Oh, have I ever been excited to write this post. For the purposes of this post which I am excited to write, let it be known that I am only familiar with the events and companions of the 2005 series and the first season of Hartnell’s Doctor. Also, I’m looking specifically at the person of the Doctor and how he behaves and what is in character for him, and not at the meta societal influences that have shaped the casting, writing, and acting choices made in the show.
The Time Lord we know and love is a tricky character, because we actually know next to nothing about him. We don’t know his real name, or if he even has one (although this season might change that?); we don’t know how Time Lords reproduce, or if they get married or have similar social norms. And since sexuality is tied up in gender, you have to factor in that it’s been introduced in canon that Time Lord regeneration is not restricted to one gender, and so therefore it’s difficult to put a label on that as well.
So given that we have only circumstantial evidence to go on, where do we go from here?
First, let’s start with the Time Lords in general. They do appear to have family units, at least in that there are certain other people in Time Lord society to whom they refer using family names (Grandfather, etc.); there appear to be genetic similarities (at least behaviorally) along familial lines. If the woman in ‘The End of Time’ was actually the Doctor’s mother, then you can see where he gets his pacifistic je ne sais quoi. And the same goes for Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter. She has the same intelligence and spunk and bullheaded stubbornness as her grandfather.
Moving from this, I think it’s certainly fair to say that the Doctor is attracted to women. Unless Time Lords reproduce via budding, (and the Doctor’s disgust with the cloning process on the colony planet in ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’ suggests that they don’t) some sort of heterosexytimes occurred to make Susan’s mom or dad. And regardless of how you feel about it (*cough* Ten/RoseOTP4eva *cough*), he definitely reciprocated Rose’s feelings despite never being able to vocalize it. He also does finally marry River Song, although I felt that was more for plot convenience than because of true love on either part.
What about men? Could the Doctor be attracted to dudes as well? To this, I say that there’s just not enough evidence to call it either way. There’s nothing that says he isn’t, but nothing that says he is either. Yes, he does accept a smooch from Jack on Platform 5, but that doesn’t make him gay (or bi or pansexual). We’re just conditioned to assume that any person who accepts a kiss from another person of the same gender is somehow queer, because if he wasn’t attracted to Jack he would have angrily rejected Jack in a panicky or overly macho way. It could just be that the Doctor is a non-homophobic person who is comfortable enough in his own heterosexuality to not get gay-panicky.
Except, I am unsure about using the word heterosexuality, because I’m unsure where to categorize the Time Lords in terms of gender. Given that they can live (barring disasters and acts of God) basically indefinitely on each regeneration, and therefore for thousands of years, do Time Lords mate for life? What if you were a male-bodied ‘heterosexual’ Time Lord, married to a female-bodied Time Lord, and your spouse regenerated into a guy? Would you still be in love with him, or would his new maleness no longer be attractive to you? Are all Time Lords capable of regenerating across genders, or is it a small subset of the population that can do so?
The latter actually makes more sense to me. Perhaps the Time Lords like the Corsair are the genderqueer Time Lords, comfortable in whatever skin they’re in at the time, but most of the Time Lord population remains in one gender for their whole lifetime. So where does this put the Doctor?
The Doctor has always been male-bodied. But in the Ten-to-Eleven regeneration scene, we are shown Eleven as he feels his hair and thinks, for several seconds, that he has regenerated into a girl. (It’s played for laughs in the scene, as Matt’s hair is significantly longer than David’s in the front, but a season later we are told that gender can fall either way and then all bets are off.) I think the fact that it even occurred to him to think he was suddenly female carries the implication that he could someday be a she. (That’s a lot of italicized emphasis. Sorry about that.)
So what’s the verdict? I think that the Doctor is at least a little bit genderqueer, but attracted pretty exclusively to women. (My inner Eleven/Jack shipper is sad to admit it, but the Doctor’ probably not going to be actively hitting on any guys anytime soon.) I might even go so far to say that he’s more of a demisexual than sexual character as well—he does experience physical attraction from time to time, but is generally uninterested in it, and in Eleven’s incarnation especially he is often shown as uncomfortable with overt displays of physical affection (he gives Mr. and Mrs. Amy Pond a set of bunk-beds, for chrissakes).
So that’s where I’ll leave you, with our vaguely genderqueer, demisexual Time Lord who likes girls. Hey, he’s one of the most complicated fictional characters I can think of—he’s certainly welcome to have a complicated gender identity and sexuality. I’d expect nothing less.
Think there’s any worth to my theories? Think I’m full of it? Hit that comment box up and let’s talk about it.