Doctor Who abandoned the ‘bury your gays’ trope in a big way and we love to see it
Doctor Who fans rejoiced as the show left the ‘bury the gays’ trope firmly behind with an episode that put a proud gay romance at the front and centre. Warning: Major spoilers follow.
Whovians were already reeling from last week’s big reveal – the return of much-loved omnisexual alien space pirate, Captain Jack Harkness.
And Sunday’s episode ‘Praxeus’ scored even higher on LGBT+ representation with a death-defying love story between British astronaut Adam Lang (Matthew McNulty) and ex-police officer Jake Willis (Warren Brown).
From the beginning it’s clear the two characters share a history, but the details of their relationship remained ambiguous until halfway through the episode when Jake has a heart-to-heart with the TARDIS’s resident agony aunt, Graham. A few shrewd questions later, Jake reveals that Adam is actually his estranged husband and that Adam’s career has put pressure on them as a couple.
Their poignant conversation perfectly normalises the characters’ relationship, and actually proved to be the most engaging part of a ropey episode filled with awkward plot holes (how on earth did Adam manage to text his husband while hooked up to alien tech in Hong Kong? And did anyone even notice poor Arumu’s horrible Hitchcockian death on a beach just metres away from the Doctor and all her companions? No? OK).
But LGBT+ viewers remained cautious – with Adam fighting for his life after being infected with a deadly alien virus, it was looking all too likely that the show would follow the tired ‘bury your gays‘ trope, a common cliché in which LGBT+ characters are viewed as more expendable than their heteronormative counterparts.
Twitter was on tenterhooks: would show runners throw in a touching, nuanced gay romance only to kill off one or both of the characters? It’s a trap Doctor Who has fallen into before with last year’s New Year’s Day special, when a gay character was killed off literally less than thirty seconds after his sexuality was revealed.
How long did it take to kill off the token gay character?
— Rainbo ?️? (@RainboPress) January 1, 2019
An emotional rollercoaster followed as Adam is miraculously cured, only for Jake to sacrifice himself for the sake of the world by manually piloting an alien spaceship into the stratosphere, AKA the most Doctor Who-esque death ever. That is, until the Doctor materialises the TARDIS around Jake in the split second before the spaceship explodes – AKA the most Doctor Who-esque rescue ever.
A predictable twist for sure, but it was a pleasant surprise for the many fans steeling themselves for an unhappy ending. The couple celebrate their unlikely survival with a passionate kiss, as the Doctor smiles and says “Gay rights!” (Well, she actually said “I’m a romantic” which is basically the same thing).
— ollie ? (@ollie__allen) February 2, 2020
— CharlieTheWhovian ?✏ (@charlieq_02) February 2, 2020
CHIBS DIDN‘T KILL THE GAYS! This needs caps-lock! Holy shit, I was about to get really angry but he did it. A happy end for the gay couple! I repeat, this episode didn’t bury the gays. ?#DoctorWho #LGBTQ #SpaceForAll pic.twitter.com/ttssret1lk
— Raffael (aka Ulysses Illustrations) ?️? (@UlyssesArtist) February 2, 2020
Excellent episode of #DoctorWho tonight. Good to see the gays get a happy ending for once.
— Tom [PositiveLad] ?? ?️? (@PositiveLad) February 2, 2020
THIS IS ONE OF THE FIRST LGBT COUPLES I’VE SEEN THAT BOTH PARTNERS SURVIVED!!! ? I SHALL NEVER STOP SCREAMING AND CLAPPING WITH THIS ONE #DoctorWho LGBT GAY COUPLE FOR ETERNITY! ??? GAY RIGHTS!!! ?️??️??️?WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! ??????
— Sara ??️??☮️? (@SaraRose2480) February 3, 2020
This episode of #DoctorWho gets all my bonus points for not killing off one of the gay couple.
Both gay characters at the end: pic.twitter.com/8B6POexPou
— Ben 2020 (@bendy0123) February 2, 2020
#DoctorWho gave us a gay relationship with two characters who were relevant to the plot, defined by more than just their sexuality, actually were allowed to show affection on screen, and didn’t die. It takes so, so little to make us happy but I will take it. And be happy.
— Exorcising Emily (@exorcisingemily) February 3, 2020
— The Gedster (@iamgedster) February 2, 2020
being happy that the gay characters didnt die is such a low bar lol #doctorwho
— luke smiths pr manager — dr who spoilers ?️? (@bannermanroad) February 2, 2020