The lesbian and bisexual characters I saw on TV kept dying, so I switched to comic books.

There is no shortage of ways to kill off a lesbian, bisexual, or queer woman on TV.

Gun violence. Cancer. Suicide. Car accidents. Poison. Crossbow. Sunken ship. Even murder by a murder of crows.

Merritt Wever as Dr. Denise Cloyd, "The Walking Dead." Photo by Gene Page/AMC. Samira Wiley as Poussey Washington, "Orange Is the New Black." Photo by  Eric Leibowitz/Netflix/Everett Collection. Naomi Campbell as Camillia Marks-Whiteman, "Empire." Photo by Chuck Hodes/FOX. Alycia Debnam-Carey as Lexa, "The 100." Photo by Cate Cameron/The CW.


Is it too much to ask to have perfectly imperfect complex characters with speaking parts and partners (or a rich dating life) who survive more than five episodes? Apparently the answer is yes.

It's not that characters don't get to die. For some genres, that just comes with the territory. But as Marie Lyn Bernard, aka Riese, said in her piece on the topic for Autostraddle, "We comprise such a teeny-tiny fraction of characters on television to begin with that killing us off so haphazardly feels especially cruel."

But there is a magical place where queer characters are leading stories, falling in love, being heroes, and (GASP!) not dying: comic books.

Finally, there's a place for LGBTQ women and femmes to kick ass, fall in and out of love, travel through time, grow old, work together as a team, and save the day.

From "Wonder Woman" to the hardcore campers of "Lumberjanes," queer heroines are staking their place in an industry long dominated by white, cis, straight men.

"Lumberjanes" cover via Noelle Stevenson/BOOM! Box, used with permission.

As an adult, it's refreshing. As someone with eyes on the next generation, particularly LGBTQ kids, it's inspiring. Kids — especially kids who aren't cisgender or straight — need to see themselves in the media they consume. What better place to stoke the imagination and power big dreams than the pages of comic books?

Author and cartoonist Sarah Graley writes queer characters to tell the stories she wishes she had.

Graley, 25 and from Birmingham in the United Kingdom, is the creative powerhouse behind "Our Super Adventure" and "Pizza Witch." Her latest comic book, "Kim Reaper," follows Becka, a college student with an unrequited crush on Kim, a goth girl with an untraditional side hustle — she's a part-time grim reaper.

"Kim Reaper #1" images via Oni Press, used with permission.

Including a queer couple was an obvious choice for Graley, a bisexual woman who never imagined a space for herself in the superhero comics she saw growing up.

"Growing up though, I don't remember any media that featured queer woman, let alone starred?" she writes in an e-mail interview. "I really wish I had that as a kid! Or as a teen! I just want that all the time to be honest, more media featuring rad queer women. So I make my own!"

"Kim Reaper #1" images via Oni Press, used with permission.

For many, including Graley, web comics and crowdfunding are helping underrepresented creators break into the industry and tell their own stories.

"I think webcomics being more of a thing and possible funding avenues like Patreon and Kickstarter have given people the platform to write/draw their own comics featuring underrepresented women, which is awesome!" she writes. "I think publishers have taken notice that these are stories that people want."

The renaissance of queer women doesn't leave behind women of color as characters or contributors.

The Marvel superheroine Miss America has been in print since 1943. But a brand new iteration, America Chavez, debuted in 2011 as part of the miniseries "Vengeance" and later appeared in "Young Avengers," "A-Force," and "The Ultimates." This year, America Chavez got her own story. And she's got a helluva story.

"America #1" variant cover by Jamie McKelvie, used with permission.

The daughter of two women, America is a queer, Latina college student with exceptional strength and the ability to kick down doors between dimensions. The book was written by Gabby Rivera, the gay, Latinx author of "Juliet Takes a Breath."

"I’m a queer brown weirdo, and I love every short inch of myself," Rivera said in an interview with Autostraddle. "I’m bringing all that round, brown, goodness to this story. All the things that make me laugh and make me feel strong, they’re going to be in America’s world."

America is joined by countless LGBTQ characters of color in comics and webcomics like "Witchy," "Agents of the Realm," and "Trans Girl Next Door."

No matter your genre of choice, there are queer women and femme characters ready to transport you to other worlds, new dimensions, or provide some insight into another person's lived experience.

There are spaces where TV writers aren't burying your gays and characters (and writers and artists) to fall in love with.

In addition to the books and sites I've mentioned already, check out "Bitch Planet," "Rat Queens," and Alison Bechdel's widely acclaimed strip "Dykes to Watch Out For."

Creator of "Fun Home" Alison Bechdel attends the re-opening of the Curran Theater in San Francisco, California. Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Curran.

There are new books, zines, anthologies, and webcomics coming out every month, so make friends with Tumblr, the amazing Autostraddle series "Drawn to Comics," or your local comic shop to keep up to date.

By supporting the creators who are making these stories happen, we can continue to see these queer characters grow, save the day, and — most importantly — live.

Courtesy of Creative Commons
True

After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

Keep Reading Show less

Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

When Donato Di Camillo was a kid, his family couldn't afford film for their Polaroid camera.

So instead, he ran around the house with a film-less camera pretending to be a hotshot photographer on an African safari, mimicking the heroes behind iconic photos he saw in the discarded National Geographic magazines his dad grabbed for him out of the garbage.

Years later, when Di Camillo found himself in prison after collecting a lengthy rap sheet of thefts, he discovered a library full of those same magazines.

While other inmates were working out or getting into trouble, he pored over old issues of National Geographic, Life, and Time.

Keep Reading Show less

There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

Keep Reading Show less