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Why Doctor Who Has Become a Queer Icon

Why Doctor Who Has Become a Queer Icon

Why Doctor Who Has Become a Queer Icon

A cult favorite for more than 50 years, the BBC's enigmatic time-traveler continues to woo its queer fan base

It turns out that 1963 was a banner year for British pop culture. Both the Beatles and The Rolling Stones released their first singles, and on November 23 the BBC broadcast the premiere episode of its greatest-ever TV franchise, Doctor Who. The long-running series features a time-traveling sleuth whose various charms have included oversized colorful scarves, a tendency to wolf down jelly babies, and traveling through space and time via a 1950s police phone box known as the TARDIS. He is also sardonic, impatient, and frequently cranky, particularly as played by current incarnation Peter Capaldi.

Like great British sleuths James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, much of the character’s success rests on his ability to keep his head while everyone else is losing theirs. After a fallow period through the 1990s, when the show was off the air, Doctor Who was revived in 2005 by the gay screenwriter Russell T. Davies, best known for Queer as Folk. Davies has brought the series thoroughly up to date, bolstering female roles, and even introducing some queer characters.

A few of our favorites:

Captain Jack Harkness 

This pansexual space hopper claims to have dated Marcel Proust, enjoys playing naked hide-and-seek, and earned immortality and a steamy spin-off series, Torchwood.

The Master/Mistress 

The Master, a fellow Time Lord, was always the Doctor’s archenemy, until he regenerated as a woman and is now known as The Mistress, or Missy.

Madame Vastra 

The prehistoric lizard-queen took a Victorian chambermaid as a wife. They even shared a sexy lesbo-reptilian on-screen kiss in an episode watched  by seven million Brits.

Canton Delaware III 

In a 2011 episode, “Day of the Moon,” this former FBI agent from 1969 helps save the earth. Then the Doctor asks Nixon to offer his blessing to Canton’s marrying his boyfriend. How’s that for positive representation? 

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