Why Bill Potts is the lesbian character I've been waiting for
Josie Le Vay on what Dr Who's new queer sidekick means to her
“Doctor Who gets first openly gay companion” - that was the breaking news that came through on my phone. I shared it on Twitter, but that was where my excitement ended.
It wasn’t until I saw Bill on screen that I realised how significant the move was, and with it, how important representation is as a whole. I’m not talking about the BBC hitting its diversity quotas here, but how important it is to see someone like me on screen, on the show I grew up with.
Bill’s sexuality was revealed as soon as she appeared on the show, as she told The Doctor about a girl she serves extra chips to in the university’s canteen. It was at that moment that I realised Bill is the character I always needed and had always pined for.
I would go to ridiculous lengths to make the show relatable, and by that I mean gay. It was perfectly normal for me to look up Jenna Coleman’s back catalogue on IMDB to discover she had once played a queer character on Emmerdale. And then to watch the whole thing back-to-back regardless of how shit the storyline was. I’d read fanfiction and watch the brief scenes or lines which hinted any ounce of bisexuality in Clara’s character.
It seemed as if Doctor Who would always do enough to keep the LGBT+ audience engaged, but never make one of the two lead characters queer. You’d have Captain Jack, River Song, even the married couple Vastra and Jenny. There was enough there, but not so little that you could complain about it.
Now that there’s a gay companion, it’s almost like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I don’t need to search niche parts of the internet now. The representation is just there. In a show I grew up watching, not one I went to because it has a lesbian in it.
It’s delightful to see yourself represented, especially when it’s done so well. There’s no insecurity with Bill, no questioning, no clichés. She’s a burst of energy, she’s sweet and not afraid to ask questions. She serves chips for a living yet seems to have a brilliant mind for astrophysics. And she’s gay. And it’s not a big deal.
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