Jason Tseng

Gay Geeks rejoice: Battlestar Galactica gets its first gay character

Filed By Jason Tseng | January 16, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Media
Tags: Battlestar Galactica, male, racetrack, roslyn

Battlestar Galactica, the award-winning television show with a cult fan following has been a favorite of mine. The superb acting, stunning visual effects, beautiful cinematography, and great writing have had me coming back season after season. On the eve of the launch of the final episodes of the series' lifespan, I thought it'd be nice to bring some attention to first canonical inclusion of queerness on board the rickety ol' space cruiser. This is by no means breaking news, but I've noticed a distinct lack of gay geek oriented contenct, so I thought I'd fill the need.

faceoftheenemy.jpg

Battlestar Galactica has gained much attention for its inquisitive scripts and racy scenes. In addition the cast is by no means sore on the eyes. With a veritable pantheon of hunky and sexy actors, male and female, it's been the one regret of mine that a show that I love so much never included any mention of queer relationships. This is in spite of the very deliberate gender equity in the recasting of the character of Starbuck as a female pilot, and the inclusion of the Colonial fleet's female president, Roslyn.

In a 10 part series of webisodes, Face of the Enemy, Battlestar writers out a major character in the series, and his relationship with a fellow crewmember. While I can't say it's a huge surprise, it makes me glad the show writers were able to see a gap in their show's inclusiveness and fill it. Spoilers, after the jump.

In an relatively expected move, Lt. Felix Gaeta (Alessandro Juliani), turns out to be the queer in question. But less expected, we discover he and Lt. Hoshi (Brad Dryborough) have been in a relationship. For how long, we don't seem to know, but the revelation is done seamlessly and without much pomp. A simple peck between lovers, as Hoshi bids Gaeta farewell, bound on a leave of absence to recover from the recent amputation of his leg.

battlestar_gaetakiss_gal.img_assist_custom.jpgWhen Gaeta's transport ship suddenly goes missing, Hoshi approaches Colonel Tigh, requesting to launch a search operation to find Felix. It is clear that Hoshi debates with himself how much to reveal about their relationship to Tigh, which hints that there still exists some prejudice against queer people on the Galactica. On a positive note, while searching for Gaeta and the lost Raptor with Pilot "Racetrack", in a touching scene it's revealed that there is support amongst the crew for Hoshi and Gaeta's relationship.

Meanwhile, Gaeta finds himself trapped on a transport, separated from the fleet due to a glitch with the ship's FTL drive. On board are three other humans and two cylons, one of whom Gaeta has a personal history with. When the passengers on the transport mysteriously begin to die, suspicion and chaos spread through the cramped quarters of the Raptor.

The production value to everything the Battlestar people do is always high, and this web series is no exception. Queerness is far from the center of attention, which is refreshing in its ability to avoid the "after-school-special" feeling that happens when queer characters are introduced to mainstream television series. You can catch Face the Enemy at the SciFi channel's website, and I encourage you to tune in to the final episodes of Battlestar Galactica later this week.


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Somebody hasn't been paying attention. The first gay character on BSG was Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes), who was having an affair with what turned out to be a Cylon (in the movie 'Razor').

ABD,

You're right! Admiral Cain did have a lesbian affair with Gina, who turned out to be a 6. In my defense, I missed Razor and never got the chance to catch up. And I actually found out what you pointed out, just moments after posting this. A big "doh!" for me...

But then again... i did say GAY character, not lesbian. And also, Gaeta is not a sociopathic, alcoholic, militaristic, ego-maniac. So... I'm ok with blotting Admiral Cain out of my memory for a bit.

Are you saying that Admiral Cain was a sociopathic, alcoholic, militaristic, ego-maniac?

I thought she was a great character, and if you see Razor, you'll understand her motivations a lot better than you do by seeing the regular episodes.

Sure, she's militaristic (she's the last Admiral of the human race in the middle of a genocidal war), but I don't think she can fairly be described as sociopathic, alcoholic or an ego-maniac.

There have also been several probably bisexual moments involving Caprica Six, Number 3 and Baltar.

i dunno... shooting your second-in-command in cold blood because he hesitates to follow an order sounds pretty sociopathic to me.

And encouraging the gang rape and torture of a woman... granted a cylon woman, but still. It's clear from the Galactica crew there is a right way to handle prisoners of war.

I mean, there are arguments which justify her actions... but a lot of those same arguments, i feel like can be used to justify other inhumane things. And at the end of the day, they're still inhumane.

She shot her XO because she thought the future of the human race depended on the military structure remaining intact. So, she weighed one life against the species and decided to act. I hated that moment myself, and I think she was wrong, but I don't think it was sociopathic as such.

She didn't condone the rape of a woman: those on Pegasus at that time thought of the Cylons as 100% machine. So, as abhorrent as it looked to us, it was the moral equivalent (from their point of view) of raping a refrigerator. Again, I personally hated it and don't share their view of sentient beings robot or otherwise, but they didn't think of Gina as a person or a woman at all.

I would argue that (again - from their point of view) you can't be "inhumane" to a robot any more than you can be inhumane to a toaster, pun intended. Of course, I treat my robots, cyborgs and androids with the utmost respect. I'm petting the Roomba right now. ;)

Lee;
This may shock you (or not) but if my "Numero Uno" had ever interferred with my command at a time that it was in danger at sea, I would have shot him without question rather than lose the services of the crew required to secure and remove him.

Given the choice between potentially losing my ship and facing a court martial for an unauthorised execution, my duty to the safety of my crew would have dictated the action.

Came in to say that there had already been a lesbian relationship on BSG, but y'all beat me to it.

That having been said, I *did* squeal with glee when Hoshi kissed Gaeta. Very sweet little moment. Think they'll keep up the relationship in season 4.5?

The Gina-Cain relationship ended up being very important to the plot, but it was not something I enjoyed watching -- Gina was manipulative from the start, Cain became a monster after discovering the betrayal.

The Gaeta-Hoshi kiss, on the other hand, is one of the best on the show so far. So I'm glad to know that there is at least one good queer relationship in the BSG world.

At this point it looks like Gaeta & Hoshi's LTR will have a similar fate to most opposite-sex relationships on Galactica -- that is, they'll go through a physical and emotional hell that one or both partners may not survive. Unfortunately for them, I don't foresee any special treatment.

Define monster; Gina had betrayed Cain twice, leading to the loss of hundreds of her crew.

Cain further believed tht she had been deceived by a machine.

One thing... BSG can be something of a trigger for TS people who haven't transitioned. Who are trying to be a gender they're not, just because they look like it.

It can be very difficult when you have an unshakeable internal conviction that something is terribly, terribly awry, something that goes against everything you see in a mirror.

Those who transition late, as I did, have had decades of knowing that we aren't who we appear to be. That we're not Human, but Cylon, if you like. Something that even many Gays feel uncomfortable near, or even thinking about. Something that if our secret came out, would be treated as a Pariah, a pervert, a target for not just ostracism but active persecution, and yes, including torture and gang rape. Some Thing not Some One.

For those who are intersexed and have one of the rare conditions where the body gets a natural "sex change", the comparison is even more apt, take it from me.

The scene in season one with Boomer is a guaranteed trigger (pardon a very bad pun). It's a really, really bad idea for an untransitioned TS woman to have a gun too easy to hand. Perhaps one if 10 of us know what gun oil tastes like. It would be 1 in 5, but some of us complete the act.

So despite the incredible difficulties we face in transition, the likelihood of perpetual unemployment, the 1 in 4 odds of never having a relationship again... is it any wonder that the feeling we have is one of overwhelming relief?

I seriously wonder if one of the scriptwriting team doesn't have personal knowledge of the issues. A friend perhaps, or family member.

Very interesting analysis and comparasion Zoe!

I never got into Battlestar Galactica, but one thing sci-fi needs is more queer characters. Seriously! These are folks who a generally pretty queer friendly and many are queer. It's a great area to increase visibility in.

I have to admit, I've never seen an episode of BSG, which is odd since Jerame is a HUGE sci-fi fan. (I've had to sit through all of the Star Wars movies and all the Star Trek episodes!)

Great. the last season. Nothing like pushing that envelope....

I used to love this show but it's become a painful parody of itself: harsh lighting, blunt boring dialogue, grainy close-ups, confusing plots not worth figuring out, portentous music. Some episodes are like watching interstellar paint dry.

What happened is what often happens when a show gets really popular and written about and praised beyond its merits: the writers swell with importance and all their worst tics come to the fore; they become lazy and overly self-satisfied. I'll watch the last season, sort of, with a bit more interest because of the gay characters, but it won't erase the disappointment of the last two seasons. Once they landed on that planet, the show hit the skids, and the more inanely the Cylons talked about God, the less interest I had in the show. And any writers who could kill off one of the best characters they ever created, Admiral Cain, clearly don't know what they're doing. She brought back real conflict, excitement, tension into the story line--she was fierce! And how come we only got to see Jamie Bamber in a towel once? :-) Another bad move.