‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ LGBT Storyline Is Its Most Horrifying Narrative
Warning: This post contains spoilers from episodes 1-3 of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale explores a society run by a patriarchal regime. Despite being published over 30 years ago, the story’s chillingly turned out to be more relevant than ever.
The story takes place in Gilead, a futuristic sect of the United States run as an Old Testament-based theocracy. Here, women are treated as objects with a certain purpose and scaled into hierarchical classes established by the Gileadean government.
The story follows Offred, played by Elizabeth Moss. Offred, being born in pre-Gilead times, is rounded up and taken as a prisoner-turned-citizen like most of Gilead’s population. She is deemed a handmaid — the class of women whose sole purpose is to bear children for the Gilead elite.
Hulu’s adaptation of the Atwood classic, directed by Reed Morano, updates her haunting tale for the millennial-fueled 2010s, with just enough social media references to catch our short attention spans. Other updates include a much more diverse cast and a larger LGBTQ narrative.
It’s precisely in this queer storyline, that The Handmaid’s Tale takes us to its darkest points. Early on in the series we find out that being queer means being branded a “gender traitor.” Offred’s best friend from the pre-Gilead world was Moira (Samira Wiley). Moira had been captured prior to Offred’s arrival for being lesbian. One of the first scenes between Offred and Moira inside Gilead shows us the brutal treatment of LGBTQs.
Offred asks about Moira’s girlfriend only to find out she was taken during a “dyke purge.” It’s hard not to see similarities between Gilead and the situation in Chechnya, something the creators of the show couldn’t have predicted.
Later, we see Offred and her “walking partner” Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) nonchalantly pass a group of hanged men. One of the men’s hoods bears a pink triangle — labeling him a homosexual. We later find out Ofglen is both a lesbian and part of the resistance.
As the three episodes continue, we learn Moira has also been killed as part of another “dyke purge” although the audience never actually sees this to be true.
Near the end of the third episode, we get the series’ most horrifying scenario. Ofglen is captured as a gender traitor. Since she is capable of bearing children she is not sentenced to death. But, in a cruel twist, she is forced to watch her lover hanged.
Many quetions remain unanswered. We still don’t know for sure if Moira’s dead or Ofglen’s fate. With seven more episodes left, The Handmaid’s Tale has room to grow even more sinister before (hopefully) a revolt occurs.