Game of Thrones Needs No More Gays

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Rob Buchanan agrees with the creator of ‘Game of Thrones’ that wedging in new gay characters would be detrimental to the cult TV show.

As a big fan of Game of Thrones I was delighted to hear that George RR Martin will not pander to requests to wedge in gay characters or homosexual sex scenes “just for the sake of it”.

Martin, who made the comments at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, is a rare fantasy writer. Rather than resorting to a jaded cast of macho clichés and damsels in distress, he renders a whole spectrum of ‘warts and all’ human experience with great clarity. Like the people you’re likely to meet on O’Connell Street or your own friends and family members, there are no absolutes to his nuanced creations. No one in Martin’s world is flawlessly good or irredeemably evil. They are motivated by their pasts, their desires and fears. Likewise as a natural part of their makeup and development, their sexuality is often ambiguous and is seldom uncoupled from the situations in which they find themselves. In a context like this, where gritty ‘realism’ and credibility is to the forefront, any kind of cheesy PC inclusion or minority pandering would be painfully magnified.

It is a delicate balance between the valid inclusion of minorities (whether they be racial, sexual etc.) and destroying the context and the story along with it. It’s perfectly correct to represent diversity to better realise a fictional world or reflect the current reality of modern life. However, when it comes to trying to shoehorn a queer in simply for the sake of ratings, then it does more than just devalue the show and break suspension of belief. It actively damages LGBT identities by reducing us to some kind of fad.

We`ve all seen the kind of cringeworthy inclusion of LGBT characters in soaps or franchise movies where it borders on a gay version of blaxploitation.

Strong LGBT characters are nothing new, however. Everything from Greek mythology to our own Celtic cycles are rich in strong gay male characters whose sexual preference is either incidental or a demonstration of their heroism and virility. Martin’s thin sprinkling of queer Game of Thrones characters is a nice nod to these antiquities. And the reality is there are already strong LGBT characters in the Game of Thrones TV franchise.

Obviously in the HBO show there is far more scope to observe people and situations with a camera, but due to the first person narrative mode of the books, a lot of the gay encounters are left to the imagination, occurring out of sight.

Perhaps we should be happy to be getting off fairly lightly with queer stereotypes in the wicked world of Westeros. I’m sure a large contingent of the same bleeding heart liberals who petition for more gay characters would be writing letters and protesting if a freshly inserted gay character was a negative stereotype who got involved in murder, rape or a spot of dragon abuse (like everyone else on the show practically is).

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