In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone will inspire the gays, gals, and theys. She is a gay icon and she slays.
OK fine. That description actually applies to tons of iconic women who have made our lives better simply by existing, but there’s only one who truly slayed before that word even entered our vernacular. We are of course talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, AKA the pinup every gay boy had up on their wall when the parentals started to act suspicious.
Since The Greatest Show Of All Time™ came to an end in 2003, Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar has continued to do the Lord’s work in camp masterpieces such as Scooby-Doo, Ringer, and of course, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, not to mention earlier classics like Simply Irresistible and Cruel “You can put it anywhere” Intentions.
TV is about to get a lot crueler and hopefully queerer too.
But what about Buffy herself? The Slayer wasn’t gay back then — although she is canonically queer in the comics that followed — but Buffy the show was. Incredibly so. At a time when TV was far from kind to the LGBTQ+ community, Buffy gave us fully realized gay characters and even more gay metaphors that spoke to an entire generation of queer fans lucky enough to exist at the same time this show aired on screen.
Here’s a little new millennium nostalgia for your day.
The hardest thing in this world is to live in it, but each week, Buffy made it a little easier for us, so let’s celebrate that by looking back at the gayest things that happened on this show.
1. “Have you tried not being a slayer?”
Near the end of season two, Buffy finally came out to her mom. No, she wasn’t queer yet still at that point. Buffy was actually telling Joyce that she’s the Slayer, but her mom responded exactly like any other disapproving parent would when their kid comes out as queer.
“Honey, are you sure you’re a slayer? … Have you tried not being a slayer? … It’s because you didn’t have a strong father figure, isn’t it?”.
Hmmm. Have you tried not being a dick, Joyce? Buffy didn’t choose to be this way, but her Mom kicks her out anyway, just for revealing her truth. If that doesn’t feel queer, then I don’t know what does.
2. Five by five
Forget Spike or Angel or even Riley. Buffy should have ended up with Faith, and I reckon she would have loved it if that dance they shared in The Bronze is anything to go by. The two slayers were into each other way more than any of the boys there that night, and this mutual fascination carried over into their very physical fight scenes too.
3. Seeing double
When it comes to tight impractical leather pants, Vampire Willow gave Faith a run for her money in season three, and she also gave the slayer a run for her money in the sapphic stakes. Even our Willow couldn’t help but feel that her Wishverse doppelganger was “kinda gay.” What gave it away, Rosenberg? Was it the red and black leather or the way she kept cosying up to you while her boyfriend, Vampire Xander, was right there? In any case, it wouldn’t be long before all this foreshadowing led to our own Willow embracing life as a raging homosexual in season four.
4. It’s about damn time
When Willow and Tara kissed in season five’s “The Body,” climate change ground to a halt. Our crops had never looked better and all our debts were suddenly cleared. Or at least, that’s how it felt to finally see them kiss for the first time on screen almost a whole season after the couple first got together.
5. “It’s complicated…”
When Willow comes out to Buffy, the Slayer is taken aback at first. That’s right; someone who kills monsters without batting an eyelid is rattled by the fact her best friend is gay. It’s not a likable moment, but it’s a realistic one because it reminds us how rare it was still for people to come out casually on TV like this at the start of the century. It’s not long before Buffy snaps out of it though and accepts her bestie with open arms. From that point on, Willow’s queerness is never treated as an issue by anyone in the Scooby Gang.
6. The Scooby
Buffy’s entire schtick is monsters as metaphor for the monstrous things that happen to us in real life, and it doesn’t get much worse than the episode where Tara’s family show up determined to “fix” her. They’re not technically talking about her queerness, but allusions to conversion therapy and Tara’s “disgusting” secret sure do feel pointed in the wake of her coming out as a lesbian on the show. And that’s especially true when Tara turns her back on the Maclay’s in favor of her chosen family, the Scoobys.
7. Once More, with Feeling
It’s a musical. And if that’s not gay enough for you, how about the sexy himbo at the start? Or the demon named Sweet who emerges from the hellish fires of musical theater? Throw in some singing vampires with lesbian cunnilingus and you’ve got the queerest episode of TV ever made that wasn’t written by Russell T Davies.
8. The Dark Willow Saga
You could argue the way Buffy’s writing team killed off Tara is pretty gay. After all, it does continue a timeless tradition of “burying your gays” on screen, but what’s really queer about all this is the way Willow reacts. No straight person would seek revenge with as much venom and eyeliner as Willow did. And no straight person would drop an absolute banger like ‘Bored now” right before they flay the piece of shit who killed their lover, even if it was technically an accident. For that alone, Willow will always be a gay icon.
9. When Buffy made herstory
Willow eventually overcame her grief and addiction to eyeliner in the form of a new relationship with a potential slayer named Kennedy. As much as we loathe thinking about TV’s most irritating character, even now, twenty years later, we can’t deny that her first sex scene with Willow was a landmark moment for queer representation. Never before had two lesbians made the beast with two backs on an American TV network, and never again would that happen with someone as universally hated as Kennedy.
10. Literally everything Tom Lenk does in this show
Andrew never came out, but he was Padam decades before Kylie channeled god in her now iconic hit. In fact, Andrew was gayer than actual gay characters on the show and examples of this abound throughout his run on Buffy. Nowhere did he prove this more though than in season seven’s “Storyteller” where he shot his own Buffy doc with all the flair of a panicked homosexual in the presence of Sarah Mother Gellar herself.
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