Back in the mid-90s, some friends and I were out socialising, and as the group grew, my sexuality came out and many conversations took place, one of which was: “Wow, you’re gay, and you like science fiction?”. Around that time I was in various stages of out-ness with work and family; mostly out with my friends, and different organisations I was involved with had lots of guesswork going on!
Today, I look back over many hobbies, blog forums, clubs and other interest groups, and the amount of gay people I have met through these is perhaps higher than otherwise chance would have provided. So what is it? Or more to the point, why is it? What is it that draws gay people into Sci-Fi?
With this blog roughly sketched out a week a go, last night I knew I was going to be writing it this afternoon, a Sunday. But last night my mind would not switch off, as life events bounced around inside my head, synaptic pathways were being established and neuron connections linked as I tried to piece it all together, and as a result of it all, I think I have a working theory, at least one that works for me.
A fantasy world?
So some people like Sci-Fi, right? And so if some people do, then it stands to reason that some gay people do too, right? Well, I was in a Star Trek group and met a very close friend there who is a lesbian. We bonded almost instantly. In a live action role play I met two other gay friends; two out of ten – three including me – were gay. On one gay website chat forum, when Star Trek comes up there are 100 posts overnight, with keen people commenting. The TV show Queer as Folk had a Dr Who fan as one of their leads (the writer, Russell T Davies is gay, and has also written for Dr Who). The new Spock, Zachary Quinto came out as gay as a result of teen suicides, and many more instances of Sci-Fi gay overlap. So what in Sci-Fi is attracting a sexuality minority culture?
The eyebrows have it: Zachary Quinto as Dr Spock
Although Dr Who has a huge following, and Star Wars also, I think the ideals of Star Trek are where the focus is. I feel the world in which gay people of my generation (aged 40s) and above have experienced homophobia, victimisation, bullying, forced closeting, isolation, cruel behaviour, prejudice etc created a person that was not happy in the world they lived in. I know I wasn’t for sure. I would fantasise my entire childhood away dreaming about being someone else, being somewhere else, being in a world where I could tell my best friend what I thought of him without a ‘reaction’ expected.
Star Trek and the Kirk era evolved a loyalty, a dedication to honour, duty, friendship, ‘my ship’ and all of that ‘don’t leave our people behind’, kind of stuff. It built unbreakable bonds and that was all good. But sexuality wasn’t touched on, not yet. The Next Generation tip-toed tentatively onto our screens with Patrick Stewart’s ‘one season only” Star Trek replacement plan, but it went on and on and on.
I was a steadfast Kirk fan. Not so much from the episodes, but the films where I felt they had evolved into themselves. But as time went on The Next Generation took hold. We had guys in scants (skirts) from season one where uniforms were multisexual. We had episodes of androgynous races where sexuality was dealt with head on. We had equality issues exposed in ‘Measure of a man’ and so many wonderful episodes that followed.
In the Starfleet universe, I as a gay man would be accepted; no, more than that, I would be equal in every way possible as a ‘normal’ guy, and would be given the same jobs, the same duties, and the same opportunities in life. For me it was something strongly yearned for, so much so, that it became a part of me. Hell, it still is today.
Darth Vader: who knew?!
Do other LGBT community people look into Star Trek and their other Sci-Fi future optimistic universes with the same depth? Do they see what I see there? Have they looked but not reacted to it, just felt ‘something’ there that drew them, but they didn’t know what it was?
Vision of a future?
The recent remake of Battlestar Galactica had Admiral Cane cast as a lesbian, having an onscreen female partner. On Deep Space 9 we had Jadzia Dax lesbian kiss with a former partner of hers; it was very well done. Are they creating these scripts because this is how they view the future world? That petty prejudice over something as simple as who you kiss, is just not relevant in a world 300 years away? Is it perhaps done to include those of us today, who do not feel included currently?
I for one know in my heart of hearts, that science fiction has paved a way forward for the LGBT community in huge steps, daring to take those steps with massive multi-million dollar episodes that if wrote badly would fail and lose money, but they gambled, did it and came out winning. Science fiction led the way for us, as a gay community, and as for science fiction fans everywhere, who backed us. It was always my Star Trek buddies (straight ones) who were the most accepting first, as they didn’t have the regular hang-ups that other people did. After all, they had seen new races, new civilisations, good, bad and ugly, and someone from an LGBT background wasn’t scary to them in the slightest. •
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