So, picture me as a gangly, passionate young teenager. Really obsessed with dead poets and graveyards, spends obscene amounts of time in the woods furiously scribbling Really! Dramatic! stories into a notebook. Oh, yeah. I was obviously the archetype of a Really Weird Writer(TM) from birth. Now picture me as that gangly teenager as utterly closed off from the world because of a super conservative Christian upbringing and homeschooling.
Now picture the fact that, at the age of fifteen, I’d never heard of being gay.
“That’s impossible,” you say, but sadly, gentle reader, it is not. Super! Conservative! Christian! Upbringing! can really mess you up in all sorts of terrible ways, but first and foremost, I didn’t even know I existed. You see, I’d had feelings for girls since I was very small. At religious school put on by my church, the little girls were making the Kens and Barbies kiss, and I was making the Barbies kiss. When I was a little older and the religious school girls were talking about boys…I was staring at the girls and praying desperately that they wouldn’t notice that I never talked about boys. That I was hopelessly, dreamily infatuated with them, instead.
I was terrified that, somehow, someone would see inside my head and realize that I was a complete abomination. I felt, utterly, that there was no one in the entire world like me–a girl who liked girls? How the hell would that even work? It was impossible. Obviously I was a total mistake. (Sit with that for a minute. In 1999, I thought I was a mistake because I believed that there was no one else in the world like me because I’d never heard of being gay. Super! Conservative! Christian! Upbringing! that includes that kind of blanket brainwashing and withholding of knowledge really needs to stop.) I contemplated suicide for awhile because there was no place in the world where I fit.
And then…Sailor Moon happened.
Television stations began to show this really weird, colorful cartoon. I was drawn, immediately, to all of the pastels (and, honestly, all the pretty ladies). I loved that they were strong. That they could save themselves. I figured out what times that show came on, and I watched it with my little sister, and a guarded fierceness that I had for nothing else. This was my show. My passion. There was just something about it. It was perfect.
A little comic book shop in our teeny, tiny town had an order form for a Sailor Moon book. I saved up my dollars, and I sent away for the book, counting down the days until it would arrive impatiently. I wanted to learn everything I could about this anime. What the hell was anime? What the hell was Sailor Moon based on? I wanted to learn everything, so like the true writer/bibliophile that I am, I knew I could find the information in the book.
The day that book arrived was the day that changed my life forever.
I tore into the wrapping and read it cover to cover. To my shock, there weren’t just the sailor senshi I’d already seen! There were more.
And then my heart stopped beating as I came to one paragraph. You guys? I still remember how it went.
Haruka and Michiru share a special romantic bond.
I looked at the pictures very carefully of both of these characters. I studied the pronouns to make absolutely certain that I wasn’t missing anything. But no. Two girls. In a relationship. Together.
I went upstairs to my bedroom, clutching the book to my chest, and I sat on my bed and sobbed.
A few months later, we got the internet. The blessed, holy internet. And I began, immediately, to obsess about Sailor Moon on it. I learned web design, graphic design and coding so that I could build shrines online to my favorite characters: YOU GUESSED IT! Haruka and Michiru.
And I began to meet people like me. People who would later become my lifelong friends (friends I still have and love to this day, over fifteen years later), people who built and ran a very geeky, wonderful, creative obsession: Sailor Moon fan shrines.
And then I met this one girl.
Her name was Jenn.
She was pretty cool on the internet. She made the most beautiful layouts, and her sites were funny, charming, perfectly written. I started to converse with her, because–lo and behold–we had our favorite characters in common.
Time passed. Our friendship grew. And one night, when I was nineteen years old, I sent her a letter that would change everything. Again.
I’m falling in love with you. I don’t even know if you’re gay. You love Haruka and Michiru, too…so maybe you are? I’m sorry if you’re not. God, I hope you are. I love you.
And the rest is history.
Photo of us, on our wedding day, by the illustrious Vasilion Photography. <3
Sailor Moon changed my life forever. It made me realize that there were other people like me. That I wasn’t an abomination. That I was normal. That, because these characters who were like me were happy, maybe I deserved happiness, too.
Because of Sailor Moon I met my wife.
Sailor Moon gave me the courage to tell her I was falling in love with her. Sailor Moon was the code, the blessed sign, that made me realize what she might be. That she might be falling in love with me, too.
Because of Sailor Moon, I was no longer invisible. I was, perhaps, a heroine, too. Or maybe I could be…because there were people like me who were. So why couldn’t I be, too?
Fast forward to this year. Unless you’ve been living under a Dark Kingdom boulder, you know that Sailor Moon is making a big comeback. We couldn’t be more thrilled, and we’ve been following along with the re-release of the anime on Hulu, and have been counting down the days until the new Sailor Moon Crystal show is released. We’ve also been following along with Viz, the company making this all possible, and their updates.
And we found out that they were sponsoring a “What Does Sailor Moon Mean to You?” contest.
Obviously, we entered. We entered with the photo at the very beginning of this post. We told this story of how Sailor Moon changed our lives, gave us acceptance of ourselves, gave us the ability to find true love.
And, yesterday, the first wave of finalists was announced.
Whether we’re finalists or not doesn’t really matter, by the way. We loved entering and sharing our story. But the best part of this whole damn thing is reading what other Moonies have to say.
You know what an overwhelming resonant theme is?
Sailor Moon gave me the strength to accept my queerness. Made me believe that I could be strong and courageous, too. Sailor Moon made me believe that I was worth something because Sailor Moon made me not invisible.
I was shocked and staggered by how many people were saying the same thing I had. That, because of Sailor Moon, they’d realized who they were, they realized that they weren’t worthless because they were invisible. Sailor Moon made them feel visible.
Sailor Moon made them feel seen.
There is this entire generation of people out there, people around my and Jenn’s age, who have been irrevocably changed and altered by a single show. A single show who told us that we were important enough to have a story written about us. A single show who saved me from thinking I was worthless. A single show who made a lot of other people realize that they were worth something, too.
A single show did this.
A common theme or argument I run into with my YA work (all of my stories have a heroine who loves girls as the main character), is the question: “why does a lesbian main character matter?”
And this is what I say to that, every time:
Because a lesbian character saved my life. Because a lesbian character made me feel seen.
And there is an entire host of people out there who can say the exact same thing.
Because I was seen, I wanted to live. I wanted to create. I wanted to perpetuate the stories that had saved my life.
Every single person that that anime saved has gone on to irrevocably change and alter the world.
Because of two girls who were in love.
Who told us, by their very existence, that being a heroine or a hero wasn’t just for straight people anymore.
And that simple truth changed our lives forever.
Saved us. And transformed us.
Thank you, Sailor Moon (Naoko Takeuchi <3), for everything.