Tampering with Sexuality in 1996
I can only give props to Voyager for the themes it took on in the episode “Warlord.” The basic plot synopsis is that Kes is taken over by the mind of an individual who has just died. This individual was a man and a military leader of his people. Most of the episode was unremarkable except for the 45 second(ish) bit where they tackled sexuality. Kes was now inhabited by the mind of a man who was in a relationship with a woman. In an attempt to assure the woman that the man (but now Kes) still loved her, Kes went in for a kiss. *Gasp!
Of course, some random alien had to walk in and interrupt the kiss before it began, but this was at the height of the TV Subtext Era (as I lovingly refer to it)…it was to be expected. For an air date of 1996, I would say this is darn progressive. To put it in perspective, around the same time we have Xena and Gabrielle exploring similar issues in “A Day in the Life.” Buffy and the Willow/Tara relationship is still a gleam in Joss Whedon’s eye, Will and Grace doesn’t start for another 2 years, and Queer as Folk doesn’t hit until 2000. There were very few TV shows dealing with these topics in 1996. Again, I say “props to Voyager.”
If you think about it though, it only makes sense. In fact, I think if a new series were to spin off today that there would be even more gender/sexuality boundary pushing. Why? These are aliens people! If a Klingon and a human can get married why not two people of the same species. I can just hear the Star Trek mothers of the future chatting about this over coffee, “Why can’t my son just date a nice human? I mean Vulcan’s are logical and all, but I always thought we would have the wedding here on Earth.”