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)  

The above image is published under Fair Use – this image is copyrighted, but used here under Fair Use guidelines. Owner/Creator: TV Guide Publishing Group, Inc.

… 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) . . .

Courtesy of gifer.com

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.

Courtesy of gifer.com

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

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 Costumesupercenter.com 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 makeagif.com

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

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!”

Courtesy of boldlygiffing.com

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!

Courtesy of Gifer.com

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.

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.)

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!

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.)

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 Gifer.com

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

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.

Courtesy of Gifer.com

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.

Courtesy of startrekgifs.tumblr.com

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

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

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 Gifer.com

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

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!

Star Trek (But Make it Gay): TOS

Busy Geek Breakdown:

Lifelong Trekkie or have never seen an episode? Check out:

Season 1; Episode 5.  Season 2; Episode 4. Season 3, Episodes 2, 10, 19, 21.

Pay special attention to the balance creators and actors held between pushing cultural issues and the FCC Rules on Obscenity (more closely regulated prior to 1984). It featured storylines that addressed controversial issues, such as racism, war, and politics, and depicted violence and sexuality in a more frank and realistic manner than was typical for the era.

If you just want to see a young George Takei shirtless, oiled up, and wielding a sword, not to mention a savage comeback by Nichelle Nichols, watch Season 1; Episode 4 “The Naked Time”. (that’s the actual title) Or just go here.

Note: If you watch the show on Paramount Plus, the original Pilot is listed as Season 1; Episode 1. This throws the episode count off for Season 1.

For seasoned Trekkies, or people who just like numbered lists, skip ahead here.

For the Total Star Trek Red Shirts (read: Noobs) read below:

The first Star Trek series, known as The Original Series (TOS), was created by Gene Roddenberry and premiered on CTV in Canada on September 6th, 1966. It later aired on NBC in America on September 8th, 1966. The show followed the voyages of the USS Enterprise under Captain James T. Kirk and was set in the 23rd century, presenting themes of a Utopian society and racial equality. It was originally referred to simply as Star Trek prior to the release of spin-offs.

Despite performing well in its time slot when it first aired, the show was cancelled after three seasons due to budget issues resulting in lower quality episodes and a shift to a Friday night time slot. However, after entering syndication, the show’s popularity skyrocketed. It was notable for featuring the first African-American officer in a recurring role, as well as a Japanese-American in an intelligent and capable role rather than the racist farce many other shows used. They even has a Russian officer, as this was the height of the Cold War, and Roddenberry’s vision of the future meant that such things were far behind us.

A decade later, the original cast reunited for the movie Star Trek: The Motion Picture aboard a refurbished USS Enterprise. They went on to appear in five more films, culminating in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in 1991, which was produced during the spin-off series Star Trek: The Next Generation and shortly before Gene Roddenberry’s passing. Characters from the original series also appeared in later Star Trek productions, including the seventh movie, Star Trek Generations. Of course Leonard Nimoy also played a role in the Kelvin timeline films later, where all of the characters were re-cast with modern actors.

Alright, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s Dive in!

A few years ago, I began a re-watch of Star Trek, starting with TOS, and posted out-of-context Tweets of my reactions. I’ve recently re-watched some of my favorite episodes to discuss LGBTQ+ stories, including Queer Coding and allegory. Disclaimer, while working on writing up my notes for my Star Trek TOS re-watch, I’ve been catching up on several years of RuPaul’s Drag Race. This may or may not have impacted which details I notice and my narrative style.

The Original Series of Star Trek featured several episodes with queer-coded subtext and some moments that fans have interpreted as having LGBTQ+ themes. However, it’s worth noting that because the show aired in the 1960s, overtly LGBTQ+ representation was impossible due to the time’s social and cultural context. In addition, the original series aired just four years after Illinois became the first state to decriminalize homosexuality and went off the air a few weeks before the Stone Wall Riots in June 1969.

Lucille Ball and Gene Roddenberry played a significant role in balancing queer coding and pushing issues of LGBTQ and racial equality in Star Trek The Original Series while keeping the show on the air in a less tolerant time.

Lucille Ball was instrumental in getting Star Trek on the air, as she owned Desilu Studios, the production company that produced the show. She was a well-known trailblazer in the industry and was committed to promoting diversity and inclusivity in her productions. It was because of her support that Gene Roddenberry was able to push the boundaries of what was acceptable on television at the time, including addressing issues of LGBTQ and racial equality.

Gene Roddenberry was a visionary who believed that science fiction could be a tool for promoting social justice and progressive values. He used the genre to explore complex social issues, including gender, race, and sexuality, in a way impossible in more traditional programming. He recognized the potential of science fiction to push the boundaries of what was acceptable on television and in society.

Gene Roddenberry on the set of Star Trek: The Original Series
Photo Cr: StarTrek.com

One way Roddenberry pushed the envelope was through queer coding, which refers to the subtle ways in which character or situation portrayal suggests same-sex attraction or non-conforming gender identities without explicitly stating them. This allowed Roddenberry to address LGBTQ issues in a way that was less likely to attract backlash from conservative viewers and censors.

Overall, Lucille Ball and Gene Roddenberry were instrumental in balancing queer coding and pushing issues of LGBTQ and racial equality in Star Trek The Original Series while keeping the show on the air in a less tolerant time. They were pioneers in the industry and used their positions of power to promote diversity and inclusivity on television. Their legacy continues to inspire and influence future generations of creators and viewers alike.

Now that you’re all briefed, On To The List!!!!!!

6. “The Enemy Within” (Season 1; Episode 5):

One episode often cited as having queer-coded themes is “The Enemy Within” from the first season. And not just because you get to see this adorably grumpy ‘Unicorn Dog”.

The above image is published under 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.)

In this episode, Captain Kirk is split into two separate beings by a transporter malfunction, with one half embodying his “good” qualities and the other half his “bad” qualities. The “bad” half is more aggressive and sexually assertive, and at one point, he attempts to assault Yeoman Rand, one of the few prominent women on the show (you can tell he’s a bad boy because of his demand for Saurian Brandy, his eye makeup, the attempted Sexual Assault, and the manic yelling “I’m Captain Kirk!”.)

This split allows the writers to explore the duality of human nature in a unique and thought-provoking way.Some have interpreted this scene as a metaphor for sexual violence against women. However, others argue it has homoerotic undertones, with the aggressive Kirk representing a repressed homosexual desire. Ultimately, he realizes that embracing his more primal nature makes him a good Captain, as without it, he’s too meek and mild to make any of the difficult decisions he’s called upon to make.

1966 … ‘ Enemy Within’ – Star Trek” by x-ray delta one is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

As the episode unfolds, the crew must grapple with the consequences of their captain’s split personality and work together to reunite the two halves of his being. The scenes between the two versions of Kirk are compelling, highlighting our internal struggle to reconcile conflicting aspects of our personalities.

Now, while this episode may not explicitly include the LGBTQ community, its themes of identity and acceptance are universal and can resonate with all viewers, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And that’s something we can all appreciate, right, my loves?

So, while, “The Enemy Within” may not be the most groundbreaking episode of Star Trek regarding LGBTQ representation, its exploration of human duality and the power of acceptance is universal and timeless. The costume choices and character interactions are on point, and the episode is engaging and thought-provoking. Let’s all remember that we all have light and darkness within us and that acceptance and understanding can help us find peace and wholeness in ourselves and the world around us.

5. “Mirror, Mirror” (Season 2; Episode 4):

Another episode with queer-coded subtext is “Mirror, Mirror” from the second season, which features an alternate universe where the crew of the Enterprise is all ruthless and power-hungry. In this universe, the Tehran Empire (vary much Nazi type ideals of extreme xenophobia and subjugation, mixed with a slight Klingon aesthetic) has expanded instead of the Federation. (You can tell that Spock is evil because he has a goatee )

Let’s dive into “Mirror, Mirror.”

“Mirror, Mirror” is an iconic episode of Star Trek, exploring the concept of parallel universes and the darker sides of human nature. While the episode doesn’t specifically address LGBTQ issues, its themes of power and domination certainly have relevance to the experiences of many in the LGBTQ community.

One aspect of this episode that caught my eye was the costume choices. The uniforms worn by the crew of the USS Enterprise in the mirror universe are noticeably different from their counterparts in the regular universe, featuring more revealing cuts and darker colors. These costume choices help to emphasize the mirror universe’s more aggressive and dominant nature and create a distinct contrast with the regular universe’s more formal and modest uniforms.

The above image is published under 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.)

Spock is fascinating in this episode, as he must confront the darker aspects of his nature in the mirror universe. As a Vulcan, Spock prides himself on his logical and rational approach to life, but in the mirror universe, he is more aggressive and emotional to survive. This exploration of internal conflict and the struggle between reason and emotion is something that many in the LGBTQ community can undoubtedly relate to.

Throughout the episode, the crew must navigate the unfamiliar and dangerous mirror universe while grappling with the consequences of their actions in that world. The power dynamics and struggles for dominance are starkly evident. The episode serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked ambition and the importance of recognizing the humanity in others.

While “Mirror, Mirror” may not be explicitly LGBTQ-inclusive, its themes of power, domination, and the darker aspects of human nature are undoubtedly relevant to the experiences of many in the LGBTQ community. In addition, the costume choices are striking and help to emphasize the contrast between the regular and mirror universes. At the same time, exploring internal conflict and the struggle between reason and emotion is thought-provoking and engaging. Overall, “Mirror, Mirror” is a classic episode of Star Trek that resonates with viewers today.

4. “The Enterprise Incident” (Season 3, Episode 2):

“The Enterprise Incident” is a thrilling episode of Star Trek that sees the crew of the USS Enterprise embark on a dangerous mission to steal a Romulan cloaking device. While the episode doesn’t address LGBTQ issues directly, its exploration of power dynamics, secrecy, and the blurred lines between truth and deception resonate with many in the LGBTQ community.

In this episode, Captain Kirk fakes his own death and disguises himself as a Romulan to steal a cloaking device.

During their time on the Romulan ship, Spock very nearly seduces an incredibly thirsty Romulan commander to gain her trust. Do you see a trend yet? Riker isn’t the only First Officer who can get it, as he navigates the complex political landscape of the Romulan Empire to carry out the mission. Spock’s Vulcan stoicism and ability to think logically under pressure are critical to the mission’s success. In addition, his interactions with the Romulan commander provide a fascinating exploration of the tensions between different cultures and worldviews. While the scene was controversial then, it is often cited as an example of queer coding in the series.

One aspect of this episode that I found particularly interesting was the costume choices. The standard Romulan guards look pretty dorky. The Centurions look a bit cooler, and the Commander has this amazing two color 1960’s go-go dress and boot combo that really makes her stand out. However, the uniforms also blur the lines between friend and foe, highlighting the episode’s themes of secrecy and deception.

Overall, “The Enterprise Incident” is a tense and exciting episode that explores the complexities of power dynamics and the blurred lines between truth and deception. While it may not directly address LGBTQ issues, its themes of secrecy and the struggle for acceptance and understanding are undoubtedly relevant to the experiences of many in the LGBTQ community. In addition, the costume choices are striking and help to emphasize the episode’s themes, while the character interactions are engaging and thought-provoking. Overall, “The Enterprise Incident” is a classic episode of Star Trek that is definitely worth watching.

3. “Plato’s Stepchildren” (Season 3, Episode 10):

In this episode, the Enterprise crew encounters a group of telekinetic aliens who force Kirk and his crew to perform for their amusement. During the episode, Kirk is forced to kiss his crewmate Uhura, and Spock dances and nearly face stomps Kirk. While the episode was controversial then, it is now considered a landmark moment in LGBTQ representation on television.

Let’s dive into “Plato’s Stepchildren.”

“Plato’s Stepchildren” is an iconic episode of Star Trek that has become well-known for its groundbreaking portrayal of an interracial kiss between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura. However, the episode’s exploration of power dynamics, control, and the use of force is also highly relevant to LGBTQ issues.

The episode occurs on Platonius, where a group of powerful telekinetic beings known as the Platonians have enslaved anyone who doesn’t have powers and forced them to do their bidding. The Platonians delight in exercising their power over the humans, subjecting them to various forms of humiliation and torture.

One aspect of this episode that caught my eye was the costume choices. The Platonians wear flamboyant, brightly-colored outfits that emphasize their power and status serving up some greek god, Olympus type realness, while the humans wear drab, gray clothing that symbolizes their oppression and lack of agency. These costume choices highlight the power dynamics at play on Platonius and the struggle for freedom and self-determination.

Of course, this episode is a classic example of Bill Shatner’s ‘AAAAAAACTING!!!!!’ – as the away team is psycho-kinetically compelled into degrading and dangerous shenanigans for the entertainment of a power-drunk psychopathic god figure.

Also, I realize that most folks likely watched this on an old clunky Black and White Television set, not digitally remastered on a big screen HDTV.

Vintage RCA Television Ad circa 1966

However, during Mr. Spock’s forced dance scene, they could have picked a dancer closer in height or build to Leanard Nemoy, or at least not had him look directly at the camera. Ah well. That’s one of the great things about Star Trek, all the random things you can catch on a re-watch.

Dr. McCoy is also fascinating in this episode, as he battles with the ethical implications of saving the life of a monster. This exploration of power dynamics and the use of force to control and subjugate others is highly relevant to the experiences of many in the LGBTQ community, who have faced similar forms of oppression and humiliation throughout history.

Of course, the most memorable scene in this episode is the interracial kiss between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura, which was groundbreaking for its time and remains a powerful symbol. Also, stick it to the racists and haters, NBC executives initially tried to film a different version without the kiss to air in the deep south, but the actors purposely messed up every single take in which they didn’t kiss.

The above image is published under 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.)

While this wasn’t technically the first interracial kiss on television, it was undoubtedly one of the most talked about. For perspective, remember that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a huge Star Trek fan. So he actually talked Nechelle Nichols into continuing as Ohura instead of leaving to pursue her stage career.

In conclusion, while “Plato’s Stepchildren” may not address LGBTQ issues directly, its exploration of power dynamics, control, and the use of force is highly relevant to the experiences of many in the LGBTQ community. In addition, the costume choices help to emphasize the power dynamics at play in Platonius. At the same time, the interracial kiss between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura remains a powerful symbol of love and acceptance. Overall, “Plato’s Stepchildren” is a classic episode of Star Trek that resonates with viewers today.

2.”Requiem for Methuselah” (Season 3, Episode 19):

In this episode, the Enterprise crew encounters a reclusive immortal who becomes jealous of his android girlfriend/daughter who falls in love with Kirk. There are a lot of dynamics here, and this episode could definitely be considered an allegory for coming out and awakened sexual desire/ gender identity.

Let’s dive into “Requiem for Methuselah.”

“Requiem for Methuselah” is a thought-provoking episode of Star Trek that explores themes of love, mortality, and the pursuit of knowledge. While the episode doesn’t address LGBTQ issues directly, its exploration of these themes is highly relevant to the experiences of many in the LGBTQ community.

So, the costumes: Rayna wears a stunning, flowing gown emphasizing her otherworldly beauty and grace. In contrast, Flint wears a more practical, utilitarian outfit that reflects his scientific pursuits. These costume choices highlight the distinction between the two characters and their different approaches to life and love.

The above image is published under 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.)

Kirk plays a significant role in this episode, as he is forced to confront his emotions and desires when he falls in love with Rayna, and somewhat creepily stirs the first ever feelings of desire in her (She is an android who has heretofore had no emotions). This exploration of the complexities of forbidden love and passion is highly relevant and tragically, as Rayna finally starts gaining her own agency, saying “I choose. You do not command me!” she is torn apart by her own conflicted emotions and identity and dies.

In addition, Flint provides an exciting exploration of the pursuit of knowledge and the quest for immortality. His desire to live forever and accumulate knowledge and power is highly relevant to the human experience, as many people strive to leave a lasting impact on the world.

Overall, “Requiem for Methuselah” is a poignant and thought-provoking episode of Star Trek that explores themes of love, mortality, and the pursuit of knowledge. While it may not address LGBTQ issues directly, its exploration of these themes is highly relevant to the experiences of many in the LGBTQ community. Additionally, the costume choices highlight the contrast between the characters, while the character interactions are engaging and thought-provoking. Overall, “Requiem for Methuselah” is a classic episode of Star Trek that is definitely worth watching. Also, at the very end, Spock very questionably intrudes Kirk’s mind with an uninvited mind meld but instead of going through the very well know, “My mind to your mind, your thoughts to my thoughts” bit, he just puts his hand on Kirk’s sleeping head and says, “Forget”.

The above image is published under 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.)

1.”The Cloud Minders” (Season 3, Episode 21):

In this episode, the Enterprise crew visits a planet where the ruling class lives in a city in the clouds while the working class lives on the surface. During the episode, Spock engages in a romantic relationship with a woman from the ruling class (who is super thirsty for him, and has amazing eye makeup. We also get to hear some great line as she learns about the ‘7 year itch’ that Vulcans get *see Season 2; Episode 1), challenging the societal norms of the planet. This episode is also a great reminder that it’s pretty easy to have a utopia in the clouds when you completely subjugate and enslave people. This episode echos many of the racist arguments used to enslave people in our own history (but in Spaaaaace!) This episode was especially on the nose in 1969, and an example of when Star Trek didn’t pull any punches.

(Disclaimer: They use the r-word in the episode when discussing the effects of the gas)

Let’s dive into “The Cloud Minders.”

“The Cloud Minders” is a fascinating episode of Star Trek that deals with themes of class inequality and social justice. While the episode doesn’t address LGBTQ issues directly, its exploration of these themes is highly relevant to the experiences of many in the LGBTQ community.

The characters from the planet Stratos wear ornate, flowing robes that reflect their privileged status, while the Troglytes wear more utilitarian outfits that reflect their oppressed status. These costume choices highlight the stark contrast between the two groups and their different social standings. Also, the guards have super fun hats.

The above image is published under 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.)

Droxine also plays a significant role in this episode, as she is initially dismissive of Kirk and Spock due to her prejudices against them as outsiders. This exploration of prejudice and bias is highly relevant and is unfortunately all too familiar to the LGBTQ community, who have faced discrimination and stigma due to their identities.

In addition, the episode raises important questions about social justice and the distribution of resources. The Troglytes are forced to work in harsh conditions to mine the valuable mineral zenite (which it turns out impact brain function, and a simple respiratory renders the caste system toothless), while the Stratos inhabitants enjoy a life of luxury and privilege. This exploration of class inequality is highly relevant to the experiences of many in the LGBTQ community who have faced discrimination and barriers to accessing resources and opportunities.

Overall, “The Cloud Minders” is a thought-provoking episode of Star Trek that deals with class inequality and social justice themes. While it may not address LGBTQ issues directly, its exploration of these themes is highly relevant to the experiences of many in the LGBTQ community. The costume choices highlight the stark contrast between the two groups, while the character interactions are engaging and thought-provoking. Overall, “The Cloud Minders” is a classic episode of Star Trek that is definitely worth watching.

It’s important to note that the queer coding of these scenes and episodes is a matter of interpretation and is not explicitly stated in the show. However, they offer a glimpse into how LGBTQ+ themes and characters were explored in media during a time when overt representation was impossible.

These episodes and others demonstrate Star Trek: The Original Series’ willingness to explore themes of gender and sexual identity in a groundbreaking and provocative way. While the series may not have always been overtly LGBTQ-inclusive, it pushed the boundaries of what was considered acceptable on television. It paved the way for future series to explore these themes more deeply.

If you enjoyed this, please let us know, and check back soon for The Next Generation!

Retro Gay-Mer: LGBT Representation in Games Pre-2003!

CW: Discussions of violence, homophobia, transphobia

What is Retro? This post has made me feel old. When I was a child, Atari was Retro. I remember when the first Nintendo Entertainment System came out. I remember excitedly saving up money from farm work to buy a Super NES Bundle with Super Mario Allstars. We are now closer in time to the Playstation 3 than to …. So, since I had to pick a time frame to work with, I picked twenty years (to make the math easy). This list is not exhaustive, as I unfortunately do not have unlimited time to play retro games. Also, one of my favorite games of all times “The Longest Journey” will likely have a future article dedicated to it, and so isn’t mentioned below. Also, there was a game I found from Atari from 1982 called ‘Custer’s Revenge’ which is super messed up, racist, violent, sexist but not specifically anti-LGBT so it didn’t make the list, but definitely avoid it.

The representation of LGBTQ+ characters in video games has come a long way in recent years, but there was a time when the portrayal of queer characters in video games was scarce, problematic, or nonexistent. In this blog post, we will take a look at the five best and five worst video games for LGBTQ+ representation before 2003, including canonically queer characters, queer coded characters, and fan theories about whether characters are queer.

The Best

5. The Sims (2000)

Apartment via Sims” by spaceninja is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

The Sims is a life simulation video game that allows players to create and control their own characters and houses. The game was groundbreaking for its time as it was one of the first games to include same-sex relationships. The game’s developers did not make a big deal out of the inclusion of same-sex relationships, but it was a significant step forward for LGBTQ+ representation in video games. The newest version of The Sims allows character customization including top surgery scars.

4. Fallout 2 (1998)

Fallout 2” by Eat your greens! is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Fallout 2 is a post-apocalyptic role-playing game that is set in the year 2241. The game features a character named Angela Bishop, who is a sex worker in the game’s fictional city of New Reno. Angela Bishop is a lesbian character, and the game allows the player to have a romantic relationship with her. Of course, Fallout has largely continued this trend with in-game romance and character customization.

3. Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000)

Baldurs Gate 2 Ingame” by ap0c42 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn is a role-playing game that features a character named Haer’Dalis, who is a bard and a member of the game’s main cast. Haer’Dalis is a bisexual character, and the game allows the player to have a romantic relationship with him. The Baldur’s Gate series is amazing for classic Dungeons and Dragons RPG play. Definitely worth checking out.

2. EarthBound (1994)

Earthbound Rocks!!!” by AntMan3001 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

EarthBound is a Japanese role-playing game that was released in North America in 1995. The game features a character named Tony, who is heavily implied to be gay. Tony is a non-playable character, but he is an essential character in the game’s storyline. Even if you haven’t played EarthBound, you likely will recognize the protagonist from Super Smash Bros.

  1. Final Fantasy VII (1997)
Final Fantasy VII [BG]” by Precision GFX is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

If you’re an RPG fan and haven’t played this game all the way through, and you didn’t grow up in a cellar in Indiana like the Unstoppable Kimmy Schmidt, then please stop reading and immediately go find a copy. 

Final Fantasy VII is a Japanese role-playing game that features a character named Cloud who is the protagonist of the game. The game’s storyline is complicated, but one of the most interesting aspects of the game is the character Barret Wallace, who is a Black man with a gun for an arm and is heavily implied to be in a relationship with another male character named Dyne.

The Worst

5. Street Fighter II (1991)

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix 2” by gamerscoreblog is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Street Fighter II is a fighting game that features a character named Vega, who is queer coded. Vega is a flamboyant character who wears a mask and is obsessed with his appearance. The character’s design and behavior have been criticized for perpetuating harmful stereotypes about LGBTQ+ people, particularly those who identify as gender non-conforming or flamboyant. As much as I loved playing this game as a kid on SNES, looking back it was clearly harmful.

4. Final Fight (1989)

Final Fight Poster” by Wootang01 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Final Fight is a side-scrolling beat ’em up game that was released in 1989. The Japanese version of the game was initially intended to feature a character named Poison, a drag queen who would be a member of the game’s antagonist gang. However, the character was changed to a cisgender woman in the North American release of the game due to concerns about the portrayal of a Queer character in a violent game. After further controversy about violence towards women, the game developer noted that the character was trans and therefore the arguments had no merit. The developers have gone back and forth multiple times on this. This decision has been criticized for perpetuating harmful stereotypes about transgender people and erasing their representation in video games. In later releases of the game, Poison was eventually revealed to be a transgender woman, but the controversy surrounding her original portrayal still remains. 

This one despite the controversy has been reclaimed to some degree in recent years and generated a fan favorite Cosplay at conventions, with folks of all genders dressing as the character.

3. Vendetta (1991)

Vendetta, also known as Crime Fighters 2, is a side-scrolling beat ’em-up game that was released in 1991. The game features a stereotypical gay enemies in leather who attack the player by humping and licking. The enemy does the same thing if the player is knocked to the ground. Obviously, this is problematic for multiple reasons and feeds into the harmful rhetoric of LGBTQ people as predators.

  1. Leather Goddesses of Phobos (1986) 

Leather Goddesses of Phobos is an interactive fiction game that was released in 1986. The game features offensive jokes and stereotypes about LGBTQ+ people, including jokes about gay conversion therapy and cross-dressing. The game’s portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters was harmful and insensitive. The game is rated for ages 9+.

  1. Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (1987)

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards is a graphic adventure game that was released in 1987. The game’s protagonist is a sleazy womanizer named Larry Laffer, who is on a quest to find love. The game’s portrayal of LGBTQ+ people is particularly problematic, as it perpetuates stereotypes and offensive jokes about gay men and trans women. In several versions of the game, you automatically lose if you sleep with a trans woman.

While some games before 2003 had positive representations of LGBTQ+ characters, others perpetuated harmful stereotypes and offensive jokes. It’s important to acknowledge and critique these problematic portrayals, as well as celebrate the positive representations. Over the last twenty years, progress has been made in the gaming industry to improve LGBTQ+ representation, with many games featuring complex, multi-dimensional queer characters and storylines that challenge stereotypes and help to normalize LGBTQ+ identities. As we move forward, it’s important that game developers continue to prioritize inclusion and diversity in their work, and that gamers continue to demand and support positive representation of marginalized communities. By doing so, we can create a gaming landscape that is truly inclusive and welcoming for all.

Title Image: the Retro Gaming Shelf comes into being” by blakespot is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Last of Us: Worth It!

(HBO makes my Gay-mer heart Happy)

Busy Geek Breakdown: 

  • Fungus zombie apocalypse. Gruff loaner takes in orphaned kid. 
  • Epic action, nail-biting suspense, moving scores.Solid LGBTQ rep. 
  • Love the game? Watch the HBO Show. Excellent cast, faithful adaptation.      
  • Like the show? Try the game. Silent Hill mood, 28 Days Later type arc. 

The Last of Us is a critically acclaimed video game released in 2013 by developer Naughty Dog. The game follows the story of Joel (played in the show by Pedro ‘tall drink of water’ Pascal), a grizzled survivor in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by infected creatures, and Ellie, a young girl with a mysterious connection to the outbreak. Together, they embark on a journey across the United States, searching for a group of resistance fighters known as the Fireflies.

The game is a masterclass in storytelling, with complex and relatable characters, a gripping plot, and a powerful emotional core. So it’s not surprising that fans of the game have been clamoring for a television adaptation for years.

Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO

Bella Ramsay (the powerhouse gender-fluid actor of Game of Thrones fame) plays Ellie, an orphaned girl with a mysterious immunity to the Zombie fungus, making her possibly the most important person alive. Ashley Johnson voiced this character in the game (yes, Critical Role fans, that’s right).

The relationship between Joel and Ellie is at the center of the story. Their bond is one of the most compelling aspects of the game, and so far, the show is working to capture that same sense of connection and trust. But, of course, this requires a solid cast to portray their characters’ deep emotions and subtle nuances. And HBO did not disappoint.

The game’s post-apocalyptic setting plays a significant role in the show. The game’s depiction of a world overrun by infected creatures is terrifying and believable, and the adaptation successfully conveys a similar sense of danger and desperation.

Three episodes in, the adaptation has captured the same sense of tension and suspense that the game’s fans love. The game’s story is filled with moments of high stakes and nail-biting action, leveraging a talented team of writers and directors who understand how to create compelling and suspenseful storytelling. 

Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO

The romance between Bill (played in the show by Nick Offerman) and Frank expanded from the game in a lovely way that while it deviates, it is well done and will hit you in all the feelings (I definitely had something in my eye for all of episode 3).

Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO

Fans have long hoped for a television adaptation of The Last of Us. Finally, here is an incredible opportunity to bring this beloved story to a broader audience. So far, The Last of Us television show is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and thrilling series available, and has already been renewed for a second season.

Looking forward to Episode 4, things are not going to get better for Joel and Ellie anytime soon. Once again, fleshing out back stories that were left for the player to wonder about in the game, the HBO show is going to name and humanize Perry and Kathleen, (played by Jeffrey Pierce and Melanie Lynskey) some of the nameless raiders from the game. Needless to say, regardless of how the new showrunners decided to humanize the villains, things are about to get very bleak for our Dynamic Duo.

Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO

So What’s in store for Episode 5? So far all we have in way of a preview is this picture of Joel looking haunted as he stares into the middle distance with an out-of-focus Ellie (probably) waiting for him. That and a warning from the showrunners that as Joel’s past very much informs his future, he is going to have some very traumatic flashbacks.

Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO

***KEEP SCROLLING FOR A SUPER SPOILER OVERVIEW OF WHAT’S TO COME!***

(The rest of this article assumes you have played the game all the way through.)

 In 2013, a mutant Cordyceps changed people into creatures known as the Infected. In the Southwest U.S., Joel, his brother Tommy, and his daughter Sarah flee, but his daughter is killed and bleeds out in his arms.

Twenty years later, the remains of humanity live mostly in quarantine zones, which the new government runs with an iron fist. Joel has made his way as a smuggler with Tess near Boston. (Tess was voiced by Annie Wersching in the game, who also played the Borg Queen in Picard, and unfortunately recently died of cancer at 45.) 

Marlene, the leader of a rebel group, the Fireflies, offers them the job of smuggling Ellie to a safe house, as she is possibly the best, last hope for humanity. The voyage is hard, scary, and at times tragic, including run-ins with The Infected, raiders, and even cannibals.

***Now, real spoilers that will ruin the game for you if you haven’t played***

(Okay, you’ve been properly warned …)

When they finally reach the safe house months later, they prepare Ellie for surgery. When Joel finds out they must remove Ellie’s brain to create the vaccine, Joel cannot bear losing another person he was responsible for. In an epic, heartbreaking, and guilt-inducing final sequence, you play as Joel and kill every one of the Fireflies, save Ellie, possibly damning humanity, and then lie to her. This was the first time many players were forced to play and watch and act as the unknown villain, an experience that sticks with you.

Title Image: The Last of Us™ Remastered_20140801152030” by planetfifa14 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.