Growing up when I did there were no openly gay characters in comic books, science fiction, or fantasy. In every story the boy got the girl; unless it was one of those rare storylines where the protagonist was female. In those cases she got the boy.
As I got older and realized I was gay, I searched desperately for someone like me in the fantasy worlds I loved. Eventually I found some. Elfquest hinted at bisexuality to some extant before introducing a minor gay character in their mid ’90’s series “Jink”. Star Trek: The Next Generation’s episode ‘The Host’ brought the first ever same sex kiss to Sci-Fi, well sort of. (The wrist? Seriously?). Fantasy Author Mercedes Lackey introduced us to Herald-Mage Vanyel and his soul bonded life partner Tylendel/Stefan. Vanyel was not a side character, he was the hero of an entire trilogy! Finally here was a representation of ‘me’ in a fantasy novel. My question however, remained; was I the only gay man on the planet who preferred magic wielding elves, and faster than light starships over the latest dance remix, and what fashion designer was hot?
It would be a few more years before I met other gay geeks. My best friend AJ and his fellow gay gamers shared my love of sword and sorcery, ‘Dungeons and Dragons’, and Science Fiction. They also shared my story. We each grew up with a love for all things nerd, and then discovered we were gay. Suddenly we were isolated from two worlds not just one. So it meant going back in two closets. Our gay friends could not know we were geeks, and our geek friends could not know we were gay.
The gay ’90’s came and went with more LGBT characters introduced in sitcoms and novels. Yet in my special corner of the Dork Forest, there was precious little. That all changed for me with the revived Dr Who series. I had resigned myself to an endless parade of very heterosexual men and vaguely bisexual women in Sci-Fi. Enter Captain Jack Harkness! I was shocked. Finally an openly.. well let’s just say omnisexual, male character! In Sci-Fi! No one is batting an eye! YES!
Still, change didn’t happen overnight. My first comicon was Phoenix 2013. There was no mention of LGBT anything as far as I can remember. I also wasn’t looking for any. I still believed that I was unique. My second convention was Phoenix 2015. I almost did not go, but then I saw the panels list: Dr Who for LGBT Whovians, and Moving LGBT Characters Forward. Well if this was not a sign, what was? So I went, armed with pen and paper, (yes I really am that ‘old’). I was going to take notes like it was finals week and I hadn’t studied all semester.
The endless fear of being (or even believing one is) the only gay geek had been replaced forever by the vast welcoming embrace of Geek Culture with its myriad genres, and fandoms. There is room for everyone.
Furthermore I learned about openly gay characters in the superhero milieu dating back to the ’90’s, and highly suspected LGBT characters dating back even earlier. How could I have missed them? Oh, yeah, I preferred Elfquest and Amethyst Princess of Gemworld over Superman and The X-Men. Go figure.
It may have taken me longer, but I finally found a place where everything about me fits. Even if my fandom has a smaller population, it is represented. Gay meets Geek in perfect harmony, in that special corner of the Dork Forest.
Look for my coverage of Phoenix Comic Con’s LGBT panels coming up!