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Doctor Who: Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker Was An LGBTQ Pioneer

Doctor Who is a show that often pioneered representation ahead of its time, and Jodie Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor was an LGBTQ champion.

Jodie Whittaker's run on Doctor Who might be the most underrated because she was a perfectly good Doctor hampered by some unimpressive stories. But she was also the most overtly LGBTQ of all the Doctors, and in ways nobody has talked about. The Thirteenth Doctor was nonbinary Ace, or "asexual," the most underrepresented and misunderstood of the LGBTQ community.

Doctor Who: Flux Clips Video Shows How the Doctor and Yaz were Wasted
Image credit: BBC

.Showrunner Chris Chibnall was the first to say the Thirteenth Doctor was nonbinary on the Saturday of her debut in the new season of Doctor Who. Much as detractors might complain about the flaws in Chibnall's run (including us), there were many things he got right, namely in the diversity of representation he encouraged both behind and in front of the camera and in the characters on the show. It was no accident that Whittaker's Doctor had a rainbow on all her T-shirts. LGBTQ fans hoped Chibnall would push the character further towards a romance with companion Yaz (Mandip Gil). #Thazmin stans posted memes and fan art, and it was Whittaker who took the idea to Chibnall and encouraged him to write it into the show. That was how the romance subplot came about and finally gave Mandip Gil an arc to play on the show.

But the Doctor and Yaz never kissed even after they admitted their feelings for each other. That disappointed many fans, but in hindsight, it made sense, as the Doctor was asexual. Where the previous showrunners were happy to play up Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi as sexy and sexual characters, Jodie Whittaker had been playing her as Ace all along, ever since her first season before the romance began. Asexuality means having no sexual desire at all but does not preclude feeling love. Whittaker has played a gay woman before in The Night Watch, a BBC adaptation of Sarah Waters' World War II novel, so it wasn't like she was unwilling to go there. We don't know the reasoning behind the decision to make her Doctor Ace, but Whittaker played the role with total naturalness throughout her entire run. This made her the first official Ace lead of a popular TV show anywhere, a representative of a frequently ignored community. We're surprised the LGBTQ press like Diva or the Gay Times never write more about this, given that Doctor Who has had a long and large following amongst the LGBTQ community. The Thirteenth Doctor had her asexual romance with Yaz and then a bittersweet ending where they parted with the Doctor's "death" or regeneration. The Ace Doctor is the only one whose time ended with a love story. She's probably going to stay the most underrated Doctor of the modern era.

Information and resources for the Ace community can be found here and here.

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Adi TantimedhAbout Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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