As a queer person of color, I can say firsthand that it’s rare my existence is acknowledged in the media, much less portrayed with any modicum of respect.
This is one of the many reasons that I’ve taken it upon myself to pass a personal edict that with the exception of an elite few works, I only consume media that has PoCs and LGBTQs as the central and lead characters. If it doesn’t, I’m generally not interested.
I recently rewatched a miniseries that featured one of my favorite gay pairings: Barca and Auctus from Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.
Overall Spartacus wasn’t perfect, but more often than not, it made some progressive moves surprisingly on the feminist, racial, and LGBTQ fronts.
Which brings me to another point. Pro-tip: if a story set in Ancient Rome is more progressive and diverse than your 21st century narrative, that should be a clue for you to examine your failures as an artist and a person.
With Gods of the Arena being a prequel to Blood and Sand, I knew Barca and Auctus’s fates were sealed by your Bury The Gay trope. Nevertheless they were a groundbreaking gay pairing to watch.
Most gay couples in media are confined to heteronormative tropes: the dominant masculine alpha and the uber effeminate beta. I.E. he’s the “man” in the relationship and the he’s the “woman” in the relationship. Because obviously that’s the only kind of relationship queer people can have, obviously.
It should also be noted that said heteronormative tripe can also be found in female pairings as well which is why Willow and Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and for that matter Emily and Maya from Pretty Little Liars were very progressive shows in this regard.
Barca and Auctus broke so many tropes and proved to be a rare gem.
1.) This was an interracial relationship. That right there is still groundbreaking because most people can’t wrap their heads around the facts that LGBTQs can ALSO be PoCs.
2.) You had two dominant alpha males who happened to be gay and happened to be in love.
3.) Both men were members of a brotherhood where they were both highly respected peers.
4.) Both men were open about their relationship and it was a non-factor. It also didn’t hurt that both men could easily eviscerate anyone who had a problem with their relationship.
5.) There was no manufactured angst between the two. They were in love but laughed and had fun and was a much more realistic portrayal of queer male pairings than anything you find in m/m or slash. One more reason why queer men should be able to tell our own stories.
6.) Two excellent likable characters who had great backstories and characterizations.
7.) Both men are fine as hell. Hello Mr. Barca, and Auctus… *fans self.* I ask you, is it hot in here or is it just them?
While neither character had long for this world, I enjoyed watching them both… particularly Auctus. I was happy to see that MSMs like me were FINALLY done right. Here’s hoping lightning strikes twice one day and someone else gives us a great another pairing like Auctus and Barca.
RIP Auctus and Barca and thank you.