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Alex's was a familiar story. He says he knew from the age of three. It was something he felt inexplicably drawn to writes Christopher Kelly. The feelings never went away. At school the difference between him and the other boys became ever more apparent. While his friends played football on a Saturday afternoon, Alex stayed at home.

As Alex got older he realised there were others like him. The Sisterhood of Karn is an "earth-based group of gay people united in their interest of Dr Who and cult TV". You got it. Queer anoraks? Sad no hopers with no life?

Alex, a sister for many of the group's twenty years, is aware of the stigma attached to the series. "I know some people who would rather come out as gay than as a Dr Who fan," he says, adding: "I've always been out in both senses." Has he ever been Who bashed? He hasn't, but says he's used to people taking the piss once they discover his enthusiasm for the long-running sci-fi drama.

Alex's partner, Richard, is also a Who fanatic. The pair met at a Sisterhood of Karn meeting more than ten years ago. Richard blames the "obsessives" for the unfair flack thrown at the fans. He argues that just as not all gay people dress in drag, then not all fans of Dr Who wear long scarves and eat jelly babies. "Not every fan allows (Dr Who) to overwhelm their lives," says Richard. "It's just something that's fun." Richard watched Dr Who as a boy and started collecting the videos when he was a student. Now he's got the lot, more than a hundred of them. He's currently recollecting the set on DVD.

To entice the fans to replicate their collections - i.e. to extract more dosh for the same old toss - the BBC is releasing a few stills of previously unseen footage. "And of course the picture quality is so much better blah, blah, blah. Yes I've been brainwashed," admits Richard.

The Sisterhood of Karn meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month in the Kings Arms Pub, Poland Street, London. WC1. A group of about 15-20 gay men of all ages and professions gather to discuss and exchange sci-fi ideas. "We're a bunch of friends who have a similar interest," says Richard. "It's just a social thing."

For some reason, science fiction seems to attract more gay followers than straight ones. And Dr Who has proportionally more gay fans than any other cult sci-fi series. So why the huge gay appeal? Alex puts it down to Dr Who being strangely sexless. Much like its fans. "Most TV series tend to have a great deal of romantic interest within them, but Dr Who never did," says Alex. The theory being then that a kid growing up gay could watch Dr Who without feeling alienated. Get it.

Richard comes up with another reason why gay kids may have tapped particularly into Dr Who. "Dr Who is very non-macho and stands up to baddies without using physical force. Which is comparable to how gay people learn to stand up to bigots," he says. Richard even goes as far as to imply that Dr Who was gay. "What people don't realise is his female assistants were a bunch of fag hags."

But getting back to the Sisterhood of Karn, what exactly goes on at these meetings? "We play videos," answers Alex. "And shout out the lines in a Rocky Horror kind of a way." The group also arranges outings to famous locations featured in the series, and is currently trying to organise a weekend excursion to the moons of Saturn. "Although," says Alex, "funding maybe a stumbling block."

The Sisterhood Of Karn Website


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