Speculative Fiction LGBT

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The lesbian version of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Settings commonly used in Speculative Fiction stories typically fall into the Uncanny Valley — that is, they are similar enough to be accessible, but different enough to feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Because of (or in order to enable) this, there may be a larger or more prominent group of LGBT+ characters.

Also known as the "time travelling lesbians", it is notable that Speculative Fiction is kind of the San Fran of media genres — a much larger LGBT population than the rest of its kind, and with reason. The most widely acknowledged of these reasons is that because the fantastical setting (as close as it may be to the society of its creation) is not 'Real', and therefore the creators have more roam to discuss things that might be considered controversial or unusual. This may be used as a statement on the society in which the work is being produced, but is not necessarily. It is related to the Discount Lesbians trope, where a lesbian couple is deemed more acceptable if one or both (or more) isn't human and so they aren't really lesbians, though this would instead be where it isn't really Earth so it can't really be (or, so it's alright if it isn't) taboo.

Another reason to include non-heteronormative characters in Speculative Fiction may be to support theories of the future of humanity becoming largely bisexual, and also those that suggest potential alien civilisations may not even have sex as we view it.

It may also be, drawing back to the idea of the Uncanny Valley, being used as a marker in order to separate the Speculative Fiction world from the real world. There may be little changed in a humanoid alien civilisation or 20 Minutes into the Future, but a difference in view on gender and sexuality (whether global or just authorial) is a sufficient deviation from the norm that it would suggest somewhere very departed from current Earth's climate.

The use is also one way in which media connects the ideas of advancing scientifically and LGBT+ issues, making discussions of gender and sexuality a decidedly modern concern.

This trope's Ur-Example may be either Theodore Sturgeon's The World Well Lost (1953), acknowledging sexuality, or Virginia Woolf's Orlando (1928), mostly regarding gender. The latter is discussed on the Encyclopaedia of Fantasy's entry for "Temporal Adventuress", which includes many female time-travellers who deviate from conventions of gender and sexuality. Of all the variations upon the Other-ing nature of this trope, the time-travelling lesbian may be one of the most prominent as it allows for no fixed period to be set in which the acceptability is occurring, as well as for the issue to be discussed across past and future times, and perhaps also appealing to the presumed audience as a bonus.

In short, Speculative Fiction settings feature LGBT+ characters and themes because it is distanced from the real world.

Also note that, while some speculative fiction works project LGBT themes onto alien civilizations in order to explore them from a comfortably safe conceptual distance (especially a few decades back, when censors were a lot harsher), or exaggerate them to have fun with weird speculative space sex, others frame them around their hopes or thoughts regarding the progression of real-world civilizations. The latter group tends to present LGBT themes as relatable or commonplace, rather than as a matter of spectacle. Both are made possible because of the setting difference.

Super Trope to Discount Lesbians, Lesbian Vampire, Free-Love Future, and Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous. See also: Bizarre Alien Sexes and One-Gender Race.

Compare Fetish-Fuel Future, when an author creates a futuristic setting where their personal kink is the norm.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga 
  • In Outlaw Star there's Fred Luo, a Camp Gay who has a crush on Gene Starwind, The Protagonist of the series, who's the one who provides weapons, ships and all they could need for their missions... but especially he offers discounts to the crew if Gene treats him nicely.

    Comic Books 
  • The Island of Themyscira and its Amazon population has been subjected to an extensive variety of interpretations on how a female-only society would exist. These range from asexual to heterosexual-but-without-men to a fully lesbian society. Wonder Woman herself has ranged from heterosexual to bisexual to pansexual Depending on the Writer.
  • While neither Avatar: The Last Airbender nor The Legend of Korra explored LGBT topics in detail, The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars does offer some clarity, since it explores Korra and Asami's relationship. In particular, the Air Nomad and Water Tribe nations are the most tolerant towards same-sex couples, due to their beliefs towards pacifism and personal autonomy respectively, while the Earth Kingdom is the most homophobic due to its emphasis on tradition. The Fire Nation used to be tolerant as well, but for some reason homosexuality became illegal under Fire Lord Sozin.

    Literature 
  • Orlando: A Biography: Orlando begins as a heterosexual male in the early 20th Century, and through time travel accidentally swaps gender, but never has to define or justify their existence. Though the concept of gender is wholly linked to biological sex, it is an early example of using the genre to discuss very untouched issues, and may be opening a discourse on the possibilities of living as trans*.
  • World Without Men: Several thousand years into the future, and men have been extinct since the 20th/21st century, when feminists forced sterilisation and began reproduction through artificial means. This has left an entirely female population, most of which are blindly satisfied with their world. The main women, though, are a lesbian couple who have seen the truth that this is unnatural, and treat a man that has been created as a Messiah.
  • Michael Moorcock's recurring character Una Persson, who varies between being bisexual and exclusively lesbian at different times and in different timelines. See in particular The Adventures of Una Persson and Catherine Cornelius in the 20th Century.
  • Joe Haldeman's The Forever War has this as an unintended side-effect. Sending an army several light years away to fight a war then retrieving the survivors afterwards means, inevitably, that the time-dilation effect applies and those soldiers have returned to an Earth several centuries older than the one they left. After the second or third jump to and from a war-front, heterosexually inclined veterans realise in their absence that the social mores of the world have reversed - being gay is now the norm and a small population of diehard hetros are now the "queer" ones. The inevitable happens and several formerly hetero ladies travel on their next jump into time and space as active lesbians.
  • The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov, set in a parallel dimension in which there are three distinct genders that also function as guilds/houses that one may be sorted into (logicals, emotionals, and parentals). One of the main characters is Dua, who is split between the genders and so a version of non-binary (which in the setting is also naturally divergent).
  • The Man Who Folded Himself, in which time travelling Daniel ends up in a relationship with himself after travelling alongside various realities of himself, as well as with a woman called Diane — who may also be a version of Daniel from another reality.
  • In the Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie, the Radchaai Empire has no societal concept of gender, their language's Translation Convention defaults to female pronouns, and no mention is ever made of Radchaai basing their choice of partner on which anatomical features they might have. In addition, the main character's Asexuality is acknowledged and accepted by her crew.
  • Theodore Sturgeon's 1953 short story "The World Well Lost" is a Gay Aesop featuring a pair of inhumanly beautiful alien refugees from Dirbanu who gain brief popularity and sympathy on Earth, but who are then promptly deported when Dirbanu identifies them as fugitive criminals. The copilot of the ship deporting them learns that the refugees are a same-sex couple, which is illegal on their home world; helps them escape extradition; realizes that the Dirbanu's distaste for humans comes from Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism that makes all human couples look same-sex to them; and is revealed to the reader as a deeply closeted Straight Gay man himself.
  • Greg Egan likes this trope, frequently either using it or at least paying lip service to it. His stories are rarely if ever entirely focused on LGBT+ issues, but rather they're folded into a larger concept of humanity and society. Overall, Egan's stories tend to advance a progressive viewpoint, with LGBT+ characters treated very sympathetically by the story. More often than not, the LGBT+ demographic in question has been completely normalized in the setting.
    • In Distress, the concept of someone being "traditionally" transgender has become a complete and utter non-issue; in addition, five entirely novel gender identities exist: ufem, ifem, asex, imasc, and umasc. Asex is what we would today refer to as gender neutral, but the others refer to varying degrees of femininity or masculinity, ranging from "comically exaggerated gender-specific traits" for the u-genders to "extremely understated gender-specific traits" for the i-genders.
    • The main character of Teranesia is a homosexual man. Evolutionary development is a core theme of the novel, so of course the novel examines the question: If facilitating reproduction is the purpose of evolution, and homosexuals don't reproduce, then why does homosexuality occur naturally? The book doesn't offer a definitive answer.
    • A lot of the characters in Diaspora and Schild's Ladder are gender-neutral, although to be fair, that's because most of those characters exist as software and were created as such, having never been in an actual homo sapiens body.
    • Most of the Orthogonal trilogy is unusually silent on the subject of LGBT issues and characters (the trilogy instead examines issues of gender equality and women's rights), but by the end of the trilogy, the protagonists' initially two-gendered, male/female species has undergone a Singularity that has resulted in, among other things, a single-gender race that is explicitly considered neither male nor female.
  • In The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, the planet Gethen is inhabited by androgynous humanoids who only get a specific gender during kemmer, their analogue of being in heat. The gender they get is random (unless they use hormone therapy). Therefore, their analogue of LGBT's (and about as common as real life LGBT's) are "perverts" people who tend to be a particular gender for longer than usual. One can guess this creates some problems when they encounter an Earthman.
  • Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold is the story of "homosexual obstetrician" Ethan travelling through space to find answers as to the the uterine material the people of the planet Athos was dead animals. They needed such material to reproduce, with Athos (named for the Greek Mount Athos, which has been off-limits to women for millennia) being a one-gender planet of almost entirely homosexual men. One of the social points discussed is how Ethan discovers other planets that are homophobic and the issues of that, even though Athos is innately misogynistic.
  • The Orson Scott Card story Songmaster is described on his page as "Pedophiles IN SPACE!", somewhat accurate but it's more about a beautiful young boy (Ansset) who has the most powerful and honest singing voice in the world (this world being a fantastical future empire) so much that despite being 11, a lot of adult men fall immediately in lust with him. As he ages, Ansset falls in love with Josif, but soon has to deal with the effects of the hormone drugs that were given to him to preserve his voice as he matured (including emasculation and the fact he Can't Have Sex, Ever).

    Live-Action Television 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Time Lords are an all-bisexual and non-binary race, as they can regenerate into the opposite sex.
      • Note to see the most famous Time Lords, The Doctor and The Master, who have both done this — the show openly skewing an idea of fixed gender.
    • Madame Vastra and Jenny, an ancient reptilian warrior and a Victorian maid who are married. They time travel and solve alien crime together, sometimes assisting the Doctor.
    • Bill Potts, the lesbian companion of the Doctor's, with revelations of her sexuality happening in every other episode, and being a plot point in a few, as well as leading to discussions of views on sexuality with a Roman Legion. The only negative thing that happened to her because of her sexuality was that her date freaked out when the Pope walked out of her bed room in an angry huff. This incident was actually in a Lotus-Eater Machine so didn't actually happen. When Bill tells her date about this, the date actually laughs at the whole situation... and then UNIT agents raid Bill's apartment. Bill's sexuality is particularly significant in the first episode she features in, where her attraction to a female student (Heather) is what causes her to end up travelling with the Doctor. Heather then ends up resurrecting Bill, because she's been absorbed by a water-alien but kept her own mind so can do that somehow, in the final episode of the season.
    • Ace, one of the Seventh Doctor's companions. Though they couldn't be open about it at the time, later sources confirmed she was into girls. This would seem to defy the trope, but the presentation of her on-screen was decided gay in all but name, which showed it off at a time when the BBC wouldn't have allowed any explicit mention of sexuality at all to air.
    • Captain Jack Harkness, an Extreme Omnisexual from the future. It's stated that in his native era, the 51st century, hang-ups about sexuality no longer exist, as humanity has spread across half the galaxy and is happily "dancing" with other species.
  • Legends of Tomorrow:
    • Seems to be exploited in Sara, who is taken from sister show Arrow, where she was canonically bisexual but ever since joining the time-travelling legends has discussed more and more how she exclusively "prefers girls". Sara's sexuality spills over into the stories, with her various romantic entanglements through history being aligned with the plot of that episode.
    • One episode takes the fantasy setting of Camelot and makes Guinevere gay as she prefers fighting alongside Arthur to being romantic with him and falls for Sara Lance, a lot. The romance of Merlin and Arthur also features, with Stargirl as Merlin and so transcending gender.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Jadzia is the host for the Dax symbiot and has the memories of the previous hosts, several of which are male. It's expressly stated that Jadzia is a unique personality and can access the memories of the previous hosts, and as such is not bound by obligations of the past host, which included in an episode about Jadzia meeting another female Trill whose previous host was married to Jadzia's Dax previous male host. The two women start to "rekindle" their relationship, which is a taboo on Trill... not because they are two women in love, but because they are two joined Trill in love, with the Trill concerned that lingering bonds between two joined Trill carrying over to their next host would result in rulership by an elite The Nth Doctor class. The fact that they were both women at the time is never called upon, though the taboos and the pressure against the relationship do parallel many LGBT issues. Given that the woman was not physically the Woman Dax remembers, it's quite possible that joined Trill take on the sexuaility of the host, but leave the emotional attachment to past lovers, regardless of sex, which could be a form of pansexuality (they are attracted to the person for reasons beyond traditional binary gender attraction). Her comments to why she let Worf plan the wedding with little input from her indicate that at this point in the symbiot's life, the wedding had been experienced from both the point of view of the bride and groom several times and was pointless beyond the happiness of the spouse.
  • Supergirl: When Alex comes out to her and Kara's friends in season 2 (an example in itself), Mon-El is the only one not to have a reaction. He makes sure to note that on his admittedly hedonistic home planet of Daxam, sexuality is a complete non-issue and "the more the merrier!"
  • The Flash (2014): In the dream-world induced by The Music Meister in season 3, dream!Iris has two gay dads — this also being The Roaring '20s — and it is treated as normal. It seems to, therefore, discuss the trope, with the dream world being an SF setting in itself and also conjured up between the minds of Barry, Kara, and the Music Meister, who are a meta-human, alien, and fifth-dimensional being, respectively. Both the setting and all the minds that it was created from are not (at least not entirely) earthly and so of course being gay is fine in 1920s America.
  • Dracula, an In-Name-Only adaptation, has Lucy as a lesbian pining after Mina. Mina isn't so open to her best friend's advances, but is never horrible about it, even deflecting away from it when her boyfriend wants to know what's wrong with Lucy. At one point Lucy does mention how "it's perfectly natural for a woman to fall in love with another woman".

    Music 

    Webcomics 
  • Neo Kosmos takes place in the distant future, where Earth had been destroyed and the only remaining humans are children raised by alien scientists for their research. Those aliens are a One-Gender Race who use gender-neutral pronouns in most situations and leave the children to identity however they want. Most of them settle on being agender and use neutral pronouns as they have little interest in the whole "gender" thing, except for Iris. She, after research into old Earth culture, realizes that she's a girl; everyone, including the aliens, respects this. The fact that she's a "human type XY" and by modern standards transgender is a non-issue for them.


Alternative Title(s): Fantastic Gender And Sexuality, Sci Fi LGBT, Fantasy LGBT, Time Travelling Lesbians

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpeculativeFictionLGBT