Queerness, Tropes & Proof Of Love: Why Destiel Is Canon

Posted: April 1, 2015 in Critical Hit
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Warning: all the spoilers for Supernatural.

Eventually.

1.

Seen from the outside, love is always a matter of interpretation. Not just the question of its presence, but its nature and depth, its reciprocity and point (or points) of origin. There are, I would argue, as many kinds of love as there are people. Love isn’t static; it grows and changes, waxes and wanes and flourishes in unexpected hearts. To quote my favourite e.e. cummings poem:

and being here imprisoned,tortured here
love everywhere exploding maims and blinds
(but surely does not forget,perish, sleep
cannot be photographed,measured;disdains
the trivial labelling of punctual brains…

Human beings lie about love almost as frequently as we feel it. We lie about being in love – to ourselves, to others – for any number of reasons: because we’re malicious or ignorant; because we’re in denial; because we’re trying to survive or protect ourselves; because we can’t find better words for what we’re feeling; because we want it to be true; because we don’t.

As such, our stories reflect that fact. The observation that the course of true love never did run smooth was true before Shakespeare wrote it and will remain true long after we’ve forgotten he ever did, because when it comes to love, we’re all unreliable narrators. You can challenge the idea of love as presented in any story, because love means something different to everyone. As children,we learn that the fairytale princess always loves the prince, but as adults, we wonder if maybe Snow White simply traded one death for another; if the prince’s actual happily ever after didn’t have a beard and a barony.

Love is no less real for being unconsummated, unreturned, unexpressed, nor is it defined by the purity or rightness of its subjects. Loving someone no more precludes their abuse than excuses it; love can be toxic, suffocating, violent, insensible. Love’s best impulses don’t act as justifications for its worst, and yet we can feel both – do both, even – all at once, and never flinch from the contradiction, assuming we even recognise its presence.

In high school, my favourite history teacher once taught us about a Roman emperor who serially cheated on the wife he famously loved. A girl protested; how could he love her and cheat? Surely the two propositions were mutually exclusive. My teacher shook his head; it was more complex than that. The girl disagreed, as did several other students: being in love meant you didn’t do bad things. No, I said, he’s right. You can love someone and still hurt them. My classmates looked at me like I was a geek for agreeing with the teacher; the teacher looked at me sadly, like he knew how I knew, and wished I didn’t.

(I looked away.)

2.

Queerbaiting is a real problem.

Ideally, neither our culture nor our narratives should demand physical proof of queerness, as though a character’s sexual or romantic orientation is invalid unless actively demonstrated. The idea that our feelings don’t exist unless we’re seen to act on them not only puts aromantics and asexuals in the impossible position of having to prove a negative, but contributes to the same backwards reasoning that says bisexuality and pansexuality are incompatible with, even disproved by, monogamy; as though the act of choosing one person makes you fundamentally incapable of being attracted to someone of a different gender. Our sexuality is not confirmed according to whether we’ve acted on it: virginity is not the same as asexuality, having only had partners of one gender doesn’t preclude our attraction to those of another, and thinking we were straight at sixteen doesn’t mean we can’t identify as gay at sixty. Sexuality is a continuum, a spectrum and an exploration, and exactly as diverse and complex as we ourselves. Ideally, therefore, queer interpretations of narrative should be considered every bit as natural and normative as heterosexual ones, with the validity of neither said to hinge on whether or not, in that crassest behind-the-bikesheds whisper, the persons involved have done it yet.

However.

Pragmatically, there is still a wretched and unfair need for queer narratives to be made explicit in text; to bear a greater burden of narrative proof than their heterosexual counterparts, the better to normalise the idea that actually, we shouldn’t need to justify them at all. Let’s be real: was there anyone who watched the first four seasons of Castle or the first six seasons of Bones who doubted that Castle and Beckett, Booth and Brennan were into each other from the outset – or at the very least, who doubted that the audience was meant to infer their attraction? This is what tropes are for: they tell us the romance is there before the relevant parties ever act on it, so that if and when they do, it’s not a total shock to the audience.

But when the tropes come, and come, and come, and the action never does – when one kind of romance is inevitably confirmed, and another inevitably left as subtext, despite employing the same narrative devices – then what you get is queerbaiting, pure and simple, and whether it’s the result of malice, ignorance, creative dissonance, creative compromise, network/editorial pressure or a combination of all five, it still contributes to the erasure of queer narratives. Because while, ideally, we shouldn’t conflate love and romance with sex and physical intimacy – while we shouldn’t view the former as being any less real, or less narratively present, without the vindication of the latter, and especially not when romantic tropes are otherwise clearly in use – the present cultural default is so powerful and so omnipresent that, somewhat paradoxically, it’s only through demonstrative, explicit acts of queerness that we can hope to progress to a place where the absence of physical consummation in a given narrative isn’t due to erasure, but because the audience understands it to be an optional aspect of romance.

This kind of canon-endorsed subtextual validity is already normal for heterosexual pairings; extending it to everyone else, therefore, is not only fair, but optimal.

3.

Stories, like people, are subject to change.

On screen, the presence of unexpected chemistry between actors can lead the writers to incorporate new romantic options into future films or episodes, or to reconsider the implications of previous scenes in light of audience interpretation. Particularly in the current day and age, when the combination of social media platforms and the convention circuit allows for an unprecedented back and forth between fans and creators, external commentary has the power to influence future narrative choices.

Evolving a narrative doesn’t override the fact that, once upon a time, you were hostile to the very idea of change. You can take a story in new directions, but you can’t retcon your past intentions, and there is a very clear difference between, on the one hand, a creator wanting to make a queer romance textually explicit and being prohibited from doing so, and on the other, deciding on an endgame queer romance only after years of publicly denying that such a thing had any narrative traction whatsoever. A positive change in perspective, if and when it comes, should always be applauded as a progressive development, but that’s not the same as grating total amnesty for every prior offence. As with personal evolution, we should be capable of acknowledging that someone has changed without claiming either that they were perfect all along or that the change is invalidated by the very behaviour that precipitated it.

People, like stories, are subject to improvement.

It’s complicated, is what I’m saying. But somehow, we muddle through.

4.

With all that established, let’s talk about Supernatural.

Technically, Destiel – the relationship between Dean Winchester and the angel Castiel, which is arguably the most prominent queer ship in any modern fandom – isn’t held to be canon. Dean and Castiel haven’t kissed on screen and aren’t formally dating, and while romantic subtext has been a part of their interactions since Castiel’s introduction at the start of Season 4, the greater burden of proof that’s culturally expected of queer narratives says that their relationship must therefore be platonic until proven otherwise, where proof means physical/sexual intimacy. The issue has been further muddied by the fact that there are clear differences of opinion on the subject among the show’s cast and creators: some object to it outright, some acknowledge the textual basis for the interpretation without supporting it as a canonical option, some are on the fence, and some are openly in favour of it.

And then, too, there’s the issue of the characters themselves, whose particular complexities only serve to make Destiel an even more fascinating case study. Castiel is an angel occupying the body of a human man. His ‘true form’, we’re told, is ‘about the size of your Chrysler building’, and angels in their original state are described as ‘junkless’, with Castiel describing himself at one point as ‘a wavelength of celestial intent’. By his own admission, Castiel is ‘indifferent to sexual orientation’, and within the show, he has – like the angel Raphael – inhabited both male and female vessels. Castiel is also shown to be capable of feeing sexual attraction, though when he first appears, he’s canonically virginal, to the point of being confused by his body’s reaction to watching pornography. But while Castiel has demonstrated both romantic and sexual attraction to a number of women – as an angel, we see him kiss a demon (Meg) and an angel (Hannah); as a human, he sleeps with a Reaper (April) and tries to date his human employer (Nora); and in the alternate future of the Endverse, he’s depicted as sexual to the point of hedonism, organising regular orgies – we’ve never seen him physically involved with a man.

But over and over again, it’s also stated, not just that Castiel loves Dean Winchester, but that he’s in love with him – and Dean knows this, a fact which, as of Season 10, has been confirmed both canonically and by writer Robert Berens. It’s worth taking a moment to examine the progression of Castiel’s feelings, the better to show how unequivocally and consistently they’re presented in Seasons 4 through 10. Whatever accusations of queerbaiting can be fairly levelled at Supernatural, and regardless of whether the original intention was always to present Castiel as someone romantically in love with Dean, on the basis of the evidence, it’s difficult – if not impossible – to deny that this is, in fact, a perfectly valid interpretation of canon:

Castiel - Gripped You Tight

Destiel - Shoulder Touch

Uriel - Castiel Likes You

Castiel - I did it all for you

Destiel - Shoulder Touch 1

Castiel - I Gave Everything For You

Castiel - And This Is What You Give Me

Stench Of That Impala

Castiel - Too Close To The Humans In My Charge

Castiel - Yearning

The One In The Trenchcoat Who's In Love With You

Castiel - I Always Come Whe You Call

Castiel - Redeem Myself

 

 

Emmanuel

Castiel - S7

 

He Was Your Boyfriend First

Metatron - Save Dean Winchester

 

Castiel is an angel; for Dean’s sake, he disobeys Heaven. He loses his wings. He literally falls, and if you can think of a more powerful narrative declaration of love than that of an angel falling for a human, with all the metaphoric and mythological resonance that entails, I’d be interested to hear it. The fact that Castiel loves Dean is repeatedly affirmed in canon, not just through inference, but direct, unequivocal statements. In Season 6, Balthazar describes Castiel to Dean as ‘the one in the dirty trenchcoat who’s in love with you;’ in Season 9, Metatron states that Castiel’s goal was ‘to save Dean Winchester’, reiterates that his plan was ‘all about saving one human’ and then concludes that Castiel is ‘in love… with humanity;’ and in Season 10, Dean refers to Sam and Castiel as ‘the people who love me’. Castiel loves Dean, and Dean knows it: that’s indisputable.

With Castiel’s feelings thus confirmed, the obvious point of contention is whether or not Dean feels the same way. The argument that Dean Winchester is canonically bisexual is one that’s had traction in the fandom since Season 1, long before Castiel appeared on the scene, in part because the Winchester brothers being mistaken for boyfriends was an early running gag – so early, in fact, that in Dean’s case, the ‘joke’ about him being sexually interested in men is made several episodes before he’s ever shown to be romantically involved with a woman. (Sam, by contrast, starts the show in a heterosexual relationship.) In fact, Supernatural’s creator, Eric Kripke, has stated that the brothers are named after Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, the protagonists of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, whose structure and themes are also incorporated into the show’s mythology; but Dean Moriarty was, in reality, Kerouac’s friend Neal Cassady, a bisexual man who was both a womaniser and involved over many years with Alan Ginsberg. (The fact that Castiel is also based on another canonically bisexual man, Hellblazer’s John Constantine, is of similar relevance; Kripke created Castiel in Constantine’s image after he was unable to obtain permission to use DC’s character.)

This being so, the fact that Dean Winchester is frequently portrayed as a ladies’ man is hardly proof of his disinterest in men, and especially not when you consider the character’s origins. Fascinatingly, in a 2008 interview – which dates to the second half of Season 3, and therefore prior to Castiel’s introduction – actor Jensen Ackles said of his character:

Dean’s a bit of a pool shark and also a bit of a gambler.  It doesn’t really show it all the time, but it’s definitely implied that there are poker games and pool matches that they can win some money on.  And who knows?  Dean’s a promiscuous kind of guy.  Who knows how he drums up the funds that they use?

The implication being that Dean has, perhaps, prostituted himself from time to time; and while this isn’t quite Word of God, it’s nonetheless pertinent to the question of Dean’s character, partly because Ackles mentions it as a possible consequence of Dean’s promiscuity, and therefore his of sexuality, rather than describing it as something that might happen for purely financial reasons; but also because, given the dive bars, truck stops and seedy environments frequented by the characters, the overwhelming likelihood is that, if Dean Winchester were to sell himself, it would most likely be to men. All of which is, of course, completely hypothetical; and yet it remains highly relevant, because for all the years of queerbaiting, avoidance and public backpeddling on the subject of Dean’s (bi)sexuality as engaged in by certain of the cast and writers – some of whom have subsequently left the show, changed their position or been told outright to avoid discussing the issue – it seems clear that, even in the early days, the question must have occurred more than once, and to more than one person, without ever being adequately resolved.

It doesn’t take over a decade of creative disagreement to resolve a non-issue, for the pure and simple reason that, if there was no issue, there’d be nothing to address. Which begs the question: if a character can be convincingly argued to be bisexual on the basis of the canon, is proof of consummation really required to make that analysis valid? In the real world, a bisexual man who has only ever been involved with women is no less bisexual than someone who’s slept with people of different genders. That being so, if we assert that Dean Winchester can’t be bisexual unless we see him actually kiss a man, we’re effectively arguing that sexual orientation is contingent on physical consummation – and that is reductive bullshit.

Yet at the same time, there’s an understandable need to distinguish between the literal limits of canon, and valid interpretations of same. Thus: if it’s unreasonable to argue that physical consummation is the only means of proving someone’s sexuality within a narrative (straight characters, after all, are routinely assumed to be straight even when their sexuality is never explicitly labelled as such – even when we never see them romantically involved with another person – because heterosexuality is such an implied cultural default that we consider it to go without saying), then what’s the actual burden of proof? What needs to happen – or what might have happened already – in order for us to say that Dean Winchester is canonically bisexual?

In 4.14 ‘Sex and Violence’, Dean and Sam encounter a siren: a creature who attracts men by turning into, in Dean’s words, ‘whatever floats the guy’s boat’. For all the original victims, this meant women with whom they eventually developed a sexual relationship; but when the siren approaches Dean, it does so in the guise of Nick Monroe, a male FBI agent who shares Dean’s taste in classic rock and classic cars. ‘I gave him what he needed,’ the siren tells Sam, ‘And it wasn’t some bitch in a G-string. It was you. A little brother that looked up to him, that he could trust. And now he loves me.’ That being so, while ‘Nick’ might be borrowing from Sam in terms of Dean’s emotional needs, that doesn’t change the underlying sexuality of siren mythology, in which they represent the fulfilment of a romantic/sexual fantasy. When the siren similarly enthrals Sam, asks the brothers to fight and says that ‘whoever survives can be with me forever,’ it’s not a platonic promise. Sam’s own research describes the siren as a ‘beautiful creature’ capable of ‘enticing’ men with their ‘allure’: at every turn, the language speaks to sexuality and desire, and given that Supernatural’s canon involves multiple instances of Sam and Dean being mistaken for a gay couple on the basis of their interactions, having the siren exploit their fraught relationship dynamic as a means of seducing Dean is not only in keeping with the character’s preferences, but a move with ample narrative precedent.

In 5.8 ‘Changing Channels’, Dean and Sam are trapped by the Trickster, aka Gabriel, in a series of TV shows – one of which, Dr Sexy MD, a clear parody of Grey’s Anatomy, is something Dean watches as ‘a guilty pleasure’. However, while Dean tries to downplay his affection for the show, he’s clearly enough of a fan to not only identify the primary characters and explain their respective backstories to Sam, but his intimate knowledge of the lead character’s physical appearance is what ultimately reveals the Trickster’s presence. Gabriel, disguised as Dr Sexy, is wearing tennis shoes, an incongruous detail that prompts Dean to challenge him. ‘I swore,’ he says, ‘that part of what makes Dr Sexy sexy is the fact that he wears cowboy boots.’ This, then, is a direct admission from Dean that he finds another man sexually attractive; and not only does he cop to finding the character sexy, but meeting him in person renders him visibly flustered.

Dr Sexy

Dean - Flustered By Dr Sexy

 

In 8.13 ‘Everybody Hates Hitler’, Dean is canvassing for a case in a university bar when he becomes suspicious of a man he suspects of tailing him. Irritated, Dean approaches in his fake FBI guise and asks why he’s being followed; the man, Aaron, replies that ‘I thought we had a thing back at the quad, you know – a little “eye magic” moment’, which results in Dean being, once more, flustered. ‘Yeah. Uh, okay,’ he replies, ‘but no – uh, no moment. This is a… federal investigation.’ A few scenes later, it’s revealed that Aaron really was following Dean, and only pretended to hit on him as a diversionary tactic – but while Dean doesn’t know this in the moment, as a point of analysis, it’s relevant to interpreting their reactions at the bar. Because when Aaron responds to Dean’s apparent FBI status by saying, coyly, ‘Is that supposed to make you less interesting?’, Dean’s expression lifts, as though he’s genuinely interested – while Aaron, who clearly didn’t expect his gambit to go anywhere, starts to look out of his depth.

Aaron - Less Interesting

Dean and Aaron

By the time Dean leaves the bar, he’s so distracted that he stutters his goodbye to Aaron, walking backwards and bumping into a table. Later, however, when Aaron reappears and reveals that he really was tailing Dean after all, Dean’s reaction is hardly disaffected. ‘So, wait,’ he says. ‘What you’re saying is that you and me – we, uh, didn’t have a moment?’ When Aaron replies in the negative, Dean looks disappointed; he remarks to Sam that ‘he was my gay thing’ – a callback to his earlier description of their encounter – then tells Aaron, ‘It was really good. You really had me there. It was very smooth.’ Dean was both flustered and flattered by what he thought was a genuine attempt to pick him up; enough so that having Aaron’s actual disinterest revealed was a let-down.

Dean - Flustered By Aaron

Dean - He Was My Gay Thing

 

It’s also relevant that, in the DVD commentary for this episode, writers Ben Edlund and Phil Scgriccia explicitly acknowledge the romantic aspects of the encounter:

Ben Edlund: Well, that’s the weird thing is that it reads in this weird way where it does feel like Dean’s a little bit like—It’s almost like a romantic comedy kind of fluster. Which is very interesting for the character Dean, because it just sort of suggests this weird [laughs] this potential.

Phil Sgriccia: [laughs] This potential for love in all places.

Ben Edlund: Oh, Aaron and Dean, they could come together. He’s had a rough life. He’s a hard character to, to, you know. To settle down with.

This is, I would argue, Word of God confirmation of Dean’s bisexuality. Dean has the ‘potential’ to date men; the scene plays like a ‘romantic comedy’; he and Aaron ‘could come together’. Taken in isolation, both the scene and the remarks of the writers would still read as definitive, but in combination with the events of 4.14 and 5.8 in particular, it seems incontrovertible that Dean Winchester is canonically bisexual. He might not always be comfortable with that fact – an uncertainty that’s wholly in keeping with his characterisation – but after ten seasons, that it is a fact seems no longer up for debate. There is more than sufficient evidence that Dean is attracted to men, and to argue that it somehow doesn’t count because we haven’t actually seen him kiss anyone is a fundamental erasure of the fact that someone’s sexual orientation isn’t contingent on their performance of it.

Which brings us back to the ultimate question: given that Dean is bisexual, and given his awareness of the fact that Castiel loves him, does Dean also love Cas? And if their affections are mutual – and if both of them are cognisant of this fact – then can we successfully argue that Destiel is canon, on the not unreasonable basis that relationships neither begin nor end with physical intimacy? And if so, then how is their romance supported by the presence of tropes in the text?

In 1.12 ‘Faith’, we learn that Dean believes in evil, but not in good, a dissonance which surprises Sam. Their subsequent exchange is one of the most powerful – and prescient – in the entire show:

Sam: Maybe it’s time to have a little faith, Dean.

Dean: You know what I’ve got faith in? Reality. Knowing what’s really going on.

Sam: How can you be a sceptic? With the things we see every day?

Dean: Exactly. We see them, we know there real.

Sam: But if you know evil’s out there, how can you not believe good’s out there, too?

Dean: Because I’ve seen what evil does to good people.

Similarly, in 2.12 ‘Houses of the Holy’, we learn that Dean doesn’t believe in angels – an irony of foreshadowing, given the events of Season 4 onwards. Once again, his scepticism surprises Sam, and the ensuing conversation neatly mirrors their exchange in 1.12:

Dean: I’m just saying, man, there’s just some legends that you just, you file under “bullcrap”.

Sam: And you’ve got angels on the bullcrap list. 

Dean: Yep.

Sam: Why?

Dean: Because I’ve never seen one. 

Sam: So what?

Dean: So I believe in what I can see.

Sam: Dean! You and I have seen things that most people couldn’t even dream about. 

Dean: Exactly. With our own eyes. That’s hard proof, okay? But in all this time I have never seen anything that looks like an angel. And don’t you think that if they existed that we would have crossed paths with them? Or at least know someone that crossed paths with them? No. This is a, a demon or a spirit.

Dean doesn’t believe in a higher, benevolent power, because his daily experience of the world’s brutalities makes such a faith impossible. He’s also fiercely self-hating, though he goes to great lengths to pretend otherwise, to the point where we often learn more about Dean’s internal life through monsters who access his thoughts than we do from Dean himself. In 1.6 ‘ Skin’, for instance, a shapeshifter wearing Dean’s body – and who therefore has intimate knowledge of his personality, memories and feelings – sums Dean up by saying, on his behalf, ‘Me? I know I’m a freak. And sooner or later, everybody’s gonna leave me.’ Later, in 3.10 ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’, Dean is stuck talking to his nightmare-self, who first taunts him – ‘I know how dead you are inside. How worthless you feel… Daddy’s blunt little instrument. Your own father didn’t care whether you lived or died. Why should you?’  – and then turns into a demon, warning him that ‘You’re gonna die. And this? This is what you’re going to become.’ 

Having sold his soul to save his brother, Dean dies at the end of Season 3 and goes to Hell – and then, at the start of 4.1 ‘Lazarus Rising’, he’s rescued by Castiel, waking in his grave with an angelic handprint branded onto his shoulder. Not that Dean knows it at the time; he spends the whole episode trying to find out who brought him back, and when Castiel finally shows up – sparks literally flying; his first appearance makes lightbulbs explode – Dean Winchester, who doesn’t believe in angels or a greater good, is suddenly confronted by one of the former who saved him for the latter, and who recognises his self-hatred without for a minute accepting it:

Castiel: I’m an Angel of the Lord.

Dean: Get the hell out of here. There’s no such thing.

Castiel: This is your problem, Dean. You have no faith…

Dean: Well, I’m not buying what you’re selling, so who are you really?

Castiel: I told you.

Dean: Right. And why would an angel rescue me from Hell?

Castiel: Good things do happen, Dean.

Dean: Not in my experience.

Castiel: What’s the matter? You don’t think you deserve to be saved?

Castiel - What's The Matter

Castiel - You Don't Think You Deserve To Be Saved

Up until this point, Dean’s deepest insecurities have been mostly voiced by monsters: demons and nightmares who fling his self-hatred in his face, weaponising his thoughts. But Castiel does the opposite: in one conversation, he goes straight to the root of everything Dean loathes about himself and summarily upends it. You don’t think you’re worthy of salvation; and yet, I saved you, because you are. And while Dean doesn’t instantly accept it – ‘If there is a God out there, why would he give a crap about me?’, he asks in the next episode – that doesn’t detract from the significance of Castiel’s actions.

Though Dean is constantly at odds with Heaven’s plans for him, his connection to Castiel continues to develop, changing into something more than platonic affection. In 5.3 ‘Free To Be You And Me,’ during a particularly tense conversation, Dean says, ‘So, what, I’m Thelma and you’re Louise and we’re just going to hold hands and sail off this cliff together?’ – a reference to the fact that the women then share a kiss, and whose inference is emphasised, rather than diminished, by Dean’s body language.

Thelma - 1Thelma - 2

Thelma - 3

 

By Season 6, it’s Castiel’s love for Dean – specifically, his desire to let him live a human life, rather than dragging him back into angelic politics – that ultimately causes him to commit an act of gross betrayal, colluding with Crowley and opening the gate to Purgatory, releasing the Leviathans back into the world. When this leads to Castiel’s death – or appears to, at least – we see Dean collecting Castiel’s bloody trenchcoat, the only remaining piece of him, and keeping it.

Dean - with the trenchcoat

 

Romantic symbolism aside, this happens at a time when Dean’s regular car, the Impala, soon becomes too conspicuous for regular use, and has to be exchanged for a series of different vehicles. So when, some fifteen episodes later, Castiel finally reappears, an amnesiac living as faith healer under the name Emmanuel, and Dean still has the coat to hand – kept neatly laundered and folded in the trunk of his car – we know that he’s been carrying it with him, swapping it into each new vehicle, either as a talisman or in the hope that Castiel would return. Though not explicitly romantic, this is clearly a loving gesture, one which is neatly paralleled by Dean carrying Bobby’s hip flask after his death. In both cases, the object has sentimental value, representing Dean’s strong attachment to the original owner; and just as Bobby’s ghost returns to help him, tied to the flask, so does the coat contribute to the restoration of Castiel’s sense of self.

At the end of the season, Dean and Castiel end up trapped and separated in Purgatory, with Dean’s quest to find Castiel told in flashbacks throughout the start of Season 8. It’s at this point, I would argue, that Dean’s feelings begin to take on an overtly romantic dimension. He prays to Castiel ‘every night’ in Purgatory, and when he finally tracks him down through a literal world of monsters, his joy and relief are palpable.

Dean - Where's The Angel

Purgatory Hug

Purgatory Hug 2 Purgatory Hug 3

 

Castiel, we learn, is being hunted by Leviathans; he stayed away from Dean in an attempt to keep him safe. Dean, however, point-blank refuses to leave Purgatory without Castiel.

Dean - Eye Of The Needle Dean - Nobody Gets Left Behind Dean - Not Leaving Here Without You   

But when Castiel stays behind anyway – a deliberate decision on his part, in penance for his previous actions – Dean is so distressed, he distorts his own memories of the event. Unable to believe that Castiel stayed by choice, he mentally reframes his abandonment as the result of Castiel giving up, yet simultaneously berates himself for having failed. That he then starts to see Castiel – a side-effect of Cas’s impending return by angelic means – is something he explains to himself as a consequence of grief and guilt, much like Sam hallucinating his girlfriend, Jess, directly after her death. As such, when Castiel finally reappears in 8.7 ‘A Little Slice of Kevin’, Dean’s yells at Cas for staying behind and, in the process, reveals his true feelings: ‘Look, I don’t need to feel like hell for failing you, okay? For failing you like I’ve failed every other godforsaken thing that I care about! I don’t need it!’   

At first glance, this seems a fairly poor declaration of love; and yet, I’d argue, that’s exactly what it is. Canonically, Dean has said the words ‘I love you’ exactly once: in 5.16 ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, where he relives a memory of talking to his mother as a four-year-old (‘It’s okay, Mom. Dad still loves you. I love you, too. I’ll never leave you.’). Otherwise, it’s something he only ever expresses obliquely, like in 2.20 ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’, when dream-Mary says she loves him, and Dean replies, ‘Me, too.’ He also expresses the sentiment through references, as in 8.20 ‘Pac Man Fever’, when Charlie Bradbury says ‘I love you’ and Dean, in a clear evocation of Han Solo’s famous line, responds with, ‘I know.’

Because Dean Winchester, as we well know by now, is not only self-hating, but actively feels responsible for every bad thing that happens to his loved ones. In fact, he even says this explicitly in 2.22 ‘All Hell Breaks Loose: Part Two’, while blaming himself for Sam’s death: ‘I guess that’s what I do. I let down the people I love.’

Dean - I Let Down The People That I Love

So when Dean says that he’s failed Castiel ‘like I’ve failed every other godforsaken thing that I care about’, that’s not an idle statement. It’s a direct reference to the fact that Dean thinks loving someone predestines him to let them down. The logic runs in a loop: he loves Cas, therefore he failed him; he failed Cas, therefore he loves him. The one is proof of the other.

Dea - For Failing You

By 8.17 ‘Goodbye Stranger’, Castiel has been reprogrammed by Naomi and the other angels, undergoing specific training to make him capable of killing Dean. The two of them argue over the angel tablet, and even as he fights Naomi’s control, Castiel beats Dean bloody – at which point, Dean echoes something he said to Castiel in Purgatory, a declaration strong enough to break through his conditioning and bring him back: I need you.

Dean - I Need You (Purgatory)

Dean - I Need You

Crucially, the line in 8.17 was originally written as ‘I love you’, and even with the change in the final product, the emotional resonance remains. The significance of this particular scene, however, is a twofold catharsis, and one that directly parallel’s Castiel’s original rescue of Dean. In 8.7, when Castiel sets Dean straight about how and why he was left behind in Purgatory, they have an exchange that eerily mirrors their initial conversation in 4.1, but with the roles reversed: this time, it’s Dean who’s trying to save Castiel, and Castiel asserting the impossibility of the act:

Castiel: I pulled away. Nothing you could have done would have saved me, because I didn’t want to be saved.

Dean: What the hell are you talking about?

Castiel: It’s where I belonged. I needed to do penance. After the things I did on earth and in heaven, I didn’t deserve to be out. And I saw that clearly when I was there. I… I planned to stay all along. I just didn’t know how to tell you. You can’t save everyone, my friend… though, you try.

It was Naomi, not Dean, who rescued Castiel from Purgatory; but it was Dean who rescued him from Naomi’s control, which was the greater danger.

Dean Winchester says I love you in many ways, and this is one of them.

5.

Seen from the outside, love is always a matter of interpretation. Not just the question of its presence, but its nature and depth, its reciprocity and point (or points) of origin. If the audience can reasonably doubt the sincerity of a character who professes their love overtly, but whose actions say otherwise, then by the same token, we may also claim the existence of a love that’s never formally professed, but which is nonetheless demonstrated.

Canonically, Castiel loves Dean Winchester. Canonically, Dean Winchester is bisexual. Canonically, Dean Winchester knows that Castiel loves him. Canonically, Dean Winchester cares for Castiel, and blames himself for failing him. Canonically, Dean Winchester defines himself as someone who fails the ones he loves.

Canonically, Dean Winchester loves Castiel.

Destiel is canon.

This doesn’t mean that Supernatural isn’t guilty of queerbaiting, or that Destiel is by any means a slam dunk for queer representation in narrative. Ideally, I shouldn’t have to rummage through gifset after gifset, script after script, to prove the validity of a relationship which, had it been identically constructed between straight characters, would long since have been accepted as obvious, even without any physical consummation. In fact, returning to the heterosexual pairings mentioned earlier – Castle/Beckett and Booth/Brennan – it’s interesting to note that both those couples kissed on screen long before their relationships were ever considered official; Castle/Beckett as part of an undercover disguise, and Booth/Brennan at a coworker’s dare. In both instances, while kissing was deemed proof of mutual attraction, it didn’t cement their relationships; and why would it? Love is a separate thing to physical intimacy, and kissing does not a couple make. A Destiel kiss would demonstrate the presence of physical attraction – and it would certainly go a long way towards offering visual confirmation of queerness in the narrative – but it wouldn’t be the thing that proves the characters are in love.

In discussing whether ships are canon or not, fandom has an understandable tendency to want tangible evidence: something to which we can point, without fear of contradiction, as proof of a pairing’s validity. Queer relationships are grossly underrepresented on screen, yet queerbaiting abounds, and as such, we place a premium – necessarily so, for the sake of both visibility and progress – on physical displays of affection, conventional declarations of Official Togetherness and explicit textual labelling as means of proving that certain relationships exist, and that the characters subscribe to speific orientations. But we cannot make this the be-all, end-all of the dialogue, not only because some relationships and orientations are always going to defy conventional labelling, but because this materially erases the possibility of asexual, non-physical or slow burn relationships while simultaneously reinforcing the idea that you’re not ‘really’ dating someone unless you’ve kissed, or fucked, or met some other arbitrary benchmark for physical intimacy that has no meaningful relevance to how you feel about someone, except that it makes the observer feel more comfortable in their judgement.

We aren’t wrong to want visible representation, nor are we wrong to loudly decry the hypocritical prevarications, circumlocutions and general pigheadedness of creators who, when asked directly, neither admit nor deny the sexual complexity of their characters, but who instead take the queerbaiting middle path of implying-without-saying and pat themselves on the backs for doing even that much. But at present, the general fandom conception of what constitutes a canon relationship is woefully oversimplified, juvenile in its obsession with have they kissed and are they going steady. Critical analysis is about building a case on the basis of the evidence and arguing it successfully, which – I hasten to point out – isn’t the same thing as silencing all disagreement: the fact that someone might make a coherent case for different versions of the same narrative doesn’t mean their logic is flawed, but rather than the text supports multiple interpretations with equal validity (which is often a hallmark of a good story). Canon isn’t only the fixed facts of the narrative, but the process by which we interpret them, and when we forget that, we risk diminishing the story, making it static rather than fluid, freezing it in carbonite, alive but dead.

Destiel is canon because it’s a conclusion that can be logically drawn on the basis of the evidence. That doesn’t make it the only possible conclusion, but it does mean it’s a valid one. Creative intent can certainly be used to support a textual interpretation, as per Word of God comments, but just as the audience can (for instance) reasonably assert the presence of racism in a narrative whose creators swear blind they never intended any such thing, so too can we reasonably assert the presence of a relationship which, while not expressly confirmed as such, is nonetheless consistently demonstrated. Yes, we need to continue demanding more and better unambiguous representation; yes, we need to continue to call out queerbaiting; and dear god, yes, does Supernatural ever have some problems.

But Destiel is a valid canonical interpretation of the show and its characters, and while there are other interpretations to be had – even contradictory ones – that doesn’t make it anything less than legitimate.

So there.

Cas-Jimmy - Understatement

Comments
  1. lkeke35 says:

    For the longest time, I’ve been deeply impatient with Destiel shippers for their stridency in claiming it as canon. I’m not against Dean being Bi or being in love with Castiel , I just wasn’t seeing it. This post goes a long way to helping me understand just exactly what it is they’re seeing (so many of them don’t back up any of their claims with evidence from the show,either. Just a lot of attitude.)

    That said, I don’t require that the characters be physically intimate, to conclude they love each other. What I do require is that we not have to comb through ten years of dialogue to determine that. For me, it’s the obtuseness of the creators and cast that I find so frustrating, because you’re right. If it were a relationship between a man and a woman, we’d know within a few episodes of the characters having met, whether or not one was going to develop.

  2. New plan. Abandon meta writing. Wait for Foz to write what I think but better, more eloquently and in greater detail.

  3. luvtheheaven says:

    You say,

    But over and over again, it’s also stated, not just that Castiel loves Dean Winchester, but that he’s in love with him – and Dean knows this, a fact which, as of Season 10, has been confirmed both canonically and by writer Robert Berens.

    But your link to what confirms it both canonically and by the writer is only about love, not the state of being “in love” – it’s about the type of love Sam has for Dean too, platonic (non-sexual and non-romantic) brotherly love, and Castiel’s is deemed equivalent to that.😛

    Am I missing something here? I’m not someone who actually watches Supernatural, so my frame of reference for this post of yours is a bit… limited. FYI.

    I’m going to read the rest of the post now. I stopped there to mention that.

    • luvtheheaven says:

      So only that one gif with “in love” actually mentioned feels like that particular point is confirmed in canon. As you said.

      In Season 6, Balthazar describes Castiel to Dean as ‘the one in the dirty trenchcoat who’s in love with you;’

      Anyway…

      I really like this paragraph of yours:

      Thus: if it’s unreasonable to argue that physical consummation is the only means of proving someone’s sexuality within a narrative (straight characters, after all, are routinely assumed to be straight even when their sexuality is never explicitly labelled as such – even when we never see them romantically involved with another person – because heterosexuality is such an implied cultural default that we consider it to go without saying), then what’s the actual burden of proof? What needs to happen – or what might have happened already – in order for us to say that Dean Winchester is canonically bisexual?

      It makes me think of this collaboration fanvideo I hosted & participated in last year about bisexual and pansexual characters on various TV series. When people were choosing which characters they wanted to vid (edit) in the video, as host I had to decide who “counted” and who “didn’t count” as bisexual or pansexual. So many characters don’t ever use the actual word to describe themselves, but are still commonly interpreted as bi. So ultimately, I decided that if a female character actually said in canon, “I’m a lesbian”, that any relationships with men she had prior to that point on the show are irrelevant. This works for characters like Willow on BtVS (I think, I’ve never seen Buffy, but I’ve heard the details), Santana on Glee, etc. The same would be true now for Connor (a male character) on The Fosters. Despite many people interpreting and hoping he was bi, seeing him relationship with a female character (Daria) as something he seemed into… since in the canon he’s explicitly used the word “gay” now, I didn’t want to allow him into our bisexual characters collab. I wanted to reserve the collaboration fanvid for characters who don’t explicitly reject bisexuality by using a different label instead. Characters who don’t label themselves – or whose writers don’t label them – I allowed, as long as they had some kind of explicit “proof” of being into people of multiple genders. Proof being kisses, declarations of explicitly romantic feelings, etc. We ended up including quite a few characters who other people might not interpret as bi or pan, but who we thought were close enough to being canonically bisexual or pansexual.

      No one asked me about Dean or Castiel on Supernatural for that collab, and as I don’t watch the series, it didn’t cross my mind much. No one asked me about Stiles on Teen Wolf as another popularly headcanoned as bi character either. I don’t know if I would’ve allowed them or not. Probably not, for the sake of trying to reserve all of the spots in the collab for canonically bi characters, and thinking those men were not canonically bi “enough” yet. That maybe your headcanon is valid, but… but there wasn’t enough proof? But now, I’m thinking maybe that would’ve an unfair burden to put on the shows… a type of bi-erasure in and of itself? Maybe? I’m not sure.

  4. luvtheheaven says:

    I love those explanations of some of the moments in canon that all but explicitly confirm Dean’s attraction to men. 5×08’s and 8×13’s both really amuse me, especially with the gifs to illustrate the point.

    This section:

    He might not always be comfortable with that fact – an uncertainty that’s wholly in keeping with his characterisation – but after ten seasons, that it is a fact seems no longer up for debate. There is more than sufficient evidence that Dean is attracted to men, and to argue that it somehow doesn’t count because we haven’t actually seen him kiss anyone is a fundamental erasure of the fact that someone’s sexual orientation isn’t contingent on their performance of it.

    is amazing. You have convinced me that Dean is canonically a bisexual man, with this long essay of yours. Again, I don’t watch the show. I saw a couple episodes and have seen a lot of random fandom stuff about the show, but most of this is brand new to me, and so fascinating and enlightening.

    Also this quote, which you kind of bookended this long meta piece with, at both the beginning and near the end…:

    Love is always a matter of interpretation. Not just the question of its presence, but its nature and depth, its reciprocity and point (or points) of origin.

    I mean, I have a lot of complicated thoughts about this stuff. As an asexual and possibly aromantic person myself, who identifies as wtfromantic and is capable of caring deeply about other people without being sure if my feelings are romantic or just intense friendship love… this whole conversation fascinates me. You linked to a Daily Dot article, which includes the quote:

    As Tumblr user spookyfangirlspookynovel put it, “woah woah woah guys I ship them so hard but there’s still a hella difference between ‘i love you’ and ‘I’m in love with you’.”

    There’s just so much to unpack here, to contemplate, to wonder. A part of me wonders, does it really matter? Whether or not Dean and Castiel feel sexual attraction for each other, if they never choose to have sex, what difference does it make what they feel? But of course, it does make a huge difference. It makes a difference in the story being told on the screen and whether anything is unrequited, what “untapped potential” is there, and so much else. And the romantic attraction side of it too – clearly they love each other deeply, even people who are very firm in their beliefs that both characters are heterosexual men with no chance of ever being attracted in a romantic or sexual way to another man accept that they love each other, are intensely important people in each other’s lives, etc. It’s just… what the nature of the love is, that is in question. And the truth is, the nature of the love matters a lot, to a lot of bisexual and homosexual people in the world (and biromantic asexuals, etc, etc). It’s a big deal to acknowledge that their love is different than a super-close-friendship or family bond. That it is romantic in nature. If the show confirmed it in canon, it’d be amazing queer representation in media – prime time TV shows still all too rarely have bisexual protagonists, after all. And it is such a complicated issue, truly.

    Btw, here:

    In fact, returning to the heterosexual pairings mentioned earlier – Castle/Beckett and Booth/Brennan – it’s interesting to note that both those couples kissed on screen long before their relationships were ever considered official; Castle/Beckett as part of an undercover disguise, and Booth/Brennan at a coworker’s dare. In both instances, while kissing was deemed proof of mutual attraction…

    I think it’s odd the dare thing is really deemed “proof” of mutual attraction… but I guess it’s the way the characters lingered in the kisses, right? It’s the way the characters seemed to enjoy kissing the other that made both examples proof that despite Beckett denying attraction to Castle from day one, she likes him, etc. I watch both Bones and Castle, and it’s just fascinating to think about. I think what’s more interesting is when there are male/female friendships between two characters who are presumably straight (heteronormativity helps that long), yet the majority of fandom doesn’t ship them, and the creators don’t want you to be rooting for them romantically. Especially when the characters are close friends, and are both white (because often non-white characters are treated differently, unfortunately, and it seems less common for a fandom or showrunner to consider the non-white character as an option of a romantic partner for a main character of a different race). I find it really interesting to see how that happens, how that works out, how a majority people can ignore the When Harry Met Sally rule of (straight) men and (straight) women being unable to be friends, if only the fictional narrative or the actors play it just right. If people can really view the chemistry between actors as caring and affectionate, but in a strictly non-sexual and non-romantic way, that is impressive and unusual, honestly!!😛

    But for these male characters, Dean and Castiel… it is so much more complicated.

    To me, as a maybe-aromantic asexual person, there is a part of me that might have, if I watched Supernatural, clung as hard as I could to the idea of Dean & Castiel’s love being non-romantic. I’m not sure. If that was the case, when you say:

    A Destiel kiss would demonstrate the presence of physical attraction – and it would certainly go a long way towards offering visual confirmation of queerness in the narrative – but it wouldn’t be the thing that proves the characters are in love.

    I… would have to disagree. Because all we know is that they love each other, and what the kiss would do is say “oh, it has been or has become *that* kind of love”. OR I could make things incredibly complicated in my headcanon and say they might still have non-romantic love feelings for each other, even if they do have physical attraction for one another – someone can be aromantic or heteroromantic yet bisexual, and there is such a thing as a friends-with-benefits relationship, lol… but for most people, an emotional kiss would signify both sexual and romantic attraction being confirmed, which is DIFFERENT, in my opinion, from the canonical love we know they have for one another, which could still be fairly interpreted by some people as non-romantic.

    Anyway… this was an EPIC meta you wrote here, and obviously it sparked a lot of thinking from me. I love that you wrote this, and have now been quite convinced that saying “Destiel is canon” actually makes more sense than I thought.😉 That this is one valid interpretation of the show, for sure. And wow you have supported your claim and brought up some really important ideas about representation and stuff in the process.

    Thank you for writing this.

  5. Lurkertype says:

    I don’t think Dean (possibly) selling himself for money makes him bi, though. It makes him broke and desperate for quick cash (and not homophobic). If truck drivers were predominantly female, he’d (theoretically) be getting it on with them just the same. There are any number of straight men (and women) who’ve gone “gay for pay” or other situational expressions of same-sex-sex, such as prison or LUG at women’s colleges.

    So I think that assertion weakens your overall essay, particularly coming (sorry!) so near the beginning of the meat (sorry!) of the pertinent content.

    • luvtheheaven says:

      I would agree with that, Lurkertype. It likely doesn’t say much about his orientation, to be willing to use sex as a means to an end and that end not being implied to be pleasure, but rather cash.

      Still the essay overall has a ton of great points.

      I too thought some of the points fozmeadows made weakened the essay slightly, though, mainly comments about “in love” being taken for granted when to me, that didn’t seem quite proven by the evidence provided. As you can see from my comments above.

      • Lurkertype says:

        Your thoughts on asexual/aromantic love were interesting to me, and you make equally as compelling a case for them having that kind of love as well.

        • luvtheheaven says:

          I’m glad you found my thoughts interesting!😉 There are people in real life who identify as bisexual but aromantic or heteroromantic, etc: https://asexualcensus.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/cross-orientations-among-non-aces/ So that is interesting to me. I really enjoy headcanoning that people like Santana on Glee might be bisexual but romantically only interested in Brittany because she’s demiromantic (only experiencing romantic feelings after a close friendship/close emotional bond is formed, and not all emotional bonds will do it, just sometimes it will: http://queenieofaces.tumblr.com/post/99239802608/teeny-tiny-linkspam-on-greyness ) or homoromantic (lesbian romantically but not sexually), so that all her sex with guys was something she enjoyed. Or Quinn on Glee as heteroromantic bisexual, since she seemed to enjoy sex with Santana but has never considered dating a woman, it just… seems like an interesting option to toy with as a headcanon, at least.

          I believe, after this essay, that, perhaps as queerbaiting jokes, the show Supernatural has confirmed on multiple occasions that Dean is sexually attracted to men, and Jensen Ackles has acted in a way that heavily implies that is true, and since he’s also acted attracted to women, I’d think he could certainly be bisexual while still not being sexually or romantically attracted to this one particular man, Castiel, who is actually an angel anyway. You can be bisexual but not find every person of the two (or more) genders you’re attracted toward attractive. It just means sometimes you find some women attractive, and sometimes you find some men attractive. So whether or not Castiel is a man Dean is sexually attracted to could still be up for debate, and regardless of if he is, romantic attraction is a different minefield to navigate…😛 And there are no easy answers for what it is or isn’t, for how to define what one feels, etc. Dean’s romances with women might imply that he’s not aromantic, but I haven’t seen enough episodes to know for sure. Caring about or even grieving a friends-with-benefits partner is still possible, without it being romantic from your end. Just as someone who is just your friend can certainly be someone you care for deeply, and grieve when they die. Dating someone who is in love with or has a romantic interest in you doesn’t mean you technically feel the same way back. So things are all so complicated. And many possible interpretations abound.

          I certainly believe interpreting Dean as (biromantic and) bisexual… and “in love with” and “sexually attracted toward” Cas himself… is one fair interpretation right now, as actions are not equal to feelings and Dean might not be comfortable saying it or kissing a man he feels attracted to, but he could easily be in love and sexually attracted to the man he clearly cares for deeply on the show. I do think your sexual orientation is not defined by your behavior. And I do think fozmeadows here made a very compelling case. However, I also think there are numerous other potentially interpretations that are valid.

          I agree with:

          Destiel is canon because it’s a conclusion that can be logically drawn on the basis of the evidence. That doesn’t make it the only possible conclusion, but it does mean it’s a valid one.

          and

          But Destiel is a valid canonical interpretation of the show and its characters, and while there are other interpretations to be had – even contradictory ones – that doesn’t make it anything less than legitimate.

          • Lurkertype says:

            This makes me think of the straight men who spend all quality time and all their feels with other men and only have sex with women, which I guess makes them a- or homoromantic but heterosexual. Bromance.

            And of course, “I love you but not like THAT” is always good for tragic feels. I am fairly certain tragic feels has been the main raison d’etre for Supernatural for years now.😉

            • luvtheheaven says:

              Lol yes.😉 I’ve seen just enough Supernatural to know that tragic feels is kind of the point.😛

              I do like to think that bromances don’t have to have anything to do with romance, though.

  6. Is this an image gallery or a blog?

  7. Magess says:

    What I find particularly interesting about the idea the Dean’s feelings took on a romantic cast in season 8 is that Purgatory stripped him down to his bare essentials. What he actually liked about it was his purity of purpose. He could be vengeance and anger without anything clouding that. I think he even said something to that effect, that I honed him down. And wouldn’t it be interesting if in the refinement of who and what he was he also developed these emotions, as the uncomplicated version of how he feels.

  8. SuchFunAreWe says:

    Hello! I linked this on my Twitter and sparked an interesting conversation with my group of Destiel shippers. The vast majority of us wish that you’d discussed some more of the problematic parts of the “Cas has been shown to have romantic/sexual attraction to women” bits. In particular, all of us read the canon Cas/F pairings as being either nonconsensual (Meg’s original kiss, Hannah’s kiss AND naked thing, the whooooole April shitshow of non-con on top of non-con with uninformed consent on Cas’ part AND all the vessel consent issues) or arguably something Cas was doing because “that’s what humans do” (ex: Nora, where Cas canonically stated his reason to Dean as dating being a thing humans do) vs clear choice/desire.

    I think the argument can be made that Cas hasn’t canonically been shown unequivocally desiring sexual or romantic contact with women *while in a state of mind* to give informed and enthusiastic consent. Even his “crush” on Meg was when he was inarguably mentally compromised due to taking Sam’s Hell memory damage. Some Ace!Cas readers felt that your easy acceptance of this “Cas is het” read as being linked pretty strongly to heteronormativity, and that heteronormativity should have been noted as a reason the audience accepts “Cas is het” with such questionable pairings/flawed evidence re: his consent. Or mentioned at least in passing, as it does play a BIG part in how many casual viewers will see Cas’ sexuality. Cas/Dean have far more in canon weight as a couple than C/various women BUT “Cas shows het desire” is readily accepted when, in many opinions, canon is sort of gray there. And that’s heteronormativity in action to a tee.

    Your leading points regarding ace/aro erasure, queer erasure, etc are SO good and strong. Ditto the final points. It’s just a bit odd that it sort of disappeared during the “hey Cas is shown to be het” bits. Hopefully this makes some sense! I’m fried.😉

    Overall, we LOVED the meta and thank you for sparking such a thoughtful dialogue amongst our crew. If you want to see what pts were made from the horses’ mouths, so to speak, we were talking here: https://twitter.com/SuchFun_AreWe/status/585185476744761344 No real negativity, though one of the ace folks wasn’t super pleased. Fair warning!

  9. Magess says:

    So I’ve thought about it a little more.

    I think you’ve got good proofs here for:

    a) Dean is bisexual
    b) Cas is in love with Dean
    c) Dean loves Cas

    The only place where I think an interpretive leap is being made is in saying that Dean is IN love with Cas in return. I think that’s the bit you’ll ultimately need The Kiss for. Everything he does or says can still be read as a platonic love, so I think it will take that demonstration to make it unequivocal.

  10. This is what tropes are for: they tell us the romance is there before the relevant parties ever act on it, so that if and when they do, it’s not a total shock to the audience.

    Ideally, I shouldn’t have to rummage through gifset after gifset, script after script, to prove the validity of a relationship which, had it been identically constructed between straight characters, would long since have been accepted as obvious, even without any physical consummation.

    This, this, a million times this. I do not watch Supernatural, but I’ve seen the same thing in other shows. I call it “the inevitable vs. the invisible”. Set-up that inevitably leads to romance if it’s one cis straight man and one cis straight woman, almost never leads to romance if it’s a same-sex or otherwise queer pairing (invisibility in representation). Then, people say that fans of slash are making things up, even though the couple had the same interaction that leads to romance in so many other cases.

  11. […] it would be almost certainly be the set-up of an endgame romance. Bearing in mind Foz Meadows’ fantastic article on proof of love in fictional relationships, it’s difficult to argue that this isn’t […]

  12. WeyrCat says:

    Reblogged this on Weyrcat's Blog and commented:
    All of this.

  13. jj. says:

    Dont they see DESTIEL needs to be cannon 💯💞🔥😈

  14. infiniteheadache says:

    Reblogged this on infiniteheadache and commented:
    Brilliant! Anyone who supports Destiel should read this article, it’s fantastic.

  15. Maeve K says:

    This is an incredibly well-spoken argument, something I believe we should see more of from shippers. Your points maintain a mature, sophisticated resonance, drawing attentions and pin-pointing sound ideas, something the ravings of a fangirl could rarely ever achieve. On behalf of the fan base struggling with this downplayed and misinterpreted unconventional relationship, and pig-headed writers, thank you. If only Kripke could read this.

  16. Maxatives says:

    I agree with this soooo much. I plan on linking this on my Instagram bio and posting links in other places.

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