So I decided to look around in the LoL forums for LGBTQ+ ideas for new champions and thoughts on Queer representation in the League. Most if not all of the posts that I found basically boiled down to one person asking for inclusion in the game and then being inundated with trolls and bigots that "couldn't understand" why "it matters" that Riot include some fricking queer characters in their game. So, instead of drudging through year-old discourses and explaining to every single individual idiot why it's important that not every fictional character is straight, I decided to create a separate discussion about it. So let's start by addressing some of the more common arguments I found:
"Why do you even care? It's 2016 and no one is homophobic anymore!!1!!11"
A: Donald Trump has recently been elected president in the US and Mike Pence will be the new VP. In case you didn't know, Mike Pence is a known supporter of conversion therapy (you should google that if you don't know what it is). Six months ago there was a mass shooting at a gay bar in Orlando. The average life expectancy for a trans person is less than 35 years because they keep getting murdered in hate crimes all over the world. There are still many countries where it's illegal to be queer. LGBTQ+ people are often kicked out of their homes by their parents, driven to suicide by their parents and are commonly abused and discriminated against 24/7. People in America are still pushing for bathroom bills that will put trans people who _just want to pee_ in even more danger and make them more vulnerable to harassment. Biphobia still very much exists -both outside and inside the community- and so does queerphobia in general.These are all **facts **, things that are happening in the real world. Just because the US has passed laws that made gay marriage legal doesn't mean all homophobia magically disappeared overnight. Bigotry is still here and it's more prominent than ever before.
"You are a SJW Feminazi with an Agenda(TM). Stop forcing game companies into making political statements!"
A: Let's clarify something. Including canonical LGBTQ+ representation in your game is not a "political statement" (and the fact that you think otherwise is quite telling). However, including **ZERO** queer characters _**is**_, in fact, a political statement.
"You just want every champion in this game to bE GAY!"
A: Yes, that's exactly what I want. I want characters in this game to be gay and bi and ace and demi and aro and polyamorous and genderqueer and trans. I want those characters to not only have their sexuality/gender identity/romantic attraction be referenced in their Lore but also their in-game interactions with other characters. Remember Ekko's "I had a crush" line he uses on Jinx? Well make him say something similar to Ezreal and _**BAM **_ you got yourself a canonically bisexual time-traveling assassin. That's just one example, there's obviously waaaaaay more that can be done, but you get the idea.
"It's just a game! We just want to have fun, we don't need gay characters!"
A: Yes, yes you do. If you think that having gay characters in your game will "ruin your fun" then you really really do.
"I don't care about gay characters I just want to play the game"
A: Good, then this discussion neither impacts nor concerns you, have a nice day and please close the door on your way out.
"Why are you pushing for representation so hard?"
A: The benefits of having LGTBQ+ representation in ANY game or medium are many and they affect both queer and non-queer people alike. If a gay character is included in a game played by people -especially young people like kids and teenagers- (*cough* LoL *cough*) then those people get to come in contact with queer characters. They get to learn that being Gay/Bi/Ace/Trans/Non-Binary is ok, it's not wrong and that -much like LITERALLY anyone else- these people need to be respected and not discriminated for who they are. Additionally, queer children/teenagers/adults get to understand that aspect of themselves much faster and don't end up with internalized queerphobia issues as they grow. This is just a simplified explanation but you get the gist. Feel free to use google for a more detailed explanation.
"These characters are fictional so it doesn't matter because they're not real!"
A: Fictional or not, having queer champions would offer visibility to many many MANY people out there who are mocked, shamed and discriminated for who they are. They'd be represented and recognized as real people with real struggles that exist. If you truly don't care about fictional characters then I don't see why this should bother you.
"People shouldn't be forced to see gay characters in their game"
A: Again, if you really think that you're being "forced" here, then you're part of the problem. Queer representation exists to propagate the idea that being queer is ok and that bigotry is bad. If the thought of gay characters being in a game makes you upset or uncomfortable then you might want to take a step back and think hard on why that might be.
"Having a champion that is queer for the sake of being queer will just turn them into a token stereotype"
A: You do realise that being queer won't be the _only_ discerning characteristic those champions will have compared to others right? If Diana was bi, then would she only been known as the "Bi champion"? Not the vengeful moon-worshiping assassin who was betrayed by her own people and took her revenge? Would her backstory and complicated relationship with Leona simply ~not exist~ because she was bi? What people fail to realise is that queer characters aren't just characters that go around shouting "I'M HERE AND I'M QUEER" (as amazing as that would be to witness on the fields of battle), they are literally a character, who has a personality and identity and ALSO happens to be queer. This aspect of themselves can affect the way they interact with others, but not always and not with the same intensity. And if you're really so terribly worried about falling into stereotypes then just ask Riot to add MANY LGBTQ+ characters into their game. The more diverse they get the less likely we are to stereotype them.
"You are just doing this so that Riot starts pandering to the Gays(TM). WE DON'T NEED POLITICAL CORRECTNESS"
A: Many of the countless fictional characters made since the beginning of humankind have been straight and cis. That's several thousand years of "pandering" to straight/cis people. I think it's time you stop whining about having to face the fact that not everyone is exactly like you and maybe also grow up. Stop using the phrase "political correctness" as a buzzword to deny people the representation they need. LGBTQ+ characters being included in a game/movie/book/comic etc should be viewed as something mundane and of the ordinary, not a ~RADICAL~ unprecedented occurrence that causes everyone to immediately shout "POLITICAL CORRECTNESS" every five fricking seconds.
"I don't want queer characters shoved down my throat"
A: By the same logic, LGBTQ+ people should be out in the streets, screaming in anger. How many straight characters do you think they have to "swallow" every day? Also, again, if this feels like something is *shoved* down your throat just because some champions don't fancy the same people or have the same gender identity as you do, then that's still a problem YOU have.
"Champions' sexuality and gender identity aren't strongly referenced in the game, so they could be gay/non-cis"
A: I want you to take a book, tear out all the pages and replace them with white pieces of paper. Can you read the book now? Can you see any words in the blank, white void that contains no trace of words, narrative or story? Would you buy this book if you found it in a book store? Is it even a book anymore? If a character's queerness is not stated or explored or shown in any way, then they are immediately coded as straight/cis. That's just how things work, it's how we've been conditioned to think by society and movies/books/games etc that only had straight/cis characters. If you truly think we as a species can combat bigotry by not representing those affected by it then you are either misguided or a complete and utter buffoon who was never on the receiving end of discrimination.
"Hi, I'm concerned adult/parent #45 and I don't think kids and teenagers should be subjected to LGBTQ+ characters because they might be ~influenced~ by them"
A: If by "influenced" you mean won't grow up to be the bigoted piece of scum that you are then yes, I suppose they will be. For the unconvinced queerphobes at the back, please keep in mind that you can't "make someone queer" in much the same way that you can't make someone defy gravity or phase out of existence. If a child is gay then they are gay and everything else is just a matter of them understanding and accepting that as normal and ok. Including queer characters in a game that they like and play will just help them realise that faster.
"Some religions are against gay marriage so including LGTBQ+ characters in your game is discrimination against them"
A: There are many parts of every religion that are problematic. That's just plain fact. If a bit of scripture or mythos has queerphobic connotations then you'd best ignore it. Using religion to defend your own bigoted views on the world is cheap, shallow and also a terrible argument. No religion operates under the notion that other human beings shouldn't be respected.
"I personally don't like gay characters and don't want them in this game"
A: There's a word for that, it's called homophobia.
"I thought Taric was gay, isn't that enough?"
A: First of all Taric is most assuredly **not** gay. There has been no canonical confirmation of this, no bit of lore that states his sexuality, _nothing_. The reason why people assume otherwise is because of a homophobic joke that was spurred by the League community when the champion came out. But even if Riot were to come out today and boldly state that Taric is "a fan of the man" then that'd still barely be a single step forward. The notion that just **one** gay man among hundreds of straight characters would be enough representation is a mistaken one. We don't need just one or two or even three queer characters, we need MANY -and I mean _**MANY**_- LGBTQ+ characters in this game. We need a wide roster of diverse characters with varying sexual orientations, gender identities etc. This is a game where each champion's personality and gameplay mechanics have so much variety to them, so why shouldn't that also be true for their sexuality/gender/romantic attraction?
"But there are no easy ways to portray gay characters in this game"
A: Yes there are! Like dozens of them! Interactions with other champions, references in their lore, the design of their outfits, the cinematics/animations/comics with which they're introduced to us, voice lines **ANYTHING**. I should like to think that the writers and designers working at Riot are skilled enough to be able to create a character who is not straight.
"Including gay characters in the game will offend a lot of players"
A: If you truly find gay characters offensive, then you can eff off. No joke, if you are offended at the notion that some people are not straight or cis then you are a bigot. You are a prejudiced, discriminating piece of abominable crap and you deserve to be told so. And if you're one of those people -one of those sickeningly disgusting people- and you're reading this discussion right now, then get out. Leave this page untainted by your commentary and do something else. I am not going to debate the legitimacy of queer rights with you, nor will I explain why LGBTQ+ people are human beings that deserve respect.