Princesses were never high on the list of lesbian cult figures until Xena hit the small screen. But Xena is not your average princess. A warrior who outwits gods, out-fights men and sends vicious dogs away whimpering with the wave of a hand, Xena exhibits a serious liking for studded leather and, on her continuous travels, is accompanied only by a strawberry blonde named Gabrielle.

The close relationship between Xena and Gabrielle (who jilted her betrothed and fled her village in pursuit of life with Xena), and the adventurous life they lead, fuel lesbian interest in the show.  Episodes dedicated to the struggles of the Amazons and their secret women’s rites don’t hurt either. The show’s writers, strangely drawn to Sapphic suggestion, are entirely responsible for the burgeoning sub-genre, Xenerotica, where many  seek to “flesh out” the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle.

Both Lucy Lawless (Xena) and Renee O’Connor (Gabrielle) seem unfazed by their legion of lesbian fans. Lawless, a one-time lesbian truck driver in the short film Peach, has appeared at a monthly Xena night at a New York lesbian bar. Unfortunately, she missed her plane to 1999 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, where she had intended to lead the one hundred or so Xenas for part of the parade.

Luckily for the legions of lesbian fans, Xena is heavily merchandised; the show has spawned t-shirts, magazines, action figures, novels and global conventions. And the lesbian Xena fan never has to go too far to find another.

Brought to you by the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Posted in History Bites.