Roose Boltons Pet Leech

Queer characters in fantasy

119 posts in this topic

Eh, Dumbledore being gay is still a major male character being a homosexual in children's fiction even if his romance didn't work out. Wwhat if Dumbeldore's love had been The Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time. The double standard is that if it was a sexy evil villainess that it would be okay for the hero mentor figure to be with her in the past as long as he still chose good.

So there's layers to this and ultimately it's that Dumbledore chose Goodness over Romance either way and it reinforces his fundamental decency.

Edited by C.T. Phipps

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Thanks for throwing it into another thread. So...

Quote

Alternatively, I do wonder if Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen playing around with sexy female underlings has an element of male-orientated fanservice attached (both characters are also heterosexual in all other settings, so this bout of homosexual activity is likely more experimentation than full-blown bisexuality).

I actually draw a distinction between these two. I absolutely feel that this is accurate for Dany in the books (Dany in the show they seem to be exploring this a little more), however I don't think it's about sexuality at all for Cersei - its about gender. Her behaviour throughout aFFC can be read as her being flushed with power and decided she can act as a man would act, or more specifically - like Robert did act. Her alcoholism intensifying and her relationship with Taena are both components of this, and the way she fucked Taena (deliberate word choice on my part, they aren't having sex at least on the occasion that most stands out in my mind - Cersei is fucking Taena) is very much emulating her perception of how Robert was. I think its an excellent piece of characterisation, as opposed to Dany which doesn't even qualify as characterisation.

On Cnaiur - He's so close and yet so damn far. Taken by himself, and outside wider societal context, I think he's so close to being perfect if you just dropped that scene with Conphas near the end. Everything about the complicated and abusive relationship with Kellhus and the projection of Moe onto Kellhus I think works within the character and his unravelling sanity, but that bit with Conphas...why? It does nothing to further the characterisation of either of them, and comes so near the end that there isn't even time for there to have been narrative consequences. And then you consider the wider context and things get worse, but that's not so much for this thread.

I agree that bisexuality/pansexuality run into particular difficulty in terms of audience perceptions, with a level of pressure on them to 'prove' their bisexuality on screen and even then it can be difficult. Is Cnaiur bisexual, or is he gay yet the product of a society where that isn't acceptable and he tries to repress it through his wives and Serwe? I tend to read it more as the latter, and it's not like the character can even tell us. I think to a certain extent an author needs to ignore pressure to prove it, and focus on writing the character as authentic in whatever they are meant to be. Which is harder when its not a point of view character. But show their attraction and interest, you don't need to actually be having sex scenes to show that. Yes there are some that will deny it, but you can't win on every front so ignore them. You avoid queer baiting by making it authentic. I do feel Oberyn passes this for what its worth.

Finally for a positive note - I read The Fifth Season by N.K Jimisin and it had some fantastic representation in it. It wasn't shoehorned in, it didn't feel like it was just trying to meet a quota, it was genuinely reflecting variety in people and depicting this as parts of their identity. Managing to have a

Spoiler

trans woman, a bisexual man, another queer man, a polyamorous triad

in this way stands so far above most of the genre. There is also the bonus of showing a woman's sexuality in terms of her actual interest and desires in a way that is almost never depicted *anywhere* in regular media, not just in fantasy. I'm trying to think of other places I've seen positive queer depictions recently and I can't think of them off the top of my head, although I feel reasonably confident that I have. Perhaps I'm thinking of Sci-Fi though (multiple in The Expanse for example).

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5 minutes ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Eh, Dumbledore being gay is still a major male character being a homosexual in children's fiction even if his romance didn't work out. Because what if Dumbeldore's love had been The Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time. Because the double standard is that if it was a sexy evil villainess that it would be okay for the hero mentor figure to be with her in the past as long as he still chose good.

But we think of it as awful that he was with "Wizard-Hitler" but not so much if he was with Wizard-Sexy Villainess.

So there's layers to this and ultimately it's that Dumbledore chose Goodness over Romance either way and it reinforces his fundamental decency.

This is another of those things where a certain style of depiction may be fine if we were at the point of representation being solid in general, but can be problematic when you're in the process of getting there. I can't say definitively which way I feel on Dumbledore because I've not read through all of HP, generally speaking I'd say there is more room for negative depictions of gay characters than there are for trans characters for example. For the latter case I just don't think societal views of trans people allow for nuance in depiction, there are too many negative associations that an audience map onto real trans women generally so I'm very wary of this until we're in a better place.

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Speaking as an author, I struggled with this myself as I wanted to make books which reflected a queer-friendly universe but worried of accidentally running into other tropes. I invariably write stories with anti-hero protagonists and lots of dark material even when I'm being funny so it's something I'm conscious of.

I will say, I do take it as a badge of honor every time I get hatemail saying, "I hate your SJW book" or "Way too preachy." I've also got positive male on the subject so I think I'm doing it right.

42 minutes ago, karaddin said:

This is another of those things where a certain style of depiction may be fine if we were at the point of representation being solid in general, but can be problematic when you're in the process of getting there. I can't say definitively which way I feel on Dumbledore because I've not read through all of HP, generally speaking I'd say there is more room for negative depictions of gay characters than there are for trans characters for example. For the latter case I just don't think societal views of trans people allow for nuance in depiction, there are too many negative associations that an audience map onto real trans women generally so I'm very wary of this until we're in a better place.

Interestingly, I think you're right and I am reminded of the issue of two different video games including trans characters and how they were received.

Krem in Dragon Age: Inquisition was received really well by the trans community despite a very minor role.

Ned in Assassins Creed: Syndicate, not so much.

Notably, both came from transphobic societies but Ned was specifically Victorian, London and his trans status was never addressed while Krems in the fantasy world was.

Edited by C.T. Phipps

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8 hours ago, karaddin said:

Thanks for throwing it into another thread. So...

I actually draw a distinction between these two. I absolutely feel that this is accurate for Dany in the books (Dany in the show they seem to be exploring this a little more), however I don't think it's about sexuality at all for Cersei - its about gender. Her behaviour throughout aFFC can be read as her being flushed with power and decided she can act as a man would act, or more specifically - like Robert did act. Her alcoholism intensifying and her relationship with Taena are both components of this, and the way she fucked Taena (deliberate word choice on my part, they aren't having sex at least on the occasion that most stands out in my mind - Cersei is fucking Taena) is very much emulating her perception of how Robert was. I think its an excellent piece of characterisation, as opposed to Dany which doesn't even qualify as characterisation.

 

I always thought that Cersei was rather infatuated with Taena.  She's frequently thinking about how gorgeous and sexy Taena is (while also branding her a "Myrish slut").  I think that what Cersei loves above all is the way that Taena is constantly flattering her.  You just know that Taena is playing her for a fool.

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You know I havent read aFFC in ages, I'm 100% positive that what I said is there but I'm not at all confident what you're saying isn't also there so happy to accept that as at minimum a valid read of it.

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1 hour ago, karaddin said:

You know I havent read aFFC in ages, I'm 100% positive that what I said is there but I'm not at all confident what you're saying isn't also there so happy to accept that as at minimum a valid read of it.

I agree that what you say is there, but I also think there's more.

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13 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Ned in Assassins Creed: Syndicate, not so much

 

Ned feels like the devs made him trans simply for the sake of inclusiveness.

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In my experience short fiction is the best place in SFF if you are looking for good depiction of queer characters.Tor.com, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Uncanny, etc. all published quite a few such stories these days.

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My nerdiest gay friend has been a devout fan of the Harry Potter series since he was a pre-teen, and has always loved Dumbledore as his favorite queer character. He prefers lighter fare, and didn't care for Prince of Nothing or The Steel Remains which I've recommended to him upon asking me about queer folk in fantasy - then again, I didn't enjoy the latter much either, and the former is definitely not for someone who really only dabbles in YA genre fiction. 

Anyway, we were randomly talking the other day about the new Potter-verse movie coming out. He's an enormous fan of everything Rowling, and will be there for the early midnight screener, most likely in costume. He mentioned something I find pertinent to this thread - that Dumbledore may very well be a character in these upcoming four sequels. With that assumption, and also taking into account Rowling's LGBT support, its' fairly likely we'll see some part of Dumbledore's sexuality on screen. There'd be a pretty negative backlash if he were in the movies, but they didn't address his being such an important and queer character. This is all from my friend's mouth - I have never read the books, and while I enjoyed the movies well enough, I certainly am no expert, nor highly opinionated either way. I just think it would be pretty neat if those movies are making a billion bucks apiece, and young fans got to witness a heroic mainstream queer character.

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If you are looking for a major gay character, I am surprised that no one has yet mentioned Delaney's Neveryon series. The protagonist  is definitely  gay and Delaney is always a great read.

Edited by maarsen
F***ing auto fill

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I really liked A LAND FIT FOR HEROES for the fact it had two major queer characters.

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Cnair isn't exactly uh, how do I put this. I don't want to say he's a negative portrayal, really, but if someone was looking for more queer heroes that's not exactly what I would recommend to someone.  He's kind of a psychopath.

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Amusingly enough, I wrote my term paper for my Queer Theory course about Cnaiur as a case study in genre fiction. Through the lens of gender performativity from Judith Butler and Foucaldian discoursive regimes. Can't recall most of my points. Mostly that a toxic, fetishized, hypermasculine, heterosexual culture could so easily pervert the narrative of queer self-emancipation into something defective and debilitating. Saying that Cnaiur is kind of psychopath, and also queer, therefore: queerness = mental instability seems rather reductive. 

I also recall a video from Anita Sarkeesian of all people, where she was talking about Caprica, the spin-off of Battlestar Galactica. How the brother of the Adama patriarch was a hitman for the Tauran mafia, this secondary character was also a homosexual man. She was saying that this was poor queer representation because this character was super amoral, a murderous thug, and rather brutish. That people who have a negative impression of queer persons will look to this as a proof of queer immorality. My immediate thought is that this is absurd confirmation bias. If an individual already has a profoundly biased or bigoted relationship with queer individuals, any "positive queer identity" will mean little to them. They would probably see it as some propaganda or whatnot.  I should also say that within the context of Caprica, that character's (I don't recall his name, it's been years since I watched that show) queerness was never ever portrayed as a negative thing. He merely happened to be a hitman for the mob who was homosexual.

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I also want to say that my favorite queer fantasy character in all fiction has to be Lord Vivec from TES III: Morrowind. The Warrior-Poet, the Holy God-King of Vvardenfell.

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Uh, I don't think I understood anything you said.

 

Edit: I never meant to imply mental instability = queerness or the other way around.

Edited by Darth Richard II

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It's the "Girls need Rolemodels" and "Positive Discrimination Bias" problem.

Sam Adama (the Hitman from Caprica) is a great character who just so happens to be gay. He's also a mobster, a murderer, and a hitman. The problem with Anita Sarkesian's theory which has been commented on even among her supporters is she tends to only want positive non-violent characters for representation. In effect, the short version is she doesn't like antiheroes. The thing is that antiheroes are great characters which straight people have loved to include in their media for the whole of fiction.

Sand Glokta is a horrible horrible person but he's straight. He's also a great character. Is he suddenly a bad one if he was gay?

I think not.

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On 4/11/2016 at 7:38 PM, C.T. Phipps said:

The thing is that antiheroes are great characters which straight people have loved to include in their media for the whole of fiction.

Yeah, but the whole of fiction is absolutely packed full of straight characters of all varieties, not just antiheroes, while queer characters are terribly rare, so each one carries a great deal of significance. The solution to the problem is more representation, not being less fussy about the little we currently get. Though as far as I recall I think Sam Adama is actually a pretty good character anyway; he's not notably worse a person than the rest of the cast, and in particular he's in a happy long term relationship with a guy who isn't a hitman.

Rebecca Levene's Hollow Gods series is pretty good for queer content, including one of the main characters being a gay man.

Edited by felice

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