“The Lexa Pledge” makes a promise to LGBTQ fans

On April 21, the writers room for the television show Saving Hope created and signed a pledge to the LGBTQ community in response to the ongoing criticism of writers’ propensity to kill off LGBTQ characters on television. Known as The Lexa Pledge, after the fallen character from The 100, the pledge has fifteen signatures from writers and producers, including those from The Catch and Rookie Blue.

The Lexa Pledge makes seven commitments:

  1. We will ensure that any significant or recurring LGBTQ characters we introduce, to a new or pre-existing series, will have significant storylines with meaningful arcs.

  2. When creating arcs for these significant or recurring characters we will consult with sources within the LGBTQ community, like queer writers or producers on staff, or members of queer advocacy groups like GLAAD, The Trevor Project, It Gets Better, Egale, The 519, etc.

  3. We recognise that the LGBTQ community is underrepresented on television and, as such, that the deaths of queer characters have deep psychosocial ramifications.

  4. We refuse to kill a queer character solely to further the plot of a straight one.

  5. We acknowledge that the Bury Your Gays trope is harmful to the greater LGBTQ community, especially to queer youth. As such, we will avoid making story choices that perpetuate that toxic trope.

  6. We promise never to bait or mislead fans via social media or any other outlet.

  7. We know there is a long road ahead of us to ensure that the queer community is properly and fairly represented on TV. We pledge to begin that journey today.

The pledge isn’t an immediate fix. The Catch joined the list of shows that has killed of an LGBTQ character this season along with the likes of the aforementioned The 100, Empire, The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, etc, just days after Sherry White, the show’s co-executive producer, signed her name to the pledge

Yet instead of running from her mistake, White released a statement acknowledging how The Catch played into the “Bury Your Gays” trope — and cited the pledge as a way forward. She wrote:

I had only become aware of the whole “bury your gays” trope when I saw my dear friend Noelle Carbone’s [lesbian TV writer currently working on Rookie Blue] posts on Facebook. Within one week, she posted at least three articles, about three different shows that killed off lesbian characters. By the time she posted about Empire, I was really getting the point – this is out of control and ridiculous and damaging.

THAT’S when I realized The Catch was also guilty of doing the same thing. We had recently chosen to kill a bisexual character. Strangely, The Catch writing room has a lot of LGBTQ representation – more than any writing room I’ve ever been in. The choice to kill Felicity had a story function in the bigger picture, but we failed to realize how we were also feeding into this trope. Had we been aware, we surely would have chosen not to do this. Or if showing how dangerous Rhys is required a death, we might have chosen to kill a different character.

When I realized my show was guilty of this, I sent Noelle a text immediately and told her as much. It was too late to do anything about it, but I made a promise to Noelle that I would never again allow this to happen in a story room without putting up an epic fight. I apologized to her, and I apologize to all of you.

It was after that that Noelle approached me to sign the pledge. And I signed it wholeheartedly. I mean it and I stand by it. I promise that I will dig deeper, be truer, and be much more mindful when telling stories; my stories, your stories, our stories.

Sherry White

Two months ago, White may not have known the implications of the choices the show made by killing an LGBTQ character, but times have changed. Hopefully this is a sign to come about the power of fans demanding and enacting change so that LGBTQ characters aren’t just continually sacrificed for “the greater good.

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Katie Barnes (they/them/their) is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer. While at St. Olaf College studying History and (oddly) Russian (among other things), Katie fell in love with politics, and doing the hard work in the hard places. A retired fanfiction writer, Katie now actually enjoys writing with their name attached. Katie actually loves cornfields, and thinks there is nothing better than a summer night's drive through the Indiana countryside. They love basketball and are a huge fan of the UConn women's team. When not fighting the good fight, you can usually find Katie watching sports, writing, or reading a good book.

Katie Barnes is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer.

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