It’s all too easy not to realise what you aren’t seeing. I grew up with stories about kind and helpful little girls who were neat and good. All of the wild adventurers of my childhood stories were boys. All of the pirates and scientists were boys. I could have done with knowing about Mary Read, and Mary Anning at the very least.
It’s still the case that the odds of finding a film or series with an all male cast is far higher than finding an all female cast in anything. I seek out authors from diverse backgrounds, but mainstream publishing remains so white and middle class and much of it doesn’t speak to me. There’s a lot more queer representation than there used to be, but I grew up with nothing on that score. I grew up not having the words for the person I was, and having no maps or stories for how to move through the world as me.
Things are improving. Female people get to actually do things in stories more of the time rather than just being victims, motivation sources and prizes. I have seen nonbinary representation. There’s precious little polyamorous content. What’s most lacking is the content that isn’t about the struggle of being different – so often what mainstream publishers want from diverse people is basically their story of what a hard time they’ve had being diverse – stories of racism, of prejudice, of coming out. Not stories where diverse people get to do interesting things while being themselves.
I see a lot of talk about this online from authors with all kinds of backgrounds who would like to write escapism and fantasy that comes from their own needs and preferences regarding fun things. It’s depressing not being allowed to do that, and not having those stories to read. Of course anyone who wants to write about their struggles should be supported in doing so, but that’s not what happens, often it’s the only thing people who are ‘diverse’ are allowed to write, and that’s so problematic in so many ways.