In 1993, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers premiered and almost immediately garnered a rabid following. For the 12-and-under set, the bizarre show served as a bridge between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Saved By the Bell.
Yes, there were cartoonish fight scenes and giant robot villains, but the show also exalted cool teens and made you feel like part of the posse protecting Angel Grove.
With a new Power Rangers movie coming to theaters, we thought it high time to revisit why queer kids loved about this ridiculous, awesome series.
Billy the Blue Ranger
I remember other kids in my second-grade class identifying with Jason (the Red Ranger) or Zach (the Black Ranger). But I always knew Billy was the ranger most like me. He was bookish, cautious, articulate, and never got caught up in the fist-pumping machismo of his teammates.
Years later David Yost, the actor who played Billy, came out a gay. It all clicked into place: Billy was one of us.
Even if he only had a yellow belt in karate, he was still our Power Ranger (and he was gorgeous).
What in sweet camp heaven was this? Scorpina was the most awesome of the Power Rangers villains.
And Her gilded scorpion suit was ferociously fierce.
The Lady Rangers Kicked Butt
I’m not saying the female Rangers didn’t have their drawbacks. (Why on EARTH did Kimberly’s jumpsuit have a skirt?) But the Pink and Yellow Rangers were unflinchingly brave and serious fighters.
In an era that gave us Chun Li from Street Fighter II and Sonya Blade from Mortal Kombat, Kimberly and Trini were worthy high-school counterparts. And Trini’s yellow daggers were fierce.
Tommy And Kimberly 4Evah!
Tommy the Green/White Ranger (played by mixed martial artist Jason David Frank) enjoyed a slight romance with Kimberly that culminated in a climactic kiss.
In my fevered juvenile imagination, it really seemed like they were going to have sex right in front of us.
Rita was a drag queen before we knew what that was: She was bitchy, wore insane outfits and all her dialogue was lip-synched. (Power Rangers used footage from the Japanese Super Sentai series for its battle sequences.)
The Rangers’ HQ was a tech-heavy battle station featuring a Wizard of Oz-style sorcerer named Zordon. Less threatening was his amiable assistant Alpha 5, a stubby robot who paced around shouting “Aye-yi-yi-yi-yi!”
Imagine if C3P0 and Steven Urkel had a baby.
But, no, Austin St. John never did gay porn. Sorry.