Late last year, after a slew of attacks on our community on social media and in the news, I found myself consumed by thoughts that the entire world was against us.
That our rights were in grave danger of being rolled back. That we’d never truly be accepted or understood. I had to log off.
It’s now been four months since I quit The Internet. But during this Twitter-free time, I discovered queer joy in the unlikeliest of places: Channel 4’s The Great Pottery Throwdown.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s essentially The Great British Bake Off for pottery nerds. And it’s queer AF.
It’s long had LGBTQ+ contestants. And Rose Schmits (who refers to herself as a “Trans Kiln Witch”) as the resident kiln technician - is quite something. For me though, this series is all about Scottish, non-binary contestant AJ Simpson.
Watching AJ absolutely smash it has been a pure delight. But what brings me the most joy is the incidental, positive queer representation they’ve brought, to the pottery.
From the moment we met AJ in episode one, their correct pronouns are used flawlessly by the other contestants and the judges. They weren’t made to speak about their gender identity in a big, dramatic to-camera moment. They are treated like any cishet contestant, and simply allowed to be a bloody good potter.
I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of overly dramatic, cliche depictions of queerness on TV.
Characters who succumb to the expendable death ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope. Reality show contestants subjected to homo, bi and transphobia. Queer people cajoled by producers into mining their trauma for “drama”.
There’s none of that in Thrown Down. Instead, we’re shown how gentle, funny, and creative AJ is. How well-loved they are by the other potters, and judges.
It’s a reminder that actually, the world isn’t as hate-filled as the anonymous Twitter users would have us believe. It restores my hope that we are accepted.
I keep thinking of all the queer kids (and adults, tbh) who’ll watch this show and feel seen thanks to AJ.
And so yes, The Great Pottery Throwdown — which allows viewers from all walks of life to see a non-binary person thriving — is the queerest, most radical show on TV right now. Don’t @ me.
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