It always warms my heart to see some LGBTQ characters in my videogames. After all, I fell in love with games long before I fell in love with dudes. Though I wouldn’t label myself as a “gaymer,” per se, I’m all for equal representation in all aspects of life.
So to mark the end of LGBTQ Pride Month – as well as pride weekend in New York City and San Francisco – I’ve decided to put together a list of some of the best representations of gay men and women.
This is obviously not a complete list. Sure, I could have put in FemShep from Mass Effect or The Grey Warden from Dragon Age: Origins, but the sexuality of those characters are up to the will of the player. Instead, the following guys and gals were made to stay true to themselves and they rock it.
These, in my eyes, are some of the best gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer* videogame characters that I’ve taken notice of over the years.
Bridget – Guilty Gear
Though his sexuality is never made explicit in any of the many Guilty Gear installments, Bridget is comfortable in girls clothes and quick to show off his masculinity.
Not only is Bridget outgoing and well-liked by the other characters in the series (when they aren’t trying to bludgeon each other with giant anchors of course), he is a powerful combatant as well.
Poison – Final Fight / Street Fighter
“I’m not just hotter than you, I also just kicked your ass!“
Poison is one of the few trans characters in gaming. She originally hails from beat-’em-up classic Final Fight but has trickled down to the Street Fighter series, having recently appeared in Street Fighter x Tekken.
Poison is a reformed street tough-turned-Pro Wrestling Manager, but she comes fully equipped with her own deadly arsenal of fighting techniques. Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono has even confirmed that Poison had always been considered a post-op trans woman.
And though her mannerisms make her an edgy sort of character, Poison seems to be on the side of fighting for the good guys these days.
Joachim Valentine – Shadow Hearts: Covenant
Shadow Hearts sports a few obviously gay characters who—though considered part of the “good guys”–are too often painted in stereotypes. But Shadow Hearts: Covenant fully embraces its sexuality and homo-eroticism, from side-quests involving tracking down gay porn to battle tournaments involving men in thongs.
Joachim Valentine is a heroic vampire pro-wrestler who becomes one of the strongest characters in the game. Not only are his weapons giant and ridiculous pieces of junk, but Joachim has several other powerful forms that he can call upon in battle. Certain events and characters make it clear what Joachim’s sexual preference is, though sadly this hero never ends up with a love interest. He does, however, share a very cute and friendly relationship with young Princess Anastasia as her “big brother figure.”
Jun / Kanji Tatsumi / Naoto Shiragane – Persona 2, Persona 4
The Shin Megami Tensei series, as well as the spinoff Persona games, have always been frank about their depictions of religion, spirituality and sexuality. It always surprises me how many gay, trans and drag queen characters have made it into these series of games. And while there have been a few stereotypes here or there, these LGBT characters have always fought for the side of justice.
Jun Kurosu is one of the first playable homosexual characters in the series. A lover of flowers (he even uses them as weapons) and astrology, Jun has a difficult relationship with his parents that results in many tribulations later on in the game. It is possible to maintain a romantic relationship with him and the main character depending on the answers you give to certain questions throughout the game—one of the reasons Persona 2 was initially unreleased in America.
Kanji Tatsumi is the badass punk from Persona 4. He masks his sensitive side with an extremely tough exterior and frequently causes trouble for the police in town. His inner turmoil over his perceived sexuality ends up resulting in a major boss fight. If the main character explores his relationship with Kanji, he discovers that Kanji is willing to be who he is. Though he never officially “comes out,” many fans speculate that Kanji is bisexual for his attraction to both male and female characters in the game.
Naoto Shiragane is the second LGBTQ character on the Persona 4 roster (seriously, this game is amazing for its inclusivity). Naoto is rare in that few if any female-to-male trans characters have seen representation in video games—though there is some discrepancy in their use of pronouns within the context of the game (Naoto seems to be okay with being called either “she” or “he”). Naoto openly dresses as a male and is not afraid to identify as such. Being a detective in a game about a murder mystery, Naoto is seen as a highly respected character. In battle Naoto has some of the most powerful spells in-game and exhibits very few weaknesses. Like Kanji, Naoto’s gender representation is never questioned by the other characters, who are willing to accept Naoto as a capable ally.
Fang and Vanille – Final Fantasy XIII
Please, the way these two interact with each other, their dialogue—it’s a typical case of coding**. Vanille and Fang are two “good friends” from the netherworld of Pulse, who have woken in the midst of a rebellion after being suspended in crystal stasis.
It is made abundantly clear that the bond between Fang and Vanille is strong, almost taken to a romantic level. It’s very Xena and Gabrielle.
Fang was originally conceived as a male character who may have had a more open romantic inclination towards Vanille. But seeing as this is a Japanese-made RPG, the hints are subtle but certain enough.
*While occasionally used as a pejorative, queer in the academic sense can be used to describe any representation of gender or sexuality that sits outside the perceived societal “norm.”
**Coding: A method of illustrating that a certain character is LGBT based on mannerisms, actions, or intentions without explicitly referring to their sexuality or gender preference.