San Junipero is a simulated reality. People can visit while they’re alive, and their consciousness can be uploaded to it permanently after their death. It is like a digital afterlife. Yorkie was paralyzed in a car wreck at 21 after her parents reacted negatively to her coming out as a lesbian. She hopes to get married so that her spouse can authorize her physician-assisted suicide, so she can move on to San Junipero. Kelly lost her daughter at a young age. She visits San Junipero but she doesn’t want to stay because her daughter died before she could go to San Junipero, and her husband chose to die without it as well. [spoiler alert] They fall in love, get married and live out their life in San Junipero.
Afterlife and Being Queer
Usually, eternity is implied in the afterlife. But in San Junipero, you can delete yourself off the system. But more importantly, in the traditional concept of afterlife that we know, there is a dichotomy of heaven and hell. If you are good while you’re alive, you will be rewarded by being sent to heaven where you will be happy. If you are bad while you’re alive, you will be punished by being sent to hell where you will suffer. San Junipero is neither of those things. It is very much like real life. Whether you will be happy is up to you.
Especially as LGBT+ people, we are often told that we are going to hell because of who we are. I remember being sat down by my school priest (I went to a religious all-girls’ school) for “gays go to hell, you need Jesus” talk. San Junipero shows wlw couple living out their happy lives instead. It’s the opposite of bury your gays, I guess?
The Problem with Manmade Afterlife
As I said, in traditional afterlife how you live your life decides what kind of afterlife you experience. And while many believe in the afterlife, there is no real guarantee that it even exists. But the artificial afterlife is a neutral choice. And you get to be young and pain-free forever. If that is the case, what motivation do people have to live the actual life and get old? Especially if one loses a loved one especially, their children, why would they stay in their lives instead of moving on to the afterlife to reunite with them?