The New Season of Doctor Who is Truly its Queerest Yet

The New Season of Doctor Who is Truly its Queerest Yet
Image: Image: BBC

Doctor Who’s themes of chosen family, transformation, platonic companionship, alienation (and alien nations) have resonated with queer fans for generations. And this season appears to be even gayer, queerer, and more fluid than ever before. 

This season, we see the fabulously queer Ncuti Gatwa – best known for his role as Eric in Sex Education – step in the Doctor’s shoes.

As the Doctor tells a space-station crewed by unsettlingly cute babies: “Nobody grows up wrong. You are what you are, and that’s magnificent”.

Queer-coded everything

Doctor Who’s queerest season yet comes as no surprise to the series’ long-time fans – especially when we consider that writer Russell T. Davies has returned. Davis is a staunch advocate for queer representation in pop culture, and has been ever since he wrote a lesbian vicar into British soap Revelations in the 90s, and created cult queer series Queer as Folk.

And perhaps Davis’ staunch queerness has fully blossomed for this season of Doctor Who, because it boasts an explicitly queer-coded Doctor and a companion with a lesbian foster mum and queer bestie.

Cast and crew have referred to this season’s Doctor with both he/him and they/them pronouns, nodding at the character’s gender fluidity. “The Doctor is not from this planet, so who are we to know what pronouns they have and what gender they are?” 

Gatwa told the CBC. “They’re a shape-shifting alien that can be anything or anyone. And so, for me, it makes the most sense to use they/them pronouns for this character that is not from Earth — or limited by any earthly limitations.”

Even the clothing signals queerness. The first episode – an enjoyably simple villain-of-the-week narrative about a misunderstood monster terrorising a baby farm –  features the Doctor in a low-cut knit and high-waisted sailor pants. Even the pre-season specials and trailers saw the Doctor clubbing in a muscle shirt, and making references to a “hot summer” with Harry Houdini (which, I think we can safely assume based on Houdini’s profession, was almost certainly no strings attached).

Time Lord vs Drag Queen

In addition to the gorgeously queer-coded characters, this season’s cast has even more charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent than anyone could have ever dreamed. We are of course lucky to bear witness to the stunning Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor. 

Gatwa has smashed through a plethora of ceilings by nabbing the role – he is the first openly queer person, the first black man AND the first person born outside of the United Kingdom to play the lead of the iconic series.

We’re also treated to two-time RuPaul’s Drag Race champion Jinkx Monsoon cast as an unhinged, non-binary anti-muse.

Monsoon stars as Maestro – a crazed, demonic entity whose wild eyebrows are a character unto themselves. After their Daddy, The Toymaker, is defeated by the Doctor, the goddess manifests on Earth to consume the world’s music, with devastating results.

Doctor Who, not Mister Who

In real life, Gatwa has been brilliantly outspoken with his support, and heartwarmingly, fiercely protective of the UK’s embattled transgender community.

In a recent interview with Attitude Magazine, Gatwa did not hold back in criticising those who target and discriminate against trans people.

“Everything trickles down from the top,” said Gatwa. “And when you see politicians openly attacking marginalised communities, when you see our politicians openly attacking trans people, it makes it OK for everyone else.” 

“People who are the most vulnerable, the most disenfranchised, most disconnected from everyone else, are being told that they are the threats. It’s sick because it’s a hiding-away of your own ineptitude.

“You’re going to put the blame on immigrants, Black and brown people, trans people, queer people, to hide the fact that you are not doing anything for people? It’s easier to just create discord amongst people. It’s divide and conquer, isn’t it?”


Image: BBC

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