Today I’d like to thank SciFi just, you know, for being there.
Especially Jack. But, I’ll get to that in a second.
I got teased a lot in high school. Part of it was because I was (and still am, obviously) a weirdo. Part of it was that my dad was a teacher (also a weirdo) and part of it was that people suspected I was gay. Or bi. Or maybe they didn’t really know what I was but they sure called me a lot of names I had to look up online when I got home.
I didn’t really see what the big deal was. So what if I liked guys and girls. Or so what if I liked guys and girls and everything in-between and neither?
Maybe I didn’t see it as something weird because I was brought up in a fairly unconventional way. I was raised by wolves backstage with an actress mom and an artist dad and there were plenty of adults in plenty of kinds of relationships around. Maybe because I’m just an unconventional sort of person because of my Asperger’s brain. And, maybe most importantly, I grew up with SciFi/Fantasy.
In Science Fiction you can be a human who falls in love with a Klingon. You can be a slayer who makes out with vampires. You can be a wizard who’s into other wizards or a witch who marries a werewolf. You can be a Denobulian who has multiple wives--all of whom have multiple husbands. You can be asexual--even if you’re fully functional. Or you can be into everyone and not see the difference. In other words, you can be Jack Harkness.
The first time I was ever made to think in a concrete way about my own sexuality was when I had to apply for college scholarships. When I was just about finished with high school, I applied for a few pro-LGBT scholarships and ticked the box, “Bi.” That was my big coming out party, I guess. I just didn’t think it was a big deal. I also didn’t think it quite fit--it didn’t fully explain what I felt.
A few years later, Torchwood happened. Jack Harkness happened. And something inside of me said, “Yes. That. That there is what I am.” A couple years after that, a friend of mine watched the show and she mentioned Jack Harkness’ omnisexuality/pansexuality.
“Wait, there’s a word for that?”
My head exploded. This meant Jack Harkness and I had more in common than a love of suspenders and a theoretical open door policy. We had the same brand. And this was, and still is, important to me.
I went years and years feeling like who I found sexy wasn’t a big deal--the rest of the world does, by the way. Bi and Omni-sexuals are something most people (gay and straight) don’t really seem to get yet and that’s one of the reasons I’ve never openly talked about that here before. Remember the name-calling I mentioned earlier? Anyway, I ended up marrying an amazing, brilliant, geeky dude but if his same mind had been in a lady or a trans-person or a cross-dresser or a Bolian, it wouldn’t have mattered. And, I think that a part of me not feeling like it was that big a deal is SciFi. It’s characters like Jack Harkness.
I’m only sad Star Trek didn’t do it first. I’m sad they still haven’t. They came close a couple times. There’s Femke Janssen’s turn in The Perfect Mate but even then she was still only into every possible species who also happened to have the requisite bait and tackle. Riker falls for an androgynous alien and Tripp Tucker has a thing for a cogenitor--both of these characters are played by women and terrible things happen to them. Dax is likely the closest they ever came as Dax was neither male nor female. Dax was a worm and Dax’ sexuality sort of followed along with that of Dax’ symbiont. That’s how Star Trek got their first ever lesbian kiss. I’ve written here before about the most perfect relationship of Enterprise that never was and I extend that feeling across all of Trek.
Once, a long time ago, Star Trek was fearless. They tackled sensitive, socio-political issues and gave meaningful representation to minorities. They paved the way for other speculative fiction TV shows to come along and be similarly daring. Buffy, Xena, Farscape, BSG, SGU, and, of course, Torchwood, are just a few of the examples that have featured LGBT characters but Trek still lags behind.
So, again, I want to thank SciFi for being there, for showing all the ways that we can be and live and love. But… Trek? Come on.
Why wasn’t Geordi gay or Troi? Why not Garak or Kiera? Why not have Seven explore her sexuality in a more dynamic way? Why not let Reed and Hayes be together?
Why so many missed opportunities? Why should it have to continue? There’s a new movie on the way!
Why can’t Sulu be gay already? Or... why can’t Kirk be pan?