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Should Buffy have been gay?

DeadlyDuo

Scooby
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I would argue the opposite, but I don't feel like arguing. I just thought the more every likes and respects you the harder it would be to come out. More people to "disappoint" etc. I never thought that it would be easier if you were popular.
I think Larry's behaviour pre-coming out was enough to make people afraid of him to the point that they wouldn't dare mock him for being gay because he could quite easily beat them up. The nicer post-coming out Larry would've been an improvement for many people so they're hardly going to jump on him for it.
 

Ethan Reigns

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Sineya
I get amused at people thinking there should be a gay subtext between Buffy and Faith. When Faith found out Willow had come out, her reactions was, "So Willow's not driving stick anymore." Yeah, there's a good prospect for a lesbian hookup. Except for the comics (which I don't consider any better than bad fanfiction and certainly not canon), we don't see Buffy's attraction to women at any other time.

Here is a little bit of history of gays on TV.

1. The first gay character on TV was Jodie Dallas, played by Billy Crystal on Soap, a comedy that first aired on ABC in 1977.
2. Ellen DeGeneres came out on her own talk show and all the expected reactions occurred: the ratings tanked, advertisers cancelled, there was a boycott of Disney, ABC's parent company and religious groups geared up for battle. But this wasn't what sank the show - the comedy went missing as the show turned political.
3.Will and Grace (where Will was gay) aired in 1998 and was put up against Monday Night Football, a death sentence for any new comedy. But they thrived, getting 10.9 million viewers per episode, so it got moved into the coveted 9:00 PM Thursday night slot. There was no controversy - advertisers stayed, religious groups left it alone, nobody suggested any boycotts and the show was a hit.
4. Dawson's Creek and Party of Five added gay characters.
5. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy aired starting in 2003 and was the highest rated show on the Bravo network.

And here's why it wouldn't have worked for Buffy: people were prepared for adult gays but not adolescents or children. Religionists had concocted the fiction that homosexuality was a "lifestyle choice" that is made by adults, so they weren't going to go up against adult gays. They would still fight the idea that children or adolescents would be depicted as gay and as having trouble coming out because this upset the idea that this was a choice. It is no more a choice than the fact that XYY males are criminal males found most often in prisons and this certainly isn't what a "just" God would permit, let alone manufacture. But here they are and even the "conversion therapy" offered by some charlatans such as Marcus Bachmann could only provide a 0% success rate. They had a concern that this TV program might somehow turn their straight children into gays, something they would not have expected of Will and Grace.

And there is the fact that most people were straight and had little contact with gays in day-to-day life. If I were a studio exec, I would have insisted the protagonist of a show starring an adolescent would be straight because otherwise you would have had the story of "high school is hell" diluted by a rearguard action to fight off sexual bigotry and the show would have suffered all the problems Ellen ran into. But subtier characters could be gay because that was something that did happen. So BtVS was written exactly like it was because nothing else would have been accepted.
 
Puppet
Puppet
Aw, I grew up with Soap, so funny and ahead of its time :)
Kratos
Kratos
Loved Ellen’s comedy tv show.
Mr Trick
Mr Trick
Cool post. And useful for me. I will take a note of soap and mention it on my radio show. Thanks.

vampmogs

Potential
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It's clear that you are not gay.
Well I am and I never perceived Buffy's reaction to be homophobic, so...?

IMO Buffy's reaction had little to do with her opinion of gay people and more to do with the shock that Willow "isn't driving stick anymore" despite her well-documented crush on Xander for years and, of course, her recent relationship with Oz and her utter heartache at losing him. I think Buffy is utterly blindsided by Willow coming out, feels embarrassed to have misread things so badly ("Tara has a crush on Oz?"), is hyperaware that her shock could be misinterpreted negatively and then goes overboard trying to compensate for this by trying to hide her shock and acts like it hasn't totally thrown her. Even her stammering and unconvincing "I think Tara is, ah, a really great girl, Will" reads totally realistic to me because I can vividly recall how awkward those initial conversations are with my friends as the idea of them asking me about my opinion on men, having never done so in all the years I'd known them, did feel really foreign and strange to both them and me. That had nothing to do with homophobia and more to with conversations between us taking a completely different turn and entering into a territory not explored by either of us. For Buffy, she's so used to talking about boys with Willow that commenting on Tara being a "great girl" would sound bizarre as those words left her mouth, and I get that.

When Willow asks Buffy "are you freaked?" Buffy is very sincere, IMO, when she reassures Willow that she's absolutely not. The way she sits back down beside her, places a hand comfortingly on her knee, and stares directly into her eyes as she reassures her of this is really lovely IMO. I thought Buffy looked particularly kind there.

Whatever "shock" (or "wiggins" as Buffy will later call it) Buffy had to Willow/Tara was momentary and over in a flash. And I'm a bit flummoxed that people deem her to be "conservative" or suggest that it's typical of her. In S1-S3 Buffy championed and defended kids who didn't fit in with mainstream culture. In Gingerbread she risked further public isolation (as warned by Cordelia) for sticking up for Michael who painted his nails and wore makeup. She was always supportive and open-minded about Willow/Oz despite it being an "unconventional relationship." She also of course had a very unconventional relationship herself with Angel ("What!? You're in love with a vampire! Are you out of your mind!?"). It doesn't make sense to me that Buffy would have a difficult time accepting gay couples. Buffy is very much a "you should follow you heart" person and is willing to stand up to a lot of prejudices and break a lot of rules in her pursuit of love.

I didn't interpret her "If I were any more open minded about the choices you two make my whole brain would fallout!" to be a dig at Willow/Tara either. The one thing I have always credited Buffy with is being very open-minded and non-judgemental when it comes to her friends and the decisions they make. She made that very clear in Phases when she strongly advised Xander to butt out over Willow/Oz and reminded him that "it's not up to him." She never held Xander to task over dating Anya either despite it being incredibly hypocritical of him seeing as how he was so judgemental of Willow/Oz initially and, of course, after he gave Buffy so much grief for dating Angel in S1-S3. And whilst she did gently voice her opinions about Xander/Cordy in B,B&B but did so very delicately (the opening scene) and then, despite her personal opinions, reassured Xander over his choice of necklace to gift Cordy ("she'll love it") and then helped pick out clothes for him so he'd look nice for their Valentines date. She was also incredibly forgiving and non-judgemental of both Xander and Willow's screw ups with magic (B,B&B and Something Blue) despite the personal embarrassment those incidents directly caused her. Given how Buffy was on more than one occasion publicly interrogated over her relationship with Angel, regularly had her choices questioned in the court of public opinion, and had Xander make judgemental comments daily about her choices, the fact that Buffy bit her lip so often or made a choice to be so open-minded about their choices was one of my most admired traits about her. I never had an issue with her snapping in The Yoko Factor and bringing that up, I always nod approvingly there.

Buffy and Xander's comments in Family seem to be born more out of ignorance, and especially ignorance of that particular time. Not hate. Their total embrace of Tara at the end of the episode is a testament to that, IMO.
 

Btvs fan

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Well I am and I never perceived Buffy's reaction to be homophobic, so...?

IMO Buffy's reaction had little to do with her opinion of gay people and more to do with the shock that Willow "isn't driving stick anymore" despite her well-documented crush on Xander for years and, of course, her recent relationship with Oz and her utter heartache at losing him. I think Buffy is utterly blindsided by Willow coming out, feels embarrassed to have misread things so badly ("Tara has a crush on Oz?"), is hyperaware that her shock could be misinterpreted negatively and then goes overboard trying to compensate for this by trying to hide her shock and acts like it hasn't totally thrown her. Even her stammering and unconvincing "I think Tara is, ah, a really great girl, Will" reads totally realistic to me because I can vividly recall how awkward those initial conversations are with my friends as the idea of them asking me about my opinion on men, having never done so in all the years I'd known them, did feel really foreign and strange to both them and me. That had nothing to do with homophobia and more to with conversations between us taking a completely different turn and entering into a territory not explored by either of us. For Buffy, she's so used to talking about boys with Willow that commenting on Tara being a "great girl" would sound bizarre as those words left her mouth, and I get that.

When Willow asks Buffy "are you freaked?" Buffy is very sincere, IMO, when she reassures Willow that she's absolutely not. The way she sits back down beside her, places a hand comfortingly on her knee, and stares directly into her eyes as she reassures her of this is really lovely IMO. I thought Buffy looked particularly kind there.

Whatever "shock" (or "wiggins" as Buffy will later call it) Buffy had to Willow/Tara was momentary and over in a flash. And I'm a bit flummoxed that people deem her to be "conservative" or suggest that it's typical of her. In S1-S3 Buffy championed and defended kids who didn't fit in with mainstream culture. In Gingerbread she risked further public isolation (as warned by Cordelia) for sticking up for Michael who painted his nails and wore makeup. She was always supportive and open-minded about Willow/Oz despite it being an "unconventional relationship." She also of course had a very unconventional relationship herself with Angel ("What!? You're in love with a vampire! Are you out of your mind!?"). It doesn't make sense to me that Buffy would have a difficult time accepting gay couples. Buffy is very much a "you should follow you heart" person and is willing to stand up to a lot of prejudices and break a lot of rules in her pursuit of love.

I didn't interpret her "If I were any more open minded about the choices you two make my whole brain would fallout!" to be a dig at Willow/Tara either. The one thing I have always credited Buffy with is being very open-minded and non-judgemental when it comes to her friends and the decisions they make. She made that very clear in Phases when she strongly advised Xander to butt out over Willow/Oz and reminded him that "it's not up to him." She never held Xander to task over dating Anya either despite it being incredibly hypocritical of him seeing as how he was so judgemental of Willow/Oz initially and, of course, after he gave Buffy so much grief for dating Angel in S1-S3. And whilst she did gently voice her opinions about Xander/Cordy in B,B&B but did so very delicately (the opening scene) and then, despite her personal opinions, reassured Xander over his choice of necklace to gift Cordy ("she'll love it") and then helped pick out clothes for him so he'd look nice for their Valentines date. She was also incredibly forgiving and non-judgemental of both Xander and Willow's screw ups with magic (B,B&B and Something Blue) despite the personal embarrassment those incidents directly caused her. Given how Buffy was on more than one occasion publicly interrogated over her relationship with Angel, regularly had her choices questioned in the court of public opinion, and had Xander make judgemental comments daily about her choices, the fact that Buffy bit her lip so often or made a choice to be so open-minded about their choices was one of my most admired traits about her. I never had an issue with her snapping in The Yoko Factor and bringing that up, I always nod approvingly there.

Buffy and Xander's comments in Family seem to be born more out of ignorance, and especially ignorance of that particular time. Not hate. Their total embrace of Tara at the end of the episode is a testament to that, IMO.
Tbh the We are family moment at the end of that episode always felt false to me. Standing up for an adult whose being taken against her will is one thing. Saying they are Family when they don't actually know anymore about Tara since the Birthday gift discussion is another. Joss did an ABC plot and basically skipped out on B when writing it.
 

TriBel

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With regard to Buffy's response - as I said, I found it...disquieting but, equally, I can understand that others didn't. If BtVS had been a series without ambiguity, ambivalence and constantly changing, I doubt there'd still be boards like this. Traditionally, portraying "coming out" has been a predicament for film makers. Whether you make it traumatic or not you're always going to have someone complaining it's not a true reflection of their experience and you're giving unrealistic expectations. Personally, I'd have combined it with OMWF and done this :) :

 
Honoria Dedlock
Honoria Dedlock
Oddly enough, I think Willow coming out to Buffy was one of the most accurate depictions of coming out I've ever seen. As a writer, I wouldn't change a thing.

thrasherpix

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It is extremely rare that I feel a character "inspires" me as a role model. I've just noticed that their sexuality is on a back burner...and even show signs of being asexual.

As a lesbian, I've found many of the characters inspiring, not just Willow. But role models? I'd have to quibble on all of that, even Buffy at her best. (Not that I'd want Buffy to be a Mary Sue or perfect saint, nor would I want her to be the hard bitten character in the Wishverse.)

My thought is that she shouldn't be gay or straight. Well she can be straight (or whatever, doesn't matter) but in addition to her experiences with the forgettables, make it far too dangerous. It wouldn't be popular because people love their vampire romances and also driven to ship, but I'd like to see her struggle with that. Then she'd truly be putting the mission above all. She could refuse Xander (or Willow) both because she doesn't see them that way, and because it would make them a special target. It would fit in with how she wished she could be gossiping about boys.

I do like the Angelus arc of season 2, but having a similar arc of Faith in a Fuffy relationship going psycho ex after joining the Mayor could also be effective, and solidify her desire to avoid dating. I'd be willing to give up both if it avoided a lot of awkward (for me) shipping moments that aren't what draw me personally to the show, and in fact irritate me at times.

In any case I really disliked how much Buffy places her value on getting and having a man, which becomes explicit in season 4, and I think terrible for many men and women to do that (and contributes to why so many relationships suck as there's often a bit of desperation and lack of patience and insecurity that makes relationships happen that shouldn't, and then sabotages them whether it's a good fit or not). Granted, that's how lots of people are wired, but Buffy is a cut above in many ways. It's not like she'd have to be "Saint Buffy, who feels no carnal urges or romantic urges," just that she rises above them for the greater good.

But if they really wanted to be "brave" and ship her, then she'd have wound up with Clem. Cluffy for the OTP! :p (Gods, now I'm thinking he might've actually helped her through season 6 a lot better than Spike...Spike might want to kill him out of jealousy, though...more ways to make Buffy suffer...)
 
DeadlyDuo
DeadlyDuo
I think Spike did want to genuinely help Buffy during Season 6 but his lack of soul limited his understanding of what she was actually going through so he tended to misread her signals.

Cheese Slices

A Bidet of Evil
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My opinion on this is pretty similar to @The Bronze 's on this, but there's something I don't get wrt to OP's post : Buffy is a lesbian because she doesn't feel sexual attraction to Angel (which is very much not true, but ok), and she's a lesbian because her relationships with Riley and Spike were merely based on lust (also not true) ? So she's gay because she's not sexually attracted to men but also because she is sexually very attracted to them ? Am I missing something ?
 
Mr Trick
Mr Trick
Fair point.
Honoria Dedlock
Honoria Dedlock
I didn't say she was gay or not sexually attracted to men. Just that there were hints of an interest in women. Just floating around some ideas.

Ethan Reigns

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Sineya
One of the other considerations a producer would have about having a gay protagonist on a show is, how are you going to convince someone to play the lead? An actor always has to be aware that typecasting could be detrimental to his or her future prospects. I question whether he could have gotten SMG on board if the character was supposed to be a lesbian. It could very well be as it was originally planned - SMG would be Cordelia and Charisma Carpenter could have been Buffy (which would have been detrimental).

I had mentioned Will and Grace earlier as a contemporary of Buffy. The producers had their troubles getting their four main characters cast.

1. Eric McCormick was known at the time for being on Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years and he was worried about being typecast as gay (he is straight). But when he read the part, he realized that except for the sexual preference, he was Will in every other way.

2. Debra Messing had two strikes against her, Fox's Ned and Stacey and ABC's Prey, both of which flopped. It took a house call from producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick and a bottle of vodka to get her to sign on.

3. Sean Hayes was originally asked to read for the Will role but was out of town when the auditions were going on so he was called back to read for Jack, a more in-your-face gay role. As he left the audition, he turned and said, "Hey Max, don't be checking out my ass!" and they said, OK that's Jack McFarland.

4. Megan Mullaly had successful recurring roles on Seinfeld, Frasier and Just Shoot Me and was so underwhelmed by the script for Karen, she deliberately missed the audition. The producers called her at home and coaxed her to come to the studio. She has said, "At the last minute, something told me to go for it." It earned her something of a cult following.
 
Mr Trick
Mr Trick
Interesting.

AlphaFoxtrot

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I think Buffy was asexual. All the times she appeared to enjoy sex, she was actually pretending to. And that scene where she feigned embarrassment because Faith claimed Slaying makes you hungry and horny? It didn't just trying to ... model... her behavior... on what society... expected her to do, yeah.

Look, if you think Buffy turning gay would make for better stories, or allow for more interesting plots, or improve the series in some way, make that argument. But the supposed indicators of latent homosexual attraction are arbitrary and subjective. Or go watch Xena, it's a much better show for this type of thing.
 

NothingVentured

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No. She's straight and was never portrayed as anything but that. There is nothing wrong with that. Should Giles have been gay? Should Xander? Why wasn't Tara bisexual? Why wasn't Anya gay?

I do wonder how many real life interactions people have that they have to promote sexuality politics into every relationship. Two characters are friends? Obviously they are latent to some degree. Two characters are enemies? Same deal.

Buffy and Xander's comments in Family seem to be born more out of ignorance, and especially ignorance of that particular time. Not hate. Their total embrace of Tara at the end of the episode is a testament to that, IMO.
I'm at a loss which comments could be interpreted in such a way. They are ignorant of Tara, nothing else. They know absolutely nothing about her and that's what they are talking about, not her sexuality. Had she been straight, the conversation plays out the same.
 
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WillowFromBuffy

To be or not to evil.
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Buffy and Xander's comments in Family seem to be born more out of ignorance, and especially ignorance of that particular time. Not hate. Their total embrace of Tara at the end of the episode is a testament to that, IMO.
That's how I read it, too. They're unsure and a little apprehensive (of this very threatening girl who saved Buffy's life on the first day they met), but they quickly embrace Tara as one of their own after meeting her family.
Should Giles have been gay?
Giles has slept with men. All the members of his and Ethan's old sex club were men, except for one.
 
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DeepBlueJoy

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While I am all for queer protagonists, I don't see Buffy as in any aspect gay and I am fine with that.

I love the way things turned out except for Tara dying ("lesbians must die" is a sad old trope and I hate it) I also hate Willow not bearing her own consequences for her rapey behavior.

Btw, I am fine with her killing Warren. He needed killing. Human justice would not have held him.

Not every gay person must be an example. As a bisexual, black, female person, I get tired having to be some kind of 'pet' symbol. We are just human. Some of us are icons. Some of us suck.
 

Btvs fan

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While I am all for queer protagonists, I don't see Buffy as in any aspect gay and I am fine with that.

I love the way things turned out except for Tara dying ("lesbians must die" is a sad old trope and I hate it) I also hate Willow not bearing her own consequences for her rapey behavior.

Btw, I am fine with her killing Warren. He needed killing. Human justice would not have held him.

Not every gay person must be an example. As a bisexual, black person, I get tired having to be some kind of 'pet' symbol. We are just human. Some of us are icons. Some of us suck.
Except she sleeps with one of her Slayers in the S8 comics 🤷‍♂️
 

DeepBlueJoy

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I think Larry's behaviour pre-coming out was enough to make people afraid of him to the point that they wouldn't dare mock him for being gay because he could quite easily beat them up. The nicer post-coming out Larry would've been an improvement for many people so they're hardly going to jump on him for it.
It is true to reality too. Conflicted people are often hard to live with. And hostile. Post conflict Larry was no longer angry or scared.
 

DeepBlueJoy

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The com
Except she sleeps with one of her Slayers in the S8 comics 🤷‍♂️
The comics are irrelevant. Dont exist for me. For those who think they are canon, it makes no narrative sense in the context of her life before or after. It read as fan service. They are bad fanfic by the fanboy in chief. Up there with sky sex.

The Buffy we know would not abuse her power. Screwing a subordinate is a jerk move.
 
B
Btvs fan
I agree with you but didn't Joss say they were canon ?

Priceless

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I think it would have been very difficult to sell a show with a lesbian lead character back in the late 90's, especially a show that is being written by a straight man. Buffy could have become gay, in a similar way to Willow, once the show was established, but I would rather she was bi so I wasn't deprived of the great relationships she had, but instead of Riley in S4 perhaps she could have had a girlfriend . . . maybe Maggie Walsh instead of Riley.
 
DeadlyDuo
DeadlyDuo
Riley can also be a girl's name so Briley could still happen, it would just be with a gender flipped Riley.
B
Btvs fan
Not at all. In thr UK there was a show called Bad girls and the 2 leads were gay
DeepBlueJoy
DeepBlueJoy
I agree, princeless. @Btvs fan The UK and Europe and most other industrialized countries aren't as parochial about sexuality as the US. America (even now) can be very old fashioned about sex in general and GLBTQ issues in particular.
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