Yellowjackets and The Last of Us star Melanie Lynskey confirms status as LGBTQ+ icon: ‘I’m big on pushing the homosexual agenda’

Melanie Lynskey

The Last of Us, Yellowjackets and But I’m a Cheerleader star Melanie Lynskey has addressed her status as a queer icon and confirmed that she’s all about “pushing the homosexual agenda”.

Certified ‘mother’ to the LGBTQ+ community Lynskey is currently starring as Shauna Shipman in Showtime’s teen cannibal thriller Yellowjackets, about a girls’ high school soccer team struggling to survive in the wilderness after their plane crashes.

Split between two timelines, the show boasts an excellent young cast playing the team as teenagers and iconic names including Lynskey, Christina Ricci and Juliette Lewis among the actors playing their adult versions.

With bitter rivalries, stomach-churning gore and sapphic storylines in abundance, Yellowjackets is keeping fans and critics on the edge of their seats. The show currently holds a 98 per cent fresh rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

In an interview with Gay Times on Friday (21 April), Lynskey opened up about playing queer characters early on in her career, including Hilary Vandermueller in the 1999 cult classic But I’m a Cheerleader.

The film follows Megan Bloomfield, a lesbian high schooler played by Natasha Lyonne, who is sent to a conversion therapy camp to ‘cure’ her queerness and boasts an iconic cast including RuPaul and Clea DuVall.

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Despite opening to poor reviews, But I’m a Cheerleader has earned its place as a classic beloved by LGBTQ+ fans – even being lauded by trans actor Elliot Page as helping him feel less isolated.

Lynskey, however, never thought this would happen. “When it came out it was not very celebrated,” she said. “The reviews were bad. People didn’t see it. I was really disappointed because I thought it was such a good movie.

“I was so proud to be in it. Then, over time, it’s nice that it’s gained such a following. And I met my best friend [Clea DuVall] on that movie.” 

When asked about where her character Hilary Vandermueller would be today, she responded by hoping Hilary would be “able to live her truth”.

She said: “Gosh, I wonder! I hope that she was able to live her truth at a certain point. What a life, otherwise. But who knows, honestly?” 

Melanie Lynskey
Melanie Lynskey as Kathleen in The Last of Us. (HBO)

Lynskey also played a queer character – Pauline Parker – opposite Kate Winslet in the 1994 biographical psychological drama Heavenly Creatures.

She told Gay Times: “I felt like it meant a lot to people that I had played two queer people early in my career. I had not really thought about it before then. I was like, ‘Oh. I guess so.’ It’s nice.”

On Thursday (20 April), she spoke to Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast about the “pain” and “heartbreak” of losing touch with co-star Winslet, after the latter’s career exploded thanks to her role in Titanic.

Lynskey has recently cemented her status as a friend of the LGBTQ+ community after being criticised by a Twitter troll for “homosexual agenda pushing” due to her involvement in smash hit post-apocalyptic fungal thriller The Last of Us.

The Last of Us was a clear win for LGBTQ+ representation and storytelling, with episode three fully devoted to a beautiful love story between two men. It also explored the queerness of lead character Ellie – masterfully portrayed by non-binary actor Bella Ramsey.

Lynskey joined the series in episode four as terrifying resistance boss Kathleen. In response to the anti-LGBTQ+ trolling, she clapped back with: “OMG yes let me push that homosexual agenda just by showing up! An honour!”

Speaking to Gay Times, she said: “I’m big on pushing the homosexual agenda. I don’t really know how me just being cast in something does that, but I think it should be pushed. It’s a big agenda for me.”

What do The Last of Us and Yellowjackets have in common? According to Lynskey, they don’t rely on trauma for queer storytelling.

Yellowjackets‘ queer characters Taissa Turner (Jasmin Savoy Brown and Tawny Cypress) and Vanessa ‘Van’ Palmer (Liv Hewson and Lauren Ambrose) experience plenty of horror – but not because they’re LGBTQ+.

Lynskey said: “I also love that about The Last of Us, that third episode.

“I know that living through a mushroom zombie apocalypse is its own kind of trauma, but it was just a very average love story where they got to, in a way, live happily ever after. I thought it was very romantic.”

The Last of Us has been renewed for a second season and Yellowjackets is currently streaming on Paramount+, with new episodes dropping every Friday.

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