The Mass Effect Legendary Edition is nearly here, and a lot of LGBTQIA fans are eager to jump back into the world of Commander Shepard and their wild, wacky crew of humans, aliens and AI; all to fight to defend the galaxy from Reapers. Others are excited but are still on the fence considering the series homophobic past.
Looking at just the trilogy of Mass Effect, the series hasn’t been as overtly accepting of LGBTQIA identities in the same way as BioWare’s other game series, Dragon Age or even the trilogy’s sequel, Mass Effect: Andromeda. And even Andromeda was a hard-won case, one that had a number of different issues.
But it’d be wrong to deny that the Mass Effect series hasn’t had some positive impact on gaymers. With that in mind, we’ll be highlighting all of the LGBTQIA characters in the Mass Effect games, including the ever divisive Andromeda.*
Much like Mass Effect itself, Liara T’Soni was subjected to a number of inconsistencies – most of it surrounded by her being an Asari, a race that was eventually confirmed to be all-female. Something which, in all honesty, has aged pretty poorly.
Regardless, Liara was the very first queer character to added in the Mass Effect series and certainly the first that queer women could romance. Of course, she is also a romance option for Male Shepards too.
She continues to be a love interest right up until the end of the series, and even received her own, important DLC in Mass Effect 2.
You know, despite saying that Liara was the first queer character you meet in Mass Effect… That’s technically false, as you first meet Kaidan Alenko, a human biotic with a troubled past and even more troubling headaches, at the very start of the game.
The difference between Kaidan and Liara, however, is that Kaidan is not romanceable by Male Shepards until Mass Effect 3. The game does its best to give a reason for that, and for the most part, I think it succeeds. Still, if you’re looking for Kaidan to be your love interest, you’re going to have to wait until the 3rd game.
Sorry Kaidan fans, but let me reassure you by saying that he is certainly worth the wait!
One of the most unforgivable things about the Mass Effect series is that, despite character Jack stating that she’s been with both men and women, Jack is only available for Male Shepards. How does this make sense? It doesn’t.
Despite it being overtly obvious that Jack isn’t heterosexual, it was officially confirmed earlier this year that Jack is pansexual and did indeed have a romance with Female Shepard. Unfortunately, it was scrapped.
The only indication that Jack isn’t straight is her comment in the second game, as well as her talks with Miranda Lawson, who also might not be all that straight either, in Mass Effect 3.
Kelly Chambers is a human Yeoman that is assigned as your assistant when you first board the Normandy in Mass Effect 2. She handles everything administrative while you go do your daily chores, such as checking on Garrus and his neverending calibrations.
If you’re nice to Kelly, you can end up romancing her, regardless if your Shepard is male or female. But don’t get too excited, because Kelly doesn’t count as a ‘real’ romance. There’s no romance scene outside of her sitting on your lap, or performing a dance in your cabin.
Well, at least if she does nothing else, Kelly can feed your fish in your chamber. Trust us when we say that’s a real boon you won’t want to miss out on.
Samara is an Asari Justicar – a warrior dedicated to a life of protecting the innocent, as well as making all of the hard decisions that come with that particular lifestyle. Much like most of the Asari in Mass Effect, she’s able to be romanced by both male and female Shepards.
However, Samara is not a ‘real’ romance option in comparison to the other companions you get to get down and dirty with in Mass Effect 2. You get a nearly kiss, before Samara lets Shepard down gently. In another life maybe, but Samara is dedicated to her creed and well, we’re glad someone is around here, but it does suck for queer women who were looking for some loving in the second game.
Of course, if you decide to pick Morinth over Samara… You’ll get some loving, alright. A deadly amount.
So, speaking about Morinth… She’s Samara’s daughter and, during Samara’s loyalty quest, you’ll be able to interact with the woman yourself during a very brief meeting. It’s there that you can make a decision: will you choose to keep Samara in your squad, or will you pass it all up for Morinth?
Morinth is an Ardat-Yakshi, an Asari with a genetic condition that doesn’t affect her in any negative way, but gives her the ability to dominate, control, and even kill her lovers through the mating process. It’s a condition that has led most Ardat-Yakshi’s to be hunted down, or be put away in a monastery for their own protection. Morinth chose to live her life instead, though she is far from being an upstanding individual.
Like Samara, the game does not consider Morinth as a real romance and as such, nobody will make comments on it.
Introduced in Mass Effect 3, Steve Cortez is the very first gay love interest for a Male Shepard. He is Shepard’s shuttle pilot, and gets both Shepard and their squadmates in and out of battle. So, as you might expect, he won’t be joining you on missions.
After much criticism about the lack of same-sex romance options in the previous two games BioWare decided that if they were going to end Shepard’s story, they were going to end it a not-so-straight bang.
Steve may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he has a great sense of humour, and his importance to the team cannot be stressed enough.
Samantha Traynor works as Shepard’s comms specialist in Mass Effect 3, and was the very first lesbian love interest introduced for a Female Shepard. Male Shepard can flirt with Samantha, but she does explicitly turn him down and state that he just isn’t her type.
While her role in the game is very similar to Kelly Chambers, Samantha has a lot more content and the squad does acknowledge that you’re in a relationship with her if you decide to commit.
Much like Steve, Samantha stays on the ship and is unable to join Shepard on their missions. That said, she plays an important – if somewhat funny – role in the Mass Effect 3 Citadel DLC.
Nyreen Kandros is the leader of the Talons, a mercenary group that’s dedicated to protecting and serving the citizens of Omega. Shepard first encounters her during the Omega DLC in Mass Effect.
It is never explicitly said whether Nyreen is bisexual or a lesbian, or neither, but she has been in a relationship with Aria T’Loak before. They split up due to a number of irreconcilable differences.
Unfortunately, Nyreen ends up dying during the DLC, making her the first LGBTQIA character in the Mass Effect series to die without having the chance of being saved first.
Aria T’Loak first appeared in Mass Effect 2 as the main questgiver for recruiting Garrus and Mordin over on Omega. She’s best described as the Queen of Omega, as nobody with a lick of common sense in their head would dare try to cross her.
Her relationship with Nyreen is revealed in Mass Effect 3, but again the game doesn’t label Aria’s sexuality during the DLC. However, considering she has the opportunity to kiss Shepard – regardless if they are male or female – then it is implied that she’s bisexual.
Much like Nyreen, Aria still isn’t a romance option for Shepard and ultimately is too busy being a badass to put up with your shit.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
The first female Turian squadmate, and romanceable by both Sara and Scott Ryder, Vetra Nyx became popular the moment she was announced. Not only was it the first time that queer women had the option to kiss a girl that wasn’t human or asari, but a female turian too? Sign us the hell up!
Players first meet Vetra around the first hour or two into the game, as she’s been working on the retrofits for the ship. She decides to stick around though, as she’s also quite a dab hand with a gun and making trades in between the law and the lawless.
Vetra acts very no-nonsense for the most part, but she has a softer, teasing side that’ll open up to Ryder if they take the time to get to know her.
Gil is the sarcastic, but well-meaning chief engineer aboard The Tempest. He is recruited into the Andromeda Initiative via Vetra’s persuasion, or if you heard him tell it, because he won clearance into the Initiative via a poker game.
Gil is gay, and as such can only be romanced by a male Ryder. He even turns down female Ryder if you try, so don’t get any ideas ladies if you’re thinking that Gil looks to be the love interest of your dreams.
While not out on the field with Ryder, Gil has a lovely story that even has Ryder and him planning their own family together. It’s sweet, and it isn’t often that gay characters in video games are allowed to even have a family of their own.
If anyone asked us to describe Peebee, it’d be something like ‘the same energy as Sera, but likeable.’ She’s a spunky, mischevious Asari that Ryder and their crew meet while exploring Remnant ruins, something that she is very interested in.
Peebee came to Andromeda with her then-girlfriend Kelinda and has been trying to remain off the radar of the Initiative. For the most part.
Able to be romanced by both Ryders, Peebee likes to go with the flow. Her romance may seem like a fling at first, but once she’s committed to you, she won’t let you go.
Jaal Ama Darav
Unlike your other potential romance interests in Mass Effect: Andromeda, Jaal was born and raised in the Andromeda galaxy. He is an Angara and he joins up with Ryder and co after they help the Angaran resistance fight against the Kett.
Jaal is a unique case in Mass Effect history, as he was originally just a romance option for a female Ryder. However, after a lot of well-deserved criticism thrown their way, BioWare released patch 1.08 that made Jaal bisexual, all so that it fits with his character.
From our time with Jaal, we can confirm that he is indeed a cutie and one of the best romance options from the spin-off sequel. So, if you’re interested in getting to know some alien babes, Jaal is your man.
Gay men, I won’t lie to you, you really lucked out in the man department in Mass Effect: Andromeda and that’s never been more clear when you meet Reyes Vidal.
A rogue, a scoundrel, but not a scruffy-looking nerf herder, Reyes is big in the criminal underworld of Kadara. He deals in valuable information from both on and off-world and can help Ryder manoeuvre their way around without accidentally ending up with a knife in their back.
Romanceable by both male and female Ryders, Reyes is not a companion but is an important figure and does count as a love interest for the ‘Paramour’ achievement.
Suvi is the cute, intelligent scientist officer that is assigned to the Tempest crew. She is both a woman of science and faith, which sometimes puts her at loggerheads with others.
Like Gil and Reyes, Suvi is not able to join Ryder as an official squadmate, but she more than makes up for it with the fascinating conversations you can have with her on the Tempest.
Suvi is a lesbian and as such, can only be romanced by a female Ryder.
* We did not include less important NPCs in this article, but we can reassure you that there are LGBTQIA NPCs throughout the Mass Effect series.