Queerly Beloved: Gem Sheps

_DSC4416Everyone who knows me knows that I love Sherlock Holmes.

I don’t know where the obsession came from; I watched an episode of BBC’s Sherlock when I was 15 and I’ve been hooked on the character ever since.

When I started watching the show, reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, and getting into other spinoffs, I didn’t consciously read Holmes as gay, but—and hindsight is always 20/20—I think his queer-coded characterization is the exact reason I fell in love with the stories.

Holmes is repeatedly described—by his “close friend” Watson, who lived with him for decades—with Victorian terms that were slang for homosexual people in Conan Doyle’s original publications from the 1880s: Bohemian, a confirmed bachelor, and so on. In The Adventure of the Three Garridebs, he also described Holmes’ reaction to Watson’s near-death experience with phrases such as “the firm lips were shaking,” and, “it was worth many wounds to see the depth of loyalty and love that lay behind that cold mask.”

There are over 25,000 Holmes-related productions, from shows to movies to plays to book spinoffs, which has given fans a lot of content to analyze for nearly two centuries. His and Watson’s story has been re-told countless times, and there’s a clear reason: it’s possibly the best love story out there.

They even retire together in the original publications; Holmes brings Watson with him to the English countryside when he retires. They live out the end of their lives together over and over, and when that story dies, it’s re-written again.

Fans of BBC’s Sherlock are waiting in anticipation for the premiere of its fourth series: the writers have promised “insane wish fulfillment” and “a plot twist no one has seen coming.” Throughout the series there are strong hints at a romantic relationship forming between Sherlock and John, and blatant admittances from Sherlock himself of being a gay man.

To see the 200-year-old love story finally played out on TV would be a dream for many Holmes fans—including myself—and a revolutionary take on the character. Seeing as the show is co-written by a gay man with no reason to queer-bait his own community, there’s strong hope for a final culmination of their relationship on screen.

Gem Sheps
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