Friday, July 19, 2024

15 incredibly gay moments in entertainment this 2023

It’s hard to believe that 2024 is around the corner. Not only does that thought send something dreadful into my loins, but it makes me realize just how many wonderful gay moments 2023 has brought to video games, film, and TV.

As tech industries and grifters continue to try to smother creatives through AI art and writing, now more than ever, marginalized stories must be told and seen, celebrated, and treasured. And there have been more than a few moments in 2023.

From Doctor Who finally smashing through the gender binary with glee to NetherRealm Studios finally embracing Mileena and Tanya’s will-they-won’t-they relationship in Mortal Kombat, we look at some of the incredibly gay moments in video games, film, TV, and even actual plays, in 2023. It should be noted that there will be spoilers ahead.

Good Omens Season 2
Image Source: Amazon Prime
Aziraphale and Crowley Kiss (Good Omens Season 2)

Now, here’s a moment that every Good Omens fan was waiting for but never entirely believed they would get: a big-damn-kiss between the angel Aziraphale (Martin Sheen) and Crowley (David Tennant).

Crowley and Aziraphale never share a heated embrace in the books, but Amazon’s Good Omens has long since established that it’s seeking to do things a little differently around here. In the second season’s finale, fans were treated to the two unlikely pairs’ big moment after Aziraphale tried to convince Crowley to return to Heaven with him. Only, Crowley doesn’t believe that Heaven can change for the better, even with Aziraphale in charge.

This contest of wills ultimately ends up with the two parting from one another, but not before Crowley kisses his friend in one-last-ditch effort to persuade him to stay with him on Earth. It may not have worked, but it sure did make every fan who has been cheering them on for years scream in equal delight and despair.

What will happen between Aziraphale and Crowley in the next season remains to be seen, but whatever it is, we’ll be seated with popcorn at the ready.

Stray Gods Freddie and Grace
Image Source: Summerfall Studios
Grace sacrifices her powers for Freddie (Stray Gods: The Role-Playing Musical)

Suppose you’re the type of person to go wild over the childhood-friends-to-lovers trope, and you’re a fan of musicals. In that case, you’ll probably go gaga over the relationship between Grace (Laura Bailey) and Freddie (Janina Gavankar) from Summerfall Studios and Humble’s Stray Gods: The Role-Playing Musical.

I quite confidently described it as my favourite relationship portrayal of the year (and still stand by it), and it’s all thanks to one incredible scene shared between Grace and Freddie during the Underworld section in the latter half of the game.

In this section, players have headed to the Underworld to learn more about Calliope’s death and to see if there’s a possible way to save Freddie from being trapped there after her demise at the hands of Hecate’s Furies. The long and short of it is that without Grace sacrificing her powers of a Muse (the very thing that got her into this mess in the first place, but also makes her incredibly powerful), Freddie’s soul will be forever doomed to wander the Underworld. Freddie is perfectly okay with Grace keeping her powers, and even Persephone (who accompanied Grace on this journey) is shocked to hear that Grace is willing to give up so much to bring Freddie back.

But Grace does precisely that, and it’s one of the most heartwrenching things I’ve seen performed in a musical, never mind one that’s also a video game. Just phenomenal.

Doctor Who non-binary
Image Source: BBC
Doctor Who addresses and then promptly smashes the gender binary (Doctor Who)

The return of David Tennant, Catherine Tate and Russell T Davies to Doctor Who excited me more than I thought possible, and I’m happy to say that I jumped into the newest Doctor Who specials with glee. And, for the most part, I was pretty happy with the new Who finally doing its utmost to both celebrate and smash through the gender binary in its first few episodes.

While certainly not without its flaws, the introduction of Rose Noble (Yasmin Finney) was one of the most heartfelt inclusions in Doctor Who that I’ve seen for a long time. The sci-fi show certainly hasn’t shied away from LGBTQ+ relationships and characters before, but it has mostly kept it the Doctor’s companions rather than the Doctor themself. There was the whole ‘will-they-or-won’t-they’ with Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and companion Yasmin, but even that felt barely addressed before it ended.

Instead, these specials (particularly episode The Star Beast) finally confirm what we all knew: The Doctor doesn’t go by any real gender identity. While they can go by any pronouns at the time of how they present themselves, they really are just The Doctor — and nothing will ever change that.

En Garde!
Image Source: Fireplace Games
Adalia and Zaira fight while flirting (En Garde!)

I do love a good old rivals romance, and if you too think that is the best thing since sliced bread, then you’re going to love the relationship between Adalia and Zaira in En Garde!

En Garde! follows protagonist Adalia throughout her many adventures in trying to overthrow the Count-Duke and his evil schemes. Along the way, players meet various characters, but none have Adalia stumbling over her words quite as much as her rival, the quick-witted Zaira. While their relationship doesn’t play a huge part in Adalia’s story, there is one level where the two must work together, and we get to see more about what makes them so well-suited for one another.

Eventually, their partnership ends for reasons I won’t spoil, but that only leads to a romantic duel in the gardens where they first met. Because let’s be honest, is there anything better than sneaking away to flirt while you try to stab one another? Not from where I’m standing!

Image Source: Larian Studios
Whatever the f*ck is going on with Lae’zel and Shadowheart (Baldur’s Gate 3)

Lae’zel and Shadowheart’s relationship is the answer to the question of ‘what if we were both incredibly messed up individuals who are perfect mirror images of one another’s descent into fascism and cult-like behaviours…and we were both girls?’

Baldur’s Gate 3 has already been established as Game of the Year at The Game Awards. But what drew me and so many others is its characters. For me, the relationship between Lae’zel and Shadowheart is a particular standout. Despite being so alike, the two immediately start off on the wrong foot. Shadowheart because Lae’zel is part of the same alien race that she’s stolen an ancient artifact from, and Lae’zel because Shadowheart won’t stop being a little hater towards her for (as far as she’s concerned) no damn reason.

It’s a mutual obsession that takes a homoerotic turn when the two eventually come to blows with one another. You can persuade them to kiss and make up or take a side and let them kill one another. If you choose the former, however, the two’s relationship begins to blossom, and mutual respect and understanding after what happens between them and their respective gods is one of the most rewarding things about their relationship.

And, if you’d like to see them get together and make them kiss like Barbie dolls, you can play either of them as an Origin character. This comes with a unique dialogue and a more personal look at their exciting dynamic. Because, after all, if they are meant to be mortal enemies, why does it look so good when they put knives to one another’s necks? Explain that one, Larian.

Gay moments 2023
Image Source: BBC iPlayer
Our Flag Means Death Season 2

A TV show featuring queer characters and pirates (often at the same time) can be something so personal.

I’ll admit that I didn’t think much of Our Flag Means Death when I started watching the first season. I was still fiercely protective and bitter over Black Sails, another incredibly queer pirate show that’s so anti-colonial it makes me weep with joy. I was very much in the mindset that nothing could beat it, and it deserved more flowers than it ever got.

But now I’m a much more intelligent person. After watching Our Flag Means Death through to the end, I can safely say that it is just as good as Black Sails and revitalized my love for pirates and the queerness that is so prominent within that historical period. Seriously, the fact that there are two gay pirate shows out there — if there’s a third, do let me know — warms my heart. We need more of it.

If you agree, Our Flag Means Death (both seasons) are available to watch now and I’m telling you now, they are so very worth it if you want to watch some incredible TV while laughing your arse off. Go for it. Go watch. Now.

Imodna Critical Role
Image Source: Critical Role
Imogen and Laudna finally get together (Critical Role)

As someone who has just started tentatively stepping into the world of actual plays again, I quickly learned that I have an obscene amount to catch up with. Yet, regardless of my lateness, one thing that did catch my attention this year, long before I got into Critical Role, was the long-anticipated kiss between Imogen Temult (Laura Bailey) and Laudna (Marisha Ray).

After 60+ episodes of pining, jealousy, a Warlock patron that genuinely doesn’t know when to quit, and even a few episodes of Laudna being dead for real this time, fans of Imogen and Laudna’s relationship were on tenterhooks. For so long, the ‘would-they-wouldn’t-they’ pull between these two tormented ladies has kept many queer fans and allies invested. But would the two get together? After all, Bailey and Ray said that their characters’ romantic relationship was not planned.

Episode 65 answered that question with a kiss shared between the two, and fans have remained heavily invested (even more so) ever since, with fan art and fanfiction cropping up after every single episode. It’s certainly not the first time that a same-sex relationship has happened in Critical Role, but from an outsider looking in? I’ve never seen it with this much zeal and enthusiasm. You all like your Imodna, folks, and as someone who loves the cotton candy lady with a dead, gothic lady aesthetic, I can’t help but approve.

What’ll happen between the two as Critical Role Campaign 3 continues to unroll in the remainder of 2023 and then 2024 remains to be seen, but boy, did they make one hell of a splash this year? Without a doubt.

Image Source: Disney+
Whatever the f*ck is going on with Sabine and Shin (Star Wars: Ahsoka)

Star Wars is rarely known for actively caring about same-sex relationships, or at least, when it comes to its big TV shows and films. It’s first foray into addressing LGBTQ+ characters and stories in live action was the blink-and-you-miss-it kiss in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but even that felt more insulting than an actual win for queer fans of a galaxy far, far away. It improved somewhat last year by including Vel and Cinta’s tragic, war-torn love story in Star Wars: Andor, and from the teasing we’ve seen of Andor Season 2, it looks like that story will continue.

But outside of comics, books, and video games, there is a general feeling that when it comes to queer representation in live-action, Star Wars is still far behind.

That, of course, hasn’t stopped people from wanting Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) to get together in the Star Wars: Ahsoka series. And it certainly hasn’t prevented whoever’s running Star Wars social media from teasing the two, either. Considering that the majority of their interactions with one another have them fighting to the death, but paired with unbearably long, tension-filled eye contact? I can’t really blame people for wanting to see an enemies-to-lovers arc — especially after that cliffhanger ending.

Whether Star Wars will lean into a potential queer narrative between the two is a whole other story. I highly doubt it and fear fans are setting themselves up for some legendary queerbait, but let’s be honest, it won’t stop people from shipping Shin and Sabine together, regardless.

Nimona trans
Image Source: Netflix
Nimona’s queer metaphor (Nimona)

Nimona is an animated movie from ND Stevenson that has made me sob every time I’ve watched it since it was released on Netflix in June this year. The reason for that is because it’s yet another film that has made me — and my trans siblings — feel so irrevocably seen.

In a futuristic, medieval world, Nimona follows protagonist Ballister Boldheart (Riz Ahmed), an extremely down-his-luck knight framed for killing the Queen. This leads him to join forces with Nimona (Chloe Moretz Grace), a shapeshifter who aids him in his quest to clear his name. Nimona’s gender is gloriously unestablished. Ballister has a boyfriend. It’s already established itself as an incredibly LGBTQ+ friendly tale.

But what makes it stand out is Nimona’s willingness to show the dangers people face if they are seen as outsiders in ‘normal’ society. Ballister already has people against him because of where he comes from, often getting bullied by other knights who are seen as more desirable and noble than him due to their lineage and class. When he gets framed, it only ramps up the oppression that he already faces.

For Nimona, though, her abilities as a shapeshifter let her appear however she wants to. It also makes others distrust her, as they aren’t sure who the ‘real’ Nimona is. This eventually all comes to a head in a finale that will have you on the floor in tears, but trust me when I say that if there’s one movie you make sure to watch before the year is over, make sure it’s Nimona.

Gay moments 2023
Image Source: Larian Studios
Karlach. Just Karlach (Baldur’s Gate 3)

If a character was made for the sapphic women out there, then it goes without saying that character is Karlach.

Born in the city of Baldur’s Gate before being thrust into the hells under the whim of someone she thought she could trust, Karlach is introduced to the player as a literal hot-as-hell tiefling with a mechanical heart but a willingness to do good. Much like the other companions you meet, Karlach has a troubled past and is willing to do some nasty things to survive, but she’s also incredibly kind and dorky, and can throw you over your shoulder as though you weigh nothing at all—all in all, catnip for all the sapphics (and some men) out there.

While not inherently masculine or feminine presenting, Sarah Baylus’s description of Karlach truly sums up what makes her so appealing to a queer audience.

“In a 2023 setting, Karlach would roll in on a Harley with shades and a cigar between her teeth, blaring Sabbath. A diesel-soaked dynamo with a heart of gold. She seeks justice for the oppressed, camaraderie, and revenge on the bastard who sold her to hell.’” Sweet Jesus.

Anyway. Karlach, if you read this, I’m free on Thursday night and would like to hang out. Please respond to this and then hang out with me on Thursday night when I’m free.

Castlevania Nocturne
Image Source: Netflix
The entirety of Castlevania: Nocturne (Castlevania)

What happens if you add vampires and Netflix together? Gay sex and an animation style that’ll leave you feeling a little flushed by the time an episode is over. No wonder Castlevania: Nocturne was so popular.

Jokes aside, Castlevania: Nocturne ushered fans in for another vampire adventure 300 years after the first series with Trevor Belmont, Sypha, and Alucard. Instead, we follow Richter, a blue-eyed twunk who’s far too aware that he’s sexy to both men and women. That doesn’t stop him from being a little f*cked up, though, having many physical and emotional scars.

Throughout the series, we’re introduced to many openly queer characters. You’ve got returning characters from the original series and three new gay/bisexual men: Olrox, Mizrak, and Edouard. Olrox and Mizrak’s relationship is so full of religious guilt on Mizrak’s part that it’s entertaining to watch in a show where things are already pretty damn complicated. Vampire drama! Religious drama! Gay drama! Castlevania: Nocturne has it all.

Mileena Tanya
Image Source: Warner Bros
Mileena and Tanya are finally confirmed (Mortal Kombat 1)

When Mortal Kombat decided to reboot its age-old video game series, fans were, at first, skeptical of what that could mean for fan-favourite characters like Liu-Kang, Scorpion, and Johnny Cage. Would things mostly remain the same, or would it be such a stark change that characters would be unrecognizable from the get-go?

For fans of Mileena, the question ended up surrounding the topic of Mileena and Tanya’s relationship in the Mortal Kombat series. Whether Mileena and Tanya were “together together” has been well-discussed over the years, despite having a family together at the end of Mortal Kombat 11. Even so, if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my time in video games and fandom, it’s that two queer characters can be married, have a mortgage and kids, and people will still try to deny they’re anything but heterosexual.

Mortal Kombat 1, however, looks to put such speculation to bed. Not only is Mileena and Tanya’s love confirmed through different cutscenes following the two’s forbidden relationship with one another, but a handful of the cast comment on it too. It serves to ramp up the tension between the two lovers, and it gives some well-needed bisexual representation in the series. What’s not to like?

Aylin Isobel
Image Soure: Larian Studios
Aylin and Isobel reunite (Baldur’s Gate 3)

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Yet another Baldur’s Gate 3 entry? Aimee, your bias is showing.’

To that, I say that I can’t help that there were a lot of incredibly gay moments in Baldur’s Gate 3. However, not all are as memorable as the reunion and relationship between Dame Aylin and Isobel Thorm.

For a bit of backstory: Dame Aylin is the daughter of Selune – a literal goddess – and Isobel is her patron. They quickly fell in love with one another. Still, shenanigans lead to Isobel dying and Aylin being used as a life source to fuel Ketheric Thorm’s (Isobel’s father) immortality, which is probably the messiest daughter/father-in-law relationship you can possibly have, so thank you for that Larian. Not to give away even more spoilers than I already have, but Isobel returns, and Aylin and she can reunite, depending on the player’s choices.

What makes this moment particularly gay is that it’s very much a big damn hero moment for Aylin and Isobel. They run to one another, embrace, and Aylin falls to her knees in reverence while Isobel cups her face.

Then, because Aylin’s strap must be the biggest in the entire world, Aylin tells the player to get lost because she and Isobel have centuries of f*cking to make up for. The funniest part about this, outside of Aylin’s nonchalant attitude, is that if you have Shadowheart with you during this moment, then she has to wait even longer to find out about her past, which is sad. But also? Objectively funny. Not now, Shadowheart, Aylin’s busy.

Image Source: Orion Pictures
Bottoms (2023)

There should be more sapphic movies that take the premise of Fight Club but make it gayer than it originally was. Which is a tall order, because Fight Club is super gay already. Bottoms manages to make it happen though, and the world of cinema is a much better place for it.

A sapphic film for ladies who enjoy watching the most cringe-fail girls alive try to win the girl, beat people up, and lose their virginity in the space of an hour and a half. If you’re not sold already, then I’m really not sure what to tell you.

Featuring the brilliant Ayo Edebri, this high-school comedy already spoke to me by simply following lesbian best friends. High school comedies so often follow the heterosexual love triangle, or if they include a lesbian, they’ll make them stuck in a coming-out storyline that’s lovely, really, but so overdone that it becomes a chore to watch. Give us something exciting!

Bottoms is that excitement because there’s nothing better than watching two lesbian losers be so woefully pathetic and yet still manage to get the girl while being ridiculously entertaining at the same time. This is the representation the sapphic girlies want.

Image Source: Larian Studios
Lunkbug and Beldron (Baldur’s Gate 3)

I’m sorry, but if you’re going to include gay little gnome husbands in Baldur’s Gate 3 and not expect me to scream and go ‘MY GAY LITTLE GNOMES’ whenever I see them, then that’s what the kids are calling a ‘you issue.’

In all seriousness, these two loveable gnomes are barely in the story and, as far as NPCs go, do not have that much of a memorable storyline as, say, Dame Aylin and Isobel Thorm. But they stick out to me because they’re 1) husbands and 2) so cute about one another that I had to include them in this list.

Now, to try and fit in every other same-sex pairing (Alfira and Lakrissa, I’m looking at you) that Baldur’s Gate 3 has…

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