Gay for Gallifrey – Why do the LGBT Community Adore Doctor Who?

Doctor Who is the longest running sci-fi TV series in history. Now having been on our screens for over 57 years, Doctor Who has received a swell of support from the LGBT community, as well as backlash from more conservative audiences. Why has a TV show, once made for children, become such a controversial piece of television?

By Andrew Cook

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey was the favourite Doctor Who phrase among our group of Whovians at school. Ironically that phrase also described how straight we all were, but it did raise a question – why did our LGBT generation so adore the series?

We’re not saying that Doctor Who actively encouraged our evolving sexualities, but it definitely moved with our generation’s views. As the LGBT community received greater freedom, recognition and public acceptance, Doctor Who matched it step for step..

With the show now including pretty much every aspect of the LGBT movement and then some, it could well be argued that Doctor Who has actually outperformed the movement itself.

The key lies in an incredibly clever, absolutely flawless execution of TV presentation.

Dr Who LGBTThe Beginning

Yes, to go back to the beginning of Doctor Who would take a bit of a trip back in time, but sadly our TARDIS is in for repairs. However apt it would be for the show, many will agree that the LGBT agenda  of the show began with Captain Jack Harkness.

When John Barrowman, the openly gay Scottish-American actor, made an appearance on the show as the smouldering pansexual Captain Jack Harkness, everything was permitted. John Barrowman’s love interests crossed genders, and even species, shocking the more conservative audiences while he kissed both Rose and the Doctor in the same episode. Director Russel T. Davies admitted explicitly making Doctor Who more LGBT friendly, stating that sexuality is fluid. After all, as humanity evolves – so too do our definitions and ideas of sexuality itself.

With onscreen kisses, and even more suggested offscreen, the BBC would face backlash and complaints for years. Promoting the gay agenda on a TV series was apparently unacceptable to some people, as if they couldn’t understand a love story unless it was heteronormative.

Perhaps these complainers require a TARDIS to go back to when homosexuality didn’t exist. Or at least, to when it was hushed up and shoved under the carpet so as to not disturb their delicate persuasions.

Nevertheless, the Doctor Who series armed itself with sonic screwdrivers aplenty, and continued its fantastic storytelling, not just through space and time, but gender, species, sexuality and race as well.

To date we have had omnisexuals, bisexuals, gays, lesbians, transexuals, inter-species kisses, and inter-cultural romances. Too many in fact, to list down in one place. But the cleverest, and most heart-warming part of Doctor Who isn’t simply the fact that inclusivity has been portrayed, but how they portrayed it.

Blatant, yet not shouting.

Refusing to shy away from the LGBT romances and relationships was a brave thing for Doctor Who to do. However, if you can normalise a constant character appearing as different actors for over 5 decades, you can normalise anything. The messages in Doctor Who consistently cover love, honour, and the inclusion of differences. After all a time-travelling, two-hearted alien capable of regeneration for hundreds of years can still care for frail short-lived humans. How could anyone be judged for one human loving another?

In stark contrast, the enemies of the Doctor include the dreaded Cybermen and Daleks. Loveless races, intent on destroying or assimilating all other life in the universe, until only their beliefs and races exist.

Hmmm, no tolerance for anything different than themselves? That sounds familiar. Perhaps the metaphor rang sharply for our generation. A story that spans the universe, where love triumphs over hate and ignorance.

Therefore, whenever love and connection appear on screen, it’s accepted. Perhaps with the occasional jibe, or reference, but nothing is unacceptable. The running message is that we’re all individuals capable of love. Regardless of race, species, or gender, Doctor Who continues to encourage the concept of anything goes, just dont hurt anyone.

A Galifreyan who protects a myriad of different races from destruction can hardly afford to be picky about their life choices after all. In 2011, we saw a companion named Oliver Harper who was terrified to come out before the Doctor, due to homosexuality being illegal in 1960’s America. The Doctor reassured Oliver that this persecution was societys crime, not Oliver’s.

DR Who gay fansThe Doctor 

The Doctor also has a history of non-heteronormative sexuality after all. The sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, agreed with a popular fan theory that the Doctor was asexual/aromantic. Love is a human emotion, the Doctor isnt human’. While not sufficient to be accurately described as alien as asexuality and aromanticism do exist within humans, this is possibly the first, albeit perhaps unintentional, example of behaviour within Doctor Who that didn not fit into heteronormative examples.

Perhaps the classiest way to present the LGBT community as ‘normative’, has been Doctor Who’s understated method of promoting theories. With many characters rarely being made outright gay or straight, theories and conversations are promoted among fans. The Doctor’s asexuality was only ever theorised, and was never made canon. Since then we have seen him fall in love with Melody Pond, aka Professor River Song, and be both biological mother and father to Jenny, via non-standard means.

Finally, we have seen Jodie Whittaker play the Doctor as a woman in the latest reincarnation of the family favourite. While it has alienated many long-time fans (check dictionary definition for snowflakes) the female incarnation of the Doctor has brought in a vast swathe of brand new viewers who are now finding the show more relatable.

With brand new viewers watching the show, be it from the queer community, or simply from female fans who are relating to it now more than ever, the show is going from strength to strength with its message of inclusion and love.

The Future (Or past, depending upon when you are!)

More recently John Barrowman has spread gossip by suggesting that the next iteration of the Doctor could be gay or even bisexual. Something many would surely see as a travesty, but if we can believe in a time-travelling alien with two hearts who can travel through space and time, a same-sex attraction should not be a shock.

After all, there are far worse things in this world. If you can stomach fishfingers and custard, you should be able to handle two people in love.

We are Over the Hump! Issue 36

We are officially ‘Over the Hump’! It is Wednesday, and the downhill slope to the weekend starts here!

Our highlights from across where-i-live.com this week include :

 

  • Genealogy. The study of our family history, our heritage, and who we are – at least for those on the former side of the nature/nurture argument. In the US, it has become the second most popular hobby, as well as being an international craze. Are there any free and easy ways to find out your family’s history? Read more here.
  • Which planet is known as the red planet? Mars is the next step for mankind in the solar system and has been a source of fear and fascination for mankind. But science is now beginning to unravel the red planet’s mysteries. Discover more here.
  • The Statue of Liberty is possibly the most famous landmark in the entire world and is a huge tourist attraction for people all around the world. The figure of a woman wearing a crown and holding a flaming torch is symbolic of America. However, not many people know the history of woman who posed for this world famous statue and how she has influenced many around the globe. There may not be one definitive answer but there are certainly some interesting theories. Find out more here.
  • For 11 long years, weekends did not exist in the Soviet Union. Like today’s dystopian novels, manufacturing ran, machines processed, and labour continued non-stop in order to create an industrial powerhouse. But what was the secret design behind this idea? Find out here.
  • You can follow Over The Hump on Twitter at @Over_theHump

 

 

  • Scotland offers up some fantastic scenery by day. But for a growing number of tourists, it’s the spectacular views by night that are attracting them to remote ‘dark sky’ parks. Discover more here.
  • Is Geotagging on Instagram causing long-lasting environmental to natural beauty spots? Many would say ‘yes’, and some tourist boards are even going as far as to running campaigns on social media to discourage tagging. Read our article here.
  • Frozen in real life and are trying to get all the senses of Arendelle. Surprisingly, there are quite a few options available to make you feel like you are in the magical land of Frozen. Find out more here.
  • Going to a restaurant is a pleasant experience and one that many people enjoy as a group but why do so many people struggle with going to a restaurant on their own? Read our article here.
  • You can follow Compass on Twitter @WIL_Compass

Reach for the stars – The growth of dark sky tourism in Scotland

Scotland offers up some fantastic scenery by day. But for a growing number of tourists, it’s the spectacular views by night that are attracting them to remote ‘dark sky’ parks.

By Sam Roberts

Where best in Scotland can you go to see clear night skies?

If you said that Scotland has long and dark winter nights, it would be a colossal understatement. The sunsets are early, and the sunrises are late – it makes for short winter days.

However, the long nights offer incredible stargazing opportunities!

Scotland, especially in the Highlands, has minimal light pollution. And in certain parts of the country, you will struggle to find a better stargazing spot globally. Furthermore, you can sometimes catch a glimpse of the Northern lights or the Milky Way.

I have been fortunate enough to see the stars in some of the worlds most fabulous stargazing locations, including the Egyptian Desert, India’s Thar Desert, the Australian bush, and the desolate jungles of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

There isn’t anything more inspiring, eye-opening, and deeply humbling than seeing the stars and realising how irrelevant we are!

Dark Sky Tourism Scotland
Night sky above Loch Linnhe in Argyll

So where are the best spots in Scotland to marvel at the universe at night?

The Best Spots to See the Stars in Scotland 

Torridon 

Torridon is the most notorious spot for clear night skies in Scotland. Visitors love the tranquil surroundings underneath dramatic mountains in the Northwest Scottish Highlands. Tourists also visit here for climbing, hiking, photography spots, and majestic wildlife.

Luskentyre Sands

The Luskentyre Sands Beach looks like it could be in the Caribbean. Not only is it miles of stunning white sands, idyllic blue seas, and one of TripAdvisor’s best beaches. But it remains an excellent spot to see the stars during the night.

Tomintoul and the Glenlivet Estate

Tomintoul and the Glenlivet Estate is one of Scotland’s hidden gems. The area will bless you with rugged scenery, hiking spots, and the potential to see the Northern Lights at night. You can find the location in the east of Cairngorms National Park.

The Galloway Forest Park and the Scottish Dark Observatory

The Galloway Forest Park received dark sky status in 2009, making it the UK’s first location to receive that accolade. And the local government built the Scottish Dark Observatory in 2012. You can explore the area by yourself and even find a wild-camping location nearby.

Assynt

Assynt is home to the Glencanisp Estate, an official dark sky discovery site. But the spot is in the far north of the Scottish Highlands, so it will take a dedicated individual to head here. The sky’s views will reward you because it is hard to find clearer skies in Britain.

Dark Sky Tourrism ScotlandWhat makes these locations growth areas in activity holidays?

Activity holidays have grown in popularity in the last decade. And the main activities people want are hiking, walking, and cycling.

It is challenging to find a better location globally than Scotland for activity holidays.

One of Scotland’s most significant benefits is the legality to go wild camping. Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland allows you to pitch up a tent wherever you want as long as you respect the environment.

You can go cycling, mountain climbing, and hiking through endless valleys in Scotland. Spots like Torridon offer infinite adventure.

I visited Queenstown, New Zealand in January 2020, and the sheer array of adventurous opportunities blew me away.

You could hike huge mountains, bungee jump off tall bridges, and go mountain biking. New Zealand is an eclectic mixture of adventure and a nation everyone should visit once.

Moreover, countries like Norway, Switzerland, and Greece are excellent European activity holiday locations.

But Scotland remains an incredible world-leading spot for activity holidays for all the above reasons.

Where should beginners go?

If it is the first time that you’ve decided to go stargazing? You might enjoy heading somewhere that offers a guided tour and night viewing packages.

I’m not someone who always enjoys a guided tour.

Quite frankly, I love the freedom of doing my thing without waiting for others. But when it comes to looking at the stars, what do I know?

I’m not an astrologer, and I could not tell the difference between Jupiter or Planet Zog, which is a made-up planet, by the way.

So if I’m going to benefit from a night of stargazing – like most people – I’m better off having a guide to explain what I’m seeing. At least until I learn more about astrology, and coming to think of it, writing this article has inspired me to do so!

Let’s look at some excellent beginner night viewing packages.

Liathach Mountain by Loch Torridon
Liathach Mountain by Loch Torridon

The Torridon Hotel

The Torridon Hotel is one of the world’s best hotels for stargazing. Situated in an area classed as Bortle 1 or 2, it is one of the world’s darkest places for seeing the stars.

You will enjoy a three-course seasonal menu with astronomer Stephen Mackintosh. You’ll then receive a presentation on the stars, skies, and what you’ll encounter on the excursion.

The tour will provide you with full equipment, and it is available from September to March.

Scottish Dark Sky Observatory

Suppose you’re like me and need to brush up on your astronomy knowledge, visit the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory. The observatory offers pre-booked visits, and if you’re a club, school, or society, you can book an event here.

There are two massive telescopes, including a 20’ Planewave CDK telescope in a 5-metre dome.

Many pre-booked events have guest speakers from world-leading astronomers that will guide you throughout your experience.

Dark Sky Tourism Scotland
Under the night sky in Galloway

Galloway Forest Park

Galloway Forest Park is the largest park in Scotland. There are only 4 ‘Dark Sky Parks’ in Europe, and Galloway Forest Park is one of them.

On a clear night, visitors can see up to 7000 stars – perfect for anyone looking to appreciate the mind-blowing vastness of the universe.

There are four dark sky rangers offering tailor-made experiences and packages to visitors to guide you through an incredible stargazing experience.

Conclusion

Scotland is one of the worlds most desirable countries for stargazing. I believe the best way to see the stars is by wild-camping in a remote spot.

I advise you to pitch up your tent, camp out for the night, and be careful with the environment.

It remains frustratingly challenging to find wild-camping spots in Europe.

But Scotland allows you to do it. And why wouldn’t you take advantage of seeing the incredible night skies?