Welcome to the latest installment of our 2022 Pride Month Series! Each weekday in the month of June, we will be highlighting a different member of the LGBTQIA+ community who we think is a great example of representation and dynamic characterization. We will focus on fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike — the positive voices within the LGBTQIA+ community and in mainstream media. Today’s spotlight is on Jim in Our Flag Means Death, played by the wonderful Vico Ortiz, who will also be heavily spotlighted in this article … just as they deserve!
Our Flag Means Death has been celebrated since it released this March on HBO Max for telling authentic, heartfelt, and heartwarming queer stories — and for providing actual representation for a community who is still vastly underrepresented in media. It is no longer enough to have a background queer character or two, or a passing glimpse at a non-heterosexual relationship. People in the LGBTQ+ community deserve to have their stories told authentically, in the spotlight, and to completion — which is exactly what this series has provided to those of us who have been historically disappointed by queerbaiting.
When I got the chance to interview Ortiz back in April of this year, which you can find here, one of the parts of the interview that stuck with me was how they talked about the space that was created on set.
“…knowing that there were writers in the room who are of non-binary/trans experience, knowing that I didn’t have to take on the responsibility of advocating for my character — it was really, really great. I felt very taken care of and it was really nice.”Vico Ortiz to Nerds & Beyond, April 2022
When we meet Jim, they are disguising themselves as a mute on the Revenge with the help of Oluwande, who will later become their lover, becoming yet another beautiful queer pirate couple. In a series full of lessons for the rest of the industry on how queerness should be represented in media, there are two reoccurring themes present throughout each of the 10 episodes — acceptance of oneself and acceptance of others, and there is no better character to embody both of these ideals than Jim Jimenez, who is a transgender non-binary Latine person just as Ortiz is in real-life.
The scene that best encompasses these ideals, in my opinion, is the scene in which Jim’s identity has been revealed to the crew of the Revenge. Rather than having Jim having a traditional “coming out” scene where they specifically state that they are non-binary, in Our Flag Means Death we see a scene in which the crew beautifully embraces Jim’s identity and personal expression. There is an almost “it’s no big deal” approach to the scene, which is different from the large scenes centered on drama and overcoming deep emotions when a queer character states their sexual identity we normally see in media. It was lovely to see a scene where gender identity was addressed, the character (Jim) expressed how they’d like the crew to identify them, and everyone moved on and honored Jim’s wishes.
This “not a big deal” approach to revealing Jim’s gender identity is actually a very big deal when you take into account how much that singular scene meant to a community who is not used to being accepted. Not only did Our Flag Means Death provide authentic, beautiful representation for the LGTBQIA+ community, but also a safe, accepting, and celebratory space for the cast and crew.
Our Flag Means Death is available to stream now on HBO Max.