Ten Best Gay and Bisexual Science Fiction Characters

The dearth of out gay
characters in science fiction movies, on television shows and in comic books is
something we’ve long documented. From Star Trek’s inability to live up to its own vision of equality by
actually including an out gay character to ABC’s Lost’s inability to
find a single gay character despite its
sprawling cast to the mixed efforts of DC Comics and Marvel when it comes to
gay representation on the pages of their comics, science fiction has often been
a disappointment for its legions of gay fans who look toward the future as a
place were gay folks will be treated equally. (For information on lesbians and
bisexual women in science fiction, visit our sister site AfterEllen.com.)

But there are gay and
bisexual characters out there to be found and we took it upon ourselves to
choose the top ten. Identifying ten truly great gay characters in the science
fiction genre is ambitious considering the small number of candidates; for this
reason we’re using the broadest definition of the genre, encompassing fantasy,
horror, supernatural, and superheroes, and looking to all forms of popular

After scrounging through
decades’ worth of major franchises and lesser-known titles, we came up with the
following list of greatest gay and bisexual male characters. Great characters
are defined by the virtues of being unique, fascinating, and greatly
significant. In the interest of making
these qualities the true DNA of this list, unconsidered qualities include
biggest fan favorites, sexiness, or the best gay representations. So our rating
scale looks at character fascination, significance, and originality (the cliché

Andrew Wells (Buffy the
Vampire Slayer
; The WB and UPN, and comics)

Barely qualifying for our
list is Andrew Wells (Tom Lenk) from the Buffy
and Angel TV series, as well as the
current Buffy comics. The famously
gay-friendly show gave us three recurring lesbian characters, the occasional
gay visitor, plenty of gay-positive stories and dialogue, and surprisingly only
one recurring gay (or was he bisexual?) male character in Andrew.

and persistent innuendo clearly established Andrew’s sexuality, yet despite a
wealth of references to his crush on fellow villain Warren and strong gay
characteristics he never quite acknowledged his own awareness of his sexuality,
which was also seemingly ignored by the other characters.

The geek-turned-villain-turned-good
guy scores points for delivering a lot of the best lines, turning what could
have been a standard clichéd geek archetype into a three-dimensional and
genuinely likeable queer sidekick. For us, the reasons for the obfuscation of
Andrew’s sexuality remain one of the biggest mysteries of the show. We’re
eagerly awaiting some indication of further development of his character in the
ongoing comic book series.

Character Rating: 9/10

Significance Rating: 2/10

Originality Rating : 5/10

The Cluracan (Sandman; comics)

1989 saw the birth of
Neil Gaiman’s extraordinary and historic comic series The Sandman, which aside from being a critical success and the only
comic book to ever make the New York
Bestseller List, was revolutionary for its time in its presentation
of multiple positive GLBT characters.

The series featured
leading lesbian and transgender characters, and though The Cluracan was only a
recurring minor character, he scores big points for being endlessly fun and
uncompromisingly gay. Based on the clurichaun, a drunk leprechaun of Irish
folklore, this literal faerie and dashing rogue of Queen Titania’s court works
hard and plays harder.

One morning during an impromptu conference that will
determine the fate of his people, he shows up in his sister Nuala’s room with a
young Egyptian deity in tow, and casually tells her they spent the night
drinking and having sex. In his words, “Personally, I figure the best I can
hope to get out of these shenanigans is excellent wine and great sex.”

The principle theme of
the series is that of storytelling and stories come to life, and the Cluracan
can spin a yarn like nobody’s business. Give him a couple drinks and he’ll
entertain for as long as he’s conscious, charmingly admitting his own
narcissism and tendency towards embellishment.

Character Rating: 10/10

Significance Rating: 4/10

Originality Rating : 6/10


Parthenon, aka Dan
(Who Wants To Be a Superhero?;
The Sci Fi Channel)

Dan Williams
, the out
contender in season two of Sci Fi channel’s competitive reality series Who Wants To Be A Superhero, scores big
points for being a real guy who managed to survive a long time in a reality
show based on a genre that is historically not gay-friendly.

Gay fans’ hopes were not
particularly high for Parthenon’s chances of winning Season 2 following the
ousting of Season 1’s gay entry, Levity, in the very first episode.
Unfortunately, Parthenon the character was a little heavy on the clichés: archaeologist
finds ancient gauntlet whose gemstones provide superpowers. Naturally, tights
and cape ensue. And while we love William’s generous and benevolent character,
he’s gotta work out some better catchphrases than “Bling’s my thing” and “Rock

Nonetheless, Parthenon
did the gays proud, consistently performing well and showing that gay men could
be more than the stereotypes we’re often served up as by many scripted and reality
series. Indeed, he showed gay men can be “heroic. ” Best of all was when Williams
won the chance to call his partner during the competition, a conversation
paralleled against a heterosexual woman doing the same. It was an awesome sight
to behold.

Character Rating: 5/10

Significance Rating: 7/10

Originality Rating : 3/10


7. Ianto Jones
(Torchwood; BBC America)

Alas, poor neglected
Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd). Any other sexy bisexual character on national
television would be a gay household name, but the competition’s tough when most
of the cast, including the lead, are also bisexual. Ianto’s role at Torchwood is unusual to say the least;
in addition to playing receptionist and chief coffee brewer, he is also the
clean-up guy who neatly disposes of alien kills and covers up any shady team
activities to keep the public and authorities from learning about Torchwood’s
creepy and occasionally distasteful secrets.

Early on in the first
season we learn that Ianto has a nasty secret in the form of a half-Cyberman
(evil cyborg) girlfriend that he’s keeping in the sub-basement of the Torchwood
headquarters. Needless to say, things don’t work out so well in the most bloody
sense imaginable. But unlike most male bisexual characters on television, Ianto
actually acts on his same-sex desires when he undertakes a much less lethal
sexual relationship with Torchwood’s studly team leader Captain Jack Harkness
(John Barrowman), including an interlude with an extraterrestrial stopwatch.
And Season 2 promises even more romance with Captain Jack.

Character Rating: 7/10

Significance Rating: 5/10

Originality Rating: 7/10


6. Zorro, aka Ramon
“Bunny” Wigglesworth
(Zorro, The Gay

One of the most
extraordinary GLBT representations in the history of film lies in the oddball
action comedy Zorro, The Gay Blade.
In the film, George Hamilton plays Don Diego de la Vega, whose secret identity
is Zorro, as well as Diego’s twin brother, Ramon, who happens to be gay. When
Diego/Zorro is sidelined by an injury incurred in battle, Ramon’s surprise
visit provides an unexpected solution as he assumes the mask of Zorro and becomes
a big screen gay superhero… in 1981.

Sure, Ramon is
effeminate, carries a parasol, and is fresh out of the British Navy (a running
gay joke in the ‘70s). But to a generation of superhero-worshipping gay kids,
he was a revelation. He donned drag as a means to subterfuge, he reinvented the
Zorro costume in multicolored lamé, and when the heroine leaned in for a kiss,
he asked if they couldn’t just go shopping instead!

But Zorro the Gay Blade
was no joke. He decimated the evil Alcalde’s men without breaking a sweat. And
by the film’s end, it is Bunny’s unapologetically gay Zorro who wins the heart
of the girl, saves the straight dude, and the town. In an era in which gay
characters were firmly relegated to victims and psychos (or both), the gay
Zorro was inspirational. And how many superhero films with a lead gay character
has 20th Century Fox – or any other studio – released in theaters
since 1981?

Character Rating: 5/10

Significance Rating: 10/10

Originality Rating : 3/10


5. Northstar, aka
Jean-Paul Beaubier
(The Uncanny X-Men;

In pre-Ellen 1992, the outing of a recognizable
comic book character was enough of a big deal to make national headlines.
Indeed, gay comic fans rejoiced at the outing of Northstar, Quebecois mainstay
of Alpha Flight, the Canadian government’s answer to American super-team The
Avengers. Ten years later Northstar took on an even higher profile as he joined
the ranks of the insanely popular series The
Uncanny X-Men

Northstar’s powers aren’t
the most original: he’s a speedster who can fly and sometimes emit a burst of
light, but we give him points for always sporting stylish uniforms (not easy in
the often fashion-impaired world of the colorful tights set), and for having a
complex and well-formed character from the beginning.

In his early Alpha Flight
days, Northstar was a bitter and arrogant antihero and Olympic skier. On two
occasions in later years his life changed dramatically, in both cases due to
circumstances involving young children in need. His surly exterior first
cracked with the death of his adopted HIV-positive orphaned baby; this event led
to Northstar outing himself to his teammates and the public. Many years later
Northstar desperately tried to save another young child, and when the boy met with an
unavoidable and tragic death, Northstar was moved to join up with the X-Men and
teach at Xavier’s academy.

Although Northstar’s
sexuality was avoided in the later Alpha Flight books, it’s consistently been
addressed in the pages of the X-Men, where he’s encountered homophobia,
mentored a young gay student, and developed a crush on Iceman. Northstar was always presented as a mutant
superhero first, and a Quebecois second, and did not exhibit stereotypical gay

Character Rating: 8/10

Significance Rating: 10/10

Originality Rating: 5/10

4. The Midnighter, aka
Lucas Trent
(The Authority; comics)

This trenchcoat-wearing
star of Stormwatch, The Authority, as
well as his own eponymous series, has been saving the comic book universe for
over ten years, albeit at times in fairly grim and violent fashion. As one of
the key team members of superhero team The Authority, The Midnighter is a key
part of a group of heroes charged with saving the Earth from galactic-level

The Midnighter wins points in forgoing the colorful tights in favor of
rocking a trenchcoated, Batmanesque look. In addition to the more common
enhanced strength, speed, senses, reflexes, and immune system, our hero also
sports a second heart and the ability to determine how a fight will end by
calculating over a million possible combat scenarios in his head.

While there are currently
several GLBT comic book superheroes, their gayness is often handled in a coy
manner, inferring their sexuality in a playful manner that gets played off as
an in-joke (see repeated examples in The
Young Avengers
’ Hulkling and Wiccan).
Compared to these types of characters, The Midnighter is noteworthy
because his gay identity couldn’t possibly be further from subtle. The very out
gay hero is married to team member Apollo, and the pair refreshingly engage in
sometimes graphic sexual dialogue, something you wouldn’t find in the
“mainstream” pages of Marvel and DC comics.

We left equally
out-and-proud hubby Apollo off the list because of his less original character.
The blond Superman in need of a haircut is somewhat less interesting than the
more morally questionable Midnighter; he’s more of a do-gooder who serves as
Midnighter’s moral center – literally his better half.

Character Rating: 8/10

Significance Rating: 7/10

Originality Rating : 7/10


3. Dr. Frank-N-Furter
(The Rocky Horror Picture Show)

In the space of 98
minutes, the sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania
teaches us a thing or two about living in the moment, gender fluidity, and how
to make a man in seven days. Sure, he’s also a psychotic alien cannibal bent
on… well, we’re not really sure what exactly because he spends all his time
sleeping with his guests and giving them makeovers.

But as Dr.
Frank-N-Furter, Tim Curry was nothing short of magnificent in his
characterization of the strangely loveable homicidal lunatic. Perhaps what most
won us over were his last moments, encompassing a bisexual orgy in a swimming
pool under clouds of dry ice, during which he tells us, “Give yourself over to
absolute pleasure/ Swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh / erotic
nightmares beyond any measure / and sensual daydreams to treasure forever /
Can’t you just see it? / Don’t dream it, be it.”

Released in 1975, both Rocky Horror and Frank-N-Furter were
embraced for their in-your-face sexuality, giving fans an on-screen hero who
wasn’t afraid to be out and proud, and wasn’t the punchline to an ongoing
series of homophobic gags. Indeed, the role was such a breakthrough that the
film itself placed number one on our list of The Twenty Most Groundbreaking Gay

Character Rating: 9/10

Significance Rating: 7/10

Originality Rating : 10/10

2. John Constantine
(Hellblazer; comics)

Those of you scratching your
heads and wondering why Keanu Reeves wasn’t snogging any boys in Constantine,
the 2005 film adaptation of thelong-running Hellblazer
comic book series, should pick up a copy to see the character in his original
form. Whether or not you saw this demon-riddled film as a sign of the
apocalypse, you should know that apart from the name, the film has little in
common with the two decades-old comic character who is very English, very blond
– and very bisexual. Constantine
also avoids the use of weapons and direct fighting, and wouldn’t give up
smoking for anything on hell or earth.

Born in an era of
two-dimensional spandexed heroes, Constantine
is one of the many truly original creations of legendary English comics writer
Alan Moore, whose most famous original works also include V for Vendetta, Watchmen,
and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Remarkably, all of these
original titles include GLBT characters, something few if any mainstream comic
writers can boast.

Moore writes his GLBT characters in the same
way he does his heterosexual ones – as antiheroes with violent histories. The Constantine we know and
love is a deeply complicated character, a cynical mystic who thrives on danger
and manipulates the people around him into horrifically violent situations in
the interests of his humanist principles.

Best of all, Constantine has had both
girlfriends and boyfriends. Being a fairly screwed up and dangerous individual,
his relationships aren’t exactly the model of normalcy. Through dialogue he
references having had relationships with both men and women, though most of the
ones we’ve seen have been with women.

One memorable male relationship occurred
during the course of a story arc in which Constantine
became sexually involved with a masochistic male magnate. Constantine used the relationship to
manipulate his lover to a specific end, which was consistent with his approach
to other characters in his life. The character’s fascinating and unique nature
aside, it’s notable that Constantine
has starred as the bisexual protagonist of his own comic series that’s been
continuously published since 1988.

Character Rating: 10/10

Significance Rating: 8/10

Originality Rating : 9/10


1. Captain Jack Harkness
(Torchwood, BBC America)

Okay, it’s probably not a
huge surprise having Captain Jack (John Barrowman) ranked number one on this
list. But there’s a reason why the boys are gaga over Captain Jack. He is the
only explicitly gay or bisexual lead of an international hit TV series (airing
on BBC Three in the UK and
on BBC America in the US) and the only show in America with an out actor as the
lead. The fact that the character is a dashing hero capable of saving the world
and wooing the guy is just the icing on the cake.

Russell T. Davies, the
out writer of the original UK
Queer As Folk, created the character
for his revival of the long-running Doctor
series. Torchwood, whose name
is an anagram of Doctor Who, is the
spin-off of that series. And Jack, portrayed by out gay actor John Barrowman,
is described as a 51st century time-traveling con man, a rogue who
is secretly immortal and seduces anyone (human or otherwise) for fun or out of
necessity. In the series’ recently concluded first season, he’s already had several same-sex
kisses, including one in the unabashedly romantic “Captain Jack Harkness”

Indeed, Jack and some of
the other characters in the series represent an almost “post-gay” approach to
sexual themes, in which sexual identity is represented as fluid and
complicated, and, more importantly, as not a big deal. It simply is what it
is. As the series opening reminds us each week, the 21st century is
when it all changes; aliens and alien technology are popping up with increasing
regularity and wreaking havoc on earth, and serving as a metaphor for the life
changes we experience given the speed of real-world technological development.

The series poses the
question, “Are we ready for all this?” The answer is that there are bigger
problems we should all be worrying about than whether someone we don’t know
just snogged another person with matching chromosomes.

Character Rating: 9/10

Significance Rating : 10/10

Originality Rating : 10/10

Marc Leonard is the co-host of the AfterElton vlog Angry Puppy and a contributor to TheAngryPuppy.com