Not too long ago, I finally watched the final season of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer. After a rather disappointing sixth season, I was glad to see that the final season was much better. However, there is one issue that bothered me about this season, and that's the relationship between Kenedy and Willow.
The problem I had with it was that it never really felt like a reeal dynamic relationship, flowing from who the characters are. I know I am drawing up double standards when I ask such a thing of a relationship in Buffy, but don't necessarily ask the same thing of a relationship in another show, but I feel it's justified. After all, all other relationships in Buffy did flow from the characters. Shows that perform better in a specific aspect, should be held to a higher standard in that aspect. Shows that perform better in many aspects, should be held to a higher standard in all of those aspects.
I had my suspicions that she was shoe-horned in to cement the fact that Willow was gay, even without Tara, when I saw the relationship on the screen. I've never thought that she was 100% gay, considering her meaningful relationship with Oz and her feelings towards Xander in the early seasons. Still, the very choice to keep her interested in girls wasn't the problem, really. It was more the way it was done (adding in this relationship basically just for that purpose) and why it was done.
At least, what Joss Whedon said was the reason for this. I believe it was in an interview with a gay magazine that he said about her having a relationship with a man post-Tara "We do that now, and we will be burned alive. And possibly justifiably.
We can't have Willow say, 'Oh, cured now, I can go back to cock!' Willow
is not going to be straddling that particular fence. She will just be
gay." I have a lot of respect for this man and his works, but this just really annoys me. I suppose it's the lack of understanding about gay-ness, though.
I am straight myself. What I take that to mean is that so far, I haven't been truly attracted to another male. However, I am rather open-minded and I know quite a number of gay people. In that, I have found that the number of words we have comes up short. We have a "white" (gay), a "black" (straight) and perhaps a single shade of grey (bi). The reality, though, has a near infinite number of shades of grey (more than 50 anyway).
There's probably a lot of people who consider themselves straight, but do in fact feel somewhat attracted to the same sex, but don't act on that for various reasons (such as, the attraction being rather minor, being told that such attractions are bad, or even just not realizing such attractions can be of a romantic nature). The same is probably true when you take gay as the base-line. However, in those cases the gay people generally did more exploring of their sexual orientation and they are already facing much more social stigma, which I think leads to such feelings less often being repressed.
In fact, I know two lesbian girls who have each been in a relationship with a single guy (well, each with a different guy, but neither with more than one guy). And I'm not talking before they came out or realized their sexual orientation, but after. One of the two has even gotten together with the same guy a couple of times after their relationship (when neither was in a relationship). I really wouldn't say it makes either of them "not lesbian", I'd say it makes them able to think outside the lack of terms we have for the issue.
That's sort of what I felt Willow was like. I didn't know where exactly she fell in the range from "straight but into Tara" to "interested mainly in girls, but into some guys as well", but I did feel she was somewhere in that range. She fell in love and developed this relationship with Tara even before she realized that she could fall for girls. That's why I feel that after Tara's death she could have dated guys again. Of course, it wouldn't have been diving straight into bed with the first guy she met, but rather a path of finding out what her exact orientation was, and then maybe dating a guy again. I've also felt that that guy could have been Xander, but that, I suppose, was primarily wishful thinking.
Of course, in the show there were plenty of references to Willow being gay prior to her relationship with Kennedy. These ranged from Faith (while in Buffy's body) stating that "Willow's not driving stick anymore" to Willow trying to turn a guy into a woman after she's fallen in love with him because of a spell. However, most of these examples weren't by Willow herself and when they were, they generally were at a time when it didn't really matter, as she was with Tara. For those reasons, I've thought of those things as the characters thinking in the black and white terms of gay and straight. However, in the end, it was in fact the writers who thought in those terms. After all, how can one ever justify a straight relationship again after having had a gay one?