Watch S.N.L. Address Wonder Woman’s “Super Gay” Legacy
During a surprisingly charming “Weekend Update” segment about grappling with his recently-diagnosed borderline personality disorder, S.N.L. cast member Pete Davidson joked that he should be allowed to be in more sketches where he gets to kiss the host (a.k.a. Gal Gadot). It was a classic, old-school frat boy S.N.L. joke that paid off beautifully several sketches later when it was Kate McKinnon, not Davidson, smooching Gadot in a sketch that cleverly addressed the gay subtext of Wonder Woman.
McKinnon herself is not stranger to gay subtext in major blockbuster films. The first out lesbian cast member on S.N.L., McKinnon became a bonafide gay icon last summer when her Ghostbusters character Jillian Holtzmann stirred up hope among the queer community that we might see an openly lesbian character in a big-budget studio blockbuster. But while Ghosbusters director Paul Feig would not confirm or deny Holtzmann’s sexuality, any gayness there would have to be buried in subtext.
You’d have to dig even deeper to find the gay subtext of this summer’s Wonder Woman. The film, with its island full of well-muscled female warriors, was a massive hit among queer and lesbian pop culture commenters, but once again any LGBT storylines were reserved to subtle gestures between Robin Wright Penn’s Antiope and her right-hand woman Menalippe (Lisa Loven Kongsli).
In an article titled “LGBT Superheroes: Why ‘Wonder Woman’ Could Never Have Been The Lesbian Avenger We Still Need,” Indiewire’s Jude Dry wrote: “While the brass bodices and leather gladiator skirts suggest a high-fashion update on Lucy Lawless’ Xena, what’s missing from this feminist utopia is one lick of Sapphic subtext.”
That’s why this particular sketch was more than just an excuse to have an attractive host like Gadot kiss a member of the S.N.L. cast. Aidy Bryant’s lesbian character wryly observes of the ostensibly straight Themyscira: “This is a huge let down for us.” McKinnon concludes: “Once again because the whole thing seems super gay.” In other words, this is a cute, funny sketch but it works all the better for addressing some genuine frustration among LGBT film lovers.