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Sunday 23 November 2014


Closetry - the Final Frontier?

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 19th February 2005

Paramount Studios recently announced that the latest version of Star Trek (Enterprise) would end soon. None of the five incarnations of this SF series has featured core lesbian or gay characters.

Everyone else has had a look-in. Fat middle-aged men with bad toupees and corsets had Captain Pork- oops, sorry, Kirk. (No. Spock was not a chubby chaser. And anyway, Vulcans only have sex once every seven years, while in heat). African-Americans had Benjamin Sisko in Deep Space Nine, the best of the lot. Feminists won their own commanding officer in Voyager's Katherine Janeway. However, Strek never crossed the real final frontier. None of the various versions of the series has included lesbian or gay core characters.

(According to one trans friend of mine, their community is an exception. Trans Trekkies love DS9 because the space station had a body-changing species known as the Trill, not limited to a continuous gender. Unfortunately, we never got to see what happened when someone's symbiotic successor body changed gender in that series, but it's the thought that counts.)

Anyway...despite repeated entreaties, the Strek franchise never had a lesbian or gay core cast member. Babylon 5, another space-station series, beat them to it, when it disclosed that Commander Susan Ivanova (the first officer for most of the series) was bisexual, although her erstwhile female lover, Talia, got mindwiped. However, later on, there was a scene where two of the (het male) core characters went off to infiltrate Occupied Mars, and booked into a hotel as a gay married couple, with no-one batting an eyelid, or alien anatomical equivalent.

The lesbian community has done considerably better than gay men when it comes to televised fantasy and science fiction. Three words: Xena. Warrior Princess. Yes, many a thirtysomething lesbian sighed over the subtext (?!) [yeah, right...] in that series, which involved the aforementioned Amazonian figure and her... er, sidekick... Gabrielle.

However, Buffy the Vampire Slayer took the most risks and broke the most new ground. Over its seven year herstory, the innovative horror series had five lesbian and gay characters. Moreover, one of its core characters, Willow Rosenberg, came out as a lesbian (and witch) when she fell in love with one Tara MacLay. Unfortunately, Tara was killed off and Willow flayed her lover's murderer in revenge before trying to destroy the world. Lesbian Buffyverse watchers were pissed off.

To their credit, the series creators didn't straighten Willow out, but introduced a new lesbian love interest for her in the final season, although she wasn't as popular as Tara. As for gay males, there was Larry (a big butch football player, killed off by a giant snake at the end of Season Three), and Andrew Wells. Andrew's gay male sexuality was accompanied by much stereotypery. He was hopeless in battle, but an excellent cook. He had a crush on Xander (another male core character), and may have ended up with him in the final episode. However, despite the sapphic slayage angle, gay men have never had our own action hero akin to the wiccans and slayers of the Buffyverse.

Which brings us back to Strek. When it became obvious that the fifth franchise, Enterprise, would be a more conservative retro version, many lesbian-gay Trekkers gave up in disgust, and deserted the series. Although it took Coro Street forty-four years to get there, Todd, Karl et al finally burst out of the closet and went up town to Canal Street (in Manchester's gay district).

Oh, enough. Speaking of long-term television series, the reactivated Doctor Who may be worth watching when it eventually arrives here. Russell Davies (Queer as Folk) has taken over the series, and Dr Who fandom has a large gay male fan following. Let me put it this way. In QAF, Vince met a potential hottie who turned out to lust after his DW DVD collection as much as him. It happens more often than you want to think.

Closetry. The final frontier. This is the tagline for a franchise called Star Trek, which never even timidly tiptoed where several other SF and Fantasy series had gone before it. It failed to seek out new sexual orientations and civilisations. Gutless bastards.


Craig Young - 19th February 2005

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