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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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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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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Rebelle Re-views: ‘Supernatural’ and the Road to Positive Masculinity

This past Fall I was hot off of working at NYCC and in the mood to indulge in the impending spooky season by deciding it was time to revisit Supernatural. I had watched the series initially as it was airing, but at some point along the way I fell off – something happened in 2020, can’t remember what – and I never saw how it all wrapped up. Enter a large bottle of red wine and a hankering for some classic rock and monsters and I was off on each new case riding passenger in that iconic 1967 Chevy Impala with Sam and Dean Winchester. It’s a long and windy road, full of lore and monsters, of course, deals with the devil/s, and gripes with God. It repeatedly asks us to define and redefine what it means to be family and how far is too far when it comes to our obligations to them

What I loved most about the show in the Before Times was its ability to not take itself so seriously. For all the horror and anxieties the Winchesters’ face there is levity and straight-up silliness in equal measure. It’s that kind of harmony that seemed to keep viewers tuning in for fifteen seasons. That’s not to say that Supernatural is without its foibles. The blatant misogyny and treatment of women, particularly in early seasons, is cringy in the best of circumstances and the well-documented history of queerbaiting in later seasons leaves much to be desired and disappointed by. And none of that should come as a surprise. Of the 16 executive producers of the show, only two were women. With a majority of the creative team or the team with the money making the decisions being white, cis, (presumably) straight men whose views of the world center around being centered, you can typically kiss nuance goodbye.

Over the 15 years Supernatural was on air, technology and the internet developed at a rapid velocity and conversations around gender, equity, and justice went through dramatic shifts. It was interesting to see how Supernatural, a show with all-American, blue-collar protagonists assembled with stereotypical “masculine” bits and bobs like a shoot first talk later attitude and predilections for vintage cars, brown booze, and babes would navigate waters that put their own identities as saviors into question. Horror as a genre is predicated on facing our greatest fears about who we are as a society and as individuals. Whether it’s the fear of our capacity for profound evil or the realization of how helpless we really are in the face of a ruthless and unruly natural world we have a lot to be afraid about and much to reckon with. 

Supernatural never shied away from confronting what happens when one becomes the monster. The brothers Winchester went to Hell and back at such a dizzying rate it was hard at times to keep storylines straight. Excuses for delving into monsterdom typically centered on the brothers’ codependent dynamic, where everything was done for each other but was never what either of them wanted. With all the abandonment, parentification, and exposure to significant trauma from such young ages it makes sense that the idea of letting someone you love make decisions for themselves and then respecting them even if you don’t agree would be terrifying. If facing homicidal ghosts, demons, and any number of creatures that go bump in the night wasn’t frightening enough, the possibility of having to face them alone can be even more so. 

Jared Padalecki as Sam and Jensen Ackles as Dean in ‘Supernatural’ formerly on The CW

What is further compelling about the show is that it doesn’t always fall into the rugged, lone wolf trope that it easily could have. Though positioned as the heroes of the series, Sam and Dean Winchester are rarely without and people (human and supernatural alike) who become chosen family. Like the monsters they set out to hunt, they are also people living on the margins of society. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile whether they are on the margins by choice as vigilantes with their privileges and abilities to “pass” helping them hop in and out of the human world as they deem appropriate or if they are in denial by the privileges they have so they can prolong any acceptance of what makes them the same or similar to those they claim to be protecting the world from.

Monsters and supernatural beings are never just that in this genre. Historically, they are coded as the pariahs and scapegoats of society: Jews, women, queer people. Those that are deemed by “civilized” Christian society to have been born with a darkness inside, that are clearly the cause of all the world’s problems and must be destroyed. Much of the representations of these monsters we see and read about in modern media stem from these medieval Christian prejudices and justifications for continued acts of violence toward the marginalized members of their societies. In Supernatural we see Sam and Dean struggle with this time and time again. Though not explicitly Christian in nature, there are many references to stories and figures from Judaism including, my personal favorite, the scribing archangel with chutzpah larger than their human vessel Metatron, the heavy focus on the battle between heaven and hell and what it takes to get into either is straight up New Testament. 

Other aspects of strict Christian dogma are the “traditional” ideas of who people are allowed to love and how as well as the rigid expectations of the roles of men and women. Though beginning to change now, that worldview has and still is dominant in the stories that are put forth for audiences to consume. Supernatural falls in line in many ways, but also breaks a significant mold. I can’t recall many shows, if any, that showed young men having relationships that included affection, vulnerability, and desire and willingness to try and set things right with each other, even if imperfectly. Sam and Dean heart-to-hearts, typically taking place in the aforementioned Impala, are a common occurrence episode to episode. When something is on their mind or they are in disagreement they don’t succumb to patriarchy-approved “male” behaviors like, beating the shit out of each other or challenging each other to some sportsing thing. They talk it out (or sometimes in Dean’s case, gruffly yells). Their attempts at communicating, of wanting to be heard and get the other to open up is a stark contrast to the societal messaging that the only emotion acceptable for men to express, regardless of everyone who ends up paying for it, is anger and if anything else arises it must be immediately shut down.

Misha Collins as Castiel, Jensen Ackles as Dean, and Jared Padalecki as Sam in ‘Supernatural.’ Photo Credit Diyah Pera/The CW

To see men engage in and explore more of their emotional worlds with each other and develop intimacy based on mutual respect rooted in partnership rather than the more normalized form of male bonding over the humiliation and degradation of women, gender expansive and queer folks feels like a breath of fresh air. So much so that in the devastating scene when Castiel tells Dean he loves him mere moments before his end it feels so loaded that it’s almost jarring. Not simply because this scene, in particular, evokes the queer-coded nature of the #Destiel relationship and the accusations against the creators of queerbaiting all the way  to the “bury-your-gays” trope, but also because it still feels incredibly rare to see men look at each other and express a deep and heartfelt “I love you.” And I wish that was more normalized. 

As a culture we’re in the uncomfortable and frightening moment of reactionary backlash toward conversations we’ve been having about gender, Me Too, CRT, and basic human rights. It’s to be expected that the more inclusive and free from norms and binaries people inherently realize they are, the more threatened people who have not gotten there yet or who benefit from keeping people in particular positions will be. And those struggles are quite apparent in Supernatural as creators tried with some success and definitely big failures to navigate a fan base more in touch with their identities who could bring more insight into characters and their relationship dynamics than the creators possibly anticipated. The struggle to be a person, or supernatural being, or god-like entity is real. For all its missteps, oversights, and messy plot lines, in the end Supernatural is a story about the consequences of our actions, the obstacles we’re able to overcome when we make sure to have a little fun and don’t take ourselves too seriously, and the wild ride life becomes when we find those people we want to go to Hell and back with. Carry on. 

Mutant & Magical Boy—Episode 09: And I’ll Form the Head

Episode 9 – And I’ll Form The Head (Voltron Legendary Defenders Review) by Mutant & Magical Boy

There’s no shortage of thunder cats in this episode as we gag on ALL things Voltron. Featuring special guest Ashley/Melanin Popin’ Paladin, we dive into cosmic war Star Wars wishes it was. (That was read. fight us.) The sexiest villain you’ll ever know, Prince Lotor and some literal black girl magic.

Welcome to episode 9 of Mutant & Magical Boy: The AfroQueer Guide to Pop Culture! There’s no shortage of thunder cats in this episode as we gag on all things Voltron. Featuring special guest Ashley/Melanin Popin’ Paladin, we dive into cosmic war Star Wars wishes it was. (That was a read. Fight us.) The sexiest villain you’ll ever know, Prince Lotor and some literal Black girl magic. While the tea spillage is hot, we source some real life racial ramifications seen with the two warring civilizations, the Galra and the Alteans and the reveal is a galactic death drop!

Mutant & Magical Boy—Episode 08: The Category Is Pride

It’s tea time, ladies! In what might be our gayest episode yet (don’t @ us), we’re gagging on FX’s new queer spectacular, Pose. Is it 10s, 10s across the board? Well, you’ll have to listen, hunty! Do the queens serve you life, death, and glitter on a platter? Bih, you already know. Happy Pride!



The gayest blerds you’ll ever meet ,
Mutant & Magical Boy

Review: Pose

The largest ever cast of trans actors on a scripted series assembles for something both entertaining and resonant.


The Pose screening held at New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center hosted a wonderfully eclectic crowd. Refreshingly diverse (my partner estimated that only about 15% of the audience was white), the audience included numerous trans folks and people of color as well as celebrity drag kid Desmond Is Amazing, who dazzled the audience with a brief vogue routine just before the episode started. I mention all of this for a few reasons. The program’s cinematic look translated effortlessly to the big screen, no surprise considering co-creator Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, credited here alongside African American Bronx native Steve Canals, brought a polished visual aesthetic to their Glee, American Horror Story, and American Crime Story franchises. The audience’s response was rapturous at times—the ball scenes may as well have been happening in the room for how enthusiastically everyone applauded, and audible gasps were heard when villainous rival Mother Elektra (Dominique Jackson) called protagonist Blanca (MJ Rodriguez) “beast.” This would seem to indicate that the community being portrayed was satisfied with the depiction, a genuine concern when this show was announced. (Because I love me some Ryan Murphy, but he can be problematic as hell, especially where racial and gender identity politics are concerned.) The community center venue and carefully cultivated crowd indicated canny marketing, to be sure, but also an honest desire to reach out to and include the people this program is meant to celebrate in addition to the usual suspects: i.e. white, mostly male critics. (Guilty as charged.)


Based on the premiere alone, Pose has huge potential. The series explores the Manhattan ball culture of the 1980s, a world made famous by the documentary Paris Is Burning. The first episode largely works as a self-contained experience, while also setting up characters and conflict for subsequent installments. In the stunning opening sequence, we meet Elektra, Blanca, and the other members of the House of Abundance and immediately sense a conflict between the first two women; the scene quickly shifts to a museum where the group raids an exhibition of authentic royal finery and manages to win a nearby ball competition before being led away in handcuffs. “And that is how you do a Ball!” Billy Porter’s Pray Tell breathlessly declares. Cue Pose logo and enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.


Cut to Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain) dreams of becoming a dancer before being beaten and literally thrown out of the house by his homophobic father and Christian mother. The expected caring mom versus cruel dad dynamic is shattered the instant she slaps Damon across the face. He winds up on the streets of New York City around the same time Blanca gets diagnosed with HIV and decides to leave the House of Abundance to form a house of her own. Needless to say, their paths soon cross, with Blanca impressed with Damon’s dancing. Swain is a terrific dancer, and tremendously appealing, if a bit green as an actor—something that could be said of numerous Glee cast members who subsequently improved over the years. Rodriguez, meanwhile, is excellent and imbues her role with real pathos and conviction. She sells at times on-the-nose dialogue by bringing out its truth.


Some of the character’s experiences—for example, explaining that the knowledge she’ll die of AIDS is at least one certainty in her otherwise uncertain existence—are so specific that they surely came from a creator’s actual life. Blanca and Damon’s burgeoning family dynamic soon grows to include Angel (Indya Moore), who’s fed up with the House of Abundance and the painful rejection she experiences applying for a job, and in her burgeoning romance with Stan (Murphy stalwart Evan Peters), a Trump executive with a wife (Kate Mara) and kids. Stan picks Angel up while she’s working the street, and their encounter in a hotel room is touching, funny, and incredibly specific. It also gives us our first taste of Moore’s considerable acting chops. Having co-starred in the trans themed musical Saturday Church, the actress here takes center stage. She’s beautiful and by turns confident, insecure, sassy and hilarious. (“Can we talk?” Stan asks while “I’m Not in Love” purrs over the radio. “Of course. It’s my second best skill,” Angel declares.) It’s a three dimensional character, and if there’s any justice in the world it will be a star-making role for Moore. Speaking of stars, Porter inches closer to an EGOT with his host/fashion designer character, a sort of fairy godfather to Blanca and her group. He steals every scene he’s in, no small feat considering he’s usually acting alongside elaborately dressed voguers.


Of course, it wouldn’t be a ball show without balls, and Pose has them in abundance (pardon the pun). The choreography and extravagant costumes are exhilarating, including a show stopping solo Damon performs to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” It’s an eleventh-hour dance school audition secured by Blanca, who replies to the dean’s “who are you again?” with “I’m his mother.”


As the premiere ended to the sounds of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”—the soundtrack to Pose is amazing—there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. There are a lot of gay shows and movies, but not many of them feel queer, and they too often foreground white characters and experiences. Not so this series, which rewards audiences hungry for representation and looks to be an illuminating and engrossing experience. It’s about time.