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[TV Spoilers] Varys' sexuality subtly revealed


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#1 Umberto

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 08:50 PM

I have watched this episode twice now, and I think I have found something many people have missed. I'm referring to the second scene in the episode, with Varys, Tyrion, and Shae.

The first part of the conversation is light and fun, before the overall tone gets serious by Varys mentioning he knows about Shae not being allowed in King's Landing. Here is the part I am referencing:

Tyrion: "Strange things do happen, you should taste her fish pie."

Shae: "I don't think Lord Varys likes fish pie."

Varys: "How can you tell?" (in a playful tone)

Shae: "I can always tell." (smiling)

*Varys leans his head back and smiles at Shae*

Tyrion: "Men like Lord Varys and I can't let our disadvantages get the best of us. We'll make a fisherman of him yet."


Now that this little tidbit has been written down for you to analyze, I probably don't have to go into too much detail as to what I think it means. I also want to mention that I don't really care about Varys' sexuality, but I just found this little bit interesting as it seems very subtle but also obvious at the same time. It seems to me that David and Dan are suggesting that Varys is gay. I could be looking too much into it, but I've watched this scene so many times, I can't come up with any other conclusion as to why it was written this particular way.

Of course this revelation doesn't affect the story at all, but I'm just happy to have found something that no one else seems to have found. Tell me I'm not crazy?

#2 Proudwing

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 03:11 AM

I think she's referencing that he is a eunuch, and therefore has no sexual desire, rather than that he is gay.

#3 Sixshells

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 04:23 AM

I also thought they were suggesting, not that subtly, that Varys is gay. I may mistake with another book, but isn't there a passage somewhere saying that
Spoiler
I think it's in a conversation with Tyrion.

#4 Clariana

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 04:26 AM

Actually eunuchs IRL can and do have sexual desires. GRR later references this explicitly in ADwD, so and reading this as it is set out above... I concur with the OP and thank him for bringing this interesting titbit to the table.

I also like the reference fisherman, Tyrion is so clever isn't he?

#5 Ser Sweets

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 04:32 AM

Actually eunuchs IRL can and do have sexual desires. GRR later references this explicitly in ADwD,


And there are multiple ways to pleasure a man without involving his penis or testicles.

The most obvious way would be mostly dealt by another male, though.

I always assumed Varys had homosexual tendencies; not only for being a eunuch, since in the books there are eunuchs later who are heterosexual, but also for his demeanour, attire, and general depiction as a character.

I liked the subtle clarification added into the show. :>

#6 Isis

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 06:55 AM

I noticed that dialogue when I watched the episode, yes... because I was paying close attention. Isn't that what people do when they are really interested in something? I didn't think it was such a momentous revelation. *shrug*

#7 Francis Buck

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:16 AM

Yeah, I also didn't take it as particularly meaningful. To me it was just a reference to Varys being a eunuch, which Tyrion called him out on with the "fishpie" thing. And I've never had impression that Varys was supposed to be gay. He seems pretty disinterested in sex or any sort of companionship in general, regardless of whether or not he actually could experience sexual gratification.

#8 zippypoodle

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:20 AM

Didn't Littlefinger imply last season that Varys was into little boys?

As for eunuchs having sex, I remember reading somewhere that European castrati (guys castrated when young to maintain their high voices but combining that with the male vocal power when adults) often had flings with high-class women because there was no possibility of pregnancy although they could still "perform", as it were.

#9 Silverx2

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:28 AM

Didn't Littlefinger imply last season that Varys was into little boys?


I believe that was in reference to the fact that many of Vary's "little birds" where in fact children workers throughout kings landning.

In regards to the fishpie remark, that would at least for me, lead to the idea of a oral activity, which I'm more then sure a eunuch could perform. This would point to the fact that he is gay yes, which i didnt think was ever in doubt was it?

Also in I want to say a storm of swords one of Danys unsullied was paying to lay with a whore, not for anything routinely sexual but to be held by a naked women. So yes eunuchs can get enjoyment out of it.

#10 Lord Varys

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:30 AM

Varys did sell his (remaining) private parts while living on the streets of Myr. But that was after he was cut, and he did it most likely not for pleasure.

Eunuchs also want to love and be loved, that's true, but Varys is not as stupid to let his desires/wishes to get the better of him. In fact, he and Tyrion actually discuss this topic in ASoS, and Varys very hints at the fact that Tyrion's obsession with Shae will prove to be his downfall.

Varys was rather pissed by Littlefinger indicating he could use his little birds for his sexual pleasure. That's most likely not the case. Not in the series, and not in the books.

#11 Hear Us Roar

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:44 AM

well i think she is referring to the fact that she thinks he is asexual because he is a eunuch. That is not true but the way they view sexuality back then, that is why the did it to male guarding females.

#12 sarah.jenice

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:48 AM

I interpreted it as he was gay because I thought he looked surprise when Shae told him she could always tell. I took it as Shae saying Varys didn't like women, and he asked her how she could tell.

I thought Tyrion saying he was going to make a fisherman of him yet was one of his funniest lines.

#13 Mr. E

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 09:36 AM

Interesting tidbit to notice. I myself never thought Varys was gay; it was fairly apparent from the start that his "feminine attire" if I may, that a couple have referenced (the powders, the perfumes, the giggling) is just an act anyway. I D&D did mean to imply this, however, it's a great study of subtlety in dialogue.

#14 Lord Varys

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 09:40 AM

I interpreted this 'I can always tell' as a nod towards book Shae's talent to see through Varys's disguises. He was rather pissed about that in the books. But the start of the conversation was Varys commenting about Shae's cover story (Tyrion finding her in Tywin's kitchens), so I rather believe this was all part of the veiled threats business.

#15 Blood Rider

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:03 AM

The scene was more to me like veiled threats disguised cleverly in a trade of words. Witty and humorous. I would love to see Shae's gaydar on Loras Tyrell though.

#16 Hyper

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:58 AM

I always assumed Varys had homosexual tendencies; not only for being a eunuch, since in the books there are eunuchs later who are heterosexual, but also for his demeanour, attire, and general depiction as a character.


Remember that Varys is an actor. Everything he does is carefully done to project a certain image. This is why people don't recognize him in his disguises.

Edited by Hyper, 12 April 2012 - 11:00 AM.


#17 Ser Lepus

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:38 PM

People in Westeros seem to have certain preconceptions with regard to eunuchs (all become effeminate, etc.), so maybe Shae is just repeating those preconceptions. Even if she can perceive that Varys isn´t lusting over her, that doesn´t mean that he is homosexual, but Shae probably thinks that every man who doesn´t desire her is gay.

#18 Envie

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:19 PM

I also think the point of that scene was more about the veiled threats as others have said and not so much to 'expose' Varys' sexuality one way or the other.

Someone else also pointed out that later in the books, we learn that Eunuchs do in fact still have desires (whether sexual or just for affection) as is revealed with the Unsullied slaves after freed, do go to whorehouses.

Varys has verbally sparred with Littlefinger on more than one occasion about his sexuality and I felt Varys won that one with his "you seem unusually obsessed with my gash" remarks personally. He successfully deflected Littlefinger's insinuation about his little birds being boys that Varys must be interested in sexually too.

Varys has spent many years perfecting the art of being neutral and I believe this translates into his sexuality as well. I don't think Littlefinger has any dirt on him at all in that regards, and Tyrion's likely just poking at an already well poked at sore spot for Varys. Varys clearly is used to this sort of insinuating and doesn't bat an eye at it when Tyrion tries to use it as a threat. That's why Tyrion had to stop him forcefully at the door and just come right out and say what he wanted to say - because he knows Varys is the master of masking emotions and using veiled threats.

Is Varys asexual or homosexual? We don't know and the scene probably helps viewers start to wonder this for themselves. Martin has never explicitly said in the books. But then again he never explicitly said Renly and Loras were lovers either so there's always wiggle room for interpretation.

#19 Im no Ser

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:26 PM

As Tyrion follows it up by talking about "our disadvantages", I assume the line was a reference to the fact that they both have physical disadvantages - e.g., Tyrion's dwarfism and Varys castration.

I've always wondered whether Varys was a eunuch at all, or whether it was just yet another disguise that he wears. Shae's line seems to settle it for the series, given her ability to see through his disguises.

#20 Envie

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:29 PM

I've always wondered whether Varys was a eunuch at all, or whether it was just yet another disguise that he wears. Shae's line seems to settle it for the series, given her ability to see through his disguises.


Really? I guess I've never considered over the years of book reading that Varys could be lying and in fact using his 'Eunuch' status as part of his disguise. But to what purpose? I'm not sure how being castrated by foreigners before he came to Westeros is of any real advantage to him in his role as the 'spider' or spy of the royal court.