Are you sick of me talking about queer characters in fantasy yet? We’ve already discussed why homophobia in fantasy doesn’t make sense, plus chatted about some of my favorite queer fantasy MCs, and, today, we’re here to talk about why there should be more queer characters in fantasy. Thus, I’m not going to be shoving Katy Rose Pool’s earth-shatteringly excellent trilogy into your face again, just talking about why queer characters belong in fantasy! (I feel like this may get repetitive because a lot of me is just like well duh about why there should be more, but alas, sometimes these things need spelling out.)
It just makes sense.
I don’t really know what to say other than that, honestly, because–well duh? I think an example makes more sense. Let’s say I’ve got ten really close friends. Of those 10, four of them exist in the queer community. That’s nearly half of the people I interact with regularly, and yet, there are so few fantasy novels with queer characters. And though it’s certainly gotten better, most of the queer characters we see in fantasy are either side characters with no POV, or we only get to very see or hear about them being queer. Like yes, of course I love Jesper & Wylan, but you know what I love even more? Nina, as a main character, exploring her bisexuality with Hanne in King of Scars. Having queer characters just makes sense. We exist as much as straight people do, so why are we so underrepresented in fantasy? Where, you know, magic exists.
Straight people are boring.
Come at me all you want, but you know I’m right. This is going to go hand-in-hand with my point below, but, like? I know exactly how your straight romance is going to play out. I’ve read it eight million times. There’s just no possibility for originality anymore, and even if, by some amazing miracle, a hetero romance did manage to surprise me, it’d still be boring. This is not meant to trivialize straight people, but y’all are featured so heavily in literally ALL MEDIA that nothing is a surprise anymore. We’re bored, and that may even not be a great word for it because it’s more of an over it vibe because hetero romance? Been there, done that, let’s make it queer.
We’ve literally told every possible hetero fantasy story already.
Literally. And sure, even queer fantasy is going to include a lot of the same tropes and feature similar themes to things we’ve seen all over fantasy, but the very fact that it’s queer means that it’s going to be different, inherently, in ways that have never been done before. Because while Oscar Wilde was as blatant as he could possibly be, he was still arrested for the slight hint that Dorian Gray wasn’t hella straight. So queer fantasy? Not really a thing before the 21st century. Hell, I’d say not really a thing before 2015. We can ship Morgoth & Sauron all we want, but, canonically, they were probably straight, and LOTR is not gay. (Wow, that hurt me so deeply to say out loud.) We’re so done with hetero fantasies. They’ve all been told before.
Representation in general!
See, now I’m starting to feel repetitive because this echoes back to my first point. Because if half of my friends are queer, wouldn’t you say that they’d like to see themselves represented in the stories they read? Even if only one of them was queer, they’d still deserve representation! I’ll never forget Girls of Paper and Fire for a lot of reasons, but one of the most prominent ones is the fact that Lei is queer. Getting to see two women falling in love in a fantasy setting was something I never even thought to wish for because it just wasn’t done, and now that I know it can happen, I’m so greedy for it to happen all the damn time. We want to see ourselves in stories. Fantasy is my favorite genre in the world, and I am sick to death of reading about straight girls falling for the bad guy. Give me queer girls and the queer monster villains they shouldn’t fall for, but do anyway.
Love triangles? They’re now gay.
THINK ABOUT IT, THOUGH. Love triangles don’t actually exist. There’s a girl, and she’s in love with two boys, but those two boys are only in love with her. Imagine, then, that everyone was queer, and the two boys, while fighting over the girl, suddenly discover that they also kind of like each other, and THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS A LOVE TRIANGLE. Now, we’re just in a glorious polyamorous situation where the girl gets both of the boys because those boys are also in love with each other, and it’s just a mess of queer love, and I needdddd itttttt, give it to meeeeee.
Speaking of, it breathes life into old tropes.
I know that tropes get annoying. I mean, yes, I love the but there was only one bed trope more than I love cookies (WHAT), but you know what levels that up to extraordinary heights? When Aiden Thomas was just like “Yadriel and Julian have to share a room” AND NOW I AM SWEATING. All of the tropes are better when they’re queer, first of all, but all of the tropes suddenly have a fresh, new feeling when they’re queer because none of them have ever been queer before? Without saying RWRB, tell me about a queer fake dating story. YOU CAN’T. Wait, that’s not fantasy, I forgot that we’re specifically talking queer fantasy, okay. But you get my point. Tropes are tropes for a reason, and while we all know and love them, they get stale after a while, and bringing queerness into them breathes new life into them.
There is an ENTIRE audience that you’re missing out on!
Y’all, I will champion queer fantasy until I’m on my damn death bed. I haven’t got stats, but I am so confident that fantasy is one of the most beloved genres out there, if for nothing but the sheer size of the section in bookstores. Readers adore fantasy, and even those that are diehard contemporary fans probably still like the LOTR movies or GOT or some other type of fantasy, even if it’s only one. Fantasy is such a huge genre that spans across so many cultures and types of people, so can you imagine how much wider that audience would get if the queer community was included? I know that I’ve talked about Katy Rose Pool’s trilogy a lot this month, but this is why. As a queer reader who has dedicated two eight-foot tall bookcases entirely to fantasy, I could probably only fill one shelf with books that feature queer characters. And queer MCs? Forget about it, maybe a stack I could hold in one hand. And that’s why I love There Will Come a Darkness so much. The fact that it’s incredible fantasy and queer just blows my mind, and I don’t understand why there aren’t more queer fantasies. The market is huge.
Homophobia in fantasy makes no sense in the first place.
Honestly, I’m not going to get into it again because I’ve already talked about it ad nauseum, but the tl;dr is if you’ve got magic in your world, how does homophobia make sense? It doesn’t.
You know what’s better than a king falling in love with a commoner?
FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE HEAD OF HIS GUARD. Can you imagine?? Oh my gosh, someone please write this because it’s going to haunt my dreams until I can read it, and I really don’t feel like writing it. Heck, you know what, I don’t care, keep the king falling in love with a commoner, but still make it queer because that’s just–I’m going to get lost in daydreams, this is dangerous. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.
And, speaking of monarchs, more ruthless queens falling in love with the evil witch!
You know what might actually send me into a grave? An aged-up Aurora & Maleficent. Wow, yeah. I am so deceased right now, and I may have to write this. Think about it. “Evil” witch curses the princess, but, somewhere along the way, they develop a friendship, and then the princess becomes queen, and the witch is pissed off about the possibility of her marrying, so she starts getting all “evil” again, but the queen is in love with the witch, and this chaotic magic-wielding badass is suddenly a huge softie for her queen, and ughhhhhhh. Why doesn’t this already exist? I’m writing it, brb.