Many thanks to Petra de Jong for the following transcript and translation
Zij aan Zij
Dutch Magazine - Issue 9 - October 1999
In the new issue of Zij aan Zij (Dutch mag for gay and lesbian women) - issue nr 9 October 1999
In the section 'of the club' (about lesbian (friendly) clubs)
(translated from Dutch)
In love or sisterly friendship
by Liorah Hoek/Martine Pierhagen
Hercules is a nice fantasy show but it becomes really interesting when the beautiful, dangerous Xena, played by Lucy Lawless, appears. Xena got her own show called 'Xena Warrior Princess' in which she's helped by Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor). Soon a worldwide fanbase was born, also in the Netherlands. Through internet a group of Xena enthusiasts got in touch and decided to start a fan club. One of them is Petra de Jong, who now is the president and treasurer of the club. The club now already has more than 200 members, among them a lot of lesbian women and that's not surprising.
"It's a show with two strong women in the lead, who can take care of themselves. That's really special for an action series," explains Petra. "Finally there are two women that mean something to me, with whom I can identify. The makers of the show also give their own feminist take on Greek mythology. For example, Xena and Gabrielle meet Homer and encourage him to keep writing and also Hippocrates got some medical tips from Xena. So it's not surprising that there are a lot of higher educated and independent women among the Xena fans."
But that is not the only reason why especially lesbian women like the show. There's a lot of talk about the lesbian subtext - the lesbian undertone - of the friendship between Xena and Gabrielle. "A discussion that keeps coming back is the one about the question 'are the ladies in love or is just a sisterly friendship?'. They are walking a fine line: you can see them as lovers if you want to see them as lovers but you can also see them as just friends. The makers play with it on purpose,' laughs Petra. "The series is tongue-in-cheek as it is but there's also a lot of hinting at lesbian love in it. To some fans it's a game to get all those hints from an episode. After each episode there's a discussion on the internet about the lesbian erotic moments in the story, in which supporters and opponents give their own interpretations of those scenes."
Even though internet is a great way of keeping in touch with each other the fan club also publishes it's own magazine: Xerc. They also organise a fest twice a year. At those fests fans can buy Xena merchandise and watch episodes that haven't been aired yet in the Netherlands. They also collect money for charities, for instance through auctioning off Xena items. Petra thinks that's important. "In the show Xena and Gabrielle fight for the greater good and stand up for the weak and we try to promote that among fans worldwide. Lucy Lawless, the lead actress, for instance, is pregnant. Instead of sending teddy bears for the baby we collect money for the organisation Motherhood. That's the gift the fans give her, in honour of her baby's birth."
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