuse Ward’s actions because of his childhood trauma and then they turn around and condemn Melinda May and Daisy Johnson for every single thing they do. Look at how fandom treats Winn vs. how they treat Cisco, despite the fact that they are the exact same type of character archetype.

Critical fandom can’t call Kyle Ron a fascist or Ward an abuser neo-nazi or Stiles a misogynistic racist or J*ssica J*nes an abuser because they Are Suffering™! Meanwhile, disabled characters of color don’t get to be in pain, don’t get to lash out, don’t get to have ugly symptoms. No matter how much unapologetic assholery white characters are guilty of, they can always be redeemed (re: the Peter Hale, Derek Hale and Theo Raeken* fandoms) but neuroatypical characters of color might suffer through ages-long arcs of growth, recovery and redemption and still they never deserve fandom’s forgiveness.

Nobody can police how you identify with characters or forbid that you project on a character that might behave like you, nobody is asking that you only identify with perfect, Morally Upstanding™ characters; but the simple fact is this:

Fandom only cares for disabled and/or neuroatypical characters if they are disabled/neuroatypical and white.

Any discourse about ableism in fandom that ignores this is flawed.

*A good time as any to remember that Cody Christian is Native American. Theo Raeken, however, is never acknowledged as such and the family we know of him in the show (biological sister, maybe-biological parents) is entirely played by white people. Acknowledging biracial actors’ identities is important, but recognizing the way canon and fandom white-washes them is also important.

Pirating Tips™ for The People™


[image: an edit of Rami Malek in his Mr. Robot hoodie, leaning back with his arms crossed ver his chest and a smirk on his face. He’s standing before a sci-fi like background, with the word “hackerman” in front of him.]

The people being those who

  1. want to enjoy X media without giving money to shitty creators
  2. can’t afford to legally buy content
  3. live in a country where said content isn’t legally available
  4. want to decide whether X media is good before paying for it

Remember that indie artists deserve your economic support, and even if you can’t afford the cost of their comic/album/book, most independent creators online have some place where you can donate at least a dollar!

Also, if you can’t support mainstream media with your money, you can do it with promotion! If you’re trying to get a comic or show renewed because it has great representation but you can’t pay for it, find the hashtags that people are using to livetweet it, write reviews about it, share posts, give views to their official trailers on Youtube or follow their social media, and don’t forget to contact the producers/editors to tell them how much you love that piece of media!






Personally, I’ve always preferred torrenting over streaming. If you haven’t used a torrenting service before, my recommended torrent client is qbitTorrent, but μTorrent is also a popular and easy to use option. Torrent is a great option for laggy/slow internet connections!

If your country has strict piracy laws, consider paying for a VPN service before torrenting. Here, here and here you have some information on how it works and some recommended services and good deals you can get.

Stremio and Popcorn Time

Last, but never least, Stremio is a torrent-based streaming client that works way faster and smoother than most direct-download streaming services and is ideal for laggy/slow internet connections.

Popcorn Time works similarly, though I’m not sure if it’s torrent-based or not. In any case, it’s super quick, has an incredible amount of movies and comes with subtitles in multiple languages!

Other suggestions

Feminist/Queer reads in Spanish


[image: the cover of Devenir Perra, showing a woman in lingerie staring at herself in the mirror as a naked, feminine angel leans over her.]

  • Devenir Perra (To become a bitch), a queer/feminist book by Itziar Ziga, is amazing and you can read the author’s blogspot here.
  • ¿Así que sos lesbiana? (So, you’re a lesbian?) is not exactly a “queer blog” or a “feminist blog”, it’s one of those old-style auto-biographical blogspots that’s long been abandoned, but it’s written by one of the most talented women in my city and it’s beautiful.
  • Anfibia Magazine and Furias Magazine are online queer magazines!
  • La Revuelta is an online feminist/queer community.

[image: a photo of Maria Eva Rossi, smiling, with sunglasses on.]

Here is Despertando a Lilith (Waking Lilith) a documentary about the transition of Maria Eva Rossi, a teacher from my city who transitioned while on the job. 

[image: a black and white photo of two men in a stage-adaptation of Kiss of the Spider-Woman. one of them lies in the bed of the cell, while the other towels his hair.]

Some essential queer readings in Spanish-speaking lit include:

  • El Beso de la Mujer Araña (Kiss of the Spider-Woman), by gay author Manuel Puig. About a man arrested for being gay during the last Argentinian Dictatorship and his cell-mate, a revolutionary.
  • Antes que anochezca (Before the night falls) by Reinaldo Arenas is an autobiographical book about what it was to be gay and a disident in Castro’s Cuba.
  • Loco afán: crónicas de sidario (Crazy toil: HIV cronicles) by Pedro Lemebel is a series of four scenes of the trans scene in Chile pre-Dictatorship.
  • Aristóteles y Dante Descubren Los Secretos Del Universo, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz; which you might have heard of via tumblr because it can be also found in English.
  • Federico García Lorca’s sexuality isn’t a secret, and he’s got a bunch of poems about men and being gay.

[image: a picture of Susy Shock speaking on a microphone, what looks like a pandereta next to her, lights shining from behind her.]

And it’s not just dudes writing…
  • My favorite poet is Jewish-Argentinian bisexual artist Alejandra Pizarnik, and many of her poems can be found online.
  • Cristina Peri Rossi, Uruguayan lesbian poet.
  • Rosa María Roffiel, Mexcian lesbian poet and novelist.
  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a 17th Century Mexican poet, isn’t Confirmed Gay™, but she’s got some very sapphic poems about her friend Countess María Luisa de Paredes.
  • Susy Shock, an Argentinian trans poet and singer. (Here is her blog!)

[image: promotional still from Para Vestir Santos, of the three sisters sitting together on a couch, all looking in the same direction with more or less distressed expressions.]

Also, if you want to watch some Gay Content™ in Spanish:

And I never miss a chance to insist that people listen to Kumbia Queers and Sara Hebe (x) (x), my favorite lesbians. You don’t truly know Spanish until you can listen to Sara’s rapping and understand it.

[image: black and white picture of a young Frida Kahlo and Chavela Vargas, laughing together while laying on the grass.]

Singer Chavela Vargas was Frida Kahlo’s lover, extremely talented and always unapologetic. Also, one of the singers from Eruca Sativa is bisexual!

Latinx LGBTQ Icons

  • Frida Kahlo, of course, who was openly bisexual.
  • Sara Hebe, a lesbian Argentinian rapper.
  • Flor de la V, a trans Argentinian celebrity (she’s messy but she’s been one of the most visible trans people in Lat Am since the 90′s when I was a kid, so I’ll always have a soft spot for her).
  • Kumbia Queers, a band of sapphic women that includes five Argentinian musicians and Mexican singer Ali Gua-Gua.
  • Alejandra Pizarnik, one of my favorite writers, was Jewish, bisexual and wrote a lot about her mental illness. I’ll be uploading translations of some of her poems in the next few days, because they’re hard to find.
  • Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a gay Mexican-American writer, and he’s the author of Aristóteles and Dante discover the secrets of the universe.
  • Amaranta Gomez Regalado, an Indigenous Mexican activist for the rights of people with HIV, is two-spirit and was the first transgender Mexican person to run for office.
  • Orlando Cruz lost this year, but the chance that he becomes the first openly gay boxing world champion in the future hasn’t gone yet.
  • Back to Argentina, Susy Shock is a trans musician and activist.
  • Vange Leonel Gandolfo was a Brazilian musician and activist, and an out lesbian.
  • Manuel Puig was a gay writer during the Argentinian military dictatorship, and his novel “The Spider Woman’s Kiss” is a retelling of his experiences in jail. It’s a beautiful book, though also very crude and painful. 
  • Argentinian writer Maria Elena Walsh was a lesbian, fact I sadly didn’t know about during my childhood.
  • Sylvia Rivera, one of the founders of the LGBT movement in the USA, was a Venezuelan-Puerto Rican trans woman who dedicated her life to the fight for trans and gay rights.
  • Of course, there’s Ricky Martin (who could forget Ricky?).
  • Michael Nava is a gay Mexican-American lawyer and author. (suggested by @sayitwithsarcophilus)
  • Gabby Rivera is a queer Puerto Rican comics writer who will soon be writing the America Chavez solo book.
  • Venezuelan supermodel Patricia Velásquez came out as gay recently.
  • Jesusa Rodríguez is a lesbian Mexican director, actress, playwright, performance artist, social activist. (suggested by @queersherlockian)
  • Mark Indelicato, who played Justin in Ugly Betty, isn’t straight. Raul Esparza (from Law and Order) is bisexual. And actresses Stephanie Beatriz, Sara Ramirez (who played Callie Torres in Grey’s) and Gina Rodriguez are all bisexual. Also, Lauren Jauregui, from Fifth Harmony, recently came out as bisexual too.