Lilli Kay discusses the LGBTQ+ kiss scene in Yellowstone Season 5. In Yellowstone, Kay plays Clara Brewer, who works as John Dutton’s (Kevin Costner) assistant after he is sworn in as Montana’s governor. Clara has proven to be a staunch supporter of John during his new position’s turmoil and potential impeachment threats. Despite the fact that Clara is new to politics and still learning, she becomes a valuable asset to John and his family, becoming more comfortable with the Duttons as they learn to accept her as an ally.
Kay describes her experience with the show prior to being hired in an interview with Deadline. Kay has family members who work on the show, including her father, Stephen Kay, who is a director and executive producer, and her stepmother, Piper Perabo, who plays Summer. She was cast in Yellowstone season 5 as Clara due to her experience as an actor in her own right, her expertise in horseback riding, and her connection to the show. Her character recently made a splash with a brief lesbian kiss scene in the mid-season finale, which she explains came together very organically and was not meant to be “a big deal,” despite the fact that it was quickly noticed and criticised.
Kay said, “I’ll tell you something about that [kiss scene]. We were in our Covid protocol. It was written that Clara is making out with someone in the background behind John and Summer. And we were trying to figure out who was easy and comfortable [to cast] who was also in the testing cycle. My partner, Juli Kocemba, was there with me in Montana so they said, ‘oh, let’s just have you guys make out in the background.’ My partner’s non-binary, so were like, ‘well it’s a gender fluid make out in the background.’ We thought, nobody’s gonna make a big deal about it. And then a lot of people made a very big deal about it. It was very funny because I did not expect anyone to even really catch it. And then people were like, ‘lesbians on the range!’ It was very, very funny. But it was a fun little evening. We got to listen to some really good music and hang out and quietly make out in the background. Lesbians on the ranch!…My father was the director. He was like, ‘I’m gonna get in trouble.’ But he was really wonderful and great. It was also the most awkward day for him at work, directing his wife kissing Kevin Costner and his daughter making out with her partner.”
Yellowstone may face backlash if it continues to portray queer scenes
Despite some positive reactions to Yellowstone’s brief lesbians on the range scene in season 5, episode 7, some viewers have already expressed disdain for the decision, with some even going so far as to say that the same-sex kiss ruined the show. The brief event marked the show’s first lesbian kiss after five seasons, indicating progress in terms of LGBTQ+ representation. Given the negative reactions to the sequence on social media, Yellowstone may face backlash if it continues its small steps toward representation.
Amidst hints about other characters’ sexualities, such as Beth (Kelly Reilly) and Rip (Cole Hauser), Clara is Yellowstone’s first openly gay character. Because of her growing importance in John’s life, it’s likely that she’ll play a larger role as the series progresses, opening up more opportunities for meaningful LGBTQ+ representation in the neo-western series. Kay’s casual approach to setting up the same-sex kiss sequence suggests that the show’s creators are open to incorporating more LGBTQ+ elements into the show, which could lead to more openly gay characters in future instalments.