Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Gay men belong

By Tracy Mallette

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series ran from 1997 to 2003, and picks up again in comic book form in 2007. It continues to this day, and is currently on Season 9.

Before I go any further, let’s get one thing out of the way right now – yes, I’m a huge nerd.

OK, back on topic.

With the beautifully portrayed relationship between Willow and Tara, it’s no surprise that the show is popular with the LGBT community. The Logo TV station has been airing reruns since 2010.

What (pleasantly) surprised me was the blatant inclusion of gay men in Season 9 #14 and #15 with the introduction of Billy the Vampire Slayer.

Billy is a young man struggling with the same issues as Buffy: bullies, belonging and boys. Oh, yeah – and vampires (or zompires, in Billy’s case).

OK, let’s back up; men getting slayer powers?! Joss Whedon created Buffy to showcase the power of women.

Because the creators also realized this concern, Billy doesn’t get slayer powers.

Billy learns to fight back without special powers, which is an awesome lesson for all of us. He uses guts, exercise, love and justice as motivators.

With the help of his crush-turned-Watcher, he joins the battle as a slayer sans mystical invite. You don’t need to be born into something to join in – you can work hard and make it on your own (with the occasional help of a few close friends, of course).

In this OUT magazine article, co-collaborator on the project Jane Espenson explains, “Batman doesn’t have super powers. He wasn’t gifted with an exotic foreign birth. So we take the Batman route; Billy is earning the Slayer mantle.”

Obviously, the show didn’t exclude gay fans, and even embraced the gay lifestyle, so you might wonder why the creators needed to speak directly to gay men in this way.

In a serendipitous moment, I happened to catch Chasing Amy on TV, which I hadn’t seen in years.

In the film, there’s a discussion between protagonist Holden and his gay friend Hooper, which explains it perfectly. Hooper says:

I gotta deal with being the minority in the minority of the minority, and nobody’s supporting my ass. While the whole of society is fawning over girls-on-girls, here I sit – a reviled gay man ….

This monologue highlights the exceptional struggle for societal acceptance faced by gay men.

One reason BtVS is so popular among the gay community is the show’s “uprising of the outcast” theme.

This whole time, the series has never addressed gay men directly. With its reputation for inclusion, openly accepting lesbians, Wiccans, nerds – and even demons for crying out loud – it’s about time!

Well, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is done dancing around the issue and proudly announces: Gay men – you belong.

I’ve always loved the Buffy series and this makes me love it even more.

How do you feel about Billy the Vampire Slayer? (Respectful comments only)

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