Carmilla: A Glimmer of Hope in a Sea of “Bury Your Gays”


Last month, the YouTube series Carmilla ended and neither member of the main lesbian couple died (permanently). In fact, Carmilla lived and I have some theological feelings about that.

Carmilla is loosely based on the 1872 novella of the same name. It follows Laura Hollis, a student at potently supernatural school called Silas University, as she investigates the sudden disappearance of her roommate. What begins as a beefed-up journalism project turns into a mission to save the student body from an evil dean (who turns out to be an ancient god) and blossoms into a better love story than Twilight. By season 3, the gates of hell are all but unleashed and it could’ve been so easy for this story to end in darkness and tragedy. I was fairly confident that it wouldn’t, largely because the cast and crew of Carmilla are so cozy with the fandom. Even before season 1 ended, people flocked to Carmilla, especially queer people. Since then, the Carmilla team has been quite responsive to the fandom, adopting the term “creampuff” in its advertising and social media presence much like the Orphan Black team adopted “clone club.”

So, given Carmilla‘s awareness of its audience and more importantly, everything this audience is tired of, I wasn’t all that worried about a sad ending. Still, I prepared myself for it and thankfully got a cheesy, nicely-wrapped-in-a-bowtie ending, complete with heroic self-sacrifice saving the day and transcending death.

Carmilla actually reverses the “bury your gays” trope for its main couple and says, “resurrect your gays.” Carmilla, being a vampire, is dead from the start and Laura dies in the antechamber of the seventh gate.Yet Carmilla is given a beating heart (despite her protests) and Laura regains her life. Both were dead and then alive, and as an amateur hipster theologian, I’m totally cool with that.

So many stories in Western pop culture about queer women portray toxic relationships or one of the two partners in a couple dies tragically and often violently. Carmilla does not tell either of these stories. Laura and Carmilla aren’t perfect, but their relationship is complex without the drama of cheating and without the drama of violent death.

In light of all the ridiculous supernatural occurrences in Carmilla, queerness is just a matter of fact, neither dramatized nor relegated to subtext. It’s also not sexualized and it’s basically impossible to come away with the impression or suspicion that Carmilla is really made for straight men.

In short Carmilla does a lot of things right in terms of representation. It’s become a fictional sanctuary of sorts for many of its fans looking for a queer story that doesn’t make them cringe.

Being an independent YouTube show, I’m not sure how much Carmilla will influence mainstream pop culture. Still, between its refreshing queer representation and how it’s shot as a video blog (therefore leaving many of the exciting events to the viewer’s imagination), Carmilla is worth watching and worth talking about.


6 thoughts on “Carmilla: A Glimmer of Hope in a Sea of “Bury Your Gays”

  1. Hi Taylor, I wondered if you might have some advice?: I have a friend whose girlfriend got pregnant by raping him and is now planning on getting an abortion.


    1. Hi Joseph,

      First, I think you should encourage your friend to look into resources for rape survivors. I’m not an expert, but I did a quick Google search and found this website for male survivors:

      I would advise that he seek out a professional who handles these types of situations to give him adequate support and counsel, including legal counsel. Any organization that helps rape survivors should have people who can help with medical or psychological needs.

      As for the girlfriend getting an abortion, I think that’s her decision and not something your friend should need to stress about. He should focus on his own recovery as he cannot control the actions or decisions of another person.

      Lastly, your friend should immediately break up with this girl if he hasn’t already. Nobody should be in a relationship with someone who cannot respect consent. He needs to remove himself from the situation so that it doesn’t happen again.

      One thing you can do as his friend is listen to him and encourage him to talk about what happened when/if he’s ready. Rape survivors face a lot of hostility in people not believing their stories, so it’s important that your friend surrounds himself with people who care about him and will listen to him. He should report it, but I understand why so many rape victims do not report and so he may not want to. That will be a delicate thing to balance–encouraging him to report while being there as a support in case he’s not believed yet also not forcing him to report.

      That’s the best advice I can give. I hope it helps.


  2. His girlfriend should have no right to get an abortion without his consent since she herself obviously did not care about consent when she violated his body.


    1. It does seem like an uncaring addition of insult to injury. If he feels very strongly about it, he should try to have that discussion with her if he feels comfortable even talking to her.

      It’s a delicate situation and not one that’s gonna come to any conclusion here in this comment thread.


  3. Once again, she is a RAPIST. There should be no discussion over whether or not she has any right to abort the child if the victim says no, or vice versa. Anything otherwise is a glaring contribution to rape culture.


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