Sci-fy as a genre has notoriously been the penchant of straight, fem-bot obsessed nerdoids. Where representation of gay characters has been lacking in entertainment across the board this lack has been blindingly apparent within a genre seeming to engage with alternative lifestyles and a myriad of cultures from the futuristic to the far out. Yet steps are happening in the right direction and some LGBTQ+ characters have started slipping through the cracks in the space-time continuum. This is our shout out to all those heroic sci-fi queers proudly treading the boards where no gay has tread before.
1. Dr. Frank-n-Furter - Rocky Horror Picture Show
Noone has made us quiver with anitici…. pation quite like the transvestite from Transexual Transylvania Dr. Frank-n-Furter, brought to vibrant life by Tim Curry. The creation of a love-slave is a trope usually reserved for the crazy, loveless hetero mad scientist, an escapist fantasy for lonely straight teens, often bringing up that sticky topic of consent. However Rocky Horror flips this trope on it’s head by having Rocky, the aforementioned love slave falling for unwitting ingenue Janet and really questioning his existence while chucking off his shackles, much to his creators dismay. Still if anyone can get us to stop dreaming and start being it’s Frank.
2. Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones - Torchwood
Captain Jack burst onto our screens as a companion to the Doctor during David Tenant’s reign on Doctor Who and went on to front his own spin off series, Torchwood. Jack is notoriously promiscuous, labelling himself as omni-sexual and basically up for shagging ‘anything with a hole.’ Jack is the first non-hetero character to feature on Doctor Who and to be the main protagonist in any mainstream sci-fi show. Well done Jack!
3. Benny - Wizards vs Aliens
Now this is a special one. Not only is Benny gay, he’s a science genius, POC in a main role on a children’s TV show. How’s that for representation?! A relatively new show from the creative mind of Russel T. Davies, creator of Queer as Folk, Cucumber and show runner of the rebooted Doctor Who, Wizards vs Aliens sees Benny help his wizard friend Tom from the invasion of magic stealing aliens. And I couldn’t be happier for him.
4. Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint - Doctor Who
Sticking around the Whovian universe for a bit we have to mention the Victorian lizard lady and her wife Jenny Flint, who were introduced in the sixth season of the show by then new show runner Steven Moffat. These two have proved fan favourites and badass in their own right. I mean sure, one of this lesbian power couple is a giant lizard person, but as they can’t possibly have been married in England in the 19th century, we can only assume Vastra comes from a much more progressive society. Love is love after all.
5. Sam Adama - Caprica
Battle star Galactica actually has a lot to answer for in terms of queer representation. In a good way! The rebooted series and it’s spin off television movies have hosted a number of LGBTQ+ characters. However, we’re particularly into Sam Adama in their prequel series Caprica. His patron god is Mars, knives are his weapon of choice and his husbands name is Larry. Sweet tats bra’.
6. X-men, oh so many X-men
It seems fitting that a franchise as sprawling as X-men and one that champions the marginalised and different should be so embracing of LGBTQ+ characters. The whole thing is really an allegory for anyone who feels like an outsider and is regarded as the most pertinent of the comic series to the gay community. Lets list a few hey? First off there’s Northstar, the first gay character to come out in a Marvel publication, who famously married his long term boyfriend, Kyle, in Astonishing X-Men #51. Iceman was in the closet for years concerned about a chilly reaction from his x-peers. He finally came out much to reader’s delight in Uncanny X-Men #600. Finally, in the alternate ‘Ultimate’ universe gentle giant Colossus was not only super strong, he was super gay. There are more and more mutants coming out of the closet everyday, some don’t even need to open the door.
7. Willow - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon’s masterpiece is surely Buffy. The female led, supernatural phenomenon has proven resonant with multiple generations and provided a number strong female role models. Even better Buffy’s bestie Willow went on one of the shows most interesting and involved journeys of self discovery. From sweet and quiet damsel in distress to most powerful witch in the world Willow has had her up and downs. The flaying was a particularly low time. But Willow’s discovery and exploration of her sexuality is one of the show’s strongest achievements and we’ll never forget that moment with Tara and the white shirt towards the end of sixth season. Thanks Joss, just thanks.
8. Inara - Firefly
So Joss just keep getting it right. Inara was a high class ‘companion’ in Joss’s short-lived space-western Firefly and whilst a love interest for Nathon Fillion’s Mal, Inara was known to host a number of female clients during the shows so, so short run.
9. Hikaru Sulu - Star Trek Beyond (and only beyond…)
It was announced during the press tour for the third instalment of the rebooted Star Trek franchise that John Cho’s Sulu was to be revealed as gay character. Hurrah we all shouted! The move to make Sulu gay was intended as a tribute to the original Hikaru, gay activist and hilarious twitterer George Takei. However the waters were muddied when Takei stated that Sulu was never gay and that to make him now would only besmirch the creature of the series, Gene Roddenberry’s, original vision. Now Takei has been a major voice for the LGBTQ+ community so it sounds like his comments come purely from a place of artistic reverence and respect for continuity. Still, a gay character in a summer blockbuster, great! If only there’d been slightly more evidence of Sulu’s gayness than one small embrace. Points for trying.
10. Poe Dameron and Finn - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Ok, ok, ok. This one is only a rumour but fan theories abound with talk of bromance turning to romance. While John Bodega has stated he was only told to play the friendship, Oscar Isaac has reiterated a number of times that he was playing full on romance! I mean the way Finn holds onto Poe’s jacket all that time and that embrace as they’re reunited later in ‘The Force Awakens.’ There’s been a massive public outcry for these two star crossed men to become lovers and also some titilating fan fiction but there’s market pressure to avoid such a coupling from international markets where homosexuality is widely considered not to exist in space. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the next instalment to see if the people at Star Wars are a little braver than those over in Star Trek.
There are a few LGBTQ+ characters floating around the solar system these days but we’re still a galaxy away from accurate levels of representation. Most of these characters have existed for less than two decades. Still every journey can’t jump into light speed, we can only hope that the emergence of these characters from suspended animation can foster in a new generation. It’s one baby step for sci-fi, one giant leap for man kind.