This January, we are embracing the new year by looking back and celebrating our firsts. Our first ships, our first fandoms, all the firsts that started us on our journeys to the geek girls standing before you today.
Today: our first genre crushes. Your first love is pivotal. It shapes you. And for us, our first crushes in the world of sci-fi, fantasy, comics and beyond linger still. Because we would still put their posters on our bedroom doors.
Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Beautiful with a kind soul, a powerful, protective nature but also a dark past and in desperate need of saving. It has literally just occurred to me while typing this that in falling head over stake for Angel, I developed my entire “type.” Thanks a lot, Joss. I’ve made no secret of my disdain for most every love interest in Buffy Summers’ life. Her taste is legendarily horrendous. Only one ever made sense to me: Angel. With his sad eyes that have seen some horrible things, muscular arms that just need to be wrapped around you so that you can hug away his pain, a willingness to completely destroy his soul just to touch you? As my first genre crush, Angel broke me. He broke a lot of us. And you know what? It was worth it.
Doctor Pamela Lillian Isley - or, as I like to call her, Poison Ivy, makes her first animated appearance in the fifth episode of Batman: The Animated Series. The story is this: She poisons Harvey Dent for building a prison on top of a park because she is amazing. I couldn't figure out why she was written as the villain when clearly she was way more awesome than Batman. Oh, but lest I forget what brings us here today, aka, how I first knew grown-up feelings: There's a scene where Pamela sprays perfume on her throat and whispers, “Nightshade... it's... deadly.” And thus a gay was born. Alfred goes on to tell us that she has a PhD in Botany and teaches a lecture series on endangered plants and it was all over for me. I was pretty much in love with a fictional character for the rest of my life after that. A villainous environmentalist botanist with a general disdain for men who just happens to be a serial criminal is my exact type. This crush would blow up to epic proportions when Harley Quinn was introduced to the series and the two of them proceeded to have one of the most infamously subtext-laden relationships of all cartoon history. I might have been just a kitten when Batman: The Animated Series was regularly airing, but my gay little heart was already wise in the ways of the world, and Poison Ivy was exactly the queer antihero/sexual role model I deserved. - Sara Century
Jadzia Dax, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
There were a lot of powerful awesome women in the Star Trek universe to rally behind, but when it came to that special blend of adolescence and attraction it was Terry Farrell’s joined Trill that first caught my eye. Now, perhaps this had a lot to do with the intricate spots that travelled down her neck, which made her hard not to notice, but it was also her unique existence as someone both young and old at the same time, with wisdom beyond her own years due to the symbiote. Farrell had a tough task as an actor blending the personality of Jadzia with the lingering traces of all those who carried the Dax symbiote and she pulled it off remarkably, with a mix of masculine and feminine energies that blended so perfectly into one single character. You almost couldn’t ask for a more perfect crush for a geeky queer preteen girl. (With Nana Visitor’s Major Kira waiting in the wings for that same queer girl as she got a little older.) - Riley Silverman
Tommy Oliver/The Green Ranger, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
So there is a distinct difference between your first innocent little crush when you were a kid and the first character that made you feel funny in the nether regions. Since I've technically already written about my young love for Tobias, the kid who gets stuck as a hawk on Animorphs, I thought I might tell you of my first crush before I knew what crushes were. That, dear internet, was on Tommy Oliver, the Green (and then White) Ranger on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Sure, I was but a young girl of 5 or so when I first saw his mighty visage—with his ponytail and muscle shirts that said not only was he here to party but he was gonna kick that Red Ranger's ass while he did it—but still I knew our love was true. He was a bad boy, misguided, drawn in by Rita Repulsa's nefarious schemes, but deep down I knew he had a heart of gold. At the very least, he had golden shoulders in his strange, triangular uniform which set him apart from his fellow Rangers. Perhaps it was that redemption arc which drew me to him. More likely it was the fact that I wanted to be Kimberly and they were an item in the way only children's show characters can be (lots of smiles and high fives, no kissing). Tommy Oliver set the bar high for future suitors. Now, it wasn't enough to be good looking and smart. No, you also had to be skilled in space ninja combat and you couldn't get upset when your pink spandex-clad girlfriend saved you from the Puddies. Tommy wouldn’t. - Tricia Ennis
Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman Returns
You never forget your first Batman. Mine was Keaton, whose smirking cupid's bow lips peaked out of that cowl and first made me wonder about kissing. He was funny, dashing, wild, and his curly hair seemed soft and nice. Then in crashed bombshell Pfeiffer as the sultry, snarky, and bold Catwoman. In or out of their super suits, their chemistry was electrifying, their flirtations startlingly racy for a PG-13 movie. Their lust was dark, dangerous, and undeniably exciting. And when they kissed, I swooned. (I still do.) It took years for me to parse out if I wanted to be Catwoman or Batman when she straddles him on a rooftop, and licks those perfectly pursed lips. Hell, who am I kidding? I still can't decide. - Kristy Puchko
Counselor Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation
I was a fledgling queer, barely pubescent, and couldn't figure out why I couldn't stop staring at her. Maybe I wanted to be her? No, that wasn't quite it. I wanted to go somewhere with her, somewhere that no one had ever gone before. - Meg Elison
My first genre crush was when I saw X-Men and crushed hard on Hugh Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine. He wasn’t like any of my other crushes AT ALL but I was totally drawn to Logan’s tough exterior with a heart of gold. I was a loner and so was he. I felt different than everyone around me and so did he. Honestly, I'm still kinda hoping we end up together. - Heather Mason
It might have been the way he always seemed to leave his field shirt open by just a few buttons, giving a pubescent yours truly a glimpse of glistening chest. It might have also been his tendency to wear a lot of tweed and rock some glasses when he was grading papers and not gallivanting around raiding tombs and chests. It definitely had to do with the fact that he was played by Harrison Ford, who would serve to represent two significant genre crushes of mine when I saw him playing Han Solo in the OG Star Wars trilogy. But Indy—Dr. Jones—was first, and it was his grizzled jaw, his slightly gruff demeanor and his gritty determination to make sure that every artifact of importance wound up in a museum that all served to make me crush—and crush HARD. Indiana Jones definitely wasn't one for commitment, but against the other action stars of the era he was badass while also maintaining some humor. And like me, he hates snakes. It was, in a young girl's mind, a match made in heaven. - Carly Lane
As a pre-pubescent book nerd who spent all her free time hiding in the library, Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl books were the perfect company. Who could resist the tagline "Die Hard with fairies?" And yes, 11-year-old me fell hard for the eponymous Fowl. A teenage super-genius villain and millionaire who took on gun-toting fairies and won, and he was also handsome and Irish? What more could a teenage girl want? - Kayleigh Donaldson