June is Gay Pride Month, and as many cities held their Pride festivals this weekend, I thought I’d celebrate increasing coverage of LGBT people in science fiction and fantasy with a list of my favourite gay couples from the genre…
There’s been a lot of attention on LGBT characters in comics recently, with Northstar’s wedding and the announcement that Green Lantern is gay. While I’m pleased comics are taking steps towards greater equality and representation, I can’t say either of these developments thrills me as a fan – I find both Northstar and Green Lantern and their partners (in whatever incarnation) pretty dull. So here are some gay pairings I do find interesting…
[Contains spoilers if you haven’t seen Season 4 of True Blood]
Midnighter and Apollo, The Authority/Stormwatch: I must admit I’m struggling to like these two in the new, post-reboot DCU Stormwatch team, but this may be because of how much I loved them as part of The Authority. A long-term couple who got married and adopted a child, they bickered and fell out but were never less than a loving, believable couple (and adoring parents) and I maintain it’s a crying shame that, when marriage equality remains such a sensitive issue, DC chose to dissolve one of the most interesting examples of a same-sex marriage in fiction. (As well as throw a whole load of characterisation out of the window, but that’s a rant for another time…)
Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto, Torchwood: while Jack is, of course, strictly speaking ‘pan-sexual’ (in fact, I would argue Torchwood’s trend to make him ‘just’ gay in recent series makes the character less fun), the relationship that has defined him, and changed him most, is that with Ianto: from being slyly and slightly tediously hinted at in the first series, it became a real emotional attachment, a challenge for both men to commit to – albeit for very different reasons – and it was so involving that Ianto’s death triggered a surge of protests from devastated fans. Props to the programme for not simply having a reset button: whatever its flaws, Miracle Day at least acknowledged that the loss of Ianto had a long-lasting effect on Jack.
Lafayette and Jesus, True Blood: the programme makers themselves seemed surprised by the popularity of Lafayette, who managed to overcome being written as a comedy camp gay man to develop into one of the most sympathetic characters in the show (escaping the fate of his literary counterpart, who was killed off) and his relationship with Jesus felt like one of the true human connections in a series that tends towards the extreme, making Jesus’ death, at the hands of his possessed lover, feel like a genuine tragedy.
Cain and Gina, Battlestar Galactica: obviously not all gay relationships have to be healthy ones, but mercifully few end as badly as this affair. Cain was a fascinating character – terrifyingly ruthless, but always with justification, so that you could understand why she did what she did, even if you couldn’t bring yourself to condone it. But few of her actions were as appalling as her treatment of her lover Gina, who, after her unveiling as a Cylon, Cain throws to the baser instincts of her crew, allowing them to unleash a horrifying campaign of rape and degradation that gave rise to some of the most uncomfortable moments in this thought-provoking series. BSG was never scared of asking the tough questions: What is it to be a person? Can you even abuse a machine? Seeing this shattered and broken woman, and the brutalising effect her treatment ultimately had on her abusers, you were forced to consider just who, here, had the humanity.
Willow and Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Joss Whedon is to be thanked for many, many things, and one of them is this groundbreaking portrayal of young lesbian love in a (relatively) mainstream show, in a way that was never sensationalist or gratuitous. Willow’s blossoming sexuality never felt anything less than convincing, and her relationship with Tara went through all the ups and downs of teenage love, albeit one complicated by magic, demons and the occasional Apocalypse. Tara’s death was utterly heart breaking, and as the catalyst to Willow ‘going dark’, propelled one of the best arcs of the show.
So – these are my favourite same sex couples from sci-fi and fantasy: did I include yours? Let me know!
I’ll be back in a fortnight with more Fangirl Unleashed, but in the meantime feel free to pop over to Body of a Geek Goddess to say hi. (Or check out my book, Dark Dates – which, I am proud to say, features a gay couple! – on Amazon, and let me know what you think.)