To Battlestar Galactica from the gays: Thanks for nothing!

Lt. Felix Gaeta (Alessandro Juliani) and Lt. Hoshi (Brad Dryborough)

Last December, The Sci Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica finally
outed Lt. Felix Gaeta
(Alessandro Juliani) as a gay man in a realtionship with Louis Hoshi (Brad Dryborough). Unfortunately,
the only way you’d know this is if you either read the news here (and
on a few other sites) or watched the BSG webisode series “The
Face of the Enemy
”. However, if like most of the show’s audience, you
only watch the series on TV, you wouldn’t have a clue that Gaeta was now playing for our team.

But given the dearth of gay science fiction characters on American television, this is still good news for gay fans of the show, no?

That depends on whether you think having a television character come out on a webisode, only to never address his sexuality again on the show itself is progress … or nothing more than crumbs tossed our way.

I’m thinking crumbs. 

Frankly, if this was the best they could do, I wish the re-imagined BSG, created by Ronald D. Moore, had simply left Gaeta’s sexuality unaddressed. After seventy episodes, I was pretty well accustomed to the fact that one of the more diverse casts on television, which frequently dealt with some of the most pressing issues of our time including terrorism, torture and religious warfare, was going to completely ignore gay characters and issues.

And, no, I do not count the brief three-way relationship between Gaius Baltar, Number Six and Number Three as actual gay inclusion. Call it more geek-boy fantasy than anything else.

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Even the lesbian relationship between Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes) and Gina Inviere (Tricia Helfer) from the Battlestar Galactica: Razor movie was only briefly shown and was less about them as a couple and more of a plot point driving the story. And as with Gaeta and Hoshi’s relationship, theirs was never addressed on the actual television series.

When I asked Moore at last July’s Television Critics Association press tour about Battlestar Galactica and science fiction’s failure in general to include gay content, he said, “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.”

But doesn’t Moore deserve credit for finally making Gaeta gay?

Sure, the show deserves some credit, but it’s 2009 and crumbs are still crumbs. While BSG only manages a  "barely there" gay relationship on a short webisode series, BBC America’s Torchwood puts their same-sex pairing front-and-center.

To put it another way, if a gay tree falls in the forest and no one sees it, is it still gay? I’d emphatically argue no and that this gesture is pretty much worthless as Gaeta the gay man is clearly a second class citizen firmly seated in the back of this galactic bus.

Not only was virtually every heterosexual romantic relationship on BSG given ample screen time, but those relationships were often how each character was explored and how the overall series’ plot moved forward.

One of these Battlestar Galactica characters is not like the others

Those relationships and storylines include President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) and Admiral William Adama (Edward James Olmos) who frequently battled fiercely over policy and strategy even as they fell deeply in love; star-crossed lovers Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) and Lee “Apollo” Adama (Jamie Bamber) whose smoldering sexual attraction to each other caused misery for them and others; Colonel Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) who was forced to confront the treachery of his wife Ellen (Kate Vernon) after she betrayed the refugees on New Caprica; Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis) and Caprica-Six (Tricia Helfer) whose intense sexual affair enabled the Cylons to launch their attack on humanity and subsequently played out over the series first several seasons.

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