At first glance, science fiction and fantasy can look like a straights-only city, populated by Luke Skywalkers, Frodos and the occasional buxom nd rabidly heterosexual female. Appearances, though, are deceiving.
Beginning in the '70s in books, the '80s in movies and the '90s on TV, lesbian and bisexual characters and delightfully queer moments have appeared with increasing frequency.
Book publishers were the first to forge shamelessly forward. Pioneered by The Female Man by Joanna Russ (1975) and The Wanderground by Sally Miller Gearhart (1978), lesbian/bi genre fiction first rode into publication on a wave of feminism. Today, mainstream genre publishers such as Tor and independents including Aqueduct Press and Small Beer Press continue to produce works where lesbians and bisexual women take the lead.
TV and movie producers have taken a bit longer to get bold. Today, many still suffer from a case of nerves. With some notable exceptions, they continue to take refuge in subtext, playing silly games to hide what's really going on.
Even with that stumbling block, lesbian fun can still be found on-screen. More seriously, some of the most subtextual moments are as emotionally intimate as the best moments in real life.
Drawing on a lifetime of love for science fiction and fantasy, I've come up with a list of the top lesbian/bi moments in the genre. Like all "best of" lists, this one is thoroughly subjective, but then again, its real purpose is to start debate, not end it. Take a look. Tell me what I've missed or misunderstood.
Bonus Trivia Moment: Which
writer had a hand in creating three of these moments? Which two creators are real-life spouses? The answers are at the end.
11. Ripley and Call Get Acquainted — Alien: Resurrection (1997)
When the resurrected Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) meets Annalee Call (Winona Ryder) in the movie Alien: Resurrection, Ripley brings new meaning to the phrase "getting to know you." Now half-alien, Ripley is a clone of the character who first appeared in the 1979 movie Alien.
In this riveting moment, a feral Ripley caresses Call and rubs her cheek slowly over Call's face. This is subtext at the sub-basement level, but there is no denying the connection between Ripley and Call.
One other nice bit comes at the end of this uneven movie. With no logical reason to help anyone but herself, Ripley appoints herself Call's protector. Ripley shields the younger soul from the explosive decompression that sucks the air and the last alien out of a spaceship compartment. Ripley and Call survive to land on Earth, leaving us to daydream about their future adventures together.
10. Talia and Ivanova Share and Share — Babylon 5 (1995)
During the run of the syndicated science fiction series Babylon 5, TV was still struggling to climb out of the pit of sub-subtext. We moved forward just a tiny bit, though, with the portrayal of telepath Talia Winters (Andrea Thompson) and space station executive officer Susan Ivanova (Claudia Christian).
When they first meet, their relationship is rocky. Over time, friendship blooms. In the Season 2 episode "Divided Loyalties," a maintenance problem forces Talia out of her quarters. For some reason, the city-sized station only offers one place for Talia to sleep over: Ivanova's room.
We get close conversations, delicious scenes of domesticity, shower-wet hair and my favorite: The morning Talia wakes, rolls over and stretches out her arm as if to cuddle, only to discover that the bed next to her is empty. She looks around, searching for her missing bedmate.
Unfortunately, when a personality programmed into Talia against her will is activated, the telepath turns traitor, breaks off all her old relationships and leaves the station. But the nature of the bond between the two women is later winked at when Ivanova confesses to a friend: "I think I loved Talia."