The lesbians of Battlestar Galactica

As long time readers may know I certainly have some geek tendencies. And I have no shame about my love of sci-fi. And because every other nerd has been singing the praises of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica for a couple years now I finally broke down and got Season 1 from the library. After that it was all over. I finished that and the next two seasons in a matter of weeks, just in time for last Saturday’s premiere of a new BSG “special event” Razor. Little did I know that a mainstream sci fi movie/show might finally (finally) introduce some queerness into futuristic worlds that are anything but homogeneous (pun intended).

Unfortunately the only picture I could find of both Gina (L) and Admiral Cain (R)

Razor, it seems, has an integral lesbian plot.

Unfortunately, though the relationship is quite important to the plot, the intricacies are hardly developed. And forget character development, all we get in terms of prurient voyeuristic enjoyment is one tiny peck. Oh yeah, and did I mention one of the couple is an Admiral who goes nuts and starts killing and torturing people and the other is an evil spy who turns against her lover and it brutalized for it? And who said the evil lesbians of 70s exploitation films were dead?

But despite all this, I actually think this was a step forward.

Queers are often big science fiction fans. We like to envision possible worlds where we can be full members of society. Or at least we see many possibilities for queers in alternate universes. Indeed a certain group of Trekkies, called the Gaylaxians, have been pushing for gay characters in the seminal sci-fi series of our time for decades. But the world of Galactica has never mirrored the squeaky clean images of Roddenberry’s Star Trek universe. These people are gritty and living under the constant threat of human extinction. The death of main characters is commonplace and even the “good guys” do some pretty horrific things. It’s the point of the show to question whether humanity deserves to live. So of course, it would have been disingenuous to portray a rosy picture of lady loving ladies.

The dueling tough hotties of Apollo (L) and Starbuck (R) before they take their sexual tension into the boxing ring. Tell me this “straight” couple isn’t just a little queer…

And indeed, though this may be the first outed character of the BSG series the creators have already broken many gendered boundaries. Some fans of the original series were upset to learn that the all new slick Viper Pilot Lt. Starbuck was now female. And though her character is straight, hopping from bunk to bunk in fact, she is anything but girly. Starbuck is one of the butchest ass-kickers I’ve seen in TV in a long time. And no, not in that Buffy toothpick-who-needs-a-stunt-double kind of way. Starbuck is ripped, tattooed, and has hacked-off blond locks. (Oh and she’s from Beaverton! We love our hometown lasses…)

Also, the President is female, the smartest doctor in the world is a spineless self-centered coward who is controlled by a woman in his head, and did I mention that one of the lesbians was an Admiral who outranked every other officer on the entire show?

In fact, the shows stars as well as creators have seemed amenable to the idea of queer characters. The ultra-hot Jamie Bamber, who plays the godlike Apollo, even appeared in Out Magazine.

But I’m not letting BSG or science fiction screenwriters off the hook. I still have yet to see any main gay male characters. And it’s about time that heteros got used to seeing things through their own lens in the way we have had to re-imagine ourselves reflected in a largely heterosexual genre. It’s also time for us to see some real screen romance and action. Which is something we’ve still never gotten. (Yes, yes, you tease us with reticent and emotionless Vulcans seduced by alien thieves but T’Pol never identified as gay…I mean, if Vulcans can even do that…)

There’s lots of room to play in the world of make believe. This is science fiction! We can envision gender and sexuality any way we want. Surely we can manage to get out of our tiny straight-sided boxes. Ursula LeGuin wrote about gender changing people nearly 40 years ago in Left Hand of Darkness, though to my knowledge this has never been adapted for the screen.

And here I am again, at my usual peacemaker conclusion. We have a long way to go but I applaud Battlestar for taking a much needed step. I’m going to continue to drool over the BSG hotties of all genders and sexualities and I’m certainly going to tune in when Season 4 returns in March. But writers, please, while you’re out there on strike with some time on your hands, give some genuine thought to giving us our due, at least in the future, or in a galaxy far far away, if not on Earth in the present.

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