****WARNING*** This post reveals the identity of the gay character in the new Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Stop reading if you do not want to know their identity.
Anyone who knows even a little about ancient Rome, Greece, etc. knows that same-sex relationships were an integral part of those societies. Of course, that doesn’t mean Hollywood hasn’t usually chosen to ignore that particular aspect when doing movies or shows about the era. Think Russell Crowe‘s Gladiator or Gerard Butler‘s 300 which especially oozed homoeroticism without any actual homos. Meanwhile HBO’s Rome included some girl/girl pairings but left out the guys.
Obviously, not every Roman epic need have "gay" content, but it would be nice if they were occasionally inclusive, not to mention historically accurate.
Fortunately, cable network Starz is about to the record straight — so to speak.
In the fourth episode of the season (debuting January 22nd at 10 PM) we learn that the character of Barca (Antonio Te Maioho), a gladiator fighting in the ludus (think training academy) owned by Batiatus (John Hannah), is not only "gay" but has a relationship with a slave.
Antonio Te Maioho as Barca
And we learn the info in a particularly … visual way. Let’s just say it’s not something seen too frequently on American televisions.
How do Barca’s fellow gladiators feel about having a "gay" gladiator in their midst? Is there some type of Roman "Don’t ask/Don’t tell" policy at work? Not in the least. In fact, it’s a complete non-issue which is just as it should be.
Here is how the network describes the character:
A big, hulking brute of a man, an esteemed gladiator and also
Batiatus’s bodyguard and sometimes hit man, Barca is second only to
Crixus at the ludus. Though possessed of a temper and an imposing
stature, he tempers this with the tenderness he shows his collection of
birds and Pietros, a slave boy. He is free of guile, loyal to Batiatus
but secretly pines to gain his freedom.
Barca isn’t like quite like any other gay character you’ve seen on television before. Not only is he tough as nails (he’s nicknamed the Butcher of Carthage for his feats on the battlefield), but he’s also kind of an arrogant, foul-mouthed jerk who, at least so far, is not on the side of Spartacus (Andy Whitfield). And that’s great.
We’re all about gay visibility here at AfterElton.com and that includes gay characters of all stripes. Having a character like Barca not only adds to the diversity to the TV landscape, but counters stereotypes that a gladiator character couldn’t be "gay."
By the way, I keep putting the word "gay" in quotes because ancient cultures like Rome and Greece didn’t think about sexuality the way we do. There wasn’t really an idea of "gay" or "straight" the way we think of them. Instead it was much more about power and being dominant versus being submissive. Which isn’t to say that two men couldn’t love each other the way two straight people would. Hopefully, Spartacus will communicate that side of things as well.
As for the other aspects of the show show, we’ll have a full review the week it debuts and we have an interview coming up with Lucy Lawless who plays Lucretia. But having seen the first four episodes, I can say that if you enjoy the spectacle of Ancient Rome and gladiators, the series not only looks amazing, but is very well-acted. As long as you can get past the gore, it’s definitely a thumbs up from me.
And did I mention all of the gladiator eye-candy? Check it out on the next page!