YOUR FAVORITE LOGO SHOWS ARE ON PARAMOUNT+

Ten Best Gay and Bisexual Science Fiction Characters

null

The dearth of out gay

characters in science fiction movies, on television shows and in comic books is

something we’ve long documented. From Star Trek’s inability to live up to its own vision of equality by

actually including an out gay character to ABC’s Lost’s inability to

find a single gay character despite its

sprawling cast to the mixed efforts of DC Comics and Marvel when it comes to

gay representation on the pages of their comics, science fiction has often been

a disappointment for its legions of gay fans who look toward the future as a

place were gay folks will be treated equally. (For information on lesbians and

bisexual women in science fiction, visit our sister site AfterEllen.com.)

But there are gay and

bisexual characters out there to be found and we took it upon ourselves to

choose the top ten. Identifying ten truly great gay characters in the science

fiction genre is ambitious considering the small number of candidates; for this

reason we’re using the broadest definition of the genre, encompassing fantasy,

horror, supernatural, and superheroes, and looking to all forms of popular

media.

After scrounging through

decades’ worth of major franchises and lesser-known titles, we came up with the

following list of greatest gay and bisexual male characters. Great characters

are defined by the virtues of being unique, fascinating, and greatly

significant. In the interest of making

these qualities the true DNA of this list, unconsidered qualities include

biggest fan favorites, sexiness, or the best gay representations. So our rating

scale looks at character fascination, significance, and originality (the cliché

factor).

10. Andrew Wells (Buffy the

Vampire Slayer; The WB and UPN, and comics)

Barely qualifying for our

list is Andrew Wells (Tom Lenk) from the Buffy

and Angel TV series, as well as the

current Buffy comics. The famously

gay-friendly show gave us three recurring lesbian characters, the occasional

gay visitor, plenty of gay-positive stories and dialogue, and surprisingly only

one recurring gay (or was he bisexual?) male character in Andrew.

Heavy

and persistent innuendo clearly established Andrew’s sexuality, yet despite a

wealth of references to his crush on fellow villain Warren and strong gay

characteristics he never quite acknowledged his own awareness of his sexuality,

which was also seemingly ignored by the other characters.

The geek-turned-villain-turned-good

guy scores points for delivering a lot of the best lines, turning what could

have been a standard clichéd geek archetype into a three-dimensional and

genuinely likeable queer sidekick. For us, the reasons for the obfuscation of

Andrew’s sexuality remain one of the biggest mysteries of the show. We’re

eagerly awaiting some indication of further development of his character in the

ongoing comic book series.

Character Rating: 9/10

Significance Rating: 2/10

Originality Rating : 5/10

9. The Cluracan (Sandman; comics)

1989 saw the birth of

Neil Gaiman’s extraordinary and historic comic series The Sandman, which aside from being a critical success and the only

comic book to ever make the New York

Times Bestseller List, was revolutionary for its time in its presentation

of multiple positive GLBT characters.

The series featured

leading lesbian and transgender characters, and though The Cluracan was only a

recurring minor character, he scores big points for being endlessly fun and

uncompromisingly gay. Based on the clurichaun, a drunk leprechaun of Irish

folklore, this literal faerie and dashing rogue of Queen Titania’s court works

hard and plays harder.

One morning during an impromptu conference that will

determine the fate of his people, he shows up in his sister Nuala’s room with a

young Egyptian deity in tow, and casually tells her they spent the night

drinking and having sex. In his words, “Personally, I figure the best I can

hope to get out of these shenanigans is excellent wine and great sex.”

The principle theme of

the series is that of storytelling and stories come to life, and the Cluracan

can spin a yarn like nobody’s business. Give him a couple drinks and he’ll

entertain for as long as he’s conscious, charmingly admitting his own

narcissism and tendency towards embellishment.

Character Rating: 10/10

Significance Rating: 4/10

Originality Rating : 6/10

8. Parthenon, aka Dan

Williams (Who Wants To Be a Superhero?;

The Sci Fi Channel)

Dan Williams, the out

contender in season two of Sci Fi channel’s competitive reality series Who Wants To Be A Superhero, scores big

points for being a real guy who managed to survive a long time in a reality

show based on a genre that is historically not gay-friendly.

Gay fans’ hopes were not

particularly high for Parthenon’s chances of winning Season 2 following the

ousting of Season 1’s gay entry, Levity, in the very first episode.

Unfortunately, Parthenon the character was a little heavy on the clichés: archaeologist

finds ancient gauntlet whose gemstones provide superpowers. Naturally, tights

and cape ensue. And while we love William’s generous and benevolent character,

he’s gotta work out some better catchphrases than “Bling’s my thing” and “Rock

on.”

Nonetheless, Parthenon

did the gays proud, consistently performing well and showing that gay men could

be more than the stereotypes we’re often served up as by many scripted and reality

series. Indeed, he showed gay men can be “heroic. ” Best of all was when Williams

won the chance to call his partner during the competition, a conversation

paralleled against a heterosexual woman doing the same. It was an awesome sight

to behold.

Character Rating: 5/10

Significance Rating: 7/10

Originality Rating : 3/10

7. Ianto Jones (Torchwood; BBC America)

Alas, poor neglected

Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd). Any other sexy bisexual character on national

television would be a gay household name, but the competition’s tough when most

of the cast, including the lead, are also bisexual. Ianto’s role at Torchwood is unusual to say the least;

in addition to playing receptionist and chief coffee brewer, he is also the

clean-up guy who neatly disposes of alien kills and covers up any shady team

activities to keep the public and authorities from learning about Torchwood’s

creepy and occasionally distasteful secrets.

Early on in the first

season we learn that Ianto has a nasty secret in the form of a half-Cyberman

(evil cyborg) girlfriend that he’s keeping in the sub-basement of the Torchwood

headquarters. Needless to say, things don’t work out so well in the most bloody

sense imaginable. But unlike most male bisexual characters on television, Ianto

actually acts on his same-sex desires when he undertakes a much less lethal

sexual relationship with Torchwood’s studly team leader Captain Jack Harkness

(John Barrowman), including an interlude with an extraterrestrial stopwatch.

And Season 2 promises even more romance with Captain Jack.

Character Rating: 7/10

Significance Rating: 5/10

Originality Rating: 7/10

6. Zorro, aka Ramon

“Bunny” Wigglesworth (Zorro, The Gay

Blade)

One of the most

extraordinary GLBT representations in the history of film lies in the oddball

action comedy Zorro, The Gay Blade.

In the film, George Hamilton plays Don Diego de la Vega, whose secret identity

is Zorro, as well as Diego’s twin brother, Ramon, who happens to be gay. When

Diego/Zorro is sidelined by an injury incurred in battle, Ramon’s surprise

visit provides an unexpected solution as he assumes the mask of Zorro and becomes

a big screen gay superhero… in 1981.

Sure, Ramon is

effeminate, carries a parasol, and is fresh out of the British Navy (a running

gay joke in the ‘70s). But to a generation of superhero-worshipping gay kids,

he was a revelation. He donned drag as a means to subterfuge, he reinvented the

Zorro costume in multicolored lamé, and when the heroine leaned in for a kiss,

he asked if they couldn’t just go shopping instead!

But Zorro the Gay Blade

was no joke. He decimated the evil Alcalde’s men without breaking a sweat. And

by the film’s end, it is Bunny’s unapologetically gay Zorro who wins the heart

of the girl, saves the straight dude, and the town. In an era in which gay

characters were firmly relegated to victims and psychos (or both), the gay

Zorro was inspirational. And how many superhero films with a lead gay character

has 20th Century Fox – or any other studio – released in theaters

since 1981?

Character Rating: 5/10

Significance Rating: 10/10

Originality Rating : 3/10

5. Northstar, aka

Jean-Paul Beaubier (The Uncanny X-Men;

comics)

In pre-Ellen 1992, the outing of a recognizable

comic book character was enough of a big deal to make national headlines.

Indeed, gay comic fans rejoiced at the outing of Northstar, Quebecois mainstay

of Alpha Flight, the Canadian government’s answer to American super-team The

Avengers. Ten years later Northstar took on an even higher profile as he joined

the ranks of the insanely popular series The

Uncanny X-Men.

Northstar’s powers aren’t

the most original: he’s a speedster who can fly and sometimes emit a burst of

light, but we give him points for always sporting stylish uniforms (not easy in

the often fashion-impaired world of the colorful tights set), and for having a

complex and well-formed character from the beginning.

In his early Alpha Flight

days, Northstar was a bitter and arrogant antihero and Olympic skier. On two

occasions in later years his life changed dramatically, in both cases due to

circumstances involving young children in need. His surly exterior first

cracked with the death of his adopted HIV-positive orphaned baby; this event led

to Northstar outing himself to his teammates and the public. Many years later

Northstar desperately tried to save another young child, and when the boy met with an

unavoidable and tragic death, Northstar was moved to join up with the X-Men and

teach at Xavier’s academy.

Although Northstar’s

sexuality was avoided in the later Alpha Flight books, it’s consistently been

addressed in the pages of the X-Men, where he’s encountered homophobia,

mentored a young gay student, and developed a crush on Iceman. Northstar was always presented as a mutant

superhero first, and a Quebecois second, and did not exhibit stereotypical gay

qualities.

Character Rating: 8/10

Significance Rating: 10/10

Originality Rating: 5/10

4. The Midnighter, aka

Lucas Trent (The Authority; comics)

This trenchcoat-wearing

star of Stormwatch, The Authority, as

well as his own eponymous series, has been saving the comic book universe for

over ten years, albeit at times in fairly grim and violent fashion. As one of

the key team members of superhero team The Authority, The Midnighter is a key

part of a group of heroes charged with saving the Earth from galactic-level

threats.

The Midnighter wins points in forgoing the colorful tights in favor of

rocking a trenchcoated, Batmanesque look. In addition to the more common

enhanced strength, speed, senses, reflexes, and immune system, our hero also

sports a second heart and the ability to determine how a fight will end by

calculating over a million possible combat scenarios in his head.

While there are currently

several GLBT comic book superheroes, their gayness is often handled in a coy

manner, inferring their sexuality in a playful manner that gets played off as

an in-joke (see repeated examples in The

Young Avengers’ Hulkling and Wiccan).

Compared to these types of characters, The Midnighter is noteworthy

because his gay identity couldn’t possibly be further from subtle. The very out

gay hero is married to team member Apollo, and the pair refreshingly engage in

sometimes graphic sexual dialogue, something you wouldn’t find in the

“mainstream” pages of Marvel and DC comics.

We left equally

out-and-proud hubby Apollo off the list because of his less original character.

The blond Superman in need of a haircut is somewhat less interesting than the

more morally questionable Midnighter; he’s more of a do-gooder who serves as

Midnighter’s moral center – literally his better half.

Character Rating: 8/10

Significance Rating: 7/10

Originality Rating : 7/10

3. Dr. Frank-N-Furter (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)

In the space of 98

minutes, the sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania

teaches us a thing or two about living in the moment, gender fluidity, and how

to make a man in seven days. Sure, he’s also a psychotic alien cannibal bent

on… well, we’re not really sure what exactly because he spends all his time

sleeping with his guests and giving them makeovers.

But as Dr.

Frank-N-Furter, Tim Curry was nothing short of magnificent in his

characterization of the strangely loveable homicidal lunatic. Perhaps what most

won us over were his last moments, encompassing a bisexual orgy in a swimming

pool under clouds of dry ice, during which he tells us, “Give yourself over to

absolute pleasure/ Swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh / erotic

nightmares beyond any measure / and sensual daydreams to treasure forever /

Can't you just see it? / Don't dream it, be it.”

Released in 1975, both Rocky Horror and Frank-N-Furter were

embraced for their in-your-face sexuality, giving fans an on-screen hero who

wasn’t afraid to be out and proud, and wasn’t the punchline to an ongoing

series of homophobic gags. Indeed, the role was such a breakthrough that the

film itself placed number one on our list of The Twenty Most Groundbreaking Gay

Films.

Character Rating: 9/10

Significance Rating: 7/10

Originality Rating : 10/10

2. John Constantine (Hellblazer; comics)

Those of you scratching your

heads and wondering why Keanu Reeves wasn’t snogging any boys in Constantine,

the 2005 film adaptation of thelong-running Hellblazer

comic book series, should pick up a copy to see the character in his original

form. Whether or not you saw this demon-riddled film as a sign of the

apocalypse, you should know that apart from the name, the film has little in

common with the two decades-old comic character who is very English, very blond

– and very bisexual. Constantine

also avoids the use of weapons and direct fighting, and wouldn’t give up

smoking for anything on hell or earth.

Born in an era of

two-dimensional spandexed heroes, Constantine

is one of the many truly original creations of legendary English comics writer

Alan Moore, whose most famous original works also include V for Vendetta, Watchmen,

and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Remarkably, all of these

original titles include GLBT characters, something few if any mainstream comic

writers can boast.

Moore writes his GLBT characters in the same

way he does his heterosexual ones – as antiheroes with violent histories. The Constantine we know and

love is a deeply complicated character, a cynical mystic who thrives on danger

and manipulates the people around him into horrifically violent situations in

the interests of his humanist principles.

Best of all, Constantine has had both

girlfriends and boyfriends. Being a fairly screwed up and dangerous individual,

his relationships aren’t exactly the model of normalcy. Through dialogue he

references having had relationships with both men and women, though most of the

ones we’ve seen have been with women.

One memorable male relationship occurred

during the course of a story arc in which Constantine

became sexually involved with a masochistic male magnate. Constantine used the relationship to

manipulate his lover to a specific end, which was consistent with his approach

to other characters in his life. The character’s fascinating and unique nature

aside, it’s notable that Constantine

has starred as the bisexual protagonist of his own comic series that’s been

continuously published since 1988.

Character Rating: 10/10

Significance Rating: 8/10

Originality Rating : 9/10

1. Captain Jack Harkness

(Torchwood, BBC America)

Okay, it’s probably not a

huge surprise having Captain Jack (John Barrowman) ranked number one on this

list. But there’s a reason why the boys are gaga over Captain Jack. He is the

only explicitly gay or bisexual lead of an international hit TV series (airing

on BBC Three in the UK and

on BBC America in the US) and the only show in America with an out actor as the

lead. The fact that the character is a dashing hero capable of saving the world

and wooing the guy is just the icing on the cake.

Russell T. Davies, the

out writer of the original UK

Queer As Folk, created the character

for his revival of the long-running Doctor

Who series. Torchwood, whose name

is an anagram of Doctor Who, is the

spin-off of that series. And Jack, portrayed by out gay actor John Barrowman,

is described as a 51st century time-traveling con man, a rogue who

is secretly immortal and seduces anyone (human or otherwise) for fun or out of

necessity. In the series’ recently concluded first season, he’s already had several same-sex

kisses, including one in the unabashedly romantic “Captain Jack Harkness”

episode.

Indeed, Jack and some of

the other characters in the series represent an almost “post-gay” approach to

sexual themes, in which sexual identity is represented as fluid and

complicated, and, more importantly, as not a big deal. It simply is what it

is. As the series opening reminds us each week, the 21st century is

when it all changes; aliens and alien technology are popping up with increasing

regularity and wreaking havoc on earth, and serving as a metaphor for the life

changes we experience given the speed of real-world technological development.

The series poses the

question, “Are we ready for all this?” The answer is that there are bigger

problems we should all be worrying about than whether someone we don’t know

just snogged another person with matching chromosomes.

Character Rating: 9/10

Significance Rating : 10/10

Originality Rating : 10/10

Marc Leonard is the co-host of the AfterElton vlog Angry Puppy and a contributor to TheAngryPuppy.com

Latest News