On Once Upon a Time’s LGBT Kiss and the Unsinkable Swan-Queen Fandom

Dorothy (Teri Reeves) and Ruby (Meghan Ory) find true love in a hopeless place. Photo: Jack Rowand/ABC

Last night on Once Upon a Time Dorothy and Ruby (Red Riding Hood) shared true love’s kiss. The music swelled, the curse was broken, people rejoiced, and it made my heart go gooey inside. Look, it’s so sweet:

From The 100 to Sleepy Hollow, a lot of shows have failed minority and LGBT characters this year. As a modern take on classic fairy tales, Once Upon a Time has never been very diverse, and many faithful Once Upon a Time viewers believed last night's kiss wasn't quite big enough: It happened between one former main character (who’s now considered a guest star) and another who has appeared in only one other episode. The show had introduced the first glint of a gay relationship in season three when Mulan tried to tell Aurora she loved her, but before she could, Aurora announced that she was pregnant. After Mulan had her heart broken, people were furious that one of the few POCs on the show was one of the only people who didn’t get her happy ending. Last night’s episode felt like a slap in the face to some fans because many thought Mulan would find another love in Ruby after the two set out on a journey earlier this season. Fans tweeted “Keep your tokens” to show co-creator Adam Horowitz.

One of the other great things about Once Upon a Time are the 'shippers, who live out the fantasies we never get on the show. Some people ship couples who appear on the show, like Outlaw Queen and Captain Swan. But there’s also a very vocal group of Once Upon a Time fans who have shipped a same-sex relationship between Swan Queen Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), the show’s savior, and Regina Mills (Lana Parilla) the show’s reformed Evil Queen. The show started with these two incredibly powerful characters hating each other, then growing to be friends. They co-parent a child and protect each other fiercely, so why can't they fall in love? 'Shippers write great fanfiction, hilarious recaps, and make swoon-worthy GIFs. Their posts go a long way towards convincing you this couple will be canon, even if the showrunners have pretty much squashed that idea. TV.com writer Lily Sparks wrote a great piece tracing this ship's history arguing, "that Emma and Regina are two ladies is incidental, that they’re written as perfect soul mates is what gets to me." If the couple were to become a canon part of the show, Swan Queen fans believe it'd give viewers an amazing, modern update on classic fairy tales.

Meanwhile, a lot of fans feel that the “true love” between Dorothy and Ruby was forced and unearned. That’s true, but Once Upon a Time traffics in rushing love stories for plot convenience, and the kiss gave this LGBT relationship a scene that mirrored Snow and Charming's great kiss from the pilot. It even played on their signature “I will always find you” line, with Dorothy saying, “You came back for me” and Ruby responding, “I always will.” Once Upon a Time can be obvious a lot of the time, and take huge plot leaps that don't always make sense, but the one thing it really has going for it is big, gooey, emotional, over-the-top moments, and characters who seem to genuinely love each other. In terms of sweeping romantic moments, the Ruby-Dorothy kiss was the kind Once is best at.

As for Swan Queen, it’s back to the fanfiction. For now at least.