An impetuous soldier risks everything to save a serenely enchanting aristocrat from a rebel attack, breaking a serious social taboo and facing execution as a result. Moved, the aristocrat whisks away her protector and they flee to security and isolation far away from everything they have ever known. To Earth, in this case. There, they get to know each other as they discover their new home. Alone together, until they find others who accept them and their budding love just as it is.
It could be the plot outline of a fairy tale. Maybe the aristocrat should be a princess, otherwise it’s a pretty straightforward formula to bring a fairy-tale-style happy ending, but a fairy tale, it is not. It’s a summary of the how-they-met flashback from The Answer – a season 2 episode of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe – and it’s the story of how Ruby and Sapphire met, and fell in love.
Now, being aliens and all, Ruby and Sapphire’s romance doesn’t culminate in the usual fairy-tale wedding, but rather in their decision to live as the fusion, Garnet. Garnet, leader of the Crystal Gems and present in just about every episode. Garnet who was established in the Season 1 finale as the embodiment of Sapphire and Ruby’s love and serves as a constant reminder of the harmonious partnership that led to her existence. Garnet who is certainly a fan favourite, for everything she is, including what she represents.
Perhaps because of the fans' attachment to Garnet – and the investment in Ruby and Sapphire’s relationship that it implies – the episode was so well received that it has been adapted into a children’s book. And that’s where things get really exciting to me. It says something that this fairy-tale-like, lesbian love story resonated with enough people that it got to transcend its original medium. It speaks to the importance of this kind of story being portrayed, especially for younger audiences.
Being a panromantic little nerdling myself, the importance of this kind of representation is a personal issue. I was 10 when I had my first puppy-love flutters for another girl, and I didn’t have much to go on to understand what I was feeling. I didn’t know anyone who fit into the LGBT+ community. The only non-hetero couples I’d come across in fiction were the weirdly censored Haruka and Michiru in Sailor Moon (presented as cousins instead of girlfriends, so does that even really count?) and the Willow-and-Tara romance from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sure, things have changed in general since then, but nothing so far has raised the expectations or pushed the limits of representation in children-targeted media as much as The Answer. It was overdue.
Marty Le Gallez
Marty is an aspiring author from Ottawa, armed with an imagination stuck in permanent overdrive, a BA in English from OttawaU, and (soon enough) Professional Writing credentials from Algonquin College. When not writing, Marty’s usually occupied in some aspect of geek culture – from consuming new media (and revisiting old favourites for the thousandth time), to cosplay and conventions.