Roose Boltons Pet Leech

Queer characters in fantasy

119 posts in this topic

Oh I have the history of the realms book and used to be big into that shit. I just don't remember elminster being bi, although wasn't he a hot girl at one point?

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3 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Oh I have the history of the realms book and used to be big into that shit. I just don't remember elminster being bi, although wasn't he a hot girl at one point?

Yes, in the Elminster Making of a Mage.

In the original novel, apparently, "Elmara" had a relationship with a male fighter and a couple of other men. Also, El and his scribe (who was the King of Amn was it?) were believed to be in a relationship, which was actually true.

At least briefly.

Edited by C.T. Phipps

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9 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I rather like the complex little web of relationships depicted in The Rain Wild Chronicles between; Hest-Sedric; Sedric-Carson; Hest-Alise; Alise-Leftrin. Three of those characters are gay but the whole web of relationships explores the complexities and nuances quite well I think (hiding your sexuality; abusive relationships; healthy relationships; conflict of emotions, etc.)

Oh good call. I didn't think her writing was as beautiful as previous series but I did think these character relationships were quite deep and well done.

In a similar vein to comics there are also a few in the more recent WIld Cards books which vary from being a bit male gazey exploitative to really excellent. Michelle/Bubbles and Ink and Joey are great.

If we're including games I feel like a lot of the Bioware examples aren't great bisexual characters. They've copped to the term "Playersexual" being a thing in their games, where the character doesn't have a discrete sexuality of their own and is simply attracted to the player character. They're not all like that though, and as I went through and tried to list them all I think most of them are genuinely queer. There are some examples of bad stereotypes (slutty bisexual - Zevran, Isabella, Kelly Chambers - its possible to do it right, as some people are genuinely like that but they need to be more fleshed out and I think these fell short). I'd also add Life is Strange - Chloe and depending on how you play Max.

I haven't read the Mortal Instruments and don't intend to, but I actually really liked Magnus and Alec in the TV show this year. Doesn't help that Magnus is hot as hell though.

Did think the conversation was more restricted to fantasy books more than entertainment media generally though, and that's where there could definitely be more in the mainstream. 

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I unfortunately kept expanding the list as I included urban fantasy and later superheroes.

My bad.

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19 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Other fantasy characters I can think of on the GLBT spectrum I can think of:

Phillipa Eilhart (lesbian, The Witcher)
Triss Merrigold (Bisexual, The Witcher)
Ciri (Bisexual, The Witcher)

 

Can I just point out these are only lesbian or bisexual in the sense that they are there to titillate straight men. Especially Phillipa Eilheart is so gratuitous it is utterly cringeworthy. This is actually worse than having them just be straight, since it indicates bisexual and lesbian women exist only as eyecandy to straight men, and their sexuality exists only to be objectified. It was utterly sickening to have to sit through.

There is, even to my straight eyes, a huge difference between queer characters existing seamlessly within the story, and when they are clearly inserted to be objectified and sexualised. The Witcher is horrendous in this regard, managing to objectify and sexualise women in an utterly brutal fashion, while simultaneously mocking female desire when even hinted it and generally treating any hint of female sexuality outside of the scope of "titillating to straight men" as unfathomable. It is only there as a reaction to male sexuality, and does not exist on its own.

Edited by Lyanna Stark

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Speaking of short stories and novellas, last few days confirmed my opinion that it's the best place to find well written queer characters in fantasy/SFF. The new novella A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson is fantastically written (I just love the author's style, it's really one of a kind) and has a queer main character. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by the same author has a very different queer main character and plot is just as impressive overall. They aren't strictly fantasy (all the superpowers some characters have are explained with plenty of super high tech technobabble) but they are close enough to count for me.

I also recently read Gail Carriger's novella Romancing the Inventor, it's very nice minor spinoff of her Parasol Protectorate series and it's a romance with two lesbina main characters, very nicely done.

As for the most remarkable queer characters in fantasy, my pick is Imp from The Drowning Girl by Caitlin Kiernan.

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On ‎11‎/‎8‎/‎2016 at 1:13 AM, C.T. Phipps said:

 

I'm a huge fan of grimdark and have written a number of articles for Grimdark Magazine. However, one policy which has gotten me in some online arguments is the fact I take points off for rape in novels. Generally, I think of it as an immensely overused and lazy storytelling device.

Not always, mind you, but often enough it's just a stock tool. My hands down least favorite use of it being the treatment of Terez (a lesbian) in The First Law Trilogy. The ending of the character is she's sentenced to a lifetime of rape via extortion. The horror of the action isn't necessarily worse than the murder and radiation burns and insanity and so on which afflicts much of the story. It's just the story is framed as Glokta "solving" Jezal's problem - and I've heard many fans think it's supposed to be a good thing for showing Terez up.

Given we never get Terez's depiction or side of things, it also feels like it's about how she's affected Jezal and Glokta than the reverse. It's also the moment I lost all sympathy for the Inquisitor.

You made some very interesting posts about a year ago, which made me view Terez in a rather different light than I did previously.  I had seen her as being a female Ladisla, but Ladisla would never have sacrificed his own happiness to save a lover or friend.

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19 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I rather like the complex little web of relationships depicted in The Rain Wild Chronicles between; Hest-Sedric; Sedric-Carson; Hest-Alise; Alise-Leftrin. Three of those characters are gay but the whole web of relationships explores the complexities and nuances quite well I think (hiding your sexuality; abusive relationships; healthy relationships; conflict of emotions, etc.)

 

eta; and while on the topic of Hobb, the Fool really ought to be brought up. IMO a very good character for challenging concepts of gender and relationships. Also, see Ash/Spark.

Oh, and Kennit might be worth a mention too, but that's a whole fucked up situation so not sure it's the best example, or really applicable here

  Reveal hidden contents

he has an obvious infatuation with Wintrow, which he doesn't act on until Althea shows up, possibly because she is a woman and so it's "acceptable." But the infatuation itself is all kinds of strange because of Kennit's rape by Igrot. So is it genuine attraction, or just some perverse and sad replay of his own experiences? So, not entirely sure, but thought it was worth the mention

Hest had one of the funniest final scenes I've ever read, although overall, I enjoyed the Rain Wilds the least of Hobb's series.

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6 hours ago, Lyanna Stark said:

Can I just point out these are only lesbian or bisexual in the sense that they are there to titillate straight men. Especially Phillipa Eilheart is so gratuitous it is utterly cringeworthy. This is actually worse than having them just be straight, since it indicates bisexual and lesbian women exist only as eyecandy to straight men, and their sexuality exists only to be objectified. It was utterly sickening to have to sit through.

There is, even to my straight eyes, a huge difference between queer characters existing seamlessly within the story, and when they are clearly inserted to be objectified and sexualised. The Witcher is horrendous in this regard, managing to objectify and sexualise women in an utterly brutal fashion, while simultaneously mocking female desire when even hinted it and generally treating any hint of female sexuality outside of the scope of "titillating to straight men" as unfathomable. It is only there as a reaction to male sexuality, and does not exist on its own.

There's a yes, no, and a caveat to this Lyanna Stark. I don't want to undercut your point because you're like 99% right and there's a reason that plenty of bisexuals in fiction are there to titillate male readers and having my wife's fiction nearby, the same is exactly true for the female readers. You can easily go to The Vampire Chronicles and Anita Blake to get more than an eye full of how all the men lust after each other when they're not lusting after female characters. The whole Yaoi subgenre exists for this and well, men have their less literary version.

It's pandering, essentially, to the straight readers' sexuality.

HOWEVER, in the case of the Witcher, I'd like to clarify this isn't the case in the books. Phillipa Eilhart is a lesbian in the books (possibly bisexual) but is never shown to be anything other than a cold-blooded political schemer whose sexual preferences are just mentioned in passing as well as never come-up on camera, let alone to Geralt. Triss Merrigold's reference to being bisexual actually plays a role in the story as she is in love with Yennefer as well as Geralt but betrays both of them to the Lodge of Sorceresses. Geralt also never hooks up with her in the books either save in backstory. There's some definite sex in the books with Geralt but it's all with heterosexual women.

Ciri is actually a, well, I wouldn't call her a positive bisexual role model because at some point Sapkowski started to hate his characters. Either that or he got a sadistic pleasure from mentally and physically torturing them. If you're a cold-blooded bastard obsessed with lesbian sex, maybe you could see Mistle and Ciri's relationship as romantic but it's actually horrifically abusive on both sides as the power dynamics shift. Ciri later is set up for a relationship with men but her attraction is also due to being a slave who must sleep with one of the Elf Lords to avoid being murdered (which she doesn't).

This is a contrast to say, Kushiel's Dart where the bisexuality is definitely an element of titillation.

Or yes, the games where hot lesbian sexTM is the whole Philipa/Cynthia/Geralt part. Also, the "joke" sex scene of The Witcher 3. They also have Ciri think wistfully about Mistle and...no. Just no. Although, I feel bad for her character.

*F-ed up Witcher spoilers*

 

Ciri after teleporting away from the Tower of Magicians loses her Chosen OneTM powers due to a magical accident. She's then captured by a group of local bandits who murder and rape with impunity but are beloved by the locals because they're so gosh darn pretty. They're all young and beautiful so people make excuses for them.

They're called the Rats.

Mistle is one of the prettier ones and second in command. She rescues Ciri from being raped by their leader, who thinks she's consenting, only to rape Ciri herself for the exact same reason. Ciri, realizing she's in a foreign land with starvation as a real possibility, "consents" to being Mistle's sex toy. However, because Ciri is a swordswoman, she is quickly promoted in the group and the power dynamics shift as Mistle falls in love with her.

Whereas Ciri looks down at Mistle as pathetic and starts using her for sex while verbally abusing her and destroying her self-esteem in revenge. Then Leo Bonhart captures the Rats and saws off Mistle's head in front of Ciri, perpetually traumatizing her forever. Because....the books are royally fucked up.

 

Edited by C.T. Phipps

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28 minutes ago, SeanF said:

You made some very interesting posts about a year ago, which made me view Terez in a rather different light than I did previously.  I had seen her as being a female Ladisla, but Ladisla would never have sacrificed his own happiness to save a lover or friend.

Thanks!

It's one of those cases where the endings change everything and the lack of a perspective really makes a point. In the case of Terez, she's being married against her will and is a lesbian in a country which is under siege with her lover as well as friends (plus herself) in horrific danger. One of her more interesting moments is the fact she is exasperated at Jezal's attempts to win her over and tired--which to me says she isn't actually all that prejudiced against Jezal, she just doesn't want to sleep with him.

However, we don't know this because Jezal is one of the least observant people on the planet. It's only Glokta who deduces her true motivations, condemning her to a decade of rape.

At least that was my view on it.

I'm kind of sad she didn't get a couple of POV chapters because the ending is nightmarish for everyone but the people who most deserved an unhappy one.

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2 hours ago, SeanF said:

Hest had one of the funniest final scenes I've ever read, although overall, I enjoyed the Rain Wilds the least of Hobb's series.

Agreed on both counts. Its particularly funny because of the irony, Hest being such a narsisstic twit and all.

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Ooops...

Renly
Loras
Daemon II
Possibly the Blackflsh

Forgot those guys.

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4 minutes ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Ooops...

Renly
Loras
Daemon II
Possibly the Blackflsh

Forgot those guys.

Also add Egg's third son, Daeron, and Rhaenyra's first husband, Laenor Velaryon

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12 hours ago, Lyanna Stark said:

Can I just point out these are only lesbian or bisexual in the sense that they are there to titillate straight men. Especially Phillipa Eilheart is so gratuitous it is utterly cringeworthy. This is actually worse than having them just be straight, since it indicates bisexual and lesbian women exist only as eyecandy to straight men, and their sexuality exists only to be objectified. It was utterly sickening to have to sit through.

There is, even to my straight eyes, a huge difference between queer characters existing seamlessly within the story, and when they are clearly inserted to be objectified and sexualised. The Witcher is horrendous in this regard, managing to objectify and sexualise women in an utterly brutal fashion, while simultaneously mocking female desire when even hinted it and generally treating any hint of female sexuality outside of the scope of "titillating to straight men" as unfathomable. It is only there as a reaction to male sexuality, and does not exist on its own.

Quoted for truth.

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2 hours ago, Corvinus said:

Also add Egg's third son, Daeron, and Rhaenyra's first husband, Laenor Velaryon

Also Jon Connington, a POV character.

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Mortal Instruments is the very definition of gay men that are gay cause omg that would be so hot(also see Monette). I could write an entire novel about everything wrong with that series.

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15 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Mortal Instruments is the very definition of gay men that are gay cause omg that would be so hot(also see Monette). I could write an entire novel about everything wrong with that series.

I think in the show that is true but it's also a case of not caring too much about the yaoi lite aspect of it because they're genuinely a nice pairing that work really well. But yeah, totally that the books and show are very much guilty of this. 

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Ha, I had no idea there was a show, I just know the books and that....film...but yes there are worse, I guess. Least no one is getting raped.

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14 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

There's a yes, no, and a caveat to this Lyanna Stark. I don't want to undercut your point because you're like 99% right and there's a reason that plenty of bisexuals in fiction are there to titillate male readers and having my wife's fiction nearby, the same is exactly true for the female readers. You can easily go to The Vampire Chronicles and Anita Blake to get more than an eye full of how all the men lust after each other when they're not lusting after female characters. The whole Yaoi subgenre exists for this and well, men have their less literary version.

It's pandering, essentially, to the straight readers' sexuality.

 

I think there is quite a lot of difference between the structurally oppressive gaze employed in the Witcher game, and other similar stories, and the female gaze in UF/Paranormal Romance written by women. For one, the female gaze does not carry with it the structural and social oppression the male gaze does, and it is extremely rarely tied as closely to social constructs like slut shaming.

With regards to Yaoi I'm unsure why it was brought in as a point of reference when there is absolute bucketloads of "normal" slash, which while generally aimed at straight women isn't universally so. To me, the difference here is more that whether it is yaoi or slash or femslash or whatever, it carries with it a resistance to the prevalent male gaze. It offers an alternative. (Which is unfair to queer people as this subset of literature gets crowded with straight women, too). But, it points to something important:  the male gaze is so prevalent its opposite basically exists mainly in fanfic. Also, when the female gaze is employed in publish fiction like UF/Paranormal romance, it carries with it some very traditional ideas of masculinity. It's ok for male characters to have to hots for eachother if they're like superhot vampires/wherewolves/fucking elves and as long as they are master fighters/super rich etc.

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Straight women writing homosexual males for aesthetic purposes is one thing (though I dislike sexually objectifying people on principle... as a straight male, I do not actually find gratuitous lesbianism titillating,* and strongly prefer Queer characters to exist on their own terms, not simply to get the audience off). My much bigger concern is straight women enjoying the aesthetics of homosexual rape (*cough* Monette *cough*).

*Confession time. I have written slashfic, but purely for trolling purposes. My infamous Dobby, Gollum, and Yoda threesome is about eliciting nausea, not arousal.  

Edited by Roose Boltons Pet Leech

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