While it was rare for video game developers in the early days to include a character that would identify as being part of the LGBTQ+ community, they occasionally did. As LGBTQ rights improved and awareness spread, more and more developers began to reflect their existence in real life in their games.
Today, the LGBTQ community is still underrepresented in gaming, and developers occasionally get it wrong, but we are happy to see that more of an effort is being made on their part to include these disenfranchised groups of people in their worlds. It isn’t exactly an accurate representation of Earth if a whole subsection of people is missing, is it? That said, here are 11 LGBTQ characters from video games you may have forgotten about.
Birdo (Super Mario Bros. 2)
Depending on how old you are, you probably didn’t play this classic back when it first came out in 1988 on the NES. Back then, you had to go buy a physical copy of the game; you couldn’t just download it from the PSN Store or Steam. That physical copy often included a little booklet you’d eagerly read on your way home, and in Super Mario Bros. 2’s booklet, there was a character named Birdo.
The manual explains that Birdo was a male who felt she was female and preferred to be called Birdetta. This makes Birdetta the first transgender character for Nintendo and, arguably, the first transgender character in video game history.
Juhani (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)
Fans of Star Wars and RPGs might remember this classic that came out on Xbox and PC back in 2003. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is probably one of the best RPGs ever released, and fans are still calling for a sequel to this very day. If there is a sequel, we probably won’t see Juhani in it– not because of her sexual orientation but because it’ll take place years after her existence.
Juhani made history in Star Wars as the first LGBTQ+ character to be portrayed in the universe and showed that video game developers could include this group of people in their art without backlash from the community. Juhani was a lesbian, and while she doesn’t outright say it in-game, she hints at it very heavily when discussing another character she was close to. Her creation would eventually lead David Gaider to feel more comfortable including characters in the LGBTQ+ community in his own work like Dragon Age.
Twisted Fate (League of Legends)
With 180 million players every month, League of Legends is definitely one of the most played games in history. That said, I’d bet a large percentage don’t even know that some of the characters in the game aren’t all heterosexual and cisgender.
Twisted Fate is an iconic playable champion from the game and is, in fact, bisexual. In a lore drop from Riot Games, we find out that Graves is gay and Twisted Fate had a pretty big crush on the shotgun-slinging man.
Kitty Bubai and Franke Athens (Psychonauts)
Kitty Bubai and Franke Athens are a couple from the popular game Psychonauts. While it isn’t outright said in-game that they are dating, they’re clearly inseparable during gameplay and almost always seen together.
While you might think that they’re just good friends, both of their Campster profiles list them as being in an open marriage, and Kitty Bubai’s interests go heavy on lesbian themes like Xena: Warrior Princess and the fact that her hometown was named the #1 city for lesbians in 2001. They’re not outright saying it, but there’s definitely some hinting going on here.
We can only assume that, at the time, the developers didn’t want any backlash from parents who would feel that the game was attempting to “groom” their children, a phrase we hear far too often today.
Dr. Edward Richtofen (Call of Duty: World at War and Others)
I had no idea Dr. Edward Richtofen was bisexual when I played Nazi Zombies as a kid. Not because I was in disbelief but because I was too busy shooting Nazi zombies to put the puzzle pieces together that the developers left in the form of voice lines and suggestive dialogue.
Apparently, Richtofen had quite a few things to say about the same sex and his comrade Nikolai Belinski that suggest he may have had a thing for men. Besides that, there’s evidence that he’s a married man and has a child leading people to speculate that he’s either not out fully or bisexual.
Sett (League of Legends)
Another character from League of Legends, this time a more recent one, Sett, is confirmed to be bisexual by Riot Games. If you use the Spirit Blossom Sett skin and encounter another male champion called Aphelios, Sett will say, “Hey, are we still on for tonight, mooncake? I got a – oh, uh, he, hey Alune.”
For those that don’t play League of Legends, Aphelios is a male champion that utilizes lunar weapons made by his twin sister, Alune, which explains the nickname “mooncake.” It seems Sett was reminding Aphelios about their date before being interrupted by his sister. Whether he meant to keep it on the down low to avoid people talking about their relationship or to avoid outing himself, it isn’t too clear. What is clear is that Sett, at a minimum, likes both men and women.
Ellie (The Last of Us)
If you’ve played The Last of Us Part II, this one is probably a no-brainer, but fans who only played the first one and haven’t heard anything since might be surprised to find out that the main character Ellie is actually a lesbian. While it’s hinted at occasionally that she isn’t into boys during the first game, the DLC, The Last of Us: Left Behind, shows us an early relationship Ellie has with her best friend, Riley.
Spoiler alert: the game culminates in Riley leaving the Fireflies to stay with Ellie, who then kisses her. As they run away from a horde of zombies, they’re both bitten. Rather than killing themselves, they decide to spend their final hours together. Riley ultimately succumbs to the infection, while Ellie discovers her immunity, more than likely having to kill her lover Riley.
Bloodhound (Apex Legends)
Apex Legends might be one of the most diverse rosters when it comes to LGBTQ+. There are about nine different characters that are either non-heterosexual or cisgender. We’ve chosen to focus on Bloodhound, who identifies as non-binary, as stated by the developer of Apex, Respawn.
Ever since Bloodhound was introduced to the game, they’ve used they/them pronouns to describe this character. They even released a cinematic focusing on them in which Respawn avoids labeling Bloodhound as male or female because they are, in fact, non-binary. If players in-game misgender Bloodhound, other players are often quick to point out they are non-binary, a nice step towards progress if you ask me.
Depending on your age, the name of this game might cause memories to flood back where you’re sitting in front of an old CRT monitor hacking away at oak trees or lighting fires in Varrock. Remember Falador drop parties? Anyways, you might be surprised to learn that one of the characters in Runescape identifies as a trans woman.
She was added later, about 14 years after the game’s initial release, during a quest line called “The Light Within.” After completing the quest, the player can initiate dialogue with her, where she describes how she used to be a little boy trapped in skin that was never really her own. It wasn’t until she could harness the energy from certain crystals that allowed her to shapeshift into her true self.
Rose of Sharon Cassidy (Fallout: New Vegas)
Easily one of the best Fallouts in the series, Fallout: New Vegas has a few different characters that align themselves with the LGBTQ+ community, but one notable person is Rose of Sharon Cassidy.
A slightly tragic character that is constantly drinking, Sharon has some notable dialogue if you play as a female character with a certain perk that unlocks different dialogue with members of the same sex. She quickly points out that she “doesn’t care about who she gets in bed with when she’s drinking” before dropping the conversation. If your party is full, she’ll also state that she’s “not in the mood for a threesome– today.” It seems Sharon is bisexual and open to new experiences, according to the developers.
While this isn’t exactly an extensive list of every LGBTQ+ character in video game history, we tried to compile a list of characters from games you probably played– or at least heard of at one point or another. With the list of LGBTQ+ characters in video games growing larger every day, we can only hope that representation continues to grow in video games that attempt to model themselves after the real world. Leave a comment with your favorite LGBTQ+ character if we didn’t include them on this list.