Science-fiction television god Ronald D. Moore is famous for working in several Star Trek series as well as creating the wildly popular Battlestar Galactica remake. But though sci-fi has always had a large queer following, and Star Trek in particular has a very devoted gay fan club called the Gaylaxians, TV screen time has been abysmal. Now Moore is attempting to remedy that with a gay couple on new sci-fi pilotVirtuality.
The show, scheduled to premier on Fox, revolves around an ensemble cast of 12 who play astronauts on a 10 year mission to look for other solar systems. To stave off the boredom of the long mission, the crew of the Phaeton engages in all kinds of virtual reality scenarios. The crew includes a gay couple who have been pushed into the idea of marriage, and perhaps even chosen for the mission, partially based on marketing and PR, which forces them to continually question their reasons for being a part of the mission. Of the relationship Moore says:
It’s a great relationship. It’s a very straight forward, honest portrayal. They are front and center. The pilot’s story centers around the corporation backing the whole thing and [they] want the [gay couple] to get married. They are the only unmarried couple on the ship and there is a proposal in the [episode]. And the one guy is saying “Are you just doing this because of the corporation? You never wanted to get married before. ” And the other guy is saying, “No, this the push I needed. So there is an engagement in the pilot.
Many discussions about gay characters have taken place on Moore’s Star Trek and BSG projects and indeed several episodes have featured queer or gender-deviant related plots, and the recent Battlestar Galactica: Razor included a lesbian couple that were front and center, their relationship integral to the plot. But Moore admits that LGBT characters have been neglected.
It makes me guilty. I always feel guilty when these questions come up because it’s something that I don’t do and I haven’t done enough of and I hope I do do, but I haven’t really done it. Okay, in Virtuality I’ve started to do it, we talk about it – hopefully we execute that well in Caprica. I don’t know. It’s a hard thing to – I don’t know how to quantify the why of it, you know, why does this happen like this? Because certainly there’s no shortage of gay writers in science fiction rooms, so we’re all sort of part of the conversation together.
That last statement is particularly telling. Along with plenty of gay writers, science fiction has always had a large gay fanbase as well. When you can imagine the future in all different sorts of ways queer people can reimagine relationships and sexuality more freely as well. Television just hasn’t taken advantage of this audience and I’m glad Moore has finally owned up to his shortcomings and I hope the golden age of future-forward queerness has finally made it to the small screen.
Check out Io9 for a full Virtuality pilot preview.