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Killjoys' Pree is a gender-thwarting style icon
Somewhere in deep space, at an unloved mining colony on a desolate moon, a bartender serves up drinks and entertainment to miners, scoundrels, sexers, and bounty hunters alike. On Killjoys, these are the unwanted class of people who support the lives of the rich on Qresh — and they are the adopted family of Pree (Thom Allison), a bartender with a sordid past.
Pree is the kind of bartender you want to tell your secrets to, but he’s also the kind you never want to mess with. He made The Royale the welcoming and cool watering hole that it is and as owner and operator, he takes serious care of the old girl. He becomes a confidant to Team Awesome Force, our eponymous trio of Killjoys, protects the children of Westerley, and falls in love with a beefcake named Gared (who he gets to marry ONSCREEN, people).
He’s the queer, biracial, badass uncle of Westerley that you didn’t know you needed, and honey, he’s not some frumpy uncle who wants you to pull his finger or listen to him talk about the good ol’ days. He’s a gender-thwarting, skirt-wearing, former warlord who’ll make you weak in the knees whether he’s rocking a skirt or letting his luscious white hair flow.
Killjoys, as a whole, is all about badass style. Both Aneela and Dutch (played by Hannah John-Kamen) rock outfits that will make you want to beg them to step on your neck. The Jaqobis brothers, D’avin (Luke Macfarlane) and Johnny (Aaron Ashmore), make tight shirts and black combat gear look like haute couture. And the villains? Oh, the villains. You’ll want to dress like them as much as you’ll want to defeat them… or join them.
What’s particularly awesome about Pree is how he gets to express his personality, power, sexuality, and more through his fashion sense without becoming solely defined by his queerness nor his style. It’s a balance that might seem easy to strike, but one that few series manage to nail — unless they’re made by Michelle Lovretta.
Lovretta is all about creating queer-inclusive series like Killjoys and Lost Girl, the story of an outsider bisexual succubus. Each features powerful queer characters and hyper queer-positive storylines. Killjoys has not only Pree and Gared’s romance and marriage, but also the very intense relationship between murder-girlfriends Aneela and Delle Seyah Kendry. (BTW, Aneela and Delle Seyah have a baby with D’avin, which was just such a fun queer twist that it made our list of queerest genre moments of 2018.) Add to that the fact that actors Allison and Macfarlane are both openly queer and you’ve got one queer-friendly series.
When we first meet Pree, he’s in The Royale, working his easy charm and his damn fine looks to keep the customers happy. He’s congenial, trustworthy, and yet, not to be trifled with. He keeps the peace in his establishment by whatever means necessary. And while he’s coded as queer from the jump, I remember holding my breath and waiting for it to be confirmed onscreen. I was not disappointed.
Not only does Pree get to be fabulous in every sense of the world—wearing fantastical and potent makeup and other adornments, looking elegant and deadly in a long a-line leather skirt, serving lewks so scorching they’d burn you right up—but he also gets to be out and proud, kissing both ex and current lovers with all the power of someone who has liberated himself.
There’s no look Pree (and by extension Allison) can’t pull off. Skirts? Honey, yes. A bald head and badass makeup? Why not? Long white hair and leather? You know it. Thick beard, masc daddy goodness? Yes INDEED.
Now, style isn’t important — until it is. For queer, transgender, and nonbinary people our style is one of the ways we not only code ourselves to one another but how we create the selves we choose to be.
When a trans woman puts on six-inch heels, she chooses to take up space and be seen. When a queer man ties his shirts up and bares his midriffs, he embraces his femininity in society-defying ways. When a queer woman looks at herself in the mirror and runs her hands over her newly shaved hair, she stakes a claim on her freedom from the male gaze. When a trans man shaves his beard into the perfect shape, he takes control of his masculinity. When a nonbinary person wears lipstick, twirls in skirts, binds their chest, and pulls back the façade of gender, they create new realities for all of us. When queer people whose bodies are multiply marginalized embrace their fatness, their disabilities, their racial identities, their religious identities, and more, they make queer communities better.
When queer people choose to express our gender identities, our sexualities, our selves through our style, we heal the damage done to us by society and create space for other queer people to heal, too. And, those of us who have multiple sites of oppression lead the way, as they always have. What would queer culture and style — including mainstream style — even be without Black transwomen?
The amazing thing about being queer is that we can express ourselves one way, change our mind, and pivot the next day. We can embrace all the different facets of ourselves in different quantities at different times and be our truest selves through that expression. We actively create our identities through style, through experimentation and evolution. Every day we make the world a place where more expressions are welcome, valid, important.
And, that’s exactly what Pree does on Killjoys. By being his soft dandy self, by being his big daddy warlord self, by thwarting gender at every turn, Pree makes Westerley a better place — and he makes our world better, too.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.