Representation vs. Inclusion: Finally Belonging to My Fandom

If you know anything about me, you know that I love Doctor Who. Maybe it’s all of my weird collectables. Or you know, that tattoo that’s on my right arm. Whatever tipped you off for my love of all things Whovian, you’d think that I was totally immersed within the show and the fandom. And I would have agreed with you. The show had several queer characters, and I was happy with that. Representation in science fiction television isn’t exactly overflowing. The fact that there was more than one queer character on the show was enough to keep me satisfied.

And then when the 10th season aired in April my whole perspective changed. At the beginning of this season, we were introduced to the Doctor’s new companion Bill. Before the season aired we knew that Bill was gay, but we didn’t know how integral it was going to be to her plot. Within the first moments of the first episode, we were introduced to her sexuality, as well as the impact on the story line.

The best part about it? The Doctor didn’t say anything about it. Bill was swept away by the Doctor in the TARDIS without care or mention about her sexuality. In the sixth episode, he makes sure that Bill gets a date before they head out on a big and dangerous adventure.

The Doctor is obviously a fictional character, but after the first episode of this season I felt validated in a way that I didn’t realize I needed.

Say Time Lords were real, and one wanted to travel with me, he wouldn’t care that I’m marrying a lady, nor would it make sense to him that other people would care. In a show that has had several queer characters, this was the first time I felt included in the show.

That’s the difference between having representation for it’s own sake versus creating a character that queer people can identify with. Don’t get me wrong, I love Madame Vastra and Jenny, but Vastra is a lizard woman from the dawn of time. It’s representation, but it didn’t make me feel like a part of the Who universe. Bill is an unabashedly queer human, doesn’t hide it, and everyone around her accepts it. When she told male suitor that she’s into girls, he just shrugged and didn’t pursue her any further.

This teaches an important lesson on how queer women should be treated in this instance. We aren’t objects to be won over or converted, and we aren’t secretly waiting for the right man to change our mind. I’m glad this is reflected in the show, and it needs to be reflected in every show with queer characters.

I didn’t realize I how desperately I was craving inclusion in my favorite show until it was served to me on a platter. A beautiful, super queer platter.