It took a long for the television and motion picture industry to acknowledge that a man and a woman who were married might actually share the same bed. In the old days, they used to sleep in separate beds, as if they had cheaped out on a hotel room.
There are still various layers of censorship that limit what can be shown in terms of romantic affection, but those rules are far stricter for those pertaining to gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships. There have been many actors and directors who have created scenes of affection between people of the same gender, only to have them removed by a studio that was scared of controversy or complaints.
We are here today to look at the times when the non-heterosexual relationships were banished to the cutting room floor.
From Holtzmann’s hidden clue to the cut of Brokeback Mountain that took away all of the love scenes, here are the 15 LGBTQ Characters Who Were Censored On Screen.
There has been a recent trend where big movie studios promote the fact that they have gay characters in their films. They will use this to try and make headlines, yet the audience is often disappointed by how non-committal and easily deniable the sexuality of these characters is. This was the case with Sulu in Star Trek Beyond, Trini in Power Rangers, and LeFou in Beauty and the Beast.
There was a scene that reveals Holtzmann’s sexuality, but it was relegated to an extended scene on the home release of Ghostbusters. Holtzmann says that she is dating Erin Gilbert, which Erin denies. This is the closest the movie came to acknowledging that Holtzmann is either gay or bisexual.
14. Ghost In The Shell
The live-action remake of Ghost in the Shell had so many problems and controversies that this one slipped under the radar. People were too busy accusing the movie of whitewashing and ruining the original to notice that a kiss performed by Scarlet Johansson had been cut out of the movie.
It seems odd that such an obviously titillating scene was removed from the movie. The director had a strong argument for putting it in, as The Major (the role played by Scarlet Johansson) engaged in far more explicit scenes of intercourse in the original manga.
We still don’t know why the kiss with another woman was removed from the final movie. It may have only been included to create some buzz for the trailer, with no intention of it being included in the theatrical release of the movie. It’s also possible that the studio was worried about into running into the same issues that Beauty and the Beast ran into with the international markets.
13. Downton Abbey
It didn’t take long for Downton Abbey to introduce romance and intrigue between two gay characters. This may have come as a surprise, considering that the show started out in 1912, which was a period when such things were highly illegal and liable to destroy one’s reputation.
The idea of such a taboo romance blossoming seems impossible to resist to some writers, as was the case with all of the lesbian relationship that happened in the first season of Boardwalk Empire.
The scene where Thomas kisses the Duke of Crowborough in the first episode of Downton Abbey was removed when the show made its way to Greece. The NET network claims that this wasn’t a specific act of censorship and that they were simply following the broadcast guidelines of Downton Abbey’s timeslot. They were able to show the episode in its uncensored form, but only when it was repeated at a later time during the week.
12. Adventure Time
The creators of Adventure Time will never openly acknowledge that Marceline and Princess Bubblegum have been romantically involved in the past. We only know this because Olivia Olson (Marceline’s voice actress) has said so. She said that it won’t be mentioned on the show due to the fact that Adventure Time is broadcast in countries where homosexuality is still illegal.
It turns out that they couldn’t even hint at a romantic relationship between two women in America either. There was once a promotional series for Adventure Time called Mathematical! which was produced by one of the studios associated with the show. Mathematical! was canceled because one of the episodes suggested that Marceline is attracted to Princess Bubblegum.
This led to the producer of Mathematical! being fired and to the series being discontinued. The reason that was given for Mathematical! being canceled was that it was created by people who actually worked on the show, so the creators of Adventure Time felt that they were taking something that was open to speculation and confirming it without consulting the actual writers of the show.
Skins is a show that has been controversial since the start. The fact that the show depicted sex and drug abuse among teenagers immediately earned it a place on the headlines of newspapers in Britain. It was almost a spiritual successor to Queer as Folk in this regard, as the negative attention only increased its popularity. The American remake of the show only lasted for a single season before it was canceled due to all of the problems it was causing with sponsors.
While the American version of Skins didn’t last long, the episodes of the original series were still shown on BBC America. The version that is shown on BBC America is often far more censored than the original, due to the differences in broadcasting standards.
There were many scenes cut from Naomi and Emily’s relationship, which included removing some of the more explicit sexual acts. These edits came under fire, however, as it was perceived that these cuts were far more strict for the scenes involving the lesbian couple than they were for the straight characters.
10. Sailor Moon
The relationship between Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus was strongly implied to be a romantic one. This caused controversy when the Sailor Moon anime was first broadcast in Japan, but the show wasn’t censored at all in its homeland.
The international versions of Sailor Moon mostly had an issue with the relationship between Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus. The English dub made both of them cousins, while still keeping all of the flirting and longing looks. This may have been the localizers attempt at rebellion, as it now made Neptune and Uranus look like they were keeping it in the family.
The Russian and Hungarian dubs of Sailor Moon turned Sailor Uranus into a man, who only became a woman when he transformed into his sailor scout uniform. This isn’t such a stretch, as Uranus dressed and acted in a very masculine manner.
9. How To Get Away With Murder
The pilot episode of How to Get Away With Murder featured a scene where Connor manages to secure some documents through the act of seduction. He did this using his charm and wit, which allowed him to get his hands on some important evidence.
If he had seduced a woman, then no one would have batted an eye. It was the fact that Connor got it on with a dude (which was shown in explicit detail) that caused issues in certain countries.
The scene where Connor gets it on with another man was initially censored when it was shown in Italy. The showrunner and Connor’s actor both took to Twitter straight away to show their disapproval of the edits.
This actually got some results, as the episode was broadcast again in an unedited state shortly after. The director of the Italian localizer of the episode blamed the cut on an editor who was being too modest.
8. Brokeback Mountain
That’s right, there were scenes of gay characters being intimate with one another that were edited out of Brokeback Mountain. This is yet another case of wondering why they even bothered to show it in the first place.
When Brokeback Mountain was first shown on Italian TV, it received numerous edits pertaining to the romantic scenes between Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. These included kisses and scenes of physical intimacy, which included those of a sexual nature.
This cut of the movie was immediately criticized upon release. Politicians called for action against the RAI network that ran the movie, while gay activist groups called for boycotts of their programming.
The RAI responded by saying that the version of the movie they received had already been cut by distributors of the film and no one bothered to check to see if the edits were warranted or not. The outcry led to the movie being finally being shown in all of its unedited glory.
7. Beauty And The Beast
As Olivia Olsen mentioned when discussing the Marceline/Princess Bubblegum situation in Adventure Time: the reason most scenes depicting homosexuality are cut from movies and TV shows is that they limit the international appeal of the movie. There are a lot of major markets that will ban or restrict a movie if it features gay characters, such as China and Russia.
This was the case with Beauty and the Beast. The relatively tame scenes involving LeFou meant that the movie couldn’t be shown in Malaysia unless Disney consented to some minor edits. Disney refused, which means that the movie wasn’t shown there.
Beauty and the Beast also received a far higher age rating in Russia than it got in most regions, due to LeFou’s presence. The Russian version of Beauty and the Beast had an age rating of sixteen and higher, whereas it was PG or PG-13 in most other regions. One has to wonder if all this trouble will convince Disney not to include any gay characters in their future live action movies.
6. Postcards From Buster
There are some things that are only remembered because of controversy. The song “Imagination” by Belouis Some is about as forgettable as they come, yet people remember the controversy over the video, as it featured full frontal nudity.
This was the fate of the Arthur spin-off called Postcards from Buster. This was a show that followed kids from all across the world, as they documented their lives, family, and local culture.
Postcards from Buster is now mainly known for an episode called “Sugartime!” that featured a family in Canada that consisted of a lesbian couple and their children. The only mention towards the relationship of the parents is that the kids called them mom and stepmom.
The United States Secretary of Education condemned the episode when it was first broadcast and demanded that PBS refund all of the federal funds they had received to make the show. This caused some markets to boycott the episode, while others ran it without issue.
5. Alien: Covenant
Those of you who love Michael Fassbender were treated to a double dose of him in Alien: Covenant. He played two identical androids named David and Walter. David first appeared in Prometheus as one of the architects behind the events of the movie.
There is a scene in Alien: Covenant where David and Walter kiss each other. The two of them shared a lot of romantic tension up until this point, or rather, Michael Fassbender was sharing it with a green screen or body double. This scene was removed from the Chinese release of the movie, along with several other violent moments.
The laws about showing homosexuality in China are pretty strict when it comes to television shows, but are a lot looser when it comes to movies. It came as a surprise to a lot of fans that a simple kiss between two men was objectionable enough to be removed. Things came to a head earlier this year in China when gay content was banned in online videos, causing several popular shows to be canceled without warning.
4. Steven Universe
Cutting the homosexual scenes out of Steven Universe is kind of like editing the transgender people out of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Why even pick up the show if one of the central aspects of it is going to cause problems?
Steven Universe has been censored in almost every market that it has been broadcast in, which includes being totally banned in Kenya due to its LGBTQ themes. This has even included the UK branch of Cartoon Network, which has removed several scenes of physical intimacy between Pearl and Rose Quartz. These scenes were relatively tame, which makes their removal all the more puzzling, especially when they are compared to content from the rest of the show.
The characters who have undergone the most censorship in Steven Universe are Ruby and Sapphire. This is probably because they are the most physically intimate when it comes to acts like kissing, as well as being the most overtly romantic of the Gems. Scenes of the two of them kissing on the cheek and chin were considered too much for countries like Malaysia, where they were edited out.
3. Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne didn’t pull the name “Black Sabbath” out of a hat while naming his band. Black Sabbath was originally called Earth, but they had to change their name because another band was using it. They went to the movie theater and saw a film called Black Sabbath, which convinced them to use the name.
Black Sabbath is an Italian anthology horror movie, which features three different stories. One of these was called “The Telephone” and it focused on a prostitute named Rosy, who is being harassed by her former pimp, whom she had testified against in court. “The Telephone” featured a lesbian subplot, as one of Rosy’s friends is impersonating the pimp in an effort to get close to her.
The English dub of Black Sabbath was heavily censored and edited for its international release. The lesbian subplot was removed from “The Telephone” and it was replaced with one about a ghost who is calling Rosy from beyond the grave.
2. Battle Of The Planets
Battle of the Planets was a show that had to be heavily censored in order to become broadcast-worthy for American television. In many ways, it was the first to undergo the same kinds of edits that would later plague Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z.
In the original Japanese version of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (which was renamed Battle of the Planets in the west), the villain was called Berg Katse. It is revealed that Katse was the result of genetic engineering, as he was originally a set of twins that were fused together in the womb. This means that Katse could switch his gender whenever he wanted.
In Battle of the Planets, the female version of Katse (renamed Zoltar in the English version of the show) was turned into several separate characters. Katse’s female form was turned into four different female characters, who were secret agents of Spectra and worked for the original as spies and decoys.
1. Cow And Chicken
There are lots of examples on this list of scenes being removed from TV shows and movies because they featured a romance between people of the same gender. It seems that the creators of Cow and Chicken were baiting the censors and asking to be censored, as they released an episode that was offensive to pretty much everyone.
“Buffalo Gals” was an episode from the second season of Cow and Chicken that has only ever been broadcast once. The fact that it was even shown once is a miracle due to its content.
The story of “Buffalo Gals” involves a group of stereotypical butch lesbians breaking into people’s homes and munching on the carpet, before leaving. Cow is asked to join this group by their leader Munch Kelly.
When Chicken tries to save Cow, he is captured and used as the second base in a game of baseball. This gives the Buffalo Gals a chance to talk about catching and pitching in a way that only pertains to baseball and not a sexual act.
Can you think of any other LGBTQ characters who were censored on the screen? Let us know in the comments.
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