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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who thing of the day: is the Doctor gay, straight, bi, or what?

Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston John Barrowman

Jef With One F examines the question of the Doctor’s sexuality — with regards to the modern Doctors only — at the Houston Press blog Art Attack. A taste:

[The Ninth Doctor] was also the most overtly bisexual of the modern three. He was obviously flattered immensely by the immediate attention he received from Captain Jack, and he flirted much more openly with him than he ever did with Rose. He doesn’t react with jealousy toward Jack when he works his charms on Rose who reciprocates to the point of dazed infatuation. Instead, he stakes his claim to either of them should he see fit.

I would even go so far as to say that Nine was much more comfortable with Jack in a sexual sense than he seemed to be with Rose. Though he thought nothing of casually touching Rose, there was usually more heat when he interacted with Jack.

Check out the whole thing here. Then come back and discuss: How should we qualify the Doctor’s sexuality? What kind of impact does it have on the show, and on fans’ reactions to the show?

(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)



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  • Ryan Gross

    Most fans, and probably some of the writers too, try and stay away from the idea of the Doctor having any kind of sexuality. To them, the Doctor is a bit like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory – only interested in the mind. And, personally I do think he sees romance as a distraction. But, he has been a father, and grandfather. So, unless it was through artificial means or that loom crap from the novels, we can assume he has had sex. I think he’s a bit like Jack, in that he’s probably pansexual, given that he did flirt with a tree. But I think he liked to keep it traditional, in an Earth sense, and likes the attention of women.

  • RogerBW

     I’m in much the same camp: I feel that a sex life for the Doctor is an irrelevance to the sorts of story the show is good at. (And if it’s not mentioned, fans can make up whatever they like – I know people who, growing up gay in the 1980s, regarded him as a gay icon simply because he wasn’t showing sexual interest in women. Nothing wrong with that, it seems to me.)

    (Insert here all the usual stuff about why, if Time Lords have no common ancestry with humans, they should look human and/or be attracted to creatures that look human.)

  • Jurgan

    Wouldn’t it make sense that the doctor’s sexuality would change with regenerations?  Perhaps the tenth was straight but the ninth was bi leaning gay (though I believe Eccleston said he liked him and Rose as a couple).  And the first doctor may have been a more traditionally sexual being interested in families, although I know your long-standing head-canon is that his grand-daughter was adopted.  Then again, there is his childhood “friendship” with the Master to take into account… I don’t know, I’ve never seen old Who, but I’m learning.

  • RogerBW

    That depends on how important you think sexuality is as a personality trait, I suspect; the ephemera of personality have changed with regeneration, but the key elements mostly seem not to have.

  • Jurgan

    Most science of sexuality today, as far as I’m aware, suggests large parts of sexuality are inborn and biologically determined.  If it’s a physical characteristic, and every cell in his body changes, then he could easily be coded differently in a new incarnation.  This gets back to the old question of: Is the Doctor really the same person as before when he regenerates?  The tenth Doctor said regenerating felt like dying and being replaced by a new person.  It’s a great question for sci-fi, one with no simple answer.

  • Killara29

    The Dr is beyond sexuality – he has had (and been had) all over the galaxy in ways we puny humans can’t even imagine –  we don’t even know what we don’t know….   He is post sexual, his mind and body are a constant orgasm anyway….

  • Martin

    To quote the other great time travelling Doctor, Dr Sam Beckett; does it really matter?

  • It’s also a great question for a sci-fi that deals with sex and sexuality. If you fell in love with the Doctor, and he with you, would that attraction endure after a regeneration, on either side, or on both sides? This is something I wanted to deal with in my fan fiction (which I would love to be able to get back to, particularly since I was in the middle of a story that was dealing, in part, with this!).

  • That’s one of the issues that Deep Space Nine brought up on occasion with the Trill. The symbiotes lived far longer than the hosts, and it was a powerful cultural taboo for a symbiote to continue a romance after the host was dead. 

    Honestly, I think that’s the ONLY time homosexuality was brought up in Star Trek, and that was “incidental” to the issue of two aliens now hosted by women still in love with each other despite the taboo.

  • Having read the article, I’m not entirely sure I agree with the premise about Nine having more heat with Jack than Rose. 

    My read is more that Nine tends to be flirty without regard to gender, but probably incapable of having an actual sexual relationship. I think he flirts with Jack partly because of jealousy with Rose’s early flirtations, and the glee at once again knocking Rose out of her comfort zone, which he seems to love doing in general. I think there’s also a level of mutual professional respect there which he doesn’t necessarily have with Rose. She’s an outsider to his world, Jack’s more like a senior apprentice. 

  • A species that long-lived would probably have sexual thoughts in general very infrequently and have a strong tendency towards monogamy.

    Also, having the Doctor fall in love with all his companions ruins the appeal the old series had for the homogays.

    grump grump grump

  • bronxbee

    i find it amusing that whenever this subject  omes up among DW fans

    it’s always the men who say the Doctor’s sexuality doesn’t
    matter or is irrelevant… and it’s usually the women (who probably write secret
    steamy fan fic) who speculate on the subject. 

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    A species that long-lived would probably have sexual thoughts in general very infrequently and have a strong tendency towards monogamy.

    Why?

  • Killara29

     The Dr likes to be top dog!

  • Rob

    Yeah, I would think the exact opposite for a long-lived species, particularly regarding monogamy. As for the first part, I don’t see why that should have anything to do with level of sexual interest or activity.

  • madderrose74

     Time Lords are genetically engineered beings, yes? My personal fanwank is that all those millenia of code-tinkering have left them unable to create offspring without the loom, and they long ago would have farmed out the actual incubation process to machines. (I mean, we humans are working on the same ideas, aren’t we?) The regeneneration process rewrites their DNA every time, though, and after a few wonky uncontrolled reboots, DNA still seeks to fulfill its purpose; reproduction. And as any lovelorn moose will tell you, if you’re fresh out of acceptable mates, that pesky old reproductive drive still exists. Hence anything remotely moose (or Time-Lord) shaped, becomes fair game.

  • Longer-lived species are at least a little monogamous, usually. Someone needs to raise the young. 

    Even if they weren’t that monogamous, you live for hundreds and hundreds of years and a relationship that lasts only a decade or two probably seems like a fling rather than a serious commitment. So they’d seem monogamous to us.

    Sexual thoughts very infrequently: you can’t have a species that lives long AND reproduces a lot, they’d consume a lot of resources and there would probably be a famine of some sort.

    Imagine if you found a species that looks exactly like humans, but once you got in a romantic relationship with one they’d get sick of you after a month and then died of old age by the end of the year. Personally, I wouldn’t bother.

  • LaSargenta

     That assumes that sexuality is always tied to reproduction.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Longer-lived species are at least a little monogamous, usually.

    What do you base that on?

    So they’d seem monogamous to us.

    Seems like there’d be a lot of daylight between seeming monogamous and being monogamous.

     you can’t have a species that lives long AND reproduces a lot, they’d consume a lot of resources

    I can get behind this. However, at some point, wouldn’t an intelligent species solve the over-reproduction problem?

  • It usually is.

    My point is, the Doctor should not be having enough relationships with humans that this is even a thing we’re talking about.

  • LaSargenta

    If sexuality in humans were exclusively tied to reproduction women would only be horny when ovulating and men would only respond to them being in heat.

    And, it is possible to have sex with people without having a “relationship” beyond the sexual one. I don’t see these things as proofs that there “should not” be carnal knowledge between the Doctor and humans, or trees, cats, or Time Agents.

  • We don’t know whether or not they are genetically engineered, nor even what that might mean for them. The Looms, moreover, are a story told about them; it may or may not be true (it has been explicitly contradicted by other stories told about them).

  • rachael

    all timelords are bi because there lover may regenerate into a different gender, and sorry but nine was attracted to rose but also to jack

  • rachael

    if anything 10 was the campist, when he was in that ageing thing with matha he complemented her shoes and when donna says “typical all the handsome men are always batting for the other team” the doctor replies “or timelord” and lastly more than once he has said to male companions “you can kiss me later”

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