Jadzia Dax & Lenara Kahn Kiss in Rejoined
This is a very significant moment in Trek history. And I think many in the Trek fandom who are below a certain age may not realize how significant this was.
At the time DS9 was airing, I worked for a manager who is gay. And his manager at the time is gay. I had a number of gay coworkers and a lesbian coworker. And this is in the SF Bay Area which is the most liberal area of the most liberal state in the US. Some of my coworkers were very open about their sexual orientation while others were extremely discrete about it because there was still rampant homophobia. I don’t think people realize just how much attitudes have changed in the last 10 years. During the 2008 general election, a gay marriage initiative was defeated in California. And this wasn’t because of a conservative turnout. This was because a significant percentage of liberals voted against it (which still boggles my mind).
I know many in the Trek fandom wish TNG, DS9, and Voyager had done a better job with representation. But keep in mind that the distribution mechanism for TV back then meant a reliance upon local stations broadcasting your program. If some of my coworkers felt they couldn’t be open about themselves in the SF Bay Area, think about what it must have been like in other parts of the country. In the 80s and 90s, it didn’t take a significant percentage of people to get a program taken off the air.
So given public attitudes at the time it aired, Rejoined was very significant.
I remember being in a class at UMass Amherst – something GLBT- and feminist-related – at the time Ellen DeGeneres come out on Ellen and the professor basically stopped class to discuss it. Our prof was an out lesbian and had remarked several times previously how since Ellen was an lesbian, her character should be too and what were producers waiting on? And then it happened and the prof was soooooo happy. Nowadays, gay character on a show isn’t a big deal except to right-wing, homophobe, Focus on the Family types.