The ‘born this way’ argument, which argues that sexuality is part of your genetic code, the same as brown eyes or the ability to curl your tongue, is currently the most popular defense of queer sexualities in the media. It’s most often used as a way to defend queer people to bigots, in the sense of “why would you hate these people for something that they did not have any choice in being?”
I am of two minds about this way of looking at things. On one hand, I do feel that sexuality, much like race or gender, is something you’re born with; I don’t know that I or any other queer person I know ever made a choice to be queer, or indeed, would choose to be queer in a world that is still actively discriminatory toward LGBTQ+ people. However, it’s sort of shitty that we have to resort to “please accept us because we can’t help ourselves” as a defense. If we had chosen to be queer, why would that make us more worthy of judgment?
Luce and I finished watching the first season of Orphan Black recently, and while the finale addressed many of the questions I had, there are several things I would still like to know about the clones. Out of all of these, the foremost is probably “are they gonna get into how Cosima is a lesbian and the rest of the clones aren’t?” Given that the Clone Club are all essentially genetically identical, I’m surprised no one’s even brought up the fact that of all of them, only Cosima has canonically displayed same-sex attraction.
To be fair, the show’s finale did reveal that there were minor differences between each clone’s genetic makeup, but the only difference was essentially a barcode, marking each clone as a unique product. So for all we the viewers know, all of the clones are, at a genetic level, the same person. And yet, Cosima is the only one who’s even hinted at being attracted to other women. This leaves me with a few different possibilities for what the show is going to or trying to do.
First, they might end up implying that all of the clones are bisexual. If this is the case, then they need to back up their argument by showing one or more of the other clones taking interest in a female partner. Otherwise, they’re making a claim that every single one of the many clones we’ve met is queer, but only one of them has acted upon that queerness, and that’s lazy representation.
They could also be trying to make a statement about the nature vs. nurture argument as it pertains to sexuality. This seems like a strange tack to take, but it could be intriguing if dealt with delicately. They’ve already essentially argued that nurture has a tremendous effect on character, given how different each of the clones are in personality and vocation. However, there are also some tendencies that seem to be shared among the clones despite their disparate environments, such as a tendency toward mental illness and an apparent aptitude for sharpshooting. I’d be interested to see how they argue which umbrella sexuality falls under.
The last possibility is that they were so focused on making the clones all so different that they forgot the implications of making one of them queer. I have such a high opinion of the show that I’d like to hope that they haven’t dropped the ball in this case. Cosima herself is both a scientist and a very inquisitive person, and all of the clones are intelligent in their own way, so I’m surprised that none of them have thought about the link between genetics and sexuality yet. To me, at least, it’s kind of a glaring oversight that they haven’t mentioned or addressed it yet, so I hope that Season 2 elaborates on the clones’ sexuality in a more satisfying way.