Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gay in science fiction

It is unfortunate that gay characters are not often included in science fiction movies and TV series. Maybe it’s because no one wants to take the chance of not making a fair representation of a gay man or women. And maybe there are some people out there who believe that homosexuality has no place in entertainment. But the few times it has happened, the characters have shown that who they love does not define who they are. To me, that is the fairest representation of anyone.

Three characters come to mind specifically. To me they are not gay characters. They are characters that happen to be gay.

Sam Adama

The uncle of Admiral William Adama, Sam Adama, played by Sasha Roiz, is an enforcer for the Ha'la'tha crime syndicate on Caprica. This native son of the planet Tauron is fond of using knives when doing his work. He is not the kind of man you want as an enemy. He is very protective of his family and very dangerous. He also loves his husband. Sam does not fall into the gay man stereotype that we are exposed to on TV. The way the character was written and acted, he could have had a wife instead of a husband and no difference would have been made to the story. The love that makes Sam bad is the love for the criminal life.

Babylon 5
Susan Ivanova

Commander Susan Ivanova, played by Claudia Christian, is the executive officer of Earth Alliance space station, Babylon 5. A skilled fighter pilot and very no-nonsense in her manner. By the end of the fourth season, she was promoted to Captain and given command of her own ship. At the end of the series, she was a general and commanded the Earth Alliance military. She was very strong when she needed to be and sometimes when she didn’t need to be. While her sexual orientation was never discussed, she did have a relationship with a woman that was hinted at, and she admitted that she may have been in love with that woman. What made her character tragic was not who she loved, but that it was hard for her to love anyone.

Doctor Who / Torchwood
Jack Harkness

Captain Jack Harkness, John Barrowman, is the leader of Torchwood, a secret agency that collects alien artifacts and protects the British Empire from extraterrestrial threats. He is a former conman and time cop. He can’t be killed, takes care of his people, and will sleep with any sentient species of any gender that he finds attractive. It would be more accurate to describe his character as bi-sexual although he seems to have more of a preference for men. Jack’s sexual shortcoming was not who he was attracted to, it was that he could not (or would not) turn off the smolder.

In each of these cases, love and attraction for the same gender isn’t a defining characteristic. Not as I see it anyway. It is only a part of who they are. To me, that is the kind of respect a persons orientation should have. They do not do things because of who they are attracted to. They do them because of what makes them people as a whole, life and experience, nature and nurture. Just as in real life, one characteristic of a person does not determine the kind of person he or she is. The fault is not in who we love but how we love.

Comments, suggestions, and even complaints would be much appreciated. But lets be adults and keep any comments civil and constructive.

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