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Stray Kat Strut: How Senran Kagura Helped Me Come to Terms With My Lesbianism and its Messy Past
AKA "Long Live The Queen"

Done for LGBT Pride 2k17

SUMMARY: An 8k word essay on what Katsuragi means to me as a lesbian starving for representation

CONTENT WARNING: This is a very personal post and will contain some mild NSFW/TMI elements as well as mentions of suicide. It mentions a gender binary at times, even if the author personally believes it to be a spectrum or range. Some minor slurs are used. Proceed at your own discretion.

"Holy shit, she's me."

How many times have any of us sat down and began to consume some shiny new (or perhaps finely aged vintage) piece of media only to come out of it relating to the struggles and triumphs of one of the characters within, whether we wanted to or not? And let's be honest, it's usually not, and almost always a character we never would have guessed ourselves enjoying or winding up going back to again and again, using them as a mirror to look at our reflections and adjust ourselves as needed.

For me, almost all the characters I related to through my life were mostly women, mostly warriors, either doing it for themselves or for the cause of another woman. It was what I identified as first and foremost in my life, even as far back as right before I entered kindergarten, I knew I wanted nothing more in life than to be a brave swordsman or knight, and protect and save damsels in distress. I'd go out back with plastic swords and hunt imaginary dragons for probably far too long in my life. I have the amazing privilege of living this dream as my career and am a professional swordsman via being an apprentice martial arts and self defense instructor. You can bet I'll work hard to keep myself latched onto that.

But that's a story I've told in countless other tales. The only relevance it holds here is to compare it to my sexuality and how late I was blooming into it.

It wasn't until I was in late high school I suspected I had an attraction to women, and that perhaps could be contributing to why trying to date men wasn't working. Sure, I'd try to get a boyfriend and hold on, but anytime we were together, most of what we did ended with me wanting to play video games and bullshit around instead, more like a friend or brother. There was no genuine romantic or sexual attraction; I was merely running off script. By 19, I had moved out to a whole nother state and by then I was identifying as bisexual, but with every passing day almost, I identified more and more as a female-preferring bisexual, to the point I even once said I was 99% into women and only 1% into men; a desperate plea to latch onto any scrap of potential heterosexuality in me, for I didn't want to face the truth about myself, one evident and obvious my whole life through, me begging for a chance to be "normal" and lead a "normal" and average heterosexual life.

It barely lasted longer before I took the plunge and accepted what everything in my life and what everyone around me was trying to tell me this whole time.

Holy shit, I'm a lesbian.

You'd think the woman who was saving imaginary princesses and daydreaming nonstop by age 10 of saving a woman only to be given the ultimate reward any hero could possibly earn, a full kiss on the lips, would be able to notice this fact about herself sooner, but apparently everyone else knew before I did. Even my own parents did, but it helps when one of them is a transwoman and both of them are varying degrees of openly bisexual. Even my genetics doomed me to being some flavor of not at all cishet. Hell, I adopted actual knightly chivalry at age 10 over what I now know to be my first real true love, a blonde classmate of mine in the 5th grade whom I wanted to protect with my life and be her knight. How gay is that. That's not even a question. I apologize for ever using bisexuality as a label since it's clear I was very bad at faking it and contributed to giving it a bad name and furthering the stereotype that they just need to "pick a side" and if you are bi/pansexual and reading this, please know I am pretty embarrassed by all of that and it won't ever happen again. If you are gay and considering using it as a "safer" identity or stepping stone, skip the step and just embrace your gayness instead. It'll save you so much stress.

I got honest with myself and ended my rapidly failing and boring and extremely short lived last attempt at dating a man and immediately started a relationship with the woman whom helped me realize this, one I will own up to seeing and fooling around with behind this man's back, calling her up in the middle of the night just to have long, lingering, heavy hours of whispered phone sex. I'm not fully innocent in this and I do apologize for that, and a pattern of cheating/infidelity with only the men I tried dating in my past is another sign something was seriously up and not something I claim any pride to. But he over-reacted to this, as I would soon find out was to be a common thing in my life from here on was men not able to take this fact about me well. He phone-harassed us until my grandmother chewed him out and threatened to fly across country just to sue him in person, and then he went offline, saying he was going to commit suicide by swallowing sleeping pills with windex. Last I heard, his stomach was pumped and he was alive. I was contacted a few years later by a mutual friend of ours whom I haven't heard from since who spoke of his doing this exact behavior pattern with other women after; it would be short lived, they'd break it off, he'd attempt suicide, or claim to attempt. Even if I wound up not being gay, I had dodged a bullet.

The lady I'd been fooling around with on the phone nightly for up to 10 hours per night broke it off with me a few months after this, despite what seemed like immense interest on both our parts to pursue a more serious and dedicated relationship. She had been questioning her own sexuality severely, and was using me as experimentation, but she hesitated and couldn't go through with it because, as she put it, I wasn't "man enough" for her in a physical sense. For the longest time, I held an immense resentment to her and was wary of bisexual women because of this, though I have since long grown past that bigotry and now know she was just confused and didn't want to hurt me, even if I felt she had done me no justice.

I told most people I knew about this pretty much immediately, to let them know, yes, I was certain I was a lesbian, all the signs had been there the whole time, my sex life finally was enjoyable and made sense, I understood romance at last, and that I was comfortable and felt a great relief off my shoulders. All but a few close long-term male friends. I was unsure how they'd take it, given what I had just gone through. I was right to be wary, because one of them told me he had a crush on me and was wondering if we could date, and I immediately had to come out and put him down gently, in hopes of avoiding another suicide attempt or harassment or such, knowing even if I tried it'd be dishonest and painful for us both. It didn't work; he immediately got into a different relationship with a woman that wound up cheating on him and getting in a habit of risky drinking and driving as well as mixing drugs and booze heavily at parties. He had just got done stressing over his own friend's DUI and had not stopped chastising him about it, only to become the tragic hypocrite whom did it himself to "cope". A falling out between us and the others happened shortly after I brought my current long term girlfriend around. They thought I had chosen her over them, and I've barely spoken to them in years. Another bullet dodged, but another messy incident that occurred only solely because I was gay.

I, for lack of both wanting to make this a "nice" article with nothing less than pure honesty and the fact I find no shame in this word or identity, became a pretty huge slut after this. I went around roleplays, be it forum or IRC or journal based, going digging as deep as the telnet and mucking around in MUCKs and MOOs and MUDs and MUSHs and other M words. I'd roll up some lady I was attached to or make a thinly disguised self insert and go around seducing every woman I could, joining sex sandboxes just to give women someone willing and wanting. I played up the dashing knight-in-shining-armor angle pretty hard and would serve my lady lieges and was generally about as submissive and masochistic as you could get. Sending raunchy, hand-written poems I made from scratch in the mail or giving nudes to any willing pair of eyes on a "look but don't touch" basis or giving women anonymous and guilt-free phone sex became my forte. Not that I don't still do all of this, because I do, through an understanding my girlfriend and I have, where we're open and poly because things just work better for us this way, but back then it was new and exciting. Nowadays I can add a scant few lesbian/bi lady threesomes and a couple orgies and gangbangs to the list thanks to her. I gave in to the greatest of homoerotic hedonism, most likely to make up for lost time, and it's still got a lot of momentum to it and a lot of gas left in that tank.

It was through this behavior and the internet/RP equivalent of a drunken one night stand I found my current girlfriend. I had a rather lot to drink at dinner, back when I drank pretty heavily every night, and came back home, went online, and text-fucked a woman at random in front of everyone else in the lesbian/yuri only IRC room we were both in. Everyone else cheered us on, only encouraging me. I was desperate, as I had been long pining extremely unrequited for another woman whom would tease me openly and encourage me to dote on her, and I foolishly fell in love, and my attempts at serious wooing kept falling flat without me getting the hint. My need for physical affection and release lead to this drunken tryst.

I woke up with a hangover and a woman I didn't know in my PMs, the IRC equivalent of your bedroom, and by luck, we began talking (and more text fucking) and hit it off and a few months later, I just got curious and asked "Hey, are we dating?" and she just responded with "Yeah, probably."

It's been 7 years and we're still here.

Despite all of this, I had never been able to really find anyone in any kind of media in any medium in the realms of fiction from anywhere in the world made by anyone that accurately depicted my odd brand of chivalrously perveted lesbianism. It is a rather unique and rare flavor of it, and most fictional lesbians, regardless of the media or point of origin, tend to be either a typical femme (feminine or girly lesbian) or a typical butch (masculine or tomboyish lesbian) with maybe someone right in-between, but nothing off the path or around the spectrum or branching off this 3 point line significantly. You were lucky if they lived and survived the canon, and we considered it a small holy miracle if they also didn't have the lesbian get it on with a man at some time to prove some godawful moral or point that could have been resolved with a lot more grace than the stereotypical "How can you be sure if you haven't been with a man?" type bullshit every lesbian endures nearly daily, even if the only way she sees or hears it is through asinine bullshit like this.

Western media especially feels foreign to me, as does the Common Lesbian Narrative I've seen crop up in it and in real LGBT circles. The lesbians in it listen to singers like k.d. lang and Teagen + Sara or t.A.T.u., they read Dykes To Watch Out For by Bechdel as in yes the woman whom invented the most bare minimum of fiction measuring yardsticks ever, they watch Ellen and adopt dogs and go to the Lilith Fair and watch The L Word. A lot of them get stuck on the "Gold Star" standard which is where you are proud for never having been with anyone male-identifying in a romantic and/or sexual way, as if that's possible for 95% of us, especially in more regressive areas in the world. A lot of alcohol is consumed. Most of them have a degree of self loathing to them, which while common amongst LGBT people, manifests itself as an immense sex-negative culture in lesbian circles, leading them to accuse me of being a predator or rapist, some questioning my gender and assuming I'm a man in disguise here to feast on them and abuse them, or just call me awful and sexist for...well, not much. It's usually over simply talking about how attractive women are to me and how much I dig boobies or something. Some may have legitimate trauma that lead them to that but a lot don't, and simply think of those traits as "male" which is therefore unwanted. A lot of the more sexphobic ones tend to lend themselves to being biphobic and/or transphobic.

Meanwhile, my interests were the opposite, making me an outsider by default and unable to relate to a lot of my fellow lady lovers. I'm over in my corner listening to all sorts of heavy metal subgenres with dragons and battle bikinis on the cover, reading Red Sonja comics, working with abandoned and stray cats, watching a lot of cheesy shonen and fanservice anime, and playing video games like Senran Kagura.

That was a convenient segue if you don't mind me saying so.

Senran Kagura is a series of Japanese beat 'em up video games bordering on the musou subgenre (popularized by things like Dynasty Warriors and its ten thousand licensed iterations of beating up a million units on screen with simple, flashy combos) that draws heavily on mythological themes and stars an all-female cast of ninjas as they train to fight each other, demons, and take on government-sanctioned jobs. The two main draws of the series are its simple but flashy and addictive gameplay (the series' name does translate something akin to "Racuous War Dance") and heavy doses of fanservice laced with extreme amounts of lesbianism. Hell, the Japanese rating boards and Wiki categorization methods all list it as yuri (f/f heavy content) alongside action and ninja. It's a love it or hate it series, but pretty much everyone who can get past the boobies and the clothing damage admits it's a pretty fun way to pass the time. You could do a lot worse.

Reactions to it are, well, rather predictable. I didn't even know what the series was or that it existed until an anonymous community for a roleplaying activity I'm in accused me of being an anon defending the series' right to exist, pretty much. They knew I was into stuff like this with my previous big things being series like Queen's Blade, and I was one of the only people (still am) in that hobby to not really care about fanservice one way or another, which made me an outcast for not outright demonizing it. The hobby had some pretty bad double standards, where yaoi and m/m stuff and shipping things that way was universally accepted and encouraged and expected, but anything f/f related was a very good way to immediately get you labeled a creep or such, regardless of your behavior otherwise. It didn't matter I was a lesbian, I was betraying women, a potential rapist, and my gender identity was questioned over it, having been accused of being a cishet male in disguise to creep on lesbians with using my fanservice series, since "no real lesbian would disrespect herself so much to actually enjoy these kinds of things."

To spite them, and because I was curious now, I bought the first game, Burst, on sale. It was around my birthday, anyways, so even if I wound up not liking it, I didn't spend any money of my own on it as it was a gift. It wound up being a big lesson in being careful what you wish for, as I now own every game in the series, special editions and all, and even have the special edition of the creator Kenichiro Takaki's other lesbian beat 'em up series, Valkyrie Drive. A preorder for the special edition of Peach Beach Splash was secured within hours of it going up on Amazon. It has become my unironic favorite video game of all time, knocking out others that have been there for a decade or two that have meant so much to me emotionally and personally, because the series reminds me how to have fun, too. It's unrepentant and shameless, and it's about time someone was.

But when I first booted my first Senran game, I was greeted by Her.

There stood, tall and proud, a woman with incredible, flowing golden hair, clad in naught but an unbottoned shirt, a pair of greaves that wouldn't quit, and a smile both smug and disarming enough to sign its own peace treaties. Blondes are my weakness, and have been since the aforementioned crush I had when I was 10, the girl I adopted chivalry for was a tall blonde and more developed and mature than anyone else in class. She was like a queen and a goddess to me all in one incredible package deal, the ur-example of that first pure, true love we ever have in life, the one I could only ever hug and never got a kiss from, the one that molded me into what I am now and the one I'm still finding myself chasing in other women. Her name was Mikayla and to this day I still hope she lead a good, happy life. But part of her was here again, as I looked down on my screen and scrolled through the character select. I froze, seeing Mikayla looking back at me, in a way, through the eyes of this new and wonderful amazon.

Katsuragi. The kanji that make up her name translate to "arrowroot castle" or "kudzu fortress." Images of a vine-covered stone enclave come to mind. Something impenetrable and stalwart, daring and strong, solid and defiant in every way. One of the series' main DPS and tank units all in one, she can dish it and she can take it, but can't turn for shit. She's a runaway freight train, railroading herself into hoards of women fearlessly and coming out unscathed. She embodies the dragon, and is a living kung fu motif. Nothing gets by this woman, even as dense as she appears and sounds, she is both the immovable object and unstoppable force. I was immediately head over heels for her in every possible way, smitten as much as I was as a child when I gained my first fictional girlfriend, one Celes Chere, a general and not an opera floozy. Appropriately, both her and Katsuragi have a penchant for blue headgear, open white flowing tops, long blonde hair, a stubborn and strong attitude, an inability to take directions, and like to hang out around quiet, green-haired weirdoes. I guess some things don't change. Or in this case, a lot of things. Celes entered my life roughly around the same time Mikayla did, and it shows to this day. Blondes, indeed, have more fun.

I could relate to it all. But beyond the strong, cool warrior woman hear me roar persona was a facet of Katsuragi I had struggled to find anywhere else, and when I did, it still wasn't quite right or my brand of it. At long last, my quest was end, and I had come face to face with a perfect mirror in which to reflect my sexuality in.

What I'm saying is the girl's gay, very extremely so. A shameless, happy, fulfilled lesbian to her very core. One without the usual baggage of a sad or tragic backstory that was caused by her sexuality. Though her past is sad, none of it was due to homophobia. The tragic gay trope is tired, and especially played out with lesbians, and she doesn't die by the end. Other horrible and stale cliches don't seem to exist within her, either, such as the needing to sleep with a man "just to be sure" or being killed in some horrible fashion or dying alone and unloved. She doesn't go insane, isn't locked up, and isn't the villain either. Katsuragi's main motivator in life, besides regaining her family's honor, is women. Specifically, boobs exist. Her version of a handshake is squeezing your chest from behind and making "Dear Penthouse, I never thought this would happen to me, but..." level commentary at the poor girl she's enamored by. This is a girl that, when a new lady student enrolls in her school, she immediately looks up her cup size for "research" purposes. She fights with her feet only on purpose, lest her hands get damaged in combat and she is unable to grope women anymore. Katsuragi's favorite kind of woman is "yes" and she doesn't discriminate; if you identify as a woman, then she will love all women.

I, too, love all women. Finally, after a long and harrowing road, I was home at last. "Tits are life and ass is hometown" is the series motto, and I'd rather live a fulfilling life than worry about home. Besides, home is where the heart is, and the boobies are the part of the body closest to the heart. But enough allusions to a marketing gimmick phrase, let's get to the real heart of the matter.

Lesbians in fiction don't have a very long or proud lineage. What we know of it all until now is shrouded in shrugs and mystery at best, erasure at worst. We still face erasure, be it within the context of the media/story itself or irate fans who insist that this person/character can't possibly be gay, because it offends their delicate sensibilities one way or another. Perhaps they're a male and thought this character to be their "waifu" (term for a lady character they'd like to date or marry were they real, based on a literal pronunciation of spelling wife in Japanese katakana. Your comfort levels with this term may vary. Mine tend to lean towards poking fun at the more hardcore like, well, the guys upset at stuff like this) and how dare a woman betray them and their attractions (an attitude that has lead to literal and actual death of many women, sometimes in groups, at the hands of irate and dateless men) or maybe it's another woman who can't get behind the idea of a lesbian in her media. Contrary to what you may see, men aren't the only ones saying "no homo"; they're just the most blatant and obvious about it.

Women have a devious and special form of lesbophobia only they can portray, a more subtle and seething one that stings extra hard instead of the sudden and sharp slap that a man's lesbophobia delivers. For men it's to be "expected" to either hate lesbians due to being "unavailable" to them (damaging in and of itself, as it adds to the long outdated trope that men and women can't just be friends. Who doesn't like friends?) or for them to somehow get along perfectly (a stereotype that has proved itself more untrue than true and lead to a lot more personal damage to me and interpersonal/friendship damage than it ever did lean me to gaining allies in men, especially cishet ones. It usually takes men being LGBT in and of themselves to put up with me; the rare cishet guy that does is a most honored pal of mine, though.) The most vicious attacks I get are from other women whom would throw me, and to an extent bi/pan women, under the bus for generic feminist points and put their needs ahead of the intersectional minority. Somehow, I betray my gender or feminism or all of it when I consume fiction like this or look up to lesbians like the ones I do. It sucks, y'all.

So on top of the crappy expectations of men and women, we also have a bad understanding of how media is consumed in other countries and to whom is consuming it and why. The base I'm using here so far is largely a Western one, one that likes to look at Japanese media as cut and dry like they do ours; it must work the same, right? Here, lesbians in media are seen either as a ratings stunt at best via poor inclusivity involving poor tropes and tired stereotypes and stale storylines or masturbatory bait solely for men and only exist for men and to be consumed by them. Both men and women use this range to a varying degree. Somehow, if gay men exist in media, it's always for the gay men and more of a genuine or heartfelt attempt at LGBT inclusivity or a more genuine progressive stance. Despite the fact more and more women are coming out as being honest consuming media containing two or more men dating or in sexual acts, for the same reasons men might consume media containing two or more women dating or in sexual acts, it's still always has been, in media and in real life, lesbians are not to be believed but a gay man is a sure thing, even if you find him disgusting. Hell, I've even had gay men tell me lesbians can't exist and that women have no genuine capacity to be attracted to other women at all and if you see two women together, they're participating in a ruse to distract men away from him as potential dates. Paranoid and wild, but it's something more than a few of them have told me is their genuine belief.

But when you try to tack this onto Japanese media and sales, it falls apart. Studies do show that more women consume more "fanservice" or sexual or pornographic or homosexual material containing two or more women than we do in the West, while the men there prefer to consume what's known as Class S material, wherein lesbians are depicted as basically just "practicing" for a "real" relationship with a man. Class S stuff is often tame and pure, what we'd expect in a romance aimed at women here, so that the women remain "untainted" and "pure" for their future hetero consumption. You can see it reflected somewhat in our own nerd culture here, and I have met a lot of men who outright will not consume the media I do, like Senran Kagura and Queen's Blade, because they're already "damaged" goods and are involved with other women too much. The myth that men liked lesbians as friends betrayed me the most here, hurt me the most here, because all of the reviews of this media claim it to be garbage for men to enjoy rather than the harbor, or "safe space" if you will, that me and I know at least several other lesbian and bisexual women here and in Japan and Korea use to explore ourselves in. Why would you want to deny an LGBT woman that, if only to just get back at the men or reflect the puritanical values you were taught? I'll expound on this here.

A lot of this can be attributed to studies like the Kinsey Scale and other recent ones sexual fluidity, which report a higher incident of women having a more freeform or fluid or ever-changing sexuality, unlike men who are a rigid and sure thing. These are taken at face value and we wind up with garbage like "all women are naturally bisexual" whereas we should look at the groups studied in these cases; far far more women partake in them than men do, so we wind up with skewed variables in favor of more women being "fluid" than men. Were the numbers more even in reporting, we'd most likely see an even amount of fluidity between the genders, but admission of homosexual feelings in other men is still seen as taboo in many subcultures, even in areas where it as a concept is readily accepted and supported.

So where am I going with all this? We wind up with shit depictions in media. Or just not enough variance. It was a combination of both for me that took it so damn long for me to find Katsuragi, let alone anyone or anything at all to be able to see my reflection in. As I said, we don't have a long or proud lineage in fiction. From the historical cover ups to mandatory moral codes making it impossible until extremely recently to get a happy ending to people still not ready to try the waters unless they get it right the first time, you wind up with a lot of bog standard tropes reused and put in palette swaps until the artist is out of color schemes, and then thinks just adding a jaunty hat will do to cover it up. For the longest time, at least in America, you literally couldn't publish a story about homosexuals finding happiness; one had to be dead by the end and tragedy and illness and rape and "conversion" back to heterosexuality (which is something science has hard proven you can't do or force on someone) were commonplace, even if the rest of the story was fine. You would be found immoral and fined and blacklisted if you dared give these dread homos any sense of decency or happiness. So tragedy, as well as the aforementioned rape and marriage to men, are "common" lesbian storylines.

Ones I have no connection to. I'm one of the lucky few women, especially lucky few lesbians, who can count on not having been married nor have never been on the receiving end of physical sexual assault/abuse/rape. Threats? More than I can count. But nobody dare go through with it, for whatever reason. I hope to keep that record, not to hold it over anyone who's been through anything. I didn't ever receive bullying for being gay growing up, as I mentioned being a late bloomer, and my family is highly queer to varying degrees themselves, even if some are in denial, so rejection was never on the horizon. Illness common in LGBT circles has never struck me or anyone I know nor have I known any dead queers nor am I dying anytime soon. The closest I can say I got is varying degrees of depression/bipolar/autism, which have higher rates in minority circles, and alcoholism as a boredom/coping mechanism, which is also noticably higher in LGBT circles, with lesbians being struck the highest by it. I view them as separate from my sexuality and not in tandem with it as many choose to do.

So the tragedy angle isn't one I can relate to, at least not on a level as I have tragedy in my life due to being a lesbian. There goes many popular examples in fiction right there. I've mentioned too not feeling a connection with the general lesbian popular culture. I don't get with terms like "butch" or "femme" (and while it is largely still a slur to many, I am okay calling myself a dyke as it's the closest word I feel fits me) and the fact I like flannel so much is purely by chance of me being bad at fashion and finding it to be comfortable enough. I'm not the "sports" lesbian either, as is another popular choice. I chose the martial arts life, and it chose me. As much as sporting and conditioning is involved, it's a wholly separate lifestyle, one I've identified with on some level since I could first read and walk, pretty much, with my swordsman obsession and desire to extend chivalry to other women. It's so hard to find women in fiction who are warriors that aren't somehow cool for fighting alongside their husband, nor won't marry until they find this mythic man that can best them in combat, and the few I do find are ravenously bisexual (nothing wrong with it in and of itself, but when you're a lesbian and you'd like just one lesbian, it gets a tad tiresome) in that "Grr, me fierce conquerer, take EVERYTHING" sort of manner. Women warriors are archers or battle mages or a mom who is just tired of seeing her babies die in the war. It's always tied somehow to their femininity (noted in the archers and mages thing, women use 'delicate' weapons or styles) and/or something to do to reaffirm their (usually) heterosexuality and/or motherhood. Look, woman can fight too! One of the guys! Haha, drink a beer, skin a bear, wear a helmet, comrade. Today we dine in Valhalla, while Atma pines for her Gal-palla.

There's just nothing stereotypical about me, lesbian-ly, besides the fact I love women. I love all women of all kinds. My favorite kind of woman, too, is "yes" and seeing Katsuragi reaffirm that means I'm on the right path. It's not a brag for me to say I'm so special and unique, though, because even THAT seems suspect to some people. I can't catch a break. My being a sex fiend lends itself to another trope that well, while Katsuragi may be an ur-example of, it's rarely seen in a "heroic" way like hers is. The predatory lesbian is a fiend who must be stopped, in reality and in fiction. They often wind up the most abused, the most raped, the most likely to be chastised or put down "finally" by a male character. It's justice. It's excused all the time because it's done in popular stuff. It's funny because the mean ol' dirty lesbian who likes women got her come-uppance! Haha, what a gross freak. Liking women. That in and of itself seems to be enough cause to question me or other lesbians in fiction and reality is the mere concept of being attracted to women sexually and consensually means you're a big ol' rapist. Don't ask me how it works, it's just a link that's been hung together since Sappho invented lesbians.

Some of it is understandable, if you're a woman who's suffered sexual abuse at anyone's hands, especially another woman's, but most of it seems to just stem from an irrational fear that anyone who's attracted to women, on some level, will act like a stereotypical cishet male and somehow wield a massive privilege and power over them just for enjoying the sight of their body. Men and women do this to me both, women out of fear of a Patriarchal viewpoint or Male Gaze somehow coming from me (both impossible as someone identifying as a woman in a patriarchal society) and men who doth protest too much to get Woke Points. My sexuality is filthy, something we LGBT people have fought against since antiquity, and is only acceptable in a cleansed, puritanical, easy to swallow form. They simultaneously yell at those that would beat on us merely for holding hands in public but I best do no more, lest I act like a lecher, and therefore a man.

As someone with an admittedly high natural libido, are you kidding me? My job is to teach self defense to women and minorities at risk of these assaults, and the statistics of local vs national crimes is depressing. Contributing to these numbers increasing is the last thing I'd do on this earth.

The place my current girlfriend of 7+ years and I met was full of these sex-fearing women. The ones that identified as lesbian tended to also be both TERFs and SERFs (trans-exclusive radfems and sexwork-exclusive radfems) as well as biphobic, on average. Beyond the ones that were victims of legitimate abuse, it made me wonder what kind of puritanical education they had to make them think this. I'm a direct descendant of Sylvester Graham, whom along with Harvey Kellogg, invented American Puritanism as it is now, and it is seen through many avenues of Western culture, from Satantic Panic to Explicit Lyrics Warnings to, well, being so sex fearing you'd preach homophobia and abstinence, both proven to do purely harm. It shames me to have this in my blood history, but it's the least I can do is try to make up for his work by speaking up about this now and why it's damaging so many women of so many different shades.

This essentially leads to all avenues being blocked off by me. So when your small bag of fictional lesbians is restricted to various points off this short and complicated checklist, when I found Katsuragi, shameless and gay as the sun and her hair both shine and flow golden and free, I feel like my existence was finally fully vindicated on some level. Yes, I found my career path and have success in it. Yes, I have a massively successful and stable and loving relationship. I have many great friends and talents I can rely on. I'm healthier than I've ever been and for the first time in my life, I actually know where I'm going.

But to have me, right there, in a video game. It shook and stunned me. It still does. Clearly, I've gone on nearly seven thousand words expounding the implications and buildup as to why this would be important, and it's about time I spilled the damn tits on it. I finally got to have someone who hit the same checklist as me up and down to a near 100% match. The martial arts was an obvious one. A warrior woman for the women, her chivalry shows in her desire to make the world a safe haven for women so, in her own words, they never have to fear nor want of anything again, even if in return she asks that they all be part of her harem and she have every girlfriend. A sense of honor is about her, one that wants nothing more than to restore her parents' names and honor after they chose a more righteous path over doing dirty government work. A living shield and sword for her friends to wield, who wields none at all in hand, but creates her future and her path with those hands (unless as she said, they get damaged and she can't go for the tits anymore). Someone who likes good food, loud music, and is completely unapologetic about every single aspect of her. Her gayness, her lesbianism, her love of every woman and all women and tits is forefront and backburner both and fuels her entire existence. An incredible tour de force of Sapphism. Katsuragi is her name.

And yet, as I mentioned, people would want to take that from me. Because it's not a "correct" or "pre-approved" piece of media to choose from. Because she's rude or lewd. Because a man made it. Because it doesn't ever actually say the word "gay" (despite it saying many other things and the game itself actually discussing female homosexuality in a few scenes in a few games rather candidly and without rancor or bigotry towards it) so it "doesn't count." Because you're an asschafed dude mad one big-tittied blonde is batting for the other team. Gods, I could go a month without arguing with some dudebro online who somehow wanders onto my Twitter or whatnot to make the case for her of all characters to be bi, amongst the honest to goodness reasons I've seen to reason why and I have witnesses who did saw this who can prove this case was made unto me, that she doesn't get an anime nosebleed around women (which is a common indicator of sexual arousal) so it "doesn't count." Yagyuu, a classmate of hers, nosebleeds anytime she's near her crush, Hibari, and she's somewhat more understated in her attraction to her than Katsuragi is all women, but that one teensy little crapass trope is enough to try to pry her away from me.

You will not take her away. You cannot. You would have to get through me first, in real life, through blood and steel and tears. I've fought and searched this hard for myself, and I finally found her. But you are just that infinite in your selfishness that you would steal unto me this right just to have this one. This one happy little lesbian. This one lesbian that brings me more joy than most fictional characters I've enjoyed previously in my life combined. Yeah. When you have literally millions of choices for yourself that would match you, were this character even a real person, you'd still complain you can't have it all.

Try having none of it. That's why I fight and cling so hard. I can't just go reach in the magic basket of lesbian representation and find someone perfect for me and accepted by fandom at large and won't be argued against me on some level that nope, not that one, Atma, pick something else. That one's tainted. You're tainted.

Think how incredibly selfish you must be. These types remind me so much of those that try to rewrite history and erase any mentions of lesbians, let alone any brand of women who love women, from actual historical record because it's shameful or sinful or embarrassing. That's what I am to these people; just some argument to get more points on their side. They don't actually care; they don't want Katsuragi to be bi because they feel for her and see them reflected in herself like I do and nor do they care about real bisexual people or representation; they're just mad one girl wouldn't sleep with them. I take solace in the fact if she were real, I'd most likely have the best shot at dating her, and not because of my own ego, but because, you know, our sexualities and our interests and hobbies actually align pretty damn well. I see people argue "But Chemistry!" for shipping people outside sexuality preference, thus erasing us and harming us, while forgetting that chemistry includes a compatible sexuality. They like to argue incessantly that Sappho may or may not have had a husband or boyfriend, as if it truly matters now because we've not enough evidence to do much but shrug and guess at this point, because they just happen to either want more bisexual people in history (without finding ones that actually existed and defending them), they want to, again, steal points and come out a Winner somehow. It's insulting to the whole range of LGBT women, especially when a guy, super especially a cishet man, does it "on our behalf." I don't need your help on this one, dude.

All I can see is reaching of immense proportions when I see people argue she can't be gay or that she can't be a good gay icon. I'm sorry, but anyone whom is quoted in series as saying she'd rather only be able to flirt with the same one woman the rest of her life rather than take on a whirlwind romance with every man alive is probably a lesbian singularity; nothing gets gayer and more open about it than that. In Japanese, you usually say what you aren't than what you are; speak through omission. So she may not be saying it "text" to you, but in Japan, it's as clear as day what her sexuality is. Katsuragi ought be synonymous with lesbianism like the sun is to day.

You're, of course, entitled to your opinion on this, but think. Is it really worth causing someone who's been through a lot, part of a minority that's been through so much, someone who's sought so long to find someone like her, real or fake, this much pain and anguish and annoyance over trying to change the identity of one lesbian? Especially in media? Here we are, finally, a happy, strong lesbian who genuinely likes women and won't deny it ever, and you still wanna play keep-away with me, either because you can't have her so nobody can or you want me to "do better."

This is my better. This is my life. And hometown. Katsuragi, to me, represents the boundless potential I have in me, and gives me courage any time I hesitate to tell someone who doesn't know I'm gay that I am. She has become a dearest role model and icon to me, has for several years now, and probably will remain this way for me for life, if only as an indicator of this is where I was when I wrote stuff like this was I was a lot like Katsuragi. I may change someday. I may change a lot from this. I could very well just stay as I am, but I'll have Kat here to remind me of being in a better place and finally starting a better life when I met her, and that she helped pull me through a lot of personal bullshit. My security blanket in the form of a gorgeous amazon, a raucous goddess, a brazen and boobied badass more battle-hardened than your favorites, yet still kind and smiling. She's all I ever wanted and all I want to be. Katsuragi is my hero.

So really, next time you want to make fun of me for my choices, or try to argue with me that I can't have this one small piece of happiness about my sexuality and who I am as a person, think to yourself: What's my security blanket? What do I latch onto in times of darkness and upset? Do I really need more than I already have? Is Atma's happiness really worth upsetting just to prove some kind of point?

I hope, if you've somehow read all this, you've learned something, if only just I wish you find the same happiness for you someday. Whatever you want to see reflected of you in media, that you find someone as stellar and permanent example to you as Katsuragi is to me. Someone whom, if she was real, I'd protect and smother in ten thousand kisses a day, and live in strong service to, because fuck, man, it's the least I can do for all the genuine pride and joy she's given me, about everything, but especially about myself.

If that's not worth it, I don't know what is to you, but I hope you find it soon and I hope it resonates in you as strongly.

Until then, Katsuragi is my Queen, and I live to serve her eternal, even after the sands of time long erode away our queendom and our harem and only our pure, gay energy permeates the Earth freely looking for a host once more.

Long live the queen.

Holy shit, she's me.
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The Sunset Samurai

July 2017


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