Queering the air: The highs and lows of LGBTQ characters on TV - features Xena (of course because there wouldn't be a list featuring lesbian characters without our dynamic duo (yes yes they weren't OFFICIALLY a lesbian couple but now it is official and all although Xena was bisexual - you know that whole bad boy thang she had going for a while.
We won't talk about Gabrielle's dalliance with Ioalus (now that was awkward), that short lived whateveritwas thing she had with the bard in the Academy and then of course...who can forget Perdicus (we would like to). Dear ol' Perdi. Long story short...Xena and Gabrielle were lovers. End of debate.
Here's the blurb the Spin Off had about our girls
A few years later another television show would give rise to a queer icon in the form of Xena, played by Kiwi actor Lucy Lawless. It was queer shipping before shipping was a thing: with fans taking the relationship between kick-ass warrior babe Xena and her dutiful (and beautiful) lady companion Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) and running with it.
As Lawless recalls on the new RNZ podcast Pop! Culture: “Renee and I were standing on the side of set and Rob, who’s now my husband, the executive producer, brought in a fax… of a Village Voice article which was talking about these two queer women kicking ass on TV. And we were really amused because it’d never occurred to us’!”
Lawless has since gone on the record saying that Xena was “definitely” gay, but back in the 90s if queer representation existed at all, it was almost entirely sub-textural.
“The line in the first episode of Xena [that resonated] was Gabrielle saying “I’m not the little girl that my parents wanted me to be”, and I just thought, ‘Oh well that’s normal teenage angst’… But all the gay girls out there knew! The message was clear to them,” says Lawless.
Hungry for stories they could relate to, queer audiences got good at scanning media for clues – and media makers got better at planting them. Famously, car manufacturer Subaru targeted the lesbians who loved to buy their cars by placing a car in an ad with the number plate “XENA LVR”.