For 19-year-old Alec, from Malaysia, an anime called Stars Align had a tremendous impact on how they see themselves. In the show’s eighth episode, the character Yuu describes feeling out of place in the world. If Yuu had to pick a label for themselves, it would be nonbinary. “But it doesn’t feel right to be characterized like that,” Yuu says. The first time that Alec watched this scene (which flashes back to Yuu reading about LGBTQIA+ identities), they were overjoyed at the representation on screen. “When I started to think of my own gender identity, I found myself thinking back at that scene really often and finding myself relating to that scene,” Alec tells Teen Vogue.
In the scene, Yuu’s friend Maki tells the story of his friend who is a trans man, and the struggle he went through to live as his true self. “You can’t understand a pain of the heart you don’t feel,” Maki says, concluding that he must empathize with other people, and that he himself feels out of place just by living. “I relate to what Maki said in a sense, outside of gender identity and just life in general. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what’s the purpose of being here,” Alec says. Thinking back on this scene and with ample research, Alec realized that they are a non-binary demiboy.
Yuu’s acceptance of being nonbinary felt similar to Alec’s stage of questioning: “I was comfortable with my assigned sex, but at the same time I didn’t fully feel masculine, yet not quite feminine either.” Alec then realized that gender identity is something that’s personal to them, that they are not defined by anyone other than themself. “Especially in the nonbinary spectrum when I don’t strictly have to be neither and can be more masculine or feminine leaning.” Alec hopes that Stars Align can find a wider audience, to help others who might be questioning, to settle in the alignment of their own stars.
By the time that fans of British sci-fi series Doctor Who knew that Pearl Mackie’s upcoming companion, Bill Potts, would be a lesbian character, 24-year-old Dylan was already out as gay to his college friends. “She instantly had such a confident and unabashed manner about her,” they tell Teen Vogue over email. The character, who led the tenth revived series of the show alongside Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, exalted in her queerness as just a part of her everyday life. “Seeing this, I knew that I wanted to live my life exactly like she did.”
What resonated with Dylan is not so much a single scene, but the progression of Bill’s story across the season, which features less emotional turmoil surrounding her queerness, and more of her simply trying to finish a date with a woman without her time-traveling, face-changing, alien friend whisking her away for an adventure. These escapades were family appointment TV for Dylan and his mother and brother, the two people they hadn’t come out to yet.