This month will mark a special point in my life. On June 7th, I came out as being a member of the LGBTQ community. I have self-identified as Bisexual for many, many years, but until this month, that information has never been known to anyone, including friends, family, and even my own spouse. I have lived with this secret for longer than I can recall. I don’t know when I knew, but I suspect it’s been longer than even I might believe, but I’m also not surprised.
For as long as video games have been letting me step into the shoes and see through the eyes of various protagonists, I’ve always played a little differently. I would play it off as “wanting to live in the fantasy” or respond to questions of why with “I play a straight dude-bro in real life, let me do something different in video games” but whenever given the choice, I have always chosen to play as the female lead or romance the same-sex NPC characters where choice is given. Looking back on those decisions now, I feel as though I was allowing myself to live vicariously through these on-screen heroes. As part of Pride Month, and in line with our monthly Mega 5 segment here at Mega Dads, I want to highlight 5 of my favorite characters in the LGBTQ community. Let’s begin!
Tracer – Overwatch
When Blizzard released Overwatch back in 2016, they did so to great fanfare. Each member of the cast was unique and all felt different with their own personalities and backstories. One of the standout characters, and most recognizable of these heroes is the quick-witted, charming, and often hilarious, time-manipulating wonder gal, Tracer. She quickly became the de facto “face” of Overwatch, seemingly overnight. To that end, it came as quite a shock when at the time lead Blizzard Writer Chris Metzen confirmed the presence of LGBTQ heroes in the Overwatch universe, but that they [Blizzard] “want it to play out organically, we don’t want it to be a data point or feel contrived in any way.”
Later that year in December of 2016, it was officially revealed that Tracer was a lesbian in the “Reflections” edition of the Overwatch comic. Tracer’s sexuality (as with the sexuality of all of the roster members) is never discussed or mentioned within the game itself, but their inclusion in the backstory and history of the characters points to Blizzard’s desire to include heroes that every fan can see themselves in. Also, I just really think she’s awesome!
Dorian Pavus – Dragon Age
Bioware has a long history of including members of LGBTQ community, often in the form of romanceable party members in their various role-playing games, most notably the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series. Enter Dorian Pavus, a mage of high-standing in the Tevinter Imperium in the kingdom of Thedas. In true Bioware fashion, as a potential party member, Dorian comes with his own unique and somewhat tragic companion quest.
Dorian’s companion quest involves the Inquisitor receiving a letter for Dorian from his father, Magister Halward, which leads to the normally acerbic Dorian opening up to the player about his youth, being sent away from home for “preferring the company of men,” and leading into a fateful meeting where Dorian can choose to forgive his father or remain estranged. Afterward, as Dorian speaks with the Inquisitor about all that’s happened, a male PC may choose to start a romance with him, whereas a female PC who may have flirted with Dorian prior to the revelation, can directly confront him about feeling led on. The removal of any ambiguity with Dorian’s sexuality makes him one of my favorite characters from Bioware’s lineage of often “bisexual based on player choice” NPCs.
Dr. Liara T’Soni – Mass Effect
A perfect example of a game where I will always play the female protagonist, the Mass Effect series is another rainbow-colored feather in the LGBTQ-friendly cap of BioWare. Like Dragon Age and other RPGs before it, when given the choice to play male or female, I will always choose to play through Mass Effect as “Fem Shep”. It’s this specific decision that brings me to number 3 on my list, Dr. Liara T’Soni.
Beyond her being the most humanoid (and therefor in my eyes the most attractive) of the alien species in the series, Liara has the brains, compassion, and general innocence about her that’s impossible not to love. With very few acceptations, Liara is the one party member I always have with me, both for her strong biotic abilities, but also for the inter-character banter she has with the other party members and Shepard herself. Couple all of this with the fact that the entire Asari race are essentially Pan-sexual, with their ability to “meld” and mate with any gender of any species in Citadel space, and it’s easy to call Dr. T’Soni one of my favorite LGBTQ characters.
Sam Greenbriar – Gone Home
Gone Home begins with Katie Greenbriar (Sam’s sister) returning to a surprisingly empty home from a year abroad. Through thorough exploration of the empty home, finding notes, diaries, and other clues, Katie (and the player) slowly learn that Sam is a lesbian. Through some carefully scripted red-herrings, players are meant to infer that Sam has killed herself as a result of her families disapproval in her sexuality and banishment from her would-be girlfriend. A goodbye letter and a bathtub, stained red, point to a potential tragedy; thankfully however, the game’s conclusion is brighter and much more wholesome. Through continued investigation you learn about the process of your sister falling in love and ultimately running away with her girlfriend. At the end of the game, you know that your sister followed her heart despite her family’s disapproval. Sam’s story in Gone Home shows one of deep, personal strength in the face of adversity. The story of one girl following her heart regardless of her familial support is one of both tragedy and love. Though we never get to meet Sam on screen, her story is nonetheless a powerful one that brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.
Ellie & Dina – The Last of Us
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I played through The Last of Us DLC story, Left Behind, but I was eager to learn more about the girl I had come to love through her journey with Joel. It’s been a few years, so my memory is foggy as to if I knew Ellie was gay before playing through that story, but once I knew, it was Earth shattering for me. Not because the protagonist was gay, but because the protagonist from one of the greatest games in the history of the medium was gay. While I may not be a 14-year old girl living in the apocalypse, this was pretty damn comforting to have that magnitude of representation…
Then we got the sequel.
I have no idea if the story of Ellie or her love life was always meant to play out the way it did, but I can tell you that when Ellie and Dina’s relationship took center stage in The Last of Us Part 2, I was elated. Sure, there were infected to murder, humans to seek revenge on, but for me, the relationship between Ellie and Dina was the shining star and I can’t thank Naughty Dog enough for refusing to shy away from such an emotionally charged story of love. The utter devotion shown by Dina towards Ellie is that which I can only hope to emulate in my own life. Though Ellie’s self-destructive nature and primal NEED for revenge may have cost her that which she held closest, the sub-plot of their relationship makes Ellie and Dina my most memorable LGBTQ characters in all of gaming history.
There you have it! These are my personal 5 favorite LGBTQ characters in gaming, but I want to hear about yours! Be sure to tag me on Twitter (@BertoStreams) and let me know what you think! Did I leave someone out? Do you agree with my list? Do you hate it? Let me know!