for decades now, Velma Dinkley, the crime-fighting heroine of hundreds of Scooby-Doo cartoons and movies, has been trying to come out. In the early 2000s, when Warner Bros. was making two live-action Scooby-Doo movies, the screenwriter, James Gunn, tried to portray her as a proud lesbian, but the studio wouldn’t hear of it.
“I’ve tried!” Gunn told a fan in 2020. “Velma was explicitly gay in my original script [for the 2002 movie Scooby-Doo]. But the studio continued to water it down and become ambiguous.” For the 2004 sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, she even got a boyfriend.
Now, with the upcoming animated movie Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!, Velma’s preference for girls has finally been confirmed… and she even gets a girlfriend in the form of the glamorous new character Coco Diablo. For lesbians like me, all our dreams have come true! A tweet excitedly celebrating Velma’s coming out – “OMG LESBIAN VELMA FINALLY CANON CANON IN THE MOVIES LETS GOOOOOO” – has been liked 228,000 times, including by me. Even in 2022, lesbians are rarely depicted in movies.
In 1972, when I was only 10 years old, I became obsessed with the Scooby-Doo cartoon, which started in 1969 and was based on four teenagers solving mysteries and their talking Great Dane. It was great fun watching the crazy adventures Shaggy, Velma, Fred and Daphne got into. I learned all the slogans and walked across my schoolyard saying “Scooby-Dooby-Doo, where are you?” and ask for Scooby snacks. I still use that expression today, to the dismay of my younger friends and anyone outside the UK or US.
I especially liked the character of Velma. I never felt like her relationship with Shaggy was good for her, just like I couldn’t understand why one of my high school friends wanted to date guys as we entered our teens.
And I certainly identified with Velma. Like them, I’ve always been the odd one out. Of course, at that young age, I didn’t wonder if she was a lesbian, but I was sure she was what we used to call a “tomboy,” just like me. While I never loved her pleated skirt, I loved that she wore baggy sweaters and defied femininity. She also shared my view of the world: getting mad at the guys, being smarter than them, and showing girls how not to conform to stereotypes of femininity and passivity.
As I got older I saw the strange recurrence of Scooby-Doo and when I came out as a lesbian at 15 I knew exactly what was wrong with Velma. At that time, there were hardly any real lesbian role models for us; Velma came closest. I remember seeing the 2002 film directed by Raja Gosnell in theaters with two 10-year-olds whom I had borrowed to make my visit seem socially acceptable, and I was excited to realize that my heroine is now was written as a lesbian – even if it wasn’t explicitly stated.
In 2020, Tony Cervone, an accompanying producer on the Scooby-Doo! The animated series Mystery Incorporated, which ran from 2010 to 2013, confirmed that Velma had long intended to be lesbian rather than bisexual, as some people read her. “We always planned for Velma to act a little out of character when she was dating Shaggy because that relationship was wrong for her and she had unspoken trouble with the why,” Cervone wrote on his Instagram page.
Her relationship with her boyfriend and rival Marcie Fleach, he added, “seems as clear as we could make it 10 years ago. I don’t think Marcie and Velma had time to comment on their feelings during the main timeline, but after the reset they are a couple you may not like it but this was our intention.”
I love that, in the age-old tradition of romcoms, Velma falls in love at first sight in the new movie. And what does a lesbian bring to her first date? Obviously, her cat and her toothbrush. Velma blush is such a sweet touch, and I hope young lesbians everywhere get some inspiration from her flirting rituals.
In my opinion, the world of Scooby-Doo has been around for over 50 years, thanks in no small part to Velma’s outstanding character. I even love her orange socks and hope they become a not-so-secret sign of sapphic sisterhood soon.