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Yellowstone's LGBTQ+ Kiss Was Lilli Kay's Idea

Contains spoilers for "Yellowstone" Season 5 episode "A Knife and No Coin"

"Yellowstone" has always been more about brooding and begrudging decisions than high-octane action and general yeehawing. Still, it is a neo-Western with plenty of grit and grimace, so it can be tempting to view the Paramount paragon as a conservative macho cowboy show. A whole bunch of characters are consevative macho cowboys, after all.

That being said, creator Taylor Sheridan is sick and tired of talk that "Yellowstone" is a "red state" show. "I'm like, 'Really?' The show's talking about the displacement of Native Americans and the way Native American women were treated and about corporate greed and the gentrification of the West, and land-grabbing. That's a red-state show?" Sheridan told The Atlantic in December 2022. 

With that in mind, it's easy to imagine that Sheridan might insert the occasional decidedly anti-"red state" moment in the show — such as one very particular kiss seen in the Season 5 mid-season finale. However, "Yellowstone's" LGBTQ+ kiss was actually all actor Lilli Kay's idea. Here's how it came to be.

Lilli Kay's real-life partner agreed to help with the scene

"Yellowstone's" Lilli Kay plays a major Season 5 newcomer character, political assistant Clara, who's seemingly just about as far removed from the daily affairs of the Dutton Ranch as you can get. However, she soon becomes the sole "suit" to have Governor John Dutton's (Kevin Costner) ear, and perhaps even a modicum of his trust. Kay's character is one half of "Yellowstone's" first LGBTQ+ kiss, and as the actor told Variety, the moment was an on-the-fly practical decision that involved her own real-life partner. 

The scene in question is a very casual and natural one, in which Summer (Piper Perabo) questions the sensibility of John kissing her in public. He counters by pointing out that the person in charge of advising him in such matters — Clara, that is — is herself quite busy making out at the moment.

"It came about kind of accidentally," Kay explained. "I was in Montana with my partner and we were trying to figure out ... It was just written [in the script] that I was making out with someone. We were going, 'Well, who can you bring in for one day who's comfortable to make out with, who's in the [COVID] testing cycle?" We thought about it and I said to my partner, "Is that something you'd be comfortable with?' Because the idea had been thrown out there. And they said, 'Yeah, for sure,' and so it worked out that way."

In the interview, Kay noted that everyone in the production was fully on board with the idea. She also appreciated the fact that the scene was presented without unnecessary fanfare, and that the feedback has been positive.