"Do---do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely it is, how dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or... God, even studying! But I have to save the world. Again." - Buffy (The Vampire Slayer)
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was one of the smartest television series ever in the history of the world. Action. Pop culture. Occult thrills. Philosophy. Wit. Humor. It was complex and thoughtful and I watched it with religious devotion.
I would like to think that I loved Buffy because I'm smart, witty, and I possess that rare combination of depth and whimsy. I might have liked it because there is something erotic about vampirism. Maybe the youthful cast made me feel younger. But I suspect it was the character of Buffy herself that appealed to me the most.
Buffy was special. She was born different than other people, but she didn't discover who she really was and what it meant until she was in her late teens. She came to realize that her difference was powerful and the world was actually better because she embraced her truth. Her unique gifts were needed in the world and her courage in accepting her role in life improved the lives of others. And yet, some were afraid of her difference. Others hated her for her difference. She often felt the need to "hide" her gifts from those who might not understand. And, because she was different, she often felt lonely, misunderstood, and unappreciated.
Buffy was a queer character. She was not only odd by society's standards but her love interests were sometimes "forbidden" and her friends were also "queer." She fell in love with a vampire and had an affair with another. Her friends were a "watcher" (a sort of wizard/scholar), a couple of lesbian witches, a werewolf, and a non-corporeal energy field who was given human form and became her mystically adopted sister.
For all her differences and oddities, Buffy was strong, noble, courageous, smart and funny. She was an embodiment of what a gift being queer really is. She didn't choose what she was, but she embraced it and lived it with integrity, and the world was better off as a result. Every queer identified person could see their lives reflected in Buffy's, and the life they saw was one of power, dignity, and accomplishment. We need another Buffy. Or maybe we need to remember that Buffy was simply reminding us of our own truth.