Believe it or not, there exists a rich history of queer video game characters to draw from. In fact, queer characters have existed in video games for decades. Of course, this isn't to say that the video game industry couldn't use more representation.
Having said that, throughout the dozens and hundreds of video games over the years, with some prominently featuring LGBTQ characters, there has been several queer characters that have stood out. Most of them aren't exactly the protagonists. Some don't even have central roles in the story. Yet, all of them often leave a profound effect on those who bother diving deeper into who they are outside of just being queer.
The Last of Us series, including the DLCs and other accompanying media, gave audiences a chance to see Ellie grow up right before their very eyes. Although much of the original 2013 title focused on Ellie and Joel's fight for survival, the standalone DLC, Left Behind, as well as the 4-part comic book series, American Dreams, gave us a glimpse of all the tragedy that Ellie has lived through at such a young age and a tease of who she's going to become.
In The Last of Us Part 2, we see a grown-up Ellie who seems to have come to her own. The initial reveal trailer, while controversial, was a perfect way to showcase how much Ellie has grown since the events of the first game.
The rest of the game was just as controversial and divisive. Either way, one can't deny that her presence, along with other LGBTQ characters in a game as prominent as The Last of Us Part II, is empowering and inspiring.
Alexios / Kassandra
Ubisoft has consistently made good on its statement that its games were made by a "multicultural team", especially the Assassin's Creed games. From Leonardo DaVinci's homosexuality to having a black female protagonist and putting a trans character in Victorian London, Ubisoft has taken massive steps towards making its games more inclusive without necessarily making a huge fuss out of it.
Odyssey is the most recent and perhaps the best example of this. Considering that the game was set in Ancient Greece, Ubisoft was all but expected to explore Greek sexuality. What most didn't expect was for the protagonists to do it so liberally.
It doesn't matter which of Kassandra and Alexios you end up playing as. Both partake in their fair share of sex, love, and romance, with whoever and whenever they want to.
There's a reason why Odyssey is widely considered one of the best Assassin's Creed games ever.
The Mass Effect trilogy does a great job of making you feel like the entire trilogy is your own adventure. You decide what happens and who you want to happen something with. However, throughout the series, one thing that remains almost consistent (and is hinted at as the canon relationship) is the one between Commander Shepard and Liara T'Soni, the Asari scientist.
Liara is the one constant relationship that lasts until the very end. She's even been featured in the teaser trailer for Mass Effect 4. She's also the only companion that's available to romance for both genders of Shepard. But, while it could've been easy to just simply sexualize the fact that the Asari are non-binary, Mass Effect took its time growing the relationship.
This is more evident if you play as Femshep, which sees the relationship and Liara grow from that introverted bookworm you meet in the first game to becoming Shepard's equal and motivation to fight.
Gone Home tells arguably the greatest coming-out story in all video games. It goes into great detail about exploring what is actually going on inside a girl's head as she processes the fact that she might be into other girls as well. Sam's narration nails the equal parts messy and joyous feeling of falling in love.
All the conversations that Sam and Lonnie have about who they are and how much they mean to each other, as well as the fear of discrimination and not being accepted by the rest of the world, all feel relatable to anyone who's had to struggle with the same feelings before.
Yes. We're going back to Mass Effect for this one. There's a reason why Mass Effect is one of the best LGBTQ games after all. The series might very well be the queerest game in all the universe (pun intended) and another reason for that is Sam Traynor.
Sam was added to the series in Mass Effect 3, which puts her at a serious disadvantage compared to the other characters that have been around since the first game. To make matters worse, she's not a playable character nor a particularly important one. Yet, if you take the time to talk to her, you'll find out that she's a sharp-witted fellow that's confident in who she is.
If you're playing as a male Shepard, Traynor will firmly but gently reject any attempts of flirting with him. However, she's openly flirt with the feminine robot EDI and can even be romanced if you're playing as femshep.
Traynor's relationship with femshep makes for quite the hilarious romantic subplot that peaks in the Citadel DLC where she used an electric toothbrush to save the day.
No. We're not kidding. It's something that you absolutely should see for yourself if only to find out how hilarious the sequence of events leading up to it is. You'll want to pencil it in as another reason to play Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.
Soldier: 76 is the stereotypical soldier. Or, at least he's supposed to be. He has the looks of that type of buffed-up, no non-sense, and very utilitarian character that appears in just about every shooter. Except, well, he completely isn't.
Soldier: 76 might be the archetypical hardass, but this has nothing to do with who he chooses to fall in love with.
Jack Morrison talks about loving a man named Vincent who he regrets leaving behind, as revealed in a conversation with Ana in one of the short stories released for Overwatch. It looks like Vincent has moved on from Jack, but we can't exactly say the same for Soldier: 76.
Apex Legends' diversity is outstanding and may it be the first of many. It has two black women in its playable roster, with a mountain of a man in Gibraltar who is essentially the game's quintessential tank, not being shy about being so open about his sexuality.
Gibraltar's story of becoming who he is in Apex Legends starts because he and his boyfriend went on a joyride in a stolen motorcycle. Things take a turn for the worse as the two get caught in a mudslide where the two had to be rescued by Gibraltar's father. However, this came at the cost of his father's arm, a sacrifice that leads to Gibraltar becoming the best support in Apex Legends.
For the majority of the four-season post-apocalyptic interactive drama, Walking Dead, we see the brave young girl Clementine try and fight to survive in a world swarmed by zombies. In the final season, we see Clementine finally get a chance to explore her sexuality as a seventeen-year-old leader of a group of survivors roughly the same age as her.
Granted, it's up to the players to decide who Clementine ends up with. She doesn't necessarily have to be with Violet.
While the decision to add the option for Clementine to be gay in the final season might have polarized fans, it merely follows the same open-ended narrative that the series has had for a while.