Monstrous Misdirection: Unmasking Moral Panic and Celebrating Geek Fandoms

Busy Geek Breakdown (TL;DR):

Don’t support any of the listed authors below. Yes, people (read: parents) took them seriously. I know it sounds ridiculous but the panic was real, even if the actual threat was not.

Do be queer and do geek stuff. (D&D, TMNT, and Pokemon are super cool!)

For those of us born in the 1900’s, in that magical time when we had very little parental supervision, but also could play Oregon Trail in school and call it educational

The internet was an excellent opportunity to explore all those things our parents didn’t understand, get dubiously backed up answers to questions we were afraid to ask, or ask random strangers ASL? Which, of course, was not American Sign Language.

…. or use the 14.4k modems at the Public Library to look up the Space Jam Website

(of note, that JNCO Baseball on NEX, and playing NBA Jam on SNES were mostly the extent of my sports involvement until college) 

Anyway, the 1980s and 1990s were decades marked by a phenomenon known as “moral panic.” 

During this time, a slew of books emerged that ignited widespread fear and controversy, often targeting LGBTQ+ themes and characters. So today, right in time for spooky season,, we’ll embark on a journey through the pages of these moral panic books, examining their impact on the LGBTQ+ community and how they continue to shape discussions today.

Disclaimer: I read these hilariously awful books so you don’t have to, and don’t worry – I read them at the public library (yes I said at the library) so no money went to these jokers and their demand won’t inch up at all. I do not believe in banning books, but I’m also not going to help these folks out, which is also why I won’t be linking for you to buy any of these in the post like I normally do. If you really want a copy, you can go searching. 

To understand the moral panic books of the ’80s and ’90s, it’s essential to grasp the socio-political context of these decades. The AIDS epidemic, Reaganomics, neo-Mccarthyism, conservative politics, and a general discomfort with changing societal norms all played a role in the creation and promotion of these controversial texts.

Moral Panic #1: The Truth About Dungeons and Dragons – by Joan Robie

This book actually went out of print so fast it appears it’s now become somewhat of a collector’s item. Fun!

That didn’t stop it from making some geeks’ lives miserable. This was my first foray into Robie’s writing, and it came up when a teacher was concerned because my friends and I were playing Magic the Gathering during lunch. She was concerned we worshipped Satan or something (whatever happened to religious freedom, right). Anyway, I became a vegan due to my poor spelling at a young age.

Anyway, “The Truth about Dungeons and Dragons” by Joan Hake Robie is a book published in 1991 during the height of the Satanic Panic era. The book attempts to link the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) to various moral and psychological concerns, including claims of promoting occult practices, violence, and psychological harm to players, especially teenagers. And if you’re too young to remember this, it went way beyond a few poorly written books. There was even a nebulously created (later entirely debunked) theory that a college student at Michigan State University played so much D&D that he got lost in maintenance tunnels under the campus and died. The fact that this was entirely false did not stop the media, and then countless parent groups from repeating it over and over.

By the specific examples the author uses, and the direct quotes from gamers, it’s clear that the only interviews she conducted were with some adolescent boys who thought it would be funny to mess with her. Reading these sections feels a lot like getting smack talked when I tried to play Fortnite with my nephew.

The book is primarily a product of its time when fears and misconceptions about the influence of D&D were prevalent, often fueled by religious and moral concerns. Robie’s writing reflects a profoundly conservative Christian perspective, which colors her analysis throughout the book. She asserts that allowing children to play D&D is akin to opening their minds to occult practices and harmful psychological effects.

Robie presents anecdotal evidence and case studies, often emphasizing the adverse outcomes of some individuals who played D&D. She also makes questionable connections between the game and themes such as prostitution, sex perversion, cannibalism, and even psychotherapy, which she frames negatively.

Throughout the book, Robie suggests that D&D can lead to a range of societal ills, and she often employs religious references and quotes to support her arguments. She portrays the game as a potential gateway to the occult and other perceived moral dangers.

“The Truth about Dungeons and Dragons” is a book deeply rooted in the moral and religious fears of the time it was written—the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Robie’s work reflects a strong religious bias and a lack of understanding of the nature of tabletop role-playing games like D&D.

While the book claims to analyze the potential dangers associated with D&D, it relies heavily on anecdotal evidence and case studies that may not represent the broader gaming community. Robie’s interpretation of the game’s content often stretches credibility, such as linking it to prostitution and cannibalism.

Robie also suggests that D&D can harm players, particularly teenagers, by alienating them from their peers and leading them into dangerous territory. However, her arguments often lack nuance and do not consider the diverse experiences and motivations of individuals who engage in tabletop role-playing.

One notable aspect of the book is its extensive bibliography, which includes references to articles and materials related to the history and impact of D&D. Some of these references offer valuable insights into the historical context of the game’s rise in popularity.

In retrospect, “The Truth about Dungeons and Dragons” is seen as a product of its time, reflecting the irrational fears and moral concerns surrounding role-playing games during the Satanic Panic. While it may serve as a historical artifact that sheds light on the circumstances of that era, its arguments and interpretations are discredited by both the gaming community and scholars who have examined the impact of D&D.

The book provides a glimpse into the unfounded fears and misconceptions surrounding D&D during a particular historical period. However, its analysis is heavily biased and needs more depth and nuance to fully understand the nature of tabletop role-playing games and their effects on individuals.

Moral Panic #2: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Exposed – by Joan Hake Robie

Hey, kids, she’s back! “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Exposed” by Joan Hake Robie, published in 1991, is a controversial examination of the popular TMNT franchise. In this book, Robie sets out to provide a “critical analysis” of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Still, the analysis leans heavily toward criticism, especially regarding themes of violence, commercialization, and the perceived negative influence on children.

The book is only 75 pages long (which reads like a Flat Earther trying to write an open letter disputing an acclaimed orbitologist) and offers a basic overview of the TMNT phenomenon, including their origin story and popularity in the 1990s. Robie delves into various aspects of the Turtles’ universe, from the movies and action figures to their music tour, “Coming Out of Their Shells.” One section of the book, titled “The Philosophy of the Turtles,” delves into the moral and philosophical aspects of the TMNT concept.

Robie expresses concerns about depicting violence, stereotypes, and the representation of women in the TMNT series. She argues that the show’s emphasis on violence and its commercialization are problematic, potentially desensitizing children to real-world violence. Robie also criticizes the lack of nuance in portraying good versus evil in the series.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Exposed” is a highly critical examination of the TMNT franchise, focusing primarily on concerns related to violence, commercialization, and gender representation. Robie presents a biased and firmly rooted perspective in her personal beliefs, which may not align with the views of all readers.

One recurring theme in the book is Robie’s worry about the influence of violence in children’s entertainment, particularly in TMNT. While the concern about violence in media aimed at children is legitimate, Robie’s arguments often lack nuance and rely on exaggerations and misinterpretations of the series.

Robie also raises concerns about gender representation, highlighting the character April O’Neil as an example of the sexualization of women in the series.

While on the surface, it’s tricky to argue that point, considering her iconic skin-tight yellow jumpsuit in the 1985 cartoon, and the fact that more than one person likely realized they weren’t entirely straight because of Ms. O’Neil, the specific arguments in the book rely heavily on cherry picked biblical passages, seem to ignore other areas in popular media where women are sexualized, and lack a thorough understanding of the source material, leading to questionable assertions.

The book is poorly written, with numerous spelling and grammatical errors throughout. Robie’s writing style is disjointed, and her arguments often lack coherence. This lack of clarity may make it difficult for readers to fully grasp her points.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Exposed” is a book that attempts to critically analyze the TMNT franchise but falls short due to its biased perspective, lack of depth in its arguments, and poor writing. While it raises some valid concerns about violence in children’s entertainment, it fails to present a well-reasoned and balanced critique of the series. Readers interested in thoroughly examining the TMNT franchise will be immensely disappointed.

Moral Panic #3: POKEMON is of the Devil!

Ok, so I didn’t find any specific books about this one (yet – I’ll keep looking because these things amuse me to no end) but the panic was very real.

In the late 1990s, a phenomenon swept the globe, captivating the hearts and minds of children and adults alike. Pokémon, short for “Pocket Monsters,” emerged as a cultural juggernaut with its video games, trading cards, animated TV series, and merchandise. But a moral panic was brewing beneath the vibrant colors and endearing creatures.

The moral panic surrounding Pokémon can be traced back to several key factors.

Pokémon’s trading card game quickly became a sensation. As children eagerly collected and traded cards, adults worried about the potential for addiction and financial strain on parents. Simultaneously, the Pokémon animated TV show followed Ash Ketchum’s and his friends’ adventures as they traveled the world capturing Pokémon.

Critics argued that the show promoted materialism and consumerism, relentlessly focusing on collecting creatures. Moreover, some religious groups voiced concerns that Pokémon promoted occultism and encouraged children to summon “demons” by capturing and battling creatures.

The Pokémon moral panic manifested in various ways. Some schools banned Pokémon cards due to concerns about theft, distraction, and student disputes over trades and battles. Pokémon was accused of promoting occultism and even satanic themes, often centered on the concept of “evolution” in the game, where Pokémon would transform into more powerful forms.

Parents worried about how much time their children spent playing Pokémon games or watching the TV show, fearing it could lead to a sedentary lifestyle or addiction.

Over time, the Pokémon moral panic gradually subsided for several reasons. As more information about Pokémon became available, parents and educators better understood the game’s mechanics and objectives. This demystification reduced some of the fear and misinformation. Moreover, Pokémon encouraged strategic thinking, problem-solving, and social interaction among players, overshadowing the negative perceptions.

Pokémon continued to evolve and adapt to changing societal norms. The franchise expanded its offerings to include games that promote physical activity, such as Pokémon GO. Many parents started to engage with their children by learning about Pokémon and playing the games together, fostering a sense of bonding. Then of course, came the panic over people walking into traffic, but that’s a whole other story …

The Pokémon moral panic of the late 1990s was a complex interplay of concerns over addiction, occultism, and consumerism. However, education, positive experiences, and a better understanding of the franchise helped dispel these fears over time. Pokémon continued to thrive as a beloved and enduring part of popular culture, proving that beneath the initial moral panic lay a world of imaginative storytelling, strategic gameplay, and cherished memories for generations of fans.

Lessons for Today:

I could do an entire series on real panics set off by fake threats, and maybe I will at some point. Whether it’s Comic Books convincing kids they can jump off buildings, Teletubbies turning kids gay, Fraggle Rock turning kids into communists, Celeste making kids think that they are trans (and making trans kids believe they can double jump?) – people claiming to ‘defend family values’ will always find a way to stir up fear and hatred.

This type of panic, of course, disproportionately impacts BIPOC, Queer, and other marginalized communities. This post is not meant to downplay the genuine harm that can be done when people, especially those with the power to create violence with weapons, words, or legislation, stir up panic. It is here to let you know we’ve been here before, and it will happen again. Arguing each instance on the merits may be a waste of time, I don’t know. But I know that when we gather to celebrate our Geeky fandoms, find Queer joy, and have Pride in who we are and love, we will win out.

Have other topics you want me to babble about artlessly? Let me know!

Things That Made Me Gay: O Human Star

Hello friends, enemies, fans, critics and everyone in between.

This blog is a slightly different format from my others and will be more vulnerable and probably missing some of my usual snark. (I am working to finish several other blog posts, but perfectionism can sometimes be rough. Some of you may be wondering what my blog posts look like before all the editing, but trust me).

So I know that Michele has already interviewed the amazing Blue Delliquanti here and again here – but rather than focusing on the author, I just wanted to discuss briefly how this comic impacted me on a personal level.

So there I was, a fairly new member of the Queer community, realizing only the year before that I was Bisexual, and only having dated anyone other than women for a few months, when I found myself deployed, out at sea, for significantly longer than the entirety of the run of Firefly – with little to do after standing watch and working. I couldn’t work out, because nobody knew how Covid spread at that point and the gym in the ship were shut down, and it was easily 115 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

During deployment I challenged myself to only consume media created by non cishet white men, for the entire year I was gone. While I initially thought it would be challenging in the sci-fi and fantasy realm, I soon had my eyes opened. I discovered so much more in the genres than what I had previously seen featured on the shelves of the big box book stores.

So, I had read a lot of great reviews of ‘O Human Star’ and decided to give it a try. Several weeks later (being out to sea reminding me a great deal of the very first Compact Disc (ask your parents kids) where I had to ride my bicycle to get a money order and mail it in then wait 6 weeks – the struggle was real) I got my copy.

Initially reading along, it resonated with me, but I wasn’t sure why. Much like the protagonist, Alastair Sterling, I had an amazing mustache which always got lots of commentary and was clearly the envy of everyone … or so I told myself each day in the mirror.

See, look how well I did masculinity! And I’m on a boat!

Anyway, things began to resonate as I read through the story, which I highly recommend. You can read it here for free, but also support the artist please.

And by the time we got to the final image, I thought (and very very spoilers ahead so stop reading this and go read literally the entire comic right now if that bothers you)

… Oh, of course. Anyone would become a beautiful woman if they could just swap out their robot body for one they designed. That makes total sense.

So, two years of reading, self work, and therapy later I came out as Trans Femme/ Non-Binary, and very recently began my transition. Look how happy I am now!

FlameCon 2023, and the costume was my wonderful partner’s idea, and she did all the work, I just showed up and looked pretty

Looking back, this is all less surprising that I initially thought. The book that originally made me question my sexuality to begin with was actually Sissy by Jacob Tobiah .

So young people, be gay and do comics. Parents, comics and fandoms won’t turn your kids gay or trans etc, but seeing positive representation will definitely make their lives better.

Until next time, gay space cowboys (redundant?) ….

Damon (they/them)

Queer Quills and Nerdy Thrills: Glimpses Through My Geeky Glasses – Science Fiction and Space Opera

Greetings, esteemed readers! As a 100% real human person and not a droid, I am thrilled to embark on this literary journey with you, delving into captivating books that traverse distant galaxies while shedding light on LGBTQIA+ and Queer-Coded experiences, all in the spirit of beloved geek culture. Strap on your seatbelts, and let us get a”byte” of adventure in the wonders of the following literary gems.

Busy Geek Breakdown (TL;DR): Check out these titles!

“Cinder” by Marissa Meyer

“The Disasters” by M.K. England

“The Darkness Outside Us” by Eliot Schrefer

“The Prey of Gods” by Nicky Drayden

“The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers

And, for those of you still with me, on to why I recommended you put these stories into your brain!

5. “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer: 

Prepare to be enchanted by this imaginative retelling of the classic Cinderella tale with a sci-fi twist. In a futuristic world, cyborg mechanic Cinder, an LGBT+ character, is entangled in political intrigue while exploring her identity and desires. A narrative that challenges gender norms, “Cinder” blends futuristic tech and romance.

Within the pages of “Cinder,” Marissa Meyer gracefully introduces readers to the complexities of identity, love, and self-acceptance. Cinder’s journey of self-discovery unfolds seamlessly against a backdrop of futuristic technologies and social stratification. Through this futuristic retelling of the beloved fairy tale, Meyer empowers LGBT+ readers by presenting a cyborg protagonist who embraces her uniqueness and navigates her burgeoning feelings without restraint. By defying traditional norms and expectations, “Cinder” ignites a spark within us, urging us to embrace our authentic selves and champion those who dare to be different.

Meyer creates a cybernetic wonderland brimming with steampunk aesthetics and diverse characters, celebrating individuality and love in all its forms. “Cinder” stands as a beacon of hope, promoting acceptance and showcasing that our uniqueness is what makes us extraordinary.

4. “The Disasters” by M.K. England: 

In this fast-paced sci-fi adventure, a motley crew of cadets must band together to thwart a sinister plot. Geek culture takes center stage, entwining fandoms and pop-culture references with identity exploration and burgeoning romance.

“The Disasters” propels readers on an exhilarating rollercoaster of action, friendship, and geek culture, all while celebrating diverse identities. England creates a thrilling narrative filled with witty dialogue and pop-culture references that resonate with readers.

As they navigate a treacherous mission and their own identities, their experiences serve as a testament to the beauty of authenticity and the strength of unity. “The Disasters” is a vibrant testament to the power of found family, geek pride, and the courage to be true to oneself.

England captures the essence of geekdom, enveloping readers in an exhilarating escapade. Through witty banter, queer empowerment, and found family dynamics, “The Disasters” strikes a chord with those who revel in embracing their true selves.

3. “The Darkness Outside Us” by Eliot Schrefer: 

Amidst the interstellar void, two young astronauts find themselves in a gripping tale of mystery, betrayal, and unexpected alliances. Our main characters grapple with their identities as they embark on a high-stakes mission. The exploration of love and trust is central to the narrative, showing the intricacies of queer relationships.

In this gripping and psychologically charged narrative, Schrefer delves into the complexities of human relationships as our protagonists, set adrift in the vastness of space, must confront external threats and the internal struggles.

Schrefer’s deft storytelling prompts readers to question the barriers imposed by society and to embrace the fluidity of human connections. “The Darkness Outside Us” reminds us that love and acceptance can be beacons of light guiding us home in the darkest times.

Schrefer weaves a mesmerizing narrative, blending sci-fi and psychological drama elements. This absorbing read challenges the boundaries of human connection and explores the complexities of self-discovery.

2. “The Prey of Gods” by Nicky Drayden: 

Enter a fantastical South African world where mythology and technology converge. This genre-defying novel takes readers on a thrilling ride with a rich cast each on their own journey of empowerment. Fluid identities, extraordinary powers, and battles for acceptance create a vibrant tapestry in this unforgettable tale.

In a stunning tapestry of mythology, technology, and queer empowerment, Nicky Drayden weaves a tale that leaves an indelible mark on readers’ hearts. The vibrant characters challenge conventions and embody the power of self-discovery. In a world where the boundaries of identity are fluid, and the definition of heroism is reshaped, “The Prey of Gods” celebrates individuality and reminds us that our diverse identities are a wellspring of strength. Drayden’s exquisite portrayal of queerness and the embrace of nonconformity make this novel a dazzling gem in the constellation of inclusive sci-fi literature.

Drayden crafts a breathtaking universe that combines the best of speculative fiction with cultural depth. “The Prey of Gods” is a kaleidoscope of wonder, challenging norms and embracing the extraordinary.

1. “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers: 

A voyage awaits you in this enchanting space opera that unfolds on board the Wayfarer, a diverse crew of interstellar misfits. This heartwarming tale of camaraderie explores love, friendship, and gender identity among alien species. LGBT+ themes find a tender portrayal through the endearing romance between two characters as they navigate their emotions amidst the vastness of the cosmos.

In the heart of the Wayfarer’s crew, readers encounter an eclectic mix of personalities, each grappling with their pasts and embracing their true selves. Through this diverse ensemble, Chambers deftly explores the nuances of gender identity and sexual orientation, fostering an environment where acceptance and respect flourish. The interplay between cultures and species serves as a poignant mirror of our society, prompting us to cherish our differences and celebrate the beauty of inclusivity. A touching portrayal of LGBT+ love and camaraderie amidst the stars, “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” becomes a hopeful reminder that unity and empathy can conquer even the most daunting challenges.

Chambers skillfully crafts a universe where acceptance, inclusivity, and personal growth converge in a masterful symphony. This book transcends the boundaries of science fiction, resonating with readers on a deeply human level.

Another great thing about this entire series is something I’ll gladly go on a separate rant about later … pronouns and honorifics. In this series, in the Galactic Common Language, Kliptorigan frequently referred to as Klip, if a being’s gender is not known or stated, then ze/zir is understood to be appropriate, and the honorific M. is used for elders and formal settings, pronounced “Ehm”. Used like, “Good morning M. Johnson” or “I’d be happy to help you with that M.” It’s wonderful, it’s understated but it feels so right.

As we close this cosmic chapter, we celebrate these five exceptional works for their portrayal of LGBT+ and Queer Coded experiences alongside the captivating tapestry of geek culture. These books transport us to far-off realms and remind us that love, acceptance, and the exploration of identity are timeless quests that resonate across the galaxies. Until next time, may the force of understanding and inclusion be with you, dear readers!

Queer Quills and Nerdy Thrills: Glimpses Through My Geeky Glasses – Fantasy and Supernatural

Sapphic Adventurers Unite!

Busy Geek Breakdown (TL;DR): Read these books for some Sapphic Fantasy (Supernatural) Realness!

Gideon the Ninth- Tamsyn Muir;

Hench – Natalie Z. Walschots;

Empress of Salt and Fortune – Nghi Vo;

Valiant Ladies – Melissa Grey;

Warrior of the Wild – Tricia Levenseller;

Dread Nation – Justina Ireland.

Let us know what you think!

Welcome to a world of magic, wonder, and representation where Sapphic adventurers take center stage. If I’ve learned anything from Drag Race …

As an avid reader and fantasy enthusiast, I can’t help but don my geeky glasses and immerse myself in fantastical realms where diversity and inclusivity reign supreme. Of course I still love dimension hopping, but Fantasy is what got me started in my reading journey as a young person in Indiana. Join me as we embark on a journey through six remarkable fantasy and supernatural novels that explore compelling LGBTQIA+ issues and storylines. From necromancers to superheroes, these tales showcase the power of diverse narratives .

6. Gideon the Ninth (by Tamsyn Muir):

Content Warnings: Gideon the Ninth is about Necromancers. There’s a lot of bones and gore and violence and such. Its a darkly funny story in a dark universe. Please proceed with caution.

The Best way to Sum it all up ….

Gideon Nav, a snarky and sword-wielding orphan, is bound to her lifelong frenemy, Harrowhark Nonagesimus (her very few friends call her Harrow), to serve the Ninth House in a deadly cosmic competition. This epic tale combines dark fantasy and science fiction elements, enthralling readers with its unique blend of magic and technology. As we traverse the dangerous halls of the Emperor’s crumbling palace, we encounter a tantalizing romance between Gideon and another powerful necromancer that is not what it seems. Tamsyn Muir’s masterful storytelling highlights the struggles of queer characters while delivering a thrilling mystery and adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Gideon’s unyielding spirit and witty banter make her an instantly likable and relatable character for LGBTQ+ readers who have often sought more assertive representation in the genre. Her struggles with self-acceptance and the journey towards embracing her identity resonate deeply, mirroring the experiences of many individuals within the queer community.

The novel’s strength lies not only in its LGBTQ+ themes but also in its nuanced exploration of power dynamics, loyalty, and the complexities of human relationships. As Gideon and Harrow navigate a treacherous game of politics and dark magic, their compelling dynamic unveils layers of emotion and vulnerability beneath their seemingly adversarial exteriors.

Tamsyn Muir’s world-building is nothing short of mesmerizing. She crafts a vivid, macabre setting that immerses readers in a chillingly gothic universe filled with ancient mysteries and ominous secrets. This eerie ambiance serves as an ideal backdrop for a story that delves deep into the hearts and minds of its characters, showcasing their triumphs and traumas.

I picked this up on the recommendation of my local Providence Bookstore, and I couldn’t be happier. Tamsyn Muir’s skillful storytelling, multi-dimensional characters, and darkly enchanting world-building combine to create a singular reading experience.

5. Hench (by Natalie Zina Walschots):

Content Warnings: Some violence, blood, gore, imprisonment, and torture.

Fair Use – this image is copyrighted, but used here under Fair Use guidelines. Owner/Creator: Harper Collins Publishing Group, LLC.

Ever wondered about the lives of henches working for supervillains? (And no, I’m not talking about Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Dara Khosrowshahi.) Hench takes us on a journey with Anna, a data analyst working for various nefarious villains. Amidst the chaos of superhuman battles, we witness a budding romance between Anna and a fellow hench. Natalie Zina Walschots’ engaging narrative sheds light on the vulnerability and strength of LGBT characters in a world where villains and heroes blur the lines of morality.

At the heart of “Hench” is Anna Tromedlov, a talented data analyst who finds herself entangled in the machinations of superheroes and villains. As she navigates the dangerous world of powered individuals, Anna’s compelling character arcs offer a profound exploration of identity, ambition, and the pursuit of personal agency. Her journey to embrace her queer identity resonates with authenticity. It highlights the struggles and triumphs faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community.

As Anna becomes entangled with the enigmatic and charismatic villain, Leviathan, the novel explores a complex queer relationship that defies the binary notions of good and evil. The exploration of queer romance in “Hench” transcends token representation and delves into the depths of emotional connection, showing the profound impact of authentic love regardless of societal norms.

In a genre often dominated by cisgender and heterosexual protagonists, “Hench” boldly carves out a space for queer representation and narrative complexity. The novel’s unflinching exploration of identity and agency mirrors the struggles of many in the LGBTQ+ community, highlighting the need for greater inclusivity and visibility in all forms of storytelling.

4. Empress of Salt and Fortune (by Nghi Vo):

Fair Use – this image is copyrighted, but used here under Fair Use guidelines.
Owner/Creator: MacMillan Publishing Group, LLC.

In this evocative novella, Nghi Vo explores the life of a non-binary cleric, Chih, who unravels the secrets of an exiled empress through the eyes of an elderly servant, Rabbit. Set against a rich tapestry of East Asian-inspired mythology, the story delves into power, betrayal, and resilience themes. As Chih and Rabbit’s paths intertwine, the novella offers a tender depiction of queer love, acceptance, and the endurance of the human spirit.

At the story’s core is a timeless tale of resilience and defiance, centered around the exiled empress, In-yo, and her loyal handmaiden, Rabbit. As their untold story unfolds through the narration of the nonbinary cleric Chih, readers are drawn into a mesmerizing journey that challenges traditional gender roles and explores the profound bond between women.

Nghi Vo’s exquisite prose creates a vivid tapestry that paints a nuanced picture of power dynamics, patriarchy, and the hidden strength of women who have often been relegated to the sidelines of history. “Empress of Salt and Fortune” celebrates the agency and wisdom of female characters while shedding light on the overlooked aspects of their contributions to shaping kingdoms and empires.

The novel explores the consequences of silenced voices and histories and profoundly resonates with contemporary social justice issues. By portraying the multifaceted impact of colonization and erasure, “Empress of Salt and Fortune” becomes an allegory for reclaiming marginalized narratives and identities.

As Chih unearths the hidden truths of the past, the novel reveals a narrative that celebrates the resilience of women, the beauty of queer connections, and the power of reclaiming history.

3. Valiant Ladies (by Melissa Grey):

Fair Use – this image is copyrighted, but used here under Fair Use guidelines. Owner/Creator: MacMillan Publishing Group, LLC.

Set in the spirited landscape of 17th-century Peru, “Valiant Ladies” is a historical fantasy novel that centers on the gripping tale of Kiki and Ana, two women from starkly different backgrounds. Kiki hails from nobility, while Ana has been raised in a brothel. Despite societal differences, they form an unyielding bond and begin a thrilling secret life of night-time adventures, gambling, and rescuing the oppressed. When tragedy strikes close to home, they find themselves in the heart of a murder mystery, their growing love for each other intertwining with their pursuit of justice. Based loosely on real historical figures, the story is a riveting blend of reality and fiction, serving as a fresh take on the fantasy genre.

“Valiant Ladies” is an engaging blend of historical fantasy and sapphic romance, offering a refreshing narrative in Young Adult and New Adult literature. It beautifully captures the budding romance between the two main characters, presenting a realistic, intimate exploration of a lesbian relationship that is still sadly underrepresented in fantasy.
The novel successfully fuses fantasy tropes with a distinct LGBTQ+ narrative. Kiki and Ana’s story challenges the familiar heteronormative narratives found in many fantasy novels, bringing to the forefront a tender sapphic romance that resonates deeply with the LGBTQ+ community. It is not simply a token romance but an integral part of the plot as they navigate their growing feelings amidst societal expectations and high-stakes adventures.

The book’s historical context provides a unique backdrop for exploring issues of acceptance and identity. Ana’s acceptance by Kiki’s noble family and their non-judgmental approach towards her past provide a poignant commentary on acceptance and breaking societal norms, a theme many in the LGBTQ+ community can relate to.

Moreover, “Valiant Ladies” doesn’t shy away from weaving feminist themes into its narrative. The heroines challenge the gender norms of their time – they are vigilantes, gamblers, and fighters, subverting expectations in a predominantly patriarchal society. This aligns with the broader themes of resistance and agency explored in LGBTQ+ narratives.

“Valiant Ladies” is a fun, engaging historical fantasy that offers a heartwarming sapphic romance, an exciting adventure, and a thoughtful exploration of LGBTQ+ themes. While it doesn’t revolutionize the genre, it adds a much-needed voice to the diversity of narratives within fantasy literature. It’s a must-read for any Queer geek seeking representation and relatability in their fantasy adventures.

2. Warrior of the Wild (by Tricia Levenseller):

Fair Use – this image is copyrighted, but used here under Fair Use guidelines.
Owner/Creator: MacMillan Publishing Group, LLC.

In “Warrior of the Wild” by Tricia Levenseller, embark on a captivating journey into a Viking-inspired world where honor, love, and identity intertwine. As the story unfolds, Rasmira, a fiercely skilled warrior, faces the heartbreak of betrayal and is cast out to the perilous wilderness. To redeem herself, she must accomplish the impossible – slay an oppressive god. In this action-packed tale of self-discovery and resilience, Rasmira’s unwavering spirit challenges societal norms. An unexpected romance blooms, transcending boundaries and making an empowering statement for LGBT representation in fantasy.

Rasmira’s journey as a robust and skilled warrior mirrors the struggles of many in the Queer community who face discrimination and prejudice based on societal expectations. Her resilience and determination in the face of adversity are an empowering parallel to the real-world challenges of self-acceptance and embracing one’s true identity.
The novel artfully incorporates LGBTQIA+ themes, offering readers a heartwarming and authentic portrayal of same-sex love through the character of Iric. As Rasmira’s banished companions, Iric and his partner defy society’s expectations, and their relationship becomes a beacon of hope for those seeking representation in fantasy literature.

Beyond its focus on LGBT representation, “Warrior of the Wild” delves into broader social justice issues. Through Rasmira’s journey to defeat an oppressive god, the story symbolizes the fight against systemic injustice and the struggle to dismantle oppressive power structures. The battles she faces in the wilderness are potent metaphors for overcoming societal prejudices and finding one’s place in a world that often seeks to marginalize and silence diverse voices.

Tricia Levenseller’s masterful storytelling unfolds with a perfect blend of action, romance, and rich world-building. While the novel adheres to classic fantasy tropes, it gracefully subverts them to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. The characters are beautifully developed, and the solid sisterly bond between Rasmira and her sister adds depth to the narrative, emphasizing the importance of family support in the journey toward self-acceptance.

1. Dread Nation (by Justina Ireland):

Content Warnings: Racism, racial violence, gore.

Fair Use – this image is copyrighted, but used here under Fair Use guidelines. Owner/Creator: Titan Books

I know what some of you are thinking. I just did a review of Survival Horror Books. How did I end up with a Zombie Book on the Fantasy List? That is a valid question, but holy cow look behind you!

What if the Civil War was interrupted by a zombie apocalypse? Dread Nation presents a gripping alternate history where African American and Native American children are forced to train as zombie-fighting warriors. Among them, the bold and capable Jane McKeene stands out, fearlessly challenging the norms of her society. She forms a complex bond with another girl along her path, showcasing a powerful portrayal of queer love amidst the undead chaos.

“Dread Nation” by Justina Ireland is a riveting and groundbreaking novel that deftly weaves together alternate history, zombie horror, and social commentary while championing intersectional representation with a fierce and complex protagonist. This genre-blending tale transports readers to an America where the Civil War takes an unexpected turn when the dead rise, forcing a new narrative of survival and resistance.

At the story’s heart is Jane McKeene, a fierce and intelligent Black protagonist who navigates a world where racial oppression intersects with the threat of the undead. As a student in Miss Preston’s School of Combat, Jane is trained as an Attendant, meant to protect the wealthy white citizens from the relentless zombie hordes. Her narrative embodies the struggle of Black people throughout history, navigating a society that seeks to control and limit their potential.

Justina Ireland’s writing is engaging and thought-provoking, immersing readers in a vividly depicted world that mirrors the complexities of our own history. Through Jane’s journey, the novel delves into themes of identity, survival, and rebellion against oppressive systems, resonating deeply with readers who face similar challenges in the real world.

As we conclude our journey through these enchanting worlds, we celebrate the wonders of fantasy and supernatural fiction and the importance of queer representation. So, whether you’re a seasoned fantasy enthusiast or a newcomer to the genre, these books promise to leave you enchanted and inspired, opening your heart and mind to the power of Sapphic adventurers and their quest for love, acceptance, and triumph. As always, if you think I missed any great reads, let me know. Happy reading!

Star Trek (But Make it Gay) – Bonus (and very out of order, both chronologically and in release order – Edition!!)

If you missed out, please see my reviews on Deep Space Nine,  The Next Generation, and The Original Series

Busy Geek Break Down (TL;DR): Updated to include this weeks episode … So far this new season of Strange New Worlds has everything my Queer Trekkie Heart could ask for, and you need to get on the transporter and join the Away Mission to check it out! Haven’t seen season One? Get on it!!!

There’s awesome rogue missions while the Captain is away, there’s emotional outbursts by Vulcans, there’s devious Romulans, Time Travel, Court Room scenes, Kirk has a star-crossed mini romance, and we get some wonderful character development for our favorite Security Officer (sorry Tasha Yar).

*** Note, and out of context spoiler *** Leaving a loaded Glock on the bedside table of your adolescent historically reprehensible ancestor is not a great move … will this come back to haunt us, or is it like a Starbucks cup in Westeros, or Jeans on Mandalore ? Who knows!!!

Anyway, for total Star Trek Redshirts Provisional Ensigns Red Squad Cadets Back to Redshirts, Yay!!!:

post star trek red shirt mind blown reDv

Watch and share Post Star Trek Red Shirt Mind Blown ReDv GIFs on Gfycat

One might not immediately correlate Star Trek’s courtroom episodes with LGBTQ issues. In the expansive universe of Star Trek, has provided poignant narratives that delve into complex societal, political, and ethical themes. In particular, these legal dramas have shed light on issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity, boldly going where few mainstream television series have ventured before.

Many grumpy old cishet white dues on the internet keep asking when Star Trek got ‘woke’… uh, 1963, dude!

Yet, in retrospect, they’ve provided the franchise with an ideal narrative platform to tackle the complex discourse surrounding sexual orientation, gender identity, and society’s views. This subtlety, this social commentary woven into captivating narratives, is a part of Star Trek’s enduring appeal.

Perhaps the most memorable of these courtroom episodes is “The Measure Of A Man” from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Here, android officer Data is on trial to determine if he is Starfleet property or an autonomous being with rights and freedoms. Although not directly addressing LGBTQ issues, the episode subtly echoes the struggle for recognition and rights by marginalized communities, including LGBTQ individuals. In the face of misunderstanding and prejudice, Data’s quest for self-determination mirrors the journey many LGBTQ people face in asserting their own identities and rights.

“The Outcast,” another Next Generation episode, also comes to mind. In this episode, Commander Riker falls in love with Soren, a member of an androgynous species known as the J’naii, who secretly identifies as a woman. When her society discovers her preference for gender identity, she goes on trial. While the episode has received criticism (including from me) for its lack of explicitly queer characters, it raises relevant questions about societal pressure, conformity, and the right to determine one’s identity.

Turning to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the episode “Rejoined” presents an engaging tale of a taboo love story between two symbionts in women hosts. In the Trill society, re-association with past lovers is forbidden, turning this once-married couple’s attraction into a controversial matter. Despite not using the usual courtroom setting, it employs a similarly structured debate about societal norms, reinforcing the show’s commitment to discussing gender and sexuality issues.

In Star Trek: Discovery, the franchise made more explicit strides in representing LGBT characters with the relationship between Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber, breaking barriers as one of the first openly gay couples in Star Trek history. (although in the Kelvin timeline, there is a very brief exchange that shows that Sulu has a husband), and of course we have Queer and Non-Binary characters, including some awesome Trill – which we’ll get to in an upcoming Blog.

Star Trek’s courtroom episodes have, thus, offering a canvas for discussing the rights and struggles of LGBT individuals in a metaphorical yet impactful manner. We anticipate further engagement with such themes as we look forward to the unfolding narrative in the new Star Trek series, Strange New Worlds. We are especially eager to see how the show might incorporate and reflect on contemporary discussions around LGBTQ issues.

Another week, another thrilling journey into the Star Trek universe! Season 2 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds continues to push the envelope with its second episode, “Ad Astra per Aspera.” The series addresses social issues head-on in a standout courtroom drama, channeling echoes of the classic episodes “Measure of a Man” and “Court Martial.” Yet, what sets this apart is its reflection of contemporary societal struggles, most notably the experiences of the LGBT community within the military.

Now, enter stage left, the fabulous Yetide Badaki as Una’s lawyer, Neera. A galactic civil rights powerhouse, she was hellbent on showing everyone that laws aren’t always serving those they’re supposed to protect. Let me tell you, watching her face off against Melanie Scrofano’s Captain Batel was like watching two drag queens in a lip-sync battle: all claws out and no mercy.

Then there was this flash to little Una’s past. Picture it: a little girl with a glowing immune system – part of her genetic modification – a secret that could get her family ostracized faster than a lousy wig at a drag show. Fast forward to grown-up Una facing down a plea deal that would have kept her out of jail but would also put a stain on her shiny Starfleet record. A real conundrum, right? Especially since they wanted to sweep her and the issue of her genetic modification under the rug like last night’s sequins.

Meanwhile, Captain Pike, played by the rugged Anson Mount, was trying to find someone to help Una. After being repeatedly shot down by Neera on an inhospitable planet, he finally convinced her to take on Una’s case. It wasn’t about saving Una but shining a spotlight on Starfleet’s sketchy laws.

Back on the Enterprise, the tension was thick! Batel was all up in arms because Una had the nerve to reject her plea deal. Conversely, Pike stood by his officer, believing that Starfleet’s law was as wrong like Straight Pride Month.

The courtroom drama that followed was as tense as a corset at a drag show. Batel was determined to have Una serve 20 years in prison for daring to challenge Starfleet’s decision. But Neera, the fierce queen that she was, fought back. She knew that to win this case, she’d need more than just a heartfelt monologue. So, she started gathering evidence faster than a queen collects her tips on a Saturday night.

The trial brought up some uncomfortable truths about Starfleet and its laws. Neera compared them to past discriminatory laws, pointing out that in their fear of a repeat of the Eugenics Wars, the Federation had become the persecutor. Can you say, ‘hypocrisy’?

Una’s friends came forward to defend her character, each painting a different but touching picture of her. Meanwhile, Neera discovered that the person who had leaked information about Una stood to gain from doing so. The plot was thicker than my foundation, darlings.

Finally, Una herself took the stand. Her testimony was heartfelt and moving, much like a drag ballad. She revealed her past, fears, regrets, and hopes. She confessed that she had turned herself in to make a point: to show Starfleet that being different didn’t make her any less of a person, any less worthy of acceptance.

Despite a last-ditch effort from the prosecution to drag her down, Neera stepped in with a surprise move. She’d found a loophole, honey!

The writers have woven these contemporary struggles into the very fabric of the episode. Just as service members of the LGBTQ community have often been forced to conceal their true identities, Una’s past reveals a secret genetic enhancement that jeopardizes her career and personal life. Through these parallels, the episode serves as a potent metaphor for the military’s erstwhile policies regarding transgender service members, reinforcing the value of diversity and acceptance within Starfleet and beyond.

In a broader context, the Ilyrian struggle within the episode symbolizes the ongoing fight for acceptance in the face of adversity. As the Ilyrians grapple with their own battles for identity and self-determination, LGBTQ military personnel have also had to contend with societal prejudices and institutional barriers. The parallels to the real-life experiences of the LGBTQ community are impossible to ignore, mainly reflecting the historical burdens placed on Queer military service members and the infamous policies such as “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the trans ban.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds continues to use its platform to promote acceptance and understanding of diversity, offering a powerful social commentary through its narrative. Season 2, Episode 2, is a riveting watch and an insightful exploration which continues the Star Trek tradition of holding up a mirror to our society, reminding us of our collective struggle for acceptance, justice, and equality. Through its artful storytelling, Star Trek reminds us that it is not just our laws but the individuals who uphold them that genuinely define the measure of justice.

The courtroom episodes of Star Trek have, time and again, provided a vessel to tackle thought-provoking issues around LGBTQ rights and identity. They are a testament to Star Trek’s tradition of projecting humanity’s potential futures, imagining societies that embrace diversity and engage in critical ethical debates. As we continue to traverse the Star Trek universe, we can hope it will keep challenging us, prompting us to question and evolve our understandings of identity and equality.

To quote Bizarro Timeline Kirk, who is definitely not a Vampire, “Let me guess, you live in a Utopia”? Well, not 100%, but a far stride closer than where we find ourselves in the early 21st century.

Title Image: Fair Use – this image is copyrighted, but used here under Fair Use guidelines.
Owner/Creator: Paramount Global (was ViacomCBS and/or Paramount Pictures and/or CBS Broadcasting, Inc.)

Queer Comics Crowdfunding – Magical Boy Basil

Busy Geek Breakdown (TL;DR): If you haven’t checked out this webcomic, you’ll get hooked quickly. It has adventure, magic, teen angst, and plenty of geeky references. We need more stories like this, with complex representation of Queer characters. Checkout their newest Kickstarter. If you want to checkout the comic, you can do that here.

Get ready for an exhilarating adventure as “Magical Boy Basil” returns with its highly anticipated fifth chapter, “Magic Fight,” and you have the opportunity to make it a reality!

In this thrilling installment, Basil finds himself immersed in a world of enchantment as he investigates tangles, mischievous creatures born from fractured magic items. But what starts as a mere investigation takes a dramatic turn when Basil and his friend, Eli, become entangled in an epic magic fight between Noah and Aaron. Brace yourself for action-packed sequences, vibrant magical transformations, and plenty of laughter as Basil navigates through the concluding chapter of the first arc of “Magical Boy Basil.”

If you’re new to the comic, Magical Boy Basil is a free-to-read webcomic that updates every other Friday. It is an LGBTQIA+ story featuring a group of undercover teenage magicians that battle monsters in order to maintain the balance of the universe.

Magical Boy Basil is produced by Jordan Wild (writer) and Beck Murray (artist). They’ve been working on Magical Boy Basil together for 7 years now. (1 year of pre-production, and 6 years of publication)

Since the webcomic’s launch in 2016, the audience has grown to over 30,000 readers. In October 2022, Magical Boy Basil became part of the Tapas Early Access program, was number 1 in ‘New Releases’ the first week of release and has since exceeded 6 million views on the platform.

The first print edition of issues #1-4 (awarded “Project We Love by Kickstarter staff) were all successfully funded through Kickstarter.

Creative Team: Jordan Wild, R.E. Murray, and Sid McNulty

And here’s from my interview with one of the creators, R.E. Murray:

DGH: How has it been interacting with your fans, whether in person or online?

REM: I feel like we’re a small little comic but we’re almost always approached by folks at cons (notably Flame Con) who not only recognize us but are so excited by and love Magical Boy Basil. Having conversations with fans about the story, the genre, and life in general is my favorite part. Everyone is just so friendly!

DGH: How does your personal identity and experiences as an LGBTQIA+ individual influence your creative process and the stories you choose to tell?

REM: I think I almost exclusively write, draw, and am inspired by LGBTQIA+ content. I spent the first fifteen years of my life not knowing why I was different and only consuming heteronormative stories until I learned that queerness was real and that stories could be queer too- My stories could be queer even! 

DGH: Can you walk us through your typical creative process? How do you develop ideas, create characters, and bring your stories to life on the page?

REM: Usually there’s some back and forth with Jordan (our writer) as to what the character’s core traits should be or what a storyline should roughly look like. Sometimes it takes some teasing the threads out to come to a solid conclusion but sometimes designs or story beats will come on like a lightning strike. It’s very in the moment!

DGH: Are there any specific comic book artists or writers who have influenced your style or storytelling approach? How have they inspired you?

REM: Personally, I consume a lot of manga (and graphic novels) so it’s less anyone or anything specific and more a hodge podge of the things that catch my eye- how someone draws clothing folds or expressions or their shorthand for environment details- that kind of thing. I will say that Yuhki Kamatani has amazing visuals and that it’d be cool to try to incorporate more visual metaphors like they do.

DGH: How do you envision your work impacting readers, particularly those who identify as LGBTQIA+? What messages or emotions do you hope to convey through your stories?

REM: I think just telling a queer magical kid story is impactful in and of itself. After all, queer folk can have magical adventures and save the town/world too! Magical Boy is something I wish I’d had when I was younger and we’ve had younger readers come up today saying how excited they were to see Basil’s story so that tells me our message is coming out loud and clear.

DGH: Who is your favorite Federation Captain, and why?

REM: Oh gosh, no judgements please but I’ve never watched much Trek… That being said I DID watch Next Generation and I think Picard is a fantastically complex character.

(That was a close one, Beck. I was worried for a second. Everyone here knows I have strong opinions. Anyway, even now, we all know Jean Luc can get it. Then again, so can the new Captain Pike. Anyway, what was I saying? Let’s geek out more when we see each other at Flame Con!)

While webcomics provide an excellent and accessible medium (and I love being able to load them up on my Kindle or phone when I travel), there’s something extraordinary about holding a comic book in your hands. It brings the story to life in a unique way, immersing readers in vibrant artwork and captivating narratives. The creators of “Magic Boy Basil” understand this, and their desire to provide a complete and immersive experience led them to bring the series to print.

By supporting this Kickstarter campaign, you’ll help make “Issue #5 – Magic Fight” a reality and ensure that “Magic Boy Basil” continues its positive impact on readers. Let’s bring this extraordinary story full circle and place the power of “Magic Boy Basil” into your hands. Experience the magic, excitement, and heartwarming moments that await within the pages of this remarkable comic book. Back the campaign now and join us on this enchanting journey!

Title Image and all other images used with permission: The copyright of Magical Boy Basil belongs to Fireside Stories, LLC.

Queer Quills and Nerdy Thrills: Glimpses Through my Geeky Glasses – Survival Horror

“I want to show you the New World Corraalllll!” -Rick Grimes, probably talking about books or something.

Busy Geek Breakdown (TL;DR):

Since things opened back up I have made a concerted effort to check out the many small local bookshops and ask for recommendations. I tend to get into a pattern of reading one genre for a month or so until I can’t stand it anymore, then switch, but I’ll eventually reevaluate. So here are the five books I took home for survival horror. I have mixed feelings on most of these, but I recommend you check them out for yourself anyway (unless you can’t stand survival horror, then probably don’t.)

“Manhunt” by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“Fantastic Land” by Mike Bockoven

“The Last She” by H.J. Nelson

“Burn Down, Rise Up” by Vincent Tirado

“All That’s Left in The World” by Erik J. Brown

***So many Spoiler below……. but read it anyway!!!****

***Also, Content Warnings …. Seriously. So, so many content warnings. Most of these books are intense. I read them basically back to back to back, and now I am taking a long break. (CW: Guns, Knives, Pandemics, Graphic violence, Fascism, gore, disturbing imagery, psychological horror, strong language, dark themes, intense atmosphere, depictions of disturbing behavior, racism, transphobia, homophobia, Sexual Assault, drug use, cannibalism, and instances of animals dying)***

5. Manhunt

Book cover image courtesy of Macmillan Nightfire

The best way I can describe the experience of this book is a fast paced and gritty journey through Post-Apocalyptic Chaos, Queer Themes, and Unrelenting violence and a gore that you just can’t put down.

So here we go:

Listen up, folks! “Manhunt” by Gretchen Felker-Martin ain’t your typical post-apocalyptic tale. This book takes a swing at our messed-up world and shows how the toxic crap we sling in our everyday lives sticks around even when the whole damn system goes to hell. It’s a raw exploration of the human mind when the world’s gone to shit.

Now, Felker-Martin ain’t interested in giving you a breakdown of every little detail in this chaotic world. Sure, most of the communities got their own strict rules, but there’s still time for characters to kick back, smoke some blunts, and get all horny talking about their messed-up situation. While this gives room for some deep symbolic and thematic moments, the world itself could be built up a bit more. I know I’m a nerd, but I was left with a lot of questions … although not for too long because the book hardly let me catch my breath to ask further. Honestly, a lot of these questions started popping up once I finished.

The real threat in this book comes from the author’s gritty, sexually violent portrayal of zombified men. They’re like a damn nightmare unleashed on the pages, embodying what Felker-Martin calls “filth core” – a style that hits you right in the gut. Martin’s writing hits its peak in describing the messed-up bodies and violence of those poor suckers infected with the T-virus (and no, not like in Resident Evil, T as in targets testosterone). It’s like the darkness and brutality seep into your bones.

This story ain’t just about survival, though. It’s a backdrop for a deep dive into terfism as a form of fascism. Teach, the leader of the terf militia, is a tough nut to crack, but when she lets loose, Martin’s writing cuts sharp, revealing the complex emotions and traumas that push people towards such messed-up ideologies.

Now, the book could’ve used a tighter crew. Characters like Fran, Indi, and Robbie ain’t as fleshed out as Beth and Ramona. I loved the bond between Fran and Beth at the start, but as they get pulled apart, their connection starts feeling a bit arbitrary. It gets hard to find that emotional center, you know?

The gendered conflicts these characters face are real and in-your-face. They gotta hunt down zombies and chow down on balls to get estrogen and survive. And the virus messes with their transitions, leaving ’em stuck in a body that’s dehumanized by their own damn community. It’s a messed-up world, no doubt. Martin’s filthy, grimy prose style captures it all. It ain’t the most messed-up book I’ve ever seen, but there are moments that’ll stop you in your tracks.

This book ain’t holding back when it comes to trans women, cis women, terfs, men, sexism, fatness, or the unfairness of life. But all that brutality serves a purpose – it develops some deeply wounded characters. Ain’t nobody in this world without deep shame and anger. The trans protagonists look at their bodies and identities with unfiltered cruelty that hits hard. Now, this might be cathartic for some trans readers, but for others, it could be damn triggering. And let’s not forget the splatter gore – it’s a whole ‘nother level of nastiness.

“Manhunt” ain’t gonna be everyone’s cup of tea. It swings wildly from brutal violence to dark humor, from heart-wrenching reflection to awkward moments, and right back to violence again. But if you’re up for the challenge and can stomach the intensity, it’s a damn interesting read. It’s a gritty exploration of post-apocalyptic chaos, queer themes, and a filthy aesthetic that sets it apart from your typical survival horror books.

Side note, the only thing that ever really gave me pause was the description of the reconstructed Destroyer that the terfs get ahold of near the end. The description might be based off some WWII ships, or perhaps info files on what weapons can possibly be carried on a modern ship? But those are possibilities, that much fire power won’t fit on such a small ship, the buoyancy and metastatic center would be all off risking it capsizing, assuming the hull could take the stress, and there are other issues, but honestly, I loved the movie Battleship so in the end I had to tell my brain to shut up and just enjoy the ride.

And there was of course, some controversy, not just because the author dared to be trans and write very human trans characters, but because in her post-apocalyptic world J.K. Rowling dies terribly. I feel like she has enough money that she can buy the world’s smallest violin and hire someone to follow her around, but that’s just me.

All in all, “Manhunt” claws at your soul and leaves a mark. It’s a wild ride that takes no prisoners, and it’s not afraid to get in your face. So, if you’re ready to embrace the filth, dive right in. Just be prepared for the raw, unrelenting journey that awaits you.

4. Fantastic Land

Book Cover Image Courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing

Listen up, folks. I got a story to tell ya. It’s about this book called Fantasticland. Now, let me warn ya right off the bat, this ain’t no walk in the park (see what I did there? Eh?). It’s violent, creepy, and it’ll send shivers down your spine. I wouldn’t call this a thriller, although it does manage to build suspense even though you know some of the worst stuff is coming right from the first page. It basically avoids sex entirely, and there’s even several comments about how you would think a bunch of bored teens would be constantly boning, but apparently ain’t nobody got time for that when they’re busy killin’ each other left and right. That or everyone is collectively forgetting parts and/or lying, which I suppose is possible. Anyway, gender and sexuality, they don’t really come up. Missed opportunity if you ask me. So, it’s all about survival and the primal instinct kickin’ in.

Now, this book takes place in Florida, of all places. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse down there, with Ron “pudding fingers” Desantis runnin’ the show, we got a hurricane wreakin’ havoc on an amusement park, and unsurprisingly, the corporation in charge has not properly trained their people for emergencies, and values the potential for looted merch over their people. Talk about bad luck. But let me tell ya, it’s the Florida Man that makes this whole story remotely believable. That state’s got a reputation for some wild and crazy stuff, and Fantasticland fits right in.

The book’s told in a series of interviews, like we’re gatherin’ evidence to piece together the horrifying events that unfolded. You got heads on spikes, corpses floatin’ in detention cells, people being blown apart by actual pirate cannons (just how high would the liability insurance have to be in a place to have real swords and real cannons for the actors???) and enough blood to make your stomach turn. It’s like a twisted version of Lord of the Flies, told a lot like World War Z only with more rides and a hell of a lot more gore.

The author, Mike Bockoven, ain’t holdin’ back. He’s paintin’ a vivid picture of this nightmare, makin’ it feel all too real. You’ll be glued to the pages, gripped by the darkness unfoldin’ before your eyes. It’s a thrill ride of the macabre, I tell ya.

Mike Bockoven

I gotta admit, this book ain’t for the faint of heart. It’s a dark journey into the depths of human depravity. But if you’re a fan of horror, if you can handle the gruesome and the twisted, then Fantasticland is a must-read. It’ll leave you unsettled, it’ll make you question the fragility of society, and it’ll remind you just how messed up things can get when all hell breaks loose.

So buckle up, my friends. Get ready for a wild ride through the twisted corridors of Fantasticland. It’s a violent, creepy, and downright disturbing tale. But hey, it’s Florida we’re talkin’ about. Anything’s possible down there, especially when Florida Man’s involved.

3. The Last She

Book Cover Image Courtesy of WattPad Webtoon Books

This book was a gripping, if sometimes problematic tale of survival, identity, and love in a Post-Apocalyptic World.

Listen up, folks! I’ve come across a story that’ll grab you by the guts and never let go. “The Last She” is a thrilling post-apocalyptic adventure that delves into the depths of survival, identity, and the complexities of human nature. In this harrowing tale, we follow the courageous protagonist Lana as she navigates a world devoid of hope and confronts the challenges of self-discovery.

“The Last She” excels in its ability to create a vivid and dangerous post-apocalyptic world, where the survival of tribes is constantly threatened by the menacing horde. The author paints a stark and unforgiving picture of this reality, keeping readers on the edge of their seats. However, there are some gaps and issues that merit acknowledgement.

While the book does explore relationships and love, its very heteronormative and definitely falls short in depicting or even really hinting at man-on-man romance or even sex. This omission leaves a gap in the representation of diverse queer experiences within the narrative. Additionally, the book does not adequately acknowledge the existence and experiences of trans individuals in this post-apocalyptic world. This lack of representation is a missed opportunity to explore the complexities of gender identity and the potential impact of the sickness on trans men.

The nature of the sickness itself, with its focus on women (frequently referred to by folks as ‘females’ ugh) dying first and fastest, leaves some ambiguity about how trans people would be affected. The book could have delved deeper into the nuances of gender and the diverse ways in which individuals navigate their identities in this devastated world. By providing a more inclusive perspective, “The Last She” could have further enriched its exploration of queer themes and added depth to the narrative.

One of the most chilling aspects of “The Last She” is the presence of the horde (basically a roving band of ‘Alpha Males’, who’s entrance is literally paid with a fight to the death (not sure about recruiting or retention strategy but apparently the math checks out)– the horde presents a relentless, relentless force that looms over the tribes surviving in this desolate world, and the leader has a very Negan vibe. The author paints a vivid and terrifying picture of the horde, emphasizing the constant danger and desperation that the tribes face. It’s a stark reminder of the ever-present threat lurking just beyond their fragile existence.

In this desperate struggle for survival, the tribes without women must find alternative ways to meet their primal urges. While not shying away from the harsh realities of human nature, this is primarily filled with violence and destruction. It’s a raw and unflinching exploration of the lengths people will go to satisfy their desires in the absence of conventional means. This portrayal adds a gritty layer of realism to the narrative, highlighting the complex moral dilemmas faced by the characters.

Despite these gaps, “The Last She” remains a captivating read that immerses readers in a post-apocalyptic landscape teeming with danger and uncertainty. It delves into the depths of human nature, challenging notions of identity, and exploring the bonds that hold us together. Lana’s journey serves as a beacon of hope in this bleak world, inspiring those around her to find strength amidst the chaos.

H.J. Nelson

“The Last She” is an intense exploration of survival instincts, the human spirit, and the unyielding quest for meaning in a world turned upside down. While it could have addressed certain gaps and issues more directly, it still offers a gripping narrative that delves into survival, identity, and the intricacies of human relationships.

So, gear up and prepare yourself for a journey through a world on the brink of collapse. Brace yourself for a gripping adventure that will leave you questioning the very essence of humanity, while keeping in mind the gaps and missed opportunities in the representation of diverse queer experiences.

*Update* While writing this review, I found out that there is a sequel called “The Last City”. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m adding that to my list of ‘to read’ once I loop back around to Post Apocalyptic tales.

2. Burn Down, Rise Up

Book Cover Image Courtesy of SourceBooks Fire

This book was a Sapphic Love story with a best friend Monster Hunting adventure in a nightmare world inspired by real world events – (which I didn’t read about until after I read this book unfortunately – much like I didn’t know about the Tulsa Massacre until after I saw Love Craft Country …. I know, I know, Indiana Public Schools should be ashamed) the author, a non-binary Afro-Latine Bronx native, is a Horror Power House. So here we go …

V.E. Tirado

Listen up, folks! “Burn Down, Rise Up” ain’t your ordinary horror tale. This book takes you on a twisted journey through the dark corners of the Bronx, where disappearances are swept under the rug, and the monsters lurking in the shadows aren’t always what they seem. But what sets this story apart is how it shines a light on the strength of the LGBT and BIPOC community.

From the very start, you’re thrown into the chaos alongside Raquel, a brave young girl who’s determined to uncover the truth. As her crush Charlize’s cousin vanishes, Raquel can no longer ignore the eerie happenings around her. Joined by Charlize, these two fierce young ladies team up to face the unimaginable, while challenging the biases and prejudices that permeate their community.

The writing style is spot-on, immersing you in the dark underbelly of the Bronx without holding back. The author’s ability to conjure spine-chilling horror imagery and keep you on the edge of your seat is commendable. But what truly makes this book special is how it weaves the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ and BIPOC experience into its very fabric.

In the heart of the Bronx, “Burn Down, Rise Up” introduces us to Raquel, a courageous teenager navigating a world where the disappearance of certain lives goes unnoticed. When Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel is compelled to take action. Together, these two young women embark on a perilous quest to uncover the truth behind the terrifying Echo Game, an urban legend that traps people in a sinister underworld.

As Raquel and Charlize face their own fears and confront the horrors lurking beneath the surface, the book delves into the experiences of the LGBT and BIPOC community in the Bronx. Through their resilience and determination, they challenge the biases and injustices that society imposes upon them.

Vincent Tirado’s writing style hooks you from the very beginning, painting a vivid picture of the Bronx’s dark history and the struggles faced by its diverse inhabitants. The narrative effortlessly blends heart-pounding horror with the indomitable spirit of the LGBT and BIPOC community, offering a fresh perspective on the genre.

“Burn Down, Rise Up” is a gripping horror novel that goes beyond the supernatural, capturing the strength and resilience of LGBT and BIPOC individuals. With its compelling characters, atmospheric storytelling, and a focus on marginalized communities, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat while shedding light on the challenges faced by those often overlooked. So buckle up, because this is one wild ride you won’t want to miss.

Ps. I will now think twice about riding the subway at night …

1. All That’s Left in The World

Book Cover Image Courtesy of Balzer + Bray (an imprint of HarperCollins)

The best way I can describe this book is to quote the author himself, “I wrote this. So I think it’s definitely top five best books of all time about queer kids surviving the apocalypse. I also think you’d agree so give it a read!”

Y’know, in a world gone to hell, where the dead are walkin’ and chaos reigns supreme, you’d think there wouldn’t be time for love. But hold onto your hats, folks, ’cause “All That’s Left in the World” shatters those expectations like a bullet through a walker’s brain.

This post-apocalyptic tale takes us on a wild ride through a world ravaged by a super-bug that wiped out most of humanity. But in the midst of the turmoil, two survivors emerge: Andrew and Jamie. Now, these boys ain’t just fightin’ for survival; they’re discoverin’ a love that’ll light up the darkness and warm even the coldest nights.

If you thought the end of the world couldn’t get any gayer, “All That’s Left in the World” is here to prove you wrong. This book ain’t just a post-apocalyptic adventure; it’s a damn celebration of LGBT themes in the face of the undead.

Erik J. Brown

From the get-go, you can tell this book means business. The writing grabs ya like a hungry walker sinking its teeth into fresh meat. The humor, action, and suspense blend together like the perfect recipe for survival. Erik J. Brown, the author, knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat while sprinklin’ in moments of tender love that’ll warm your heart, even in the darkest of times.

Now, let’s talk about our heroes, Andrew and Jamie. These boys ain’t your typical survivors. They’re beautifully flawed, guilt-ridden, and dang funny. They meet in a world where hope’s in short supply, but they find solace in each other’s arms. It’s a slow burn romance, but trust me, folks, it’s worth the wait. Their chemistry is hotter than a wildfire and sweeter than a can of peaches in a deserted pantry.

What sets this book apart is how effortlessly it weaves queer representation into the fabric of a zombie-ridden world. It’s like watchin’ “The Walking Dead,” but with a helluva lot more rainbows and heartwarming moments. Y’know, if King Ezekiel and Daryl Dixon decided to ride off into the sunset hand in hand, kickin’ undead butt along the way. (Hey Netflix, I have a pitch for you …)

So, my friends, if you’re lookin’ for an adventure that’ll keep you up all night, “All That’s Left in the World” is your ticket. It’s got everything you need: bickering, initially friendly seeming midwestern fascists, real talk, sarcastic banter, and a whole lot of love.

But seriously, folks, this book ain’t just about the end of the world; it’s about love and resilience in the face of unimaginable challenges. So grab your crossbow, lock and load, and join Andrew and Jamie on their journey through a post-apocalyptic landscape where love conquers all—even when the world has turned to hell.

Queer Quills and Nerdy Thrills: Glimpses Through my Geeky Glasses – “Finna” and “Defekt”

“And so, Doctor Beckett finds themselves leaping from pride to pride, striving to assemble what once went amiss, and hoping each time that their next leap will lead to a fabulous, fully decorated home … or something”

Busy Geek Breakdown (TL;DR):

Get ready for interdimensional excitement as Nino Cipri‘s “Finna” and “Defekt” take you on a geek’s dream journey through the enigmatic corridors of LitenVäld, an Ikea-like store. These novellas artfully blend references to Doctor Who, Star Trek, Sliders, and even an unexpected A-Team twist. With authentic LGBTQ representation and relatable characters, prepare for mind-bending adventures, a dash of Ikea humor, and exploring love, identity, and personal growth. Embrace the power of diversity, queer the geekdom, and celebrate the fusion of LGBTQ themes and geek culture!

***So many Spoiler below……. but read it anyway!!!****

Boldly Going Queer: Exploring LGBTQ Themes in Nino Cipri’s Novellas

Welcome, fellow geeks, to an exhilarating journey into the realms of Nino Cipri’s captivating novellas, “Finna” and “Defekt.” Prepare to be immersed in interdimensional escapades, LGBTQ themes, and a sprinkle of geek culture references, including nods to Star Trek, Doctor Who, and the TV show Sliders. As we navigate the labyrinthine corridors of LitenVäld, reminiscent of Ikea’s puzzling layout, let’s delve into the worlds of time travel and alternate realities and even face the super creepy scenario where the store becomes a hive mind, demanding blood as payment for items.

Geek Culture and Interdimensional Adventures:

In “Finna” and “Defekt,” Cipri pays homage to beloved franchises such as Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Sliders. Imagine Ava, Jules, and Jay as intrepid explorers akin to the Doctor’s adventures in the TARDIS or the Star Trek crew’s encounters with strange new worlds. As they traverse the perplexing corridors of LitenVäld, each turn uncovers a unique reality filled with surprises and challenges. But be prepared to encounter the chilling alternate reality where LitenVäld becomes a hive mind, demanding a macabre form of payment in the form of blood. This eerie scenario adds a layer of horror to the interdimensional adventures, evoking a sense of unease and raising questions about the true nature of LitenVäld.

LGBTQ Themes and Authentic Representation:

Cipri’s novellas prioritize authentic LGBTQ representation, seamlessly weaving queer experiences into the fabric of the stories. Love, friendship, and personal growth are delicately explored, resonating with readers deeply. By embracing diversity and inclusivity, Cipri reminds readers of the importance of representation in speculative fiction, allowing them to see themselves in the pages and fostering empathy and understanding.

And amidst the excitement, be prepared to encounter the super cool moment where the team in “Defekt” transforms into a clone version of The A-Team, each member bringing their unique skills to the table. This unexpected twist injects a punch of nostalgia and humor into the narrative, inviting us to cheer on this misfit crew as they navigate interdimensional chaos.

Our protagonist is Derek, a fiercely loyal employee of LitenVärld. He’s got a living space that’s as cozy as a shipping container at the store’s backlot; believe it or not, he’s never taken a sick day… until he starts coughing up blood out of the blue.

Now, you see, a model employee like Derek shouldn’t need time off, right? But alas, fate has other plans for him. So instead of a well-deserved rest, he’s assigned to a special inventory team for a locked-in night of hunting down defective products. And let me tell you, we’re talking about something other than your ordinary unsatisfactory goods here. Instead, we’ve got toy chests growing pincers and eyestalks—now that’s something you don’t find at your typical IKEA!

But hold on to your seatbelts, folks, ’cause here’s where it gets even weirder. The inventory team consists of four strangers who look and sound (almost) identical to Derek himself. So imagine running into four copies of yourself—talk about a mind-bending experience!
Having five Dereks is an advantage when facing down sentient furniture horrors. But guess what? The real problem might not be the furniture that’s come to life but rather the twisted workings of LitenVärld itself.

Nino Cipri

“Defekt” is not just a spooky and entertaining tale; it’s got layers of compelling themes simmering beneath the surface. I’m always looking for the more profound implications woven into a narrative. The LitenVärld stories are more than wonderfully queer anti-capitalist science fiction—about friendship, connection, and resilience. In “Finna”, it’s all about building a fellowship from the wreckage of a romantic breakup during an unnerving adventure. Now, that’s what I call a leap of faith!

But in “Defekt”, things take a different turn. This novella cranks up the fear factor and takes us on a rollercoaster ride. The story starts with snippets from the “Special Exempt Employee” handbook, which sounds more like an eerie manifesto than a regular work manual. And once Derek finds himself locked inside the store for his special inventory night, buckle up, ’cause it’s gonna be a wild one. From being pursued by a carnivorous, free-roaming toilet to navigating the emergency-red-lit maze of the moveable faux-IKEA labyrinth, it’s a nail-biter, let me tell ya.

But here’s the twist you won’t see coming. After Derek is saved by his clone team, we realize that LitenVärld has decided to kill off the defective merchandise instead of cataloging it. So who’s the real monster now? Dirk, one of the clones, is a real piece of work—a sociopath who revels in violence and power. So the monsters we thought were the threat? Well, they’re just fighting for their own survival. Talk about turning the tables!

Derek’s awakening to resistance and refusal to be a cog in a broken system manifests in a unique and unsettling way—a bleeding, ruptured mouth slashed across his throat. It’s a haunting and vivid description of the pain and defiance within him.

And you know what? It’s not all about the scares. “Defekt” brings in some unexpected desires and connections too. Derek’s encounter with Darkness, where they ask to see and touch his throat, turns into a strangely intimate moment. What was once seen as disgusting becomes oddly appealing. And when he comes face-to-face with an alternate-universe version of himself, he finds comfort in seeing his own supposed defect on someone else’s body. It reminds us that embracing our flaws and rejecting oppressive systems can lead to surprising connections and personal growth.

And let’s remember the burning question: would you hook up with your clone? In “Defekt”, that question serves a purpose. The four clones and Derek’s responses to them delve into our desires, needs, and the complexities of attraction. It’s a glimpse into what we seek in others and our social systems. But it’s not just for kicks—it drives the narrative and highlights the power of forming alliances against oppression.

“Defekt” is a thrilling ride, blending high-tension plot twists with thought-provoking themes. It’s a standalone novella and a worthy companion to “Finna”, expanding on the underlying messages of resistance, collectivism, and the strength of queer identities in challenging the status quo. So, kudos to Nino Cipri for keeping me on the edge of my seat with those spine-tingling moments, especially the eerie inserts from the employee handbook. “Defekt” is a quantum leap into a reality-warping adventure that’s both unsettling and fun.

So grab your imaginary LitenVäld shopping cart, prepare to slide between dimensions, and immerse yourself in the imaginative worlds created by Nino Cipri. Then, it’s time to boldly go queer, celebrating the perfect fusion of LGBTQ themes and geek culture!

Star Trek (But Make it Gay): DS9

Boldly Representing Rainbow Geeks since Star Date 22766.5 (If you don’t know, now you know)

Disclaimer: This may be the most underrated Star Trek series ever. It was the first to be serial rather than episodic, and it is highly nuanced and political. There were a ridiculous number of episodes I wanted to list, but worked hard to narrow it down. 

Busy Geek Breakdown:

Lifelong Trekkie or never seen a single episode? Check out the following:

Season 3; Episode 18. Season 4; Episode 6.  Season 6, Episode 23. Season 7, Episode 8, Episode 13.

Also, if you just want to see Captain Sisko being a badass, click here.

If you want to see how DS9 crew deals with Time Travel (or want to see Jadzia Dax in a Skant and updo Stanning Kirk), click here.

If you’re a seasoned Trekkie, or are just one of those people who always clicks ‘Jump to the Recipe’ right away — click here.

For total Star Trek Redshirts Provisional Ensigns Red Squad Cadets (and if you’re thinking ‘but the Red Squad was elite!’ yes, I know. But how did that work out for them. Hmmmm? Exactly Just go with it):

DS9 is a science fiction television series that aired from 1993 to 1999. It is set in the Star Trek universe and takes place on a space station called Deep Space Nine, which is located near a stable wormhole that provides access to a distant part of the galaxy.

This overlapped with The Next Generation, as a sequel to The Original Series. There are plenty of crossover episodes, and you’ll definitely see some of your favorite characters.

The main character of the series is Commander Benjamin Sisko (played by Avery Brooks ‘we both went to Indiana University so I guess I’m kind of a big deal by proxy), who is tasked with overseeing the station and maintaining relations with the various alien species that visit it. Sisko is joined by a diverse crew, including his first officer, Major Kira Nerys, the station’s doctor, Julian Bashir, the shapeshifter Odo, the Ferengi bartender Quark, and the human Chief of Operations, Miles O’Brien.

Over the course of the series, the crew of DS9 faces a variety of challenges and conflicts, including battles with the Dominion, a powerful empire from the Gamma Quadrant, and the Cardassians …

no, not them …

Courtesy of

These fun folks. An aggressive alien race (that previously tortured the shit out of Picard) that once occupied the station. They also deal with political intrigue, moral dilemmas, and personal struggles, all while exploring the far reaches of the galaxy and encountering new and fascinating alien civilizations.

It’s worth noting that while these episodes were groundbreaking for their time, they may not be considered entirely inclusive by modern standards, and some may find them problematic.

Overall, these episodes are all important contributions to queer representation in popular culture. And the costumes and makeup only add to the symbolism and power of these stories.

Throughout the series, DS9 tackles complex themes and issues, including war, religion, politics, and social justice. It also features a diverse cast of characters and a strong emphasis on character development and relationships.

Overall, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a rich and engaging science fiction series that explores the depths of the human (and alien) experience, while taking viewers on an unforgettable journey through the final frontier.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) was a trailblazing show in terms of its representation of LGBTQ+ characters. The series tackled themes of identity, acceptance, and love in a way that was ahead of its time. Here are the six best episodes of Star Trek DS9 that feature LGBTQ+ characters, listed in chronological order of air date: (Onward to the numbered list! Yaaass!!!)

6. “Distant Voices” (Season 3, Episode 18)

Aired on April 10, 1995, “Distant Voices” Dr. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) is attacked and rendered unconscious in his own infirmary. When he wakes up, he finds himself aging rapidly and experiencing hallucinations of his friends and colleagues turning against him, as the space station appears to be failing and nearly everyone is dead or gone. As he tries to figure out what’s happening to him, he realizes that his mind is trapped in a telepathic matrix created by the Letheans, a species known for their telepathic abilities. He eventually realizes that he can fight back inside his own mind and takes charge.

So first, I felt old watching this episode because Dr. Bashir makes a huge deal about turning 30. 

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That aside, It’s not only a great episode about the Tao of Dr. Bashir, embodied in different characters (if a little on the nose at times) but it While Julian Bashir and Garak (Andrew J. Robinson) did not share a romantic relationship, their friendship was still significant for its portrayal of intimacy between two men. In the 1990s, when Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was airing, depictions of close male friendships were often limited to stereotypes of toxic masculinity, with emotions and physical touch seen as signs of weakness.

However, Bashir and Garak’s relationship subverted these norms. They shared moments of vulnerability, empathy, and even physical affection, without any implications of romantic or sexual attraction. This representation of a healthy, non-romantic male relationship was rare on television at the time, and it challenged harmful stereotypes of masculinity.

Their relationship also touched on themes of identity and acceptance, as Garak was a Cardassian spy with a complicated past and Bashir struggled with the expectations of being a genetically enhanced human. Their friendship allowed them to navigate their personal challenges and grow as individuals.

Overall, while their relationship may not have been explicitly LGBTQ+, it was still significant for its representation of intimacy and vulnerability between two men, and for subverting harmful stereotypes of masculinity. Of course there’s always Rule 34, so while I haven’t specifically gone searching, I am sure there’s lots of Fan Fiction that imagines their relationship differently . . .

What were we doing? Oh right, the episode. 

Why are they playing tennis in the middle of the station? Why so we can get some much needed exposition, duh!

And of course there’s a very surreal surprise party thrown by a lady in a cat suit with huge hair, and imaginary Garak.

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Gayest episode ever? No. But it’s definitely a great example of intimacy, self examination, and finding one’s inner truth and value without all the machismo.

5. “Rejoined” (Season 4, Episode 6)

Aired on October 30, 1995, “Rejoined” is considered one of the most groundbreaking LGBTQ+ episodes in television history. In the episode, Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) meets her former wife, Lenara Kahn (Susanna Thompson). The two women had been married in previous host bodies. The episode’s exploration of love, relationships, and gender identity was a groundbreaking moment for LGBTQ+ representation on television.

Trill society frowns upon rekindling past romantic relationships after a host’s symbiont has been transferred to a new host, to the point where it is effectively a death sentence (as the symbiont will only live as long as the current host does) and the two must navigate the societal taboo against their feelings for each other.

This episode is groundbreaking! It’s one of the first times Star Trek has directly dealt with same-sex relationships, and it’s done in a way that’s respectful and nuanced. Jadzia and Lenara’s relationship is so tender and sweet, and you can really feel the love between them. And when they kiss – honey, I got chills! But what’s really powerful is the way the episode deals with the taboo of their relationship. It’s a metaphor for the way society can try to suppress queer love, but it’s also a message of hope that love will always find a way!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m always here for some queer representation in media, and “Rejoined” delivered. You can really see the tension in Jadzia’s face as she struggles with her feelings for Lenara. We need to see more LGBTQ+ characters on our screens, not just for visibility but to show that love is love, no matter who it’s between.

Now, let’s talk trans rights, because the character of Dax raises some interesting questions about gender and identity. As a Trill, Dax is a symbiont that lives inside a humanoid host. In the episode, she’s reunited with her former female host, Lenara Kahn, and the two rekindle their romantic relationship. The fact that Dax is a symbiont raises interesting questions about the fluidity of gender and identity. The show doesn’t delve too deeply into these themes, but it’s still worth thinking about.

Of course, we can’t forget the forbidden love aspect of the episode. Dax and Lenara’s relationship is forbidden because Trill society frowns upon rekindling a relationship with a former host. It’s a classic Romeo and Juliet story, but with a sci-fi twist. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good forbidden love story? It’s like catnip for drama queens like me!

Now, the sexual tension between Dax and Lenara is thicker than a day time drag queen’s foundation. You can cut it with a knife! And let’s not forget that both Dax and Lenara have had multiple hosts over the years. It’s like an intergalactic version of an ex-spouse reunion! Can you imagine the drama if they got together and started fighting about who gets custody of their former hosts’ memories?

“Rejoined” is a must-watch for any sci-fi or LGBTQ+ fan. It’s a groundbreaking episode that tackled important themes ahead of its time, and it’s still relevant today.

Also, there are some more great moments with CDR Worf in this episode, like when at a cocktail party with a bunch of Trill scientists, they ask what Klingons dream of.

And thanks to a really sweet exchange between Dax and Lanara, we learn a bit about Klingon Fashion.

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Owner/Creator: Paramount Global (was ViacomCBS and/or Paramount Pictures and/or CBS Broadcasting, Inc.)

And let’s not forget about our dear friend Ben Sisko! As the commander of Deep Space Nine, he’s always there for his crew, no matter what kind of intergalactic drama they’re going through. He’s a true friend, and we could all use a friend like him in our lives.

But as Captain Sisko, he’s got to keep his crew in line! I mean, come on, if Dax and Lenara had gotten caught, it could have meant the end of their careers, or worse! Maybe he needs to have a talk with his first officer about following the rules. Or maybe he needs to loosen up a bit himself! He’s apparently already on a first name basis with many of his subordinate officers. Oh Well.  After all, life is short, and love is a beautiful thing, even if it’s forbidden.

Unfortunately, it’s not always meant to be. Sometimes the pressures of society are too much even for true love. Just heartbreaking.

In any case, “Rejoined” is a classic episode that shows us the power of love, the importance of friendship, and the beauty of a good, juicy sci-fi storyline. So, grab some popcorn, settle in, and get ready for some intergalactic drama!

4. “Profit and Lace” (Season 6, Episode 23)

Aired on May 13, 1998, “Profit and Lace” is a controversial episode that features the character of Quark (Armin Shimerman) having a gender-reassignment surgery in order to impersonate a female member of his species. While the episode has been criticized for its problematic portrayal of gender identity, it was a significant moment for LGBTQ+ representation on television.

Before we dive into the gender and identity themes of “Profit and Lace,” we have to address the elephant in the room: Quark’s problematic behavior at the beginning of the episode. It’s true that the episode starts with Quark engaging in quid pro quo sexual harassment of his star Dabo girl, Leeta. This behavior is creepy, inappropriate, and not at all okay. It’s important to acknowledge that this kind of behavior is not acceptable, and should not be normalized or trivialized.

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Quark apparently skipped every single training that Star Fleet Human Resources had ….

That being said, the episode does not condone Quark’s behavior. In fact, it goes out of its way to show how damaging and hurtful this kind of behavior can be. When Quark is forced to pose as a female, he experiences firsthand the discrimination and harassment that women face in Ferengi society. This experience teaches him empathy and understanding, and he ultimately comes to recognize the harm that his previous behavior has caused.

So, while “Profit and Lace” certainly has its flaws, it’s also a story of growth and redemption. It’s not perfect, but it does offer some interesting commentary on gender and identity, and it’s worth watching for that reason alone.

I initially thought that this was going to be a Bird Cage situation, but to my surprise, Quark undergoes the fastest medical transition ever thanks to Dr. Bashir – and is now Lumba. The surgery does not change her voice, and she has to learn how to walk in heels. Of course the episode begins with Moogi getting the Grand Nagus to ammend the laws so Ferengi women can now wear clothes in public, challenging the traditional gender roles of Ferengi society.

Now, let’s talk about the costumes and makeup. Lumba serves up nothing but executive Ferengi realness!

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Owner/Creator: Paramount Global (was ViacomCBS and/or Paramount Pictures and/or CBS Broadcasting, Inc.)

But at the same time, it’s like a commentary on how women are expected to conform to certain beauty standards. And when Quark transforms back into a man at the end of the episode, honey, it’s like a symbol of breaking free from those oppressive gender norms.

Oh, honey, where do I even begin with this one? This episode is a wild ride from start to finish! The gender-swapping plot is played for laughs, but there’s also some serious commentary on gender roles and societal norms. It’s a reminder that gender is a social construct, and that there’s no one right way to be a man or a woman. Ultimately Lumba is able to get the Ferengi Commerce Authority to change their sexist policies. It’s a powerful message of activism, truly owning someone’s struggle, and standing up for what’s right. And let’s not forget about the fabulous costumes and set design – those Ferengi outfits and all of the jewels!

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And at the end, not only did Lumba save the day, but following another fast medical transition (medicine in the 24th century is awesome!) Quark has gained some perspective and starts speaking respectfully to the Dabo girl from the beginning of the episode, gives her a raise, and even turns down her advances.

Even though parts of this were clearly played for the comic misunderstandings, at the end of the day, there’s very little backlash for Quark – Lumba – Quark, and their Moogi even says “You may not have been much of a son, but you made an amazing daughter”.

3. “The Siege of AR-558” (Season 7, Episode 8)

Aired on November 18, 1998, “The Siege of AR-558” on the surface is not on the surface about LGBT issues, but let me tell you why you’re wrong. (I have opinions!!!!)

This episode is a perfect example of the darkest days of the Dominion Wars, as a few survivors are protecting a communications relay from the Jem’Hadar 

The events of “The Siege of AR-558” remind us that the struggle for equality and justice is ongoing and often painful. The queer community knows all too well what it means to fight against overwhelming odds and suffer profound loss. We have faced violence, oppression, and discrimination throughout our history, from Stonewall to the HIV pandemic, Drag bans, assaults on trans rights and beyond.

But this episode also shows us that change is possible, and that we are stronger when we have co-conspirators rather than passive allies. The crew of Deep Space Nine learned this the hard way, as they were thrust into the front lines of a brutal war and forced to confront the realities of combat. They came to realize that the struggle for justice is not a distant abstract concept, but something that affects real people on the front lines.

This lesson is especially important for allies of the queer community. It’s not enough to simply say that you support us or that you are against discrimination. Real change requires action, and it requires a willingness to fight alongside us. We need co-conspirators who are willing to put themselves on the line and take risks for the sake of justice.

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On a brighter note, Raymond Cruz makes an appearance who you might know as Tuco from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

2.”Field of Fire” (Season 7, Episode 13)

Aired on February 17, 1999, “Field of Fire” In “Field of Fire,” a murder mystery unfolds on Deep Space Nine when a series of crew members are killed by a seemingly random attacker. Lieutenant Ezri Dax assists in the investigation, which leads to the discovery of a Vulcan officer who survives the slaughter of his crew, and becomes a logic extremist, dealing death to folks who find joy and laughter as he struggles with survivor guilt.

Also, Dax’s old forgotten host is super creepy …

The episode touches on issues of trust, betrayal, and trauma as the characters grapple with the consequences of one’s actions. It also highlights the importance of seeking help and support when dealing with difficult emotions and experiences.

In terms of its relation to the LGBT community, the episode does not have any overt references to LGBT themes or characters. However, the underlying themes of identity, repression, and acceptance could be seen as resonating with the struggles faced by many members of the Queer community. For example, the idea of feeling forced to hide one’s true identity or desires due to societal pressures or expectations is a common experience for many in the Queer community.

The episode’s message of the importance of being true to oneself and seeking help when needed could therefore be seen as relevant and empowering. And ultimately Dax has to rely on multiple aspects of themselves and trust their instincts to solve the murder, while keeping a cool head to ensure that justice is done.

1. “Chimera” (Season 7, Episode 14)

This standout episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine explores themes of identity, belonging, and acceptance. The episode follows the character Odo, a shapeshifter who has always struggled with his place in the galaxy. When Odo is visited by another shapeshifter named Laas, he is excited to meet someone like himself but soon discovers that Laas has a much more militant view of their kind.

Laas believes that shapeshifters should distance themselves from “solids” and not take on their form, which he sees as an act of subservience. Laas also challenges Odo’s decision to remain on Deep Space Nine and serve as a security officer for Starfleet.

As Odo and Laas spend more time together, their relationship becomes increasingly complex. Laas represents a different perspective on what it means to be a shapeshifter, and Odo is forced to confront his beliefs about his identity and place in the galaxy. The episode touches on themes that resonate with the LGBTQ community, particularly the struggle to balance the desire to make others comfortable with the need to be true to oneself, as many on the station are notionally alright with shapeshifters as long as it stays behind closed doors. Quark says this bluntly to Odo.

Wait, wrong shape shifter ….

Wait, not that one either….

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There we go. Anyway, they attack him, and he retaliates by transforming his arm into a sharp blade to kill one of the Klingons. This sequence adds tension and action to the episode and highlights the complex relationships between different species in the Star Trek universe.

As for the other themes in the episode, it does explore the LGBT community through the relationship between Odo and Laas. Kira initially struggles with jealousy when Odo and Laas join in a link (unique to metamorphs and incredibly intimate), but she ultimately supports him in his journey of self-discovery.

The performances in the episode are excellent, particularly by Rene Auberjonois as Odo and J.G. Hertzler as Laas. The episode raises important questions about the use of violence in political movements and the consequences of such actions, including how the justice system may not be fair to those who defend themselves from violence while the violence itself is ignored. It also explores the theme of acceptance and the importance of embracing diversity. Overall, “Chimera” is a well-crafted and thought-provoking episode worth watching.

She eventually even puts her career at risk to help Odo, but he decides to stay with her and share his whole self with her, surrounding her with fog and brilliant lights in a lovely moment of vulnerability.

Star Trek DS9 was a groundbreaking show when it came to LGBTQ+ representation on television. These six episodes explored themes of identity, acceptance, and love in a way that was ahead of its time. They are a testament to the power of storytelling to break down barriers and promote understanding and acceptance. By listing these episodes in chronological order of air date, we can see how the series gradually evolved and pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable for LGBTQ+ representation on television.

If you’re a fan of Star Trek DS9, these episodes are a must-watch, not only for their historical significance but also for their powerful storytelling and complex characters. And if you’re not a fan yet, give them a chance and see how this groundbreaking show tackled issues of diversity and inclusion decades before it became mainstream.

Remember, representation matters, and shows like Star Trek DS9 paved the way for a more diverse and inclusive media landscape. We still have a long way to go, but by celebrating and highlighting these important moments in television history, we can continue to move forward and make progress towards a more accepting and compassionate world.

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Star Trek (But Make it Gay): TNG

Busy Geek Breakdown:

Lifelong Trekkie or never seen a single episode? Check out the following:

Season 3; Episode 16.  Season 4; Episodes 4, 23. Season 5, Episodes 6, 14, 17.

Also, if you just want to see the Riker Maneuver click here.

If you’re a seasoned Trekkie, or don’t want context, skip ahead — here.

For the Total Star Trek Red Shirts Provisional Ensigns (Red Shirts are important now!!!):

Star Trek: The Next Generation (often abbreviated as TNG) is an American science fiction television series that aired from 1987 to 1994. It is the second Star Trek television series and a sequel to the original Star Trek series TOS that aired from 1966 to 1969.

The show is set in the 24th century, about 100 years after the original series, and follows the crew of the USS Enterprise-D, led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard, (aka Gunshow circa 1994)  

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… as they explore the galaxy and encounter new civilizations and technologies. The Enterprise-D is a massive starship that is capable of traveling faster than the speed of light and is equipped with a variety of advanced technologies, including a holodeck, which can create realistic virtual environments.

The show has a large ensemble cast, with notable characters including Commander William Riker (galactic thirst trap) . . .

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Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge (Take a look, It’s in a book!) , Lieutenant Commander Data (an android), Counselor Deanna Troi (a betazoid empath counselor), and Lieutenant Worf (a Klingon).

Lt. Worf” by Tram Painter is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The show also features several recurring characters, such as Q, a powerful and mischievous being who challenges the crew with his god-like abilities.

TNG is known for its thought-provoking stories and themes, such as exploring the nature of humanity, the ethics of scientific experimentation, and the consequences of interfering with other cultures. It was also notable for its impressive special effects, which were state-of-the-art for its time.

Overall, TNG is widely regarded as one of the most successful and influential science fiction television shows of all time and has spawned numerous spin-off series and feature films.

Before we get into individual episodes, let’s talk about Q . . . . 

The character Q in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is often portrayed as being fascinated and intrigued by Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

Q, played by actor John de Lancie, is an omnipotent being who serves as a recurring character throughout the series. He often tests the crew of the USS Enterprise-D and challenges their beliefs and values. Q has a playful and mischievous personality, and he enjoys manipulating the crew and testing their limits.

Some would argue that while Q is often seen interacting with Picard and the two characters have a somewhat adversarial relationship, there is no indication in the show that Q has romantic feelings for Picard. That Q’s interest in Picard seems to stem more from his fascination with humanity and his desire to explore and understand human behavior.

It’s worth noting that the relationship between Q and Picard is deliberately ambiguous, and the show’s writers have left their interactions open to interpretation. While some fans may see hints of romantic interest in Q’s behavior towards Picard, the show itself does not provide any explicit confirmation of this.

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If you’re not convinced though and believe I’m just shipping Q-Card out of wishful thinking, wait until I post my blog about a later series. Anyway, Nerdist agrees with me (some spoilers).

Tasha Yar while not Canonically gay, has often been embraced as a gay icon and even made #1 on the AutoStraddle Star Trek lesbian character list. 

Tasha Yar, played by Denise Crosby, was the chief of security aboard the USS Enterprise-D and appeared in the first season of the show.

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One reason for Tasha Yar’s appeal to the LGBTQ+ community may be her status as a strong, independent woman. In the world of “Star Trek,” women are often shown in positions of power and authority, and Tasha Yar is no exception. She is a skilled fighter and a competent leader, and she is not afraid to stand up for herself and her beliefs. Unfortunately, due to the actors desire to go elsewhere in her career, she ends up perpetuating the “Bury your gays” stereotype by getting killed off at the end of Season 1.

Ch . Ch. Ch. Changes … in uniforms over 100 years. It’s easiest to explain using the infographic from below. (get the full infographic here)

The most important costume revelation for TNG is the Skant! The Star Trek skant is a type of uniform worn by some characters in the Star Trek franchise. It is a unisex garment that resembles a dress or tunic and was first introduced in the original Star Trek series in the late 1960s.

The skant was intended to be a futuristic, gender-neutral uniform that would reflect the show’s optimistic vision of a society without gender-based distinctions. The skant was worn by both male and female crew members and was meant to signify that everyone in the Star Trek universe was equal and could perform any job regardless of gender.

The skant was worn by several characters, although most of the men sporting it in TNG were in the background.

The skant reappeared in later Star Trek series, including Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where it was worn by both male and female crew members. However, the skant was eventually phased out in favor of more traditional uniforms.

In recent years, the skant has become a popular item among Star Trek fans and cosplayers, who often create their own versions of the garment. The skant is seen as a unique and iconic part of the Star Trek universe and a symbol of the franchise’s progressive values.

IMG_3050” by marakma is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Alright. Now on to my favorite part … the numbered list!

6. “The Offspring” (Season 3, Episode 16):

*CW: Mental Health, Death*

In this episode, the character of Data creates an android “daughter” named Lal. While the episode does not explicitly address LGBTQ issues, the themes of identity and acceptance resonate with many LGBTQ individuals.

Honey, let me tell you, as a fierce Star Trek fan and a proud member of the LGBTQ community, this episode that spoke to my heart on so many levels. In fact, after watching this episode I had to take a break and watch several episodes of RuPauls Drag Race, before I could resume my Trek re-watch.

Firstly, I was struck by Data. This android struggles with his identity as a non-human being and the prejudice and discrimination he faces from others because of it. Many of us in the Queer community can relate to feeling marginalized and ostracized for simply being who we are. Watching Data grapple with these issues was both emotional and empowering, as it reminded me of the importance of standing up for oneself in the face of discrimination.

But the real heart of The Offspring lies in the creation of Lal, a child-like android that Data creates as his own offspring. Many of us know all too well the balance required to prioritize found family and the importance of finding people who reflect our identities and experiences. Lal represents that desire for a family and the struggles that come with it as she navigates her identity as a non-human being and grapples with the discrimination she faces from others.

Data allow Lal to choose her own gender and appearance, and while this idea was executed in s somewhat binary way, still Star Trek saying Trans Rights in the early 1990’s was amazing! There are several remarks about how your gender is how other’s perceive you and impact how folks interact with you.

And there are absolutely some wonderful, memorable moments in this episode, like when Lal first learns from her job in Ten Forward as a cocktail waitress for Guinan (working at 3 weeks old – wow, nobody want to work these days!!!) and she first learns that people touch hands and then touch lips when they like each other. And of course Riker’s very first time meeting her, she picks him up by the collar to kiss him – right as Data walks in and says “Commander, what are your intentions with my daughter?” It’s just *chef’s kiss* one of those moments where my spouse had to ask why I was cackling so loud.

Courtesy of

Watching Data’s relationship with Lal develop throughout the episode is beautiful as he learns how to care for and love his new creation. The performances by the cast, particularly Brent Spiner as Data and Hallie Todd as Lal, were simply outstanding, capturing the complex emotions and struggles of their characters with real depth and sensitivity.

But what impressed me about The Offspring was its relevance to LGBTQ issues today. The episode tackles themes of prejudice, discrimination, and the importance of individual rights and freedoms, which are still relevant to our community. It’s a reminder that the fight for acceptance and equality is ongoing and that it’s essential to stand up for ourselves and our loved ones in the face of discrimination.

Overall, The Offspring was a profoundly moving and empowering episode that speaks to the struggles and joys of the LGBTQ community in a significant way. I highly recommend it to any queer person or ally who wants to see themselves reflected in a powerful and poignant story. Live long and prosper, honey.

But what caught my eye were the costumes worn by the android characters. Data, in particular, wore his normal sleek and form-fitting uniform that accentuated his non-human features, with metallic accents and a bold black and gold color scheme. On the other hand, Lal wore a simple dress with a flowing skirt, contrasting beautifully with her pale (and much more human like) skin, and conveying a sense of innocence of youth. Of course, she did have to wear this giant bob type wig, to allow for a scene later in the episode where they opened up her positronic brain on camera.

Of course the villain of the story, the Admiral who initially wanted to separate Lal from Data (and there were owe so many brilliant points in this episode about why Data was being questioned and second guessed on creating a life, when other’s weren’t questioned about procreating). Ultimately, Lal begins to feel actual emotions, beginning when she realizes some strange man who doesn’t care for her wants to take her away from her family and ensure she grows up ‘the right way’. She effectively has a breakdown and dies as a result of the intense feelings, which is of course heartbreaking, and the Admiral finally feels for Data as a father.

The crew is generally very compassionate, and Data mentions a heartwarming note about all of Lal’s memories will live inside him. But then Captain ‘Prick-ard’ basically says, “Oh, you’re not crying? Get back on watch!’ and Data does. Come on Jean Luc – you couldn’t give him a day off to contemplate existence? Or at least ask if he would prefer to mourn or get back to work? Well, we all know that for all his wisdom, Picard never did well with feelings. Or children. On that note, on to the next episode!!!!

5. “Suddenly Human” (Season 4, Episode 4):

*CW: Mental Health, Death

In this episode the crew encounters a human boy who was raised by an alien race after his parents died. As they attempt to reunite him with his biological family, they must navigate the complex issues of identity, belonging, and cultural differences.

These poor abandoned kids add to the confusion and chaos with the Mourning, a sound they make when separated from their Captain, until Picard charges in and orders them to be quiet.

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Now, this is a powerful message for our community, my loves. It reminds us of the importance of family and belonging, and how our sense of identity can be shaped by the culture and community we grow up in. It’s a message that resonates deeply with the LGBT community, as we too have often struggled to find acceptance and belonging in a world that can be hostile to our identities.

And speaking of cultural differences, my darlings, let’s not forget the LGBT issues at play here. The crew’s attempts to reunite the boy with his biological family echo the struggles faced by LGBT individuals in reconciling their identities with their cultural and familial backgrounds.

Now we have to talk about Captain Picard’s attempts to connect with the boy. Bless his heart, he’s not exactly the most skilled at dealing with children, is he? But it’s also a reminder that we all have our awkward moments, and that even the most stoic and composed among us can struggle to connect with others at times.

But let’s talk about Captain Picard’s attempts to connect with the boy, my darlings. Bless his heart, he tells Counselor Troi that he’s not great with kids – a fact that is abundantly clear throughout the episode. But we can’t fault him for trying, can we? It’s a reminder that even the most seasoned leaders among us can struggle when it comes to parenting and connecting with younger generations.

And speaking of Picard, my loves, let’s not forget about Picard Day – an annual celebration of the captain that was established by the children on the Enterprise. It’s a playful moment in the series, but also a reminder of the importance of honoring those who inspire us and bring us together.

But beyond the jokes and playful moments, my darlings, this episode is a powerful reminder of the importance of empathy and understanding. As the crew attempts to navigate the complex dynamics between the boy and his biological family, they must confront their own biases and assumptions about what it means to be human.

And speaking of connections, my darlings, let’s not forget the playful reference to daddy issues in this episode. As the crew attempts to navigate the complex dynamics between the boy and his biological father, it’s hard not to laugh at the irony of Picard – a man with his own complicated relationship with his father – trying to play the role of mentor and father figure.

Ah, my darlings, wouldn’t it be lovely if every lost child in the galaxy could be a Mandalorian foundling, with the handsome Pedro Pascal as their daddy? Alas, in this episode, we are dealing with a Talarian foundling instead, and the crew of the Enterprise must navigate the complex issues of identity and belonging that arise when a human boy is raised by an alien race.

Now, we’ve all been there. Who hasn’t had a rebellious phase as a teenager, blasting rock music and acting out against authority? Maybe not as far as stabbing someone in their sleep, but otherwise it’s a universal experience, and a reminder that even in the future, some things never change. “Stop that noise!”

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But the real message here is about empathy and understanding. As the crew comes to understand the boy’s experience and perspective, they are able to bridge the gap between their two cultures and find a way to reunite him with his family while still honoring his identity and experiences.

Now, my loves, can we talk about those Talarian uniforms? They would be so fashionable if they weren’t wearing those turtlenecks underneath! It’s a good thing we have our very own fashion icons on the crew to provide some much-needed style inspiration. Data – does he have ANY pores? His skin is flawless! And Troi, are we sure that low cut v-neck jumpsuit is regulation Star Fleet?

But the journey to reunite Jono with his Talarian family is not without its challenges, my loves. Jono’s experience as a hostage has left him with deep-seated trauma and a desire for revenge, leading him to effectively try to commit suicide by cop in a dramatic confrontation with his Talarian captors. It’s a poignant reminder of the ongoing impact of trauma on our loved ones and the need for compassion and support in their healing journeys.

Despite the serious nature of this episode, my loves, we can always rely on the charming Captain Picard and his aversion to young people to bring some levity to the Enterprise. Don’t miss it!

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So let’s raise a glass of (vegan) Blood Wine to the crew of the Enterprise, my darlings, and to the power of empathy, understanding, and acceptance. We must never forget that we are all connected by our humanity, and that our differences should be celebrated, not feared. Remember, love knows no boundaries – even if we have a few heart wrenching and even awkward moments along the way!”

4. “The Host” (Season 4, Episode 23):

In this episode, Dr. Crusher falls in love with a Trill ambassador named Odan. Now, the Trill are a fascinating species, honey. They can transfer their consciousness between hosts, and Odan’s current host is a fine-looking man. But when that man is injured, Odan is transferred into a new host, temporarily Commander Will Riker – and that’s where the drama begins.

Let me take a moment to say – How in the hell did I not know there was a nail salon on the Enterprise? Is Picard secretly rocking hot pink toenail polish under that very regulation exterior? In the 24th century, along with the skant, are hair and nail uniform regulations finally equal?

Anyway, back to the drama. Now, the symbolism here is strong, my loves. The Trill’s gender-neutral culture challenges our preconceived notions of gender and identity. It reminds us that gender is not binary and that love can transcend labels. But Dr. Crusher struggles with this concept, as many in our community still do today.

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Also, I would like to take a moment to appreciate Deanna Troi. Although the onscreen romance between her and Riker doesn’t happen until later, and they don’t marry until the film Insurrection, they are friends and former lovers while serving together during the events of TNG. If not exactly kitchen table poly, it’s at least super enlightened of Troi when comforting ‘Dr. Beverly’ to tell her that if she can find love and comfort in Odan in the form of Riker, then she should.

Anyway, Riker realizes it’s beyond physical, and that she is attracted to the person she knew as a man – at the end, after averting a war (because of global warming caused by overdependency on an energy source – interesting) but she finds it difficult to accept that Odan is now in new woman host, but admits that she still loves Odan, and understands that it is her own failing to accept the new form.

Another great line from this episode, which I definitely did not catch when I was younger. When Crusher confronts Odan about not telling her he was a symbiote, he say’s “Did you ever have to tell someone you were only a single being? Of course not!” Wonderful echos of the double standard of being expected to come out as Queer, but not as cis-het. Ok, I see you Starfleet. All this in 1990! Boom!

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Is there a deeper metaphor with Dr. Crusher being the one to transplant her lover into Riker? Who knows, but it’s a great chance for some Special Effect!!!

Anyway, as usual the real kicker is the costumes. The Trill’s signature spots are a bold fashion statement, representing their connection to their hosts. However, when Odan is transferred to the new host, those spots disappear, leaving us with a blank slate. It’s a powerful visual representation of the struggle to maintain identity through change.

And let’s not forget the LGBT issues at play here. The Trill’s fluidity challenges traditional gender roles, and their love can transcend bodies and lifetimes. It’s a beautiful message for our community, reminding us to celebrate our differences and embrace the complexity of our identities.

So there you have it, my darlings. Another powerful episode that challenges us to think beyond the binary and embrace the diversity of our world. Let’s all raise a glass of Saurian Brandy to love in all its forms! No Synthehol for us!

3. “The Game” (Season 5, Episode 6):

In this episode, the crew is faced with a new game that has taken over the minds of everyone on board, including Cadet Crusher’s new love interest, Ensign Robin Lefler. The game represents addiction and how easily we can be controlled by outside forces.

So the beginning of this episode as inspired me to amend what I said about Troi and Riker. By this time, she definitely knew how freaking thirsty he was and so also knew what she was getting herself into. The episode opens with Riker hooking up on Risa and then getting introduced to this super addictive, very easy to win, brainwashing game where you mentally push a disk into a cone, then get a euphoric/orgasmic rush.

Courtesy of

But the real message here, my loves, is about control. The game takes over the crew’s minds, leading them to act in ways they usually wouldn’t. It’s a reminder that we must always be vigilant against outside forces that seek to control us and our actions. That we can be ourselves and do what we know is right, despite what the rest of society tries to tell us.

But, ultimately, Wesley puts his faith in a trustworthy adult (in this case Data) to safe him from his own mother among everyone else on board. While Data formulates a plan, Cadet crusher runs around the Enterprise Home Alone style, distracting everyone to buy time.

So let’s raise a glass of Altair Water to Ensign Lefler and Cadet Crusher, my darlings, and to the power of individuality and self-determination. We must never let anyone or anything control our minds or our hearts. Remember, we are the captains of our own destiny, and as we all know geeks always save the day!

2. “Conundrum” (Season 5, Episode 14):

In this episode my fellow LGBT-rekkies, the crew wakes up without memory of their identities or mission. They must work together to uncover the truth and prevent a war between two alien races.

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Who is this new guy? He’s now the Executive Officer? Why does Picard still call Riker ‘Numbah Won’ if he’s third in command now? Oh right, it’s a mind controlling alien. Why didn’t he just make himself the Captain? Or a Commodore? Ah well …

Now, this is a powerful message for our community. It reminds us of the importance of memory and identity and how easily they can be manipulated or erased. It’s a message that resonates deeply with the Queer community, as we have faced challenges in asserting our identity and having our history recognized and celebrated. Even if it turns out we’re a space faring Trombone Player.

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But let’s talk about the way everyone acts when they forget who they are. Worf believes he is in charge, apparently because of his confidence and fancy sash.

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Data thinks he is a robot bar tender.

Courtesy of Dat4L0re

… and there is a very awkward love triangle between Ro Loren, Riker, and Troi but as their memories return and they discover their individual roles on the ship, they begin to adjust and change their behavior to reflect their unique identities and personalities, albeit with most of their inhibitions restored.

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And speaking of identity let’s not forget the LGBT issues at play here. The crew’s struggle to regain their memories and assert their individual identities echoes the struggles faced by LGBT individuals in maintaining their identities in a society that often seeks to erase or marginalize them.

But the real message here, my loves, is about unity and collaboration. The crew must work together and trust each other to uncover the truth and prevent a war. It’s a reminder that we must come together and support each other even in the face of adversity and uncertainty.

So let’s raise a glass of Romulan Ale to the crew of the Enterprise, my darlings, and to the power of memory, identity, and collaboration. We must always remember who we are and where we come from and work together to create a better future for ourselves and our community. Remember, together, we are unstoppable!

1. “The Outcast” (Season 5, Episode 17):

*CW: Conversion Therapy, anti-trans rhetoric

In this episode, the Enterprise crew encounters the J’naii, a society where gender neutrality is strictly enforced, and the character of Soren, a member of this society, begins questioning her gender identity. This episode is often considered the most prominent LGBTQ episode in the series.

The J’naii are gender-neutral and reject any concept of male or female, reminding us that gender is a construct and that we can be whoever we want, regardless of societal norms. Despite a clunky conversation about gender-neutral pronouns, which is somewhat unsatisfying (especially since the singular “they” has been used since the 1300s), this episode further explores gender and sexuality than any others in the series.

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But of course, the crew faces a challenge as Soren expresses romantic feelings for Commander Riker. There are some funny and awkward moments along the way. I did appreciate how we find a way to use words like ‘Micro-Cochrans’ to describe engine output to someone from a species which likely has never heard of Zephram Cochran (a lot like the U.S. still refusing to use metric)

Courtesy of

But this is where the drama begins. The J’naii don’t believe in gender or romantic love. Soren’s attraction to Riker is seen as a violation of their societal norms. She is forced to undergo a mind-altering procedure to conform to the J’naii way of life.

The symbolism here is deep, if a bit on the nose. Soren’s desire to love who she wants challenges the J’naii’s strict adherence to their cultural norms. It reminds us of the struggle we face in our community, where we are often told that our love is invalid. But Soren’s bravery in standing up for her true self inspires us all.

As a devoted fan and an advocate for LGBTQ rights, this was one of my favorite episodes to re-watch. I remembered it differently, as growing up in the Midwest USA, I had little exposure to anything outside CIS-Hetero-Normative ideas. And in the 1990s, on analog network television, seeing Queer representation felt a lot like Lily and Zefram seeing visitors from the future in the TNG Film, First Contact.

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The costume choices in this episode were fascinating, as they played a role in highlighting the differences between Soren’s society and the Federation. Soren’s people wore gender-neutral clothing, which was a sharp contrast to the bold and colorful uniforms of the Enterprise crew. The neutral tones and simple dress designs in Soren’s society reflected their strict adherence to gender neutrality and conformity. At the same time, the bright and varied uniforms of the Enterprise crew conveyed a sense of individuality and diversity.

Another interesting costume choice was using makeup and hair styling to convey gender. Soren’s people had identical haircuts and minimal makeup, again highlighting their adherence to strict gender neutrality. In contrast, the crew of the Enterprise had varied hairstyles and makeup choices that reflected their individuality.

But what struck me about The Outcast was how it highlighted the struggles of LGBTQ people we still face today. Soren’s journey to embrace her gender identity, despite the disapproval of her society, was a powerful metaphor for the struggles of many LGBTQ people who face discrimination and persecution for simply being who they are. And, it gave us this fantastic monologue – there’s a cut down version with captions available here.

But in the end, it’s about love. Soren’s love for Riker transcends gender and societal norms, reminding us that love knows no bounds. It’s a message we need to hear today more than ever as we continue fighting for our rights and identities.

Despite Worf very excitedly accompanying Riker to the surface to mess some folks up, and Picard very specifically not giving Riker permission to act, but also staying in orbit just long enough. Sadly, the episode ends with Soren telling Riker it was a mistake- it appears the conversion therapy was a success.

Overall, The Outcast was a powerful and thought-provoking episode that used costume and makeup choices to explore issues of gender identity and LGBTQ rights in a truly impactful way. I highly recommend this episode to anyone who wants to see themselves reflected in a powerful and poignant story.

So let’s raise a cup of “Earl Gray, Hot” to the J’naii, my darling Queer Geeks, and as always, Live Long, and Prosper.

Earl grey, hot” by Fanfare & Foofaraw is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

These episodes, among others, are shining examples of good science fiction exploring issues of gender identity and sexual orientation in a nuanced and thought-provoking way. While the series may not have always been at the forefront of LGBTQ representation, these episodes show that it was willing to push boundaries and challenge societal norms.

Are there any other favorites I missed, or should I cover them in the next post? Let me know!