Sunday, July 14, 2024

LGBT Games History: Leisure Suit Larry

Let us be clear: this article is not arguing that Leisure Suit Larry is LGBT+ friendly. Far from it. But, as we addressed during our very first post explaining what would be happening with the LGBT Games History column, not all articles included will be about positive representation.

Now that’s out of the way. How does this series handle LGBT+ representation? The answer is simple: very poorly. Not only does it treat the women in the game as nothing but something Larry should try and conquer with his penis alone, but it makes even the thought of Larry being anything but heterosexual seem laughable.

The first game was released during 1987, a time which, as we mentioned in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, seemed to love mentioning any sort of stereotype when it came to the LGBT community. Leisure Suit Larry was no different, including a scene where a group of comedians makes homophobic jokes. It’s an uncomfortable viewing to say the least.

There hasn’t been any real improvement as the series went on either. As Queerly Represent Me points out, “there are ‘lesbian cannibals’ in Leisure Suit Larry 3, and there are references to sexualities in Leisure Suit Larry 5 through a prejudiced airport sign.” How very tasteful, right?

As if to make it more obvious this series resents anything that isn’t the ‘heterosexual norm’, Leisure Suit Larry 6 even gives you a ‘Game Over’ screen with Larry walking hand in hand with a towel attendant that is revealed to be gay. While you can argue that the ending is a happy one, as the two walk off into the sunset, it’s still considered a ‘game over’ and doesn’t let you complete the game with it.

It gets worse in Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. While it is partially set in a gay bar and thus, has several queer characters, most are just used to be the butt of a joke. One woman, Ione, is a lesbian and has a song called ‘Lesbian Nights’ sung about her with several slurs included, as well as rape jokes.

The newest Larry game, Wet Dreams Don’t Dry, has apparently had ‘some improvements’ with LGBT+ characters being treated with respect, but is it worth spending time and energy on it? We’ll leave that up for you to decide. What we do know, however, is that Leisure Suit Larry has a warped, troubling perspective of queer sexualities and if you’re curious to play it, make sure you can handle the content first. It isn’t pretty.

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