The excitement over a prominent member of the Voltron: Legendary Defender team revealing his past with another man was dashed over the weekend as the seventh and penultimate season of the series debuted on Netflix.
As previously reported, Shiro (Josh Keaton), the Black Paladin of Voltron who spent the last several seasons disembodied, was once in a relationship with a member of Earth’s Galaxy Garrison named Adam. It confirmed what many fans had suspected for sometime: Shiro is gay.
The news, first revealed during the show’s panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego last month, thrilled fans of the rebooted Voltron and a subset of shippers interested in seeing Shiro and Red Paladin Keith (Steve Yuen) get together. Unfortunately, the seventh season did not offer that outcome, only referred to Shiro’s sexuality obliquely, and further compounded accusations of queerbaiting and “burying your gays” as the story took a darker turn for Adam.
With the disquiet mounting over the weekend, Voltron: Legendary Defender executive producer and co-showrunner Joaquim Dos Santos took to Twitter on Tuesday to address the accusations and the defend the story from his point of view.
An open letter to the VLD fandom RE: Season 7. pic.twitter.com/S4Ram1Mxm1
— Joaquim Dos Santos (@JDS_247) August 14, 2018
In a four-paged open letter, Dos Santos apologized to the fans. “We did not intended to bait anyone,” he wrote. “I know that is not any consolation, but it is the truth.”
The story of Shiro and Adam was told in flashback, establishing their long-term relationship ended when Shiro decided to first go into space. Introducing Adam into the current part of the story also gave the audience a viewpoint character within Galaxy Garrison during the first Galra attack on the Earth. Unfortunately for fans, the character was never designed to recur on the show.
But Dos Santos was quick to say he is not trying to place “the burden of expectation” on fans who were excited about the news last month. He and his team were also excited to confirm Shiro’s sexuality and introduce an LGBTQIA character who personified the “battle hardened solider” archetype. He hoped it would be enough to prevent accusations of the “burying your gays” trope when the season was released. He also admitted he could not have predicted the attachment fans would have to Adam or “how profound” the loss of the character would be for viewers.
As the visibility of LGBTQIA continues to rise in popular media, the tension between giving those characters prominent places in the narrative and killing them to propel stakes and consequences continues to present difficult choices for the creators of television shows. Following the 2016 death of a major queer character on The 100, the “burying your gays” trope came into the spotlight.
Unfortunately, Voltron: Legendary Defender will never be able to address this issue within story as its last season is already in production for an airdate later this year.