The Queer Characters of Doctor Who

The new season of Doctor Who begins tomorrow! I'm ecstatic to follow Peter Capaldi's Doctor with his new companion Bill Potts. What's even more amazing is that Bill is the first openly gay companion on the show. Whenever my sci fi gets more queer, I'm 1000% for it.

Now. I know that many people have discussed about how the show could be, and should be, more queer. And I definitely agree. A show spanning all of time and space could definitely have more queer representation. But, in honor of the first lesbian (?) companion, here's a brief overview of the queer characters that have made an appearance in the new series.

These characters have been in multiple episodes giving audiences queer-tastic characters to root for. Captain Jack Harkness is everyone's favorite omnisexual. The gender binary doesn't stop him from finding you attractive. Whether you're human or alien, Captain Jack will most likely flirt with you. He's a very unique television character, getting positive screen time that shows off his queerness, on multiple occasions. Plus, he's played by John Barrowman, an openly gay actor.

River Song mentions having had two wives of her own before she and the Doctor get married. According to showrunner Steven Moffat, he thinks of her character as bisexual as well. This isn't explicitly stated in the show, but I'll take it (even though it should have been made more obvious in the series).

My favorite queer ladies on the show (so far) are Madame Vastra and Jenny, the lizard woman from the dawn of time and her wife. These characters weren't meant to be recurring characters, but their popularity willed them back into the series. They have the kind of cute banter usually reserved for cis het couples, which is also great to see.

Canton Everett Delaware III is a bad-ass former FBI agent in the 1960s. Six weeks after his resignation, he met with President Nixon at the White House to investigate mysterious telephone calls Nixon was receiving, thus entering into the world of the Doctor. It's not everyday you get to see a character explain to a former president that he resigned from the FBI for wanting to marry an African-American man.

If you blinked you probably missed these characters, but they were still there. May and Alice Cassini are only shown in a few scenes in the episode "Gridlock" (season 3, episode 3) but they're there. There are also the thin/fat gay married Anglican marines. That's what they call themselves. They don't have names. The thin one introduces themselves to another marine by saying, "Hello, I'm the thin one. This is my husband. He's the fat one." It's far from...ideal, but no one blinks an eye at the pair. Sometimes representation doesn't need to be grandiose.

But sometimes representation should be loud and obvious. Hopefully, Bill Potts will be the unabashedly queer companion that I've wanted since I started watching the show. Time will tell (HAHA! Get it?), but I think that Bill is a huge step in the right direction for queer representation on Doctor Who.

Amanda M.'s picture
on April 14, 2017

Amanda is a nonbinary Philadelphia-based writer. She likes Doctor Who, Legos, 90s pop, any TV show that doesn't kill off the lesbian characters, and folk music. Sometimes people describe her as a hippie. They would be correct.

Pronouns: She/They