The gods of intersectionality and diversity have blessed us with yet another offering on the television alter. A gay woman of color will be the Doctor’s sidekick in the upcoming season of the long running British Sci-Fi show, Doctor Who.
me: never cared about dr who
*new companion is a gay woman of colour*
me: cries. starts phone countdown to 15th april.
— mk (@martha_alice_8) March 31, 2017
While myself and people like me have been dancing in the streets, crying tears of ecstasy, some are trying to rain on our big gay parade.
Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat said at a press screening there shouldn’t be any fuss over the fact Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie, is a lesbian.
“Just to be clear, we are not expecting any kind of round of applause or pat in the back for that. That is the minimal level of representation we should have on television and the correct response would be: ‘What took you so long?’ not ‘We’re so great.’”
Potts is not actually the first gay Doctor Who character, just the first openly, “completely” gay sidekick. Captain Jack Harkness (played by gay actor John Barrowman), Vastra and River Song were all bisexual or sexually ambiguous supporting characters. In the “classic” version of the series (1963-1989), the ill-fated 1980s companion Adric — played by openly gay actor Matthew Waterhouse — became a gay icon. Even the series’ longtime producer in the 80s, John Nathan Turner, was a gay man and was surrounded by a swirl of scandal during his tenure.
“It is important we don’t make a big fuss about it in a show that communicates directly with children,” said Moffat. “You don’t want young kids who regard themselves as boring and normal and happen to fancy their own gender to feel as if they’re some kind of special case. That’s frightening.”
When asked about all the gayness by a reporter, Mackie replied with, “I think Steven’s covered it really. People are gay, so yeah.”
But if a person is gay on television and the media doesn’t freak out over it, is the character really gay at all?