I’m a big fan of BSG’s Imperious Leader Ron Moore, but as long as I’m dissing him on race, I might as well diss him on sexual orientation as well.
Moore used to criticise Star Trek for not having any gay characters. When BSG started he said he hoped to include a gay relationship along the way. Whenever he was asked about it he would say something like, “I still want to, we just need to find the right way to do it.”
Finally he delivered on his promise – by giving us a lesbian couple in which one has the other raped and tortured and the other kills the first in revenge. That was the right way he was looking for? Ooooookay ….
(Shades of JMS criticising Trek for no gay characters, promising a gay relationship on B5, and then giving us a barely-hinted-at lesbian relationship in which one of the two women immediately has a braincrash, turns evil, and leaves the show.)
Star Trek hasn’t really had much in the way of gay characters. There was DS9 episode with a lesbian couple (of course it was fraught with emotional turmoil), and all the alternate-universe episodes feature evil versions of the main female characters except they’re devilish, evil, leather-clad lesbians. Lots of tolerance there….
There was also one episode of TNG that featured an androgynous planet that looked with horror at two-sexed species. The whole episode was a long metaphor for homophobia, but this message was rather blunted by the fact that the human race was fairly explicitly portrayed as exclusively heterosexual.
Oh yeah, and there was also the Enterprise arc about mindmelders being treated as a despised minority among Vulcans, which was obviously supposed to be another such metaphor.
The worst treatment of gays in recent sci-fi is almost certainly the movie Martian Child, based on David Gerrold’s partly autobiographical novel about a single parent raising an adopted son — despite the parent in the novel being gay (like Gerrold himself), the movie character was changed to straight.
I’ve noticed that in popular media, lesbians seem to be the “safe” non-straight minority. When a television series, or a comic book, or a novel introduces a character who’s attracted to their own sex, it’s very likely to be a woman; when a mainly heterosexual character has a sexual encounter with someone else of their own sex, it’s very likely to be a woman with a woman. Of course, my sample is largely stories with something of an action/adventure focus, which tend to have a mainly male audience; perhaps that audience finds lesbians exotically sexy, but gay men a bit disturbing and hard to identify with.
*boinks the lesbo-bolsheviks* 🙂
I’d be happier if they just dropped all of the romatic subplots. They aren’t handled well at all. The attraction between the characters seems forced or non-existent.