Rating Mythological Queer Characters

Happy Pride Month, everyone!

This post is mostly a joke, but is also inspired by the fact that I’ve heard people talk about being gay, trans, and other such things like they were invented in the 60’s or something?! Sometimes people speak of it like it’s a trend, and that is just weird. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to change anyone’s mind about queer rights, but at least learn your classical history. People talking like that says more about the state of their history classes than anything else.

(I say, like someone who paid attention in history class, which I did not. But at least I paid enough attention to know that everyone was REALLY FREAKING GAY IN ANCIENT GREECE.)

Anyway, this is not a comprehensive list of mythological and folkloric queers. Some characters are undeniably queer and others are queer because I say so. I also include various religious characters because I can! (Also, yes, I mostly included stories I like, so most of these characters get a high rating.)

You should definitely go watch this video as well! It’s much better than anything I could ever do.

Achilles

Ah, yes, the OG queer. I was forced to read the Iliad at a young age, so I am very bitter and biased, but he kind of spends a…a lot of time whining? I mean, fighting for Agamemnon is a pretty stupid way to go, so I understand being deeply frustrated, but why is the breaking point for him getting his slave girl taken away??? WHY IS THAT, ACHILLES. So, yeah, values dissonance ruined the book for me at age 13 and Briseis deserved better! Also, why on earth would you risk your boyfriend’s life like that, Achilles?

I award Achilles 3/10 points.

Patroclus

Patroclus gets a 10/10 for being a faithful boyfriend, and according to Wikipedia, he apparently tried to help Briseis! What a wonderful boy.

Fet-Fruners

A trans character from a Romanian folktale called ‘The Girl Who Pretended to be a Boy.’ Despite the name of the fairy tale, Fet-Fruners is decidedly not pretending to be a boy. He’s trans. He has a talking horse, he outwits the people who try to out him, he goes on several quests, and he gets the magical equivalent of gender reassignment surgery at the end!

This story is criminally underrated. Just take a look at this quote:

The sound of the flying hoofs aroused the nun, who understood instantly that the precious treasure was stolen, and her shrieks were so loud and piercing that all the rest came flying to see what was the matter. The hermit followed at their heels, but seeing it was impossible to overtake the thief, he fell on his knees and called his most deadly curse down on her head, praying that if the thief was a man, he might become a woman; and if she was a woman, that she might become a man. In either case he thought that the punishment would be severe.

But punishments are things about which people do not always agree, and when the princess suddenly felt she was really the man she had pretended to be, she was delighted, and if the hermit had only been within reach she would have thanked him from her heart.

When you try to curse someone but really you just give them free gender reassignment surgery 🙃

Anyway, 11/10 and this story deserves more retellings.

Inari

So, I only found out today, but apparently Inari is genderqueer! From Wikipedia: “Inari, the kami of agriculture and rice, is depicted as various genders, the most common representations being a young female food goddess, an old man carrying rice, and an androgynous bodhisattva.”

Anyway, 10/10 for this wonderful god! They’re associated with foxes, and I LOVE foxes.

St. Sergius and St. Bacchus

St. Sergius and St. Bacchus were described in an early Greek text as being lovers?! According to Wikipedia, at least. I only just now found that out. (I mean, the scholar who talked about that apparently also made a bunch of highly dubious claims as to the early Church’s stance on homosexuality, but if the Greek story really said that, then it said what it said. Tell me in the comments if you know more about this!)

Anyway, as a Christian, I’m legally obligated to give them 10/10 points!

St. Sebastian

Not gay but he has sexy paintings. We adopted him.

10/10 to the one true ally!

Ungud

An Australian aboriginal snake god who appears as both male and female and is associated with rainbows and fertility! Ungud is from the Wunambal people. I love the concept of a rainbow snake god!

10/10. I don’t know much about the god, but!!! Rainbows! Snakes! Those are pretty much the two ultimate queer things!

Apollo

I used to be pretty eh on him because I heard he hurt Cassandra, but I think that might have been a later myth. On the one hand, Cassandra. On the other hand, sunshine. Music. Bisexuality.

I don’t know, for some reason Apollo and I have just never clicked. I feel like I should like him? He’s really cool and all! But I just never really felt that much of a connection with him?

(Also, like…Daphne.)

5/10 highly personal points! I know a lot of you out there really love him, though, and I respect that.

(As a side note, Hyacinth gets 10/10 sympathy points for being yet another mortal caught in a deadly love triangle between two gods. Apparently he got resurrected later?? That’s so nice. I always liked Hyacinth.)

Dionysus

I can’t give him anything less than a positive rating. I’m not stupid. I’m not going to get stricken with dolphins and madness.

8/10! Not based on his actions or anything, he’s a Greek god after all, but…I don’t know, I just find him kind of cool.

Athena

She’s one of the virgin goddesses, so…aro-ace queen. She’s always been my favorite goddess. She’s relatively unproblematic as far as Greek goddesses go, and I’ve always loved that she’s a goddess of war and strategy. I looked up to her so much when I was little.

11/10 points!

Tiresias

He struck a pair of snakes and Hera turned him into a girl. Hera turned her back into a man seven years later. He’s also a blind prophet, and he made cameos in a couple Greek tragedies, including Oedipus Rex. I find Tiresias very cool, so 7/10.

Xōchipilli

Aztec god of art, dance, flowers, and song. Also a patron of homosexuals. I don’t know all that much about him, but 9/10 just because FLOWERS.

Emperor Ai

The first historical figure on this list! According to Wikipedia, he wasn’t a very good emperor, but he has this legend where his boyfriend, Dong Xian, fell asleep on his sleeve. Rather than wake Dong Xian up, the emperor told his servant to get him a pair of scissors and he cut off his own sleeve. And that’s beautiful. Also, before he died, he tried to pass the throne on to Dong Xian but no one else let him.

8/10! If you can’t be a good ruler, at least make sure to be a literally legendary boyfriend.

Kitsune

Fox spirits often disguise themselves as women, and stories about foxes tend to portray them as kind of gender-ambiguous, from everything I’ve read. I love fox spirits, they’re just…the best. I spent so much time finding stories about them when I was little. I’d definitely say fox spirits have strong enby vibes.

12/10!

Silence

A trans Arthuriana character! Or at least, Arthurian-adjacent. Merlin shows up in the story. Silence is a character from a story written during the 13th century. I haven’t read the story yet, but from what I’ve heard, Silence is raised as a boy and lives his life as a knight. I think Silence mentions in the poem that he thinks of himself as a boy and feels much more like a boy than a girl? I’m sorry I can’t find the original article with the quotes I read, though. Merlin outs him because Merlin is all kinds of a mess, and poor Silence is forced to live as a girl from then on. Someone needs to retell this story and give it a happy ending.

15/10 to this poor man who deserved better! Even though I haven’t read the story yet…but I’ll get around to it I swear

Dinadan

Everyone’s favorite aro-ace knight! He is living his best life while surrounded by idiots. Considering how his two best friends Lancelot and Tristram ended up, I’d say that not falling in love is pretty much the best thing you can do in Arthuriana?

Dinadan is the comic relief of the story, he doesn’t like fighting, and he’s just overall great. Mordred, in one of the few crimes he committed that make me genuinely angry at him, killed Dinadan during the Grail quest. WHY, Mordred.

I love Dinadan! I stan! 20/10 points.

Angels

In Christian tradition, angels are neither male nor female. They’re also very cool. 10/10. (I don’t know how Jewish tradition views them? I assume it’s the same way, but I honestly have no idea. I tried to google it, but I didn’t find anything conclusive. Sorry!)

Also, obligatory quote from Galations 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Mwari

The creator god in traditional Shona religion! According to Wikipedia, the god is both male and female (or alternatively, neither male nor female? Look, Wiki is not helping me right now). Anyway, reading their Wiki page, they sound very cool! 10/10.

Loki

He gives off very strong genderqueer vibes, I think. It’s good enough for me! I loved him so much as a kid. He was my role model! (Heh…whoops.) I love chaotic characters. He doesn’t always act in morally good ways, but he’s just such an entertaining person. 10/10!

Fairies

You can’t tell me that Celtic fairies aren’t super queer, because you’d be wrong. 20/10 for nostalgia (fairies were literally my childhood).

Mizi Xia

Mizi Xia is a man who lived during the Zhou dynasty in China (if he even existed at all. We don’t really know). He forged a letter from his lover the duke so he could borrow the duke’s carriage in order to go see his ill mother. Instead of punishing him, the duke praised him for his filial piety. Later, Mizi Xia was eating a peach, and when he found it was especially sweet, he gave it to the duke to eat. But later, when Mizi Xia grew older and his beauty faded, the duke accused him of stealing the carriage and of insulting him by giving him a half-eaten peach. So, the story is a parable about trusting powerful, fickle people.

It’s a sad story, but I still like it. 9/10.

Gawain

A bi icon!! He had a whole quest where he made out with the Green Knight, the story with him and Ragnelle was the best thing ever, and I’ve heard there are some stories where he and Lancelot have really homoerotic undertones? I love him so much. He’s the actual best. 100/10.

Thank God for Wikipedia, as always. I couldn’t find very many articles about queer fairy tales, but Wikipedia came through! Also, thanks to my younger self for obsessively reading fairy tales and finding some of the obscure stuff.

While researching for this post, I found two articles on false homophobic and transphobic beliefs that get spread around, so if you’re someone who has been exposed that sort of talk, they might be worth a read. If you’re looking for something to read for Pride month, Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation and Heaven Official’s Blessing are both really, really good! The author’s books do have adult content, although Heaven Official’s Blessing doesn’t have any smut. Both the books are so well-written and I love them so much!

If you know of any other queer folktales or religious stories, tell me in the comments! I always enjoy learning more.

Fairy Tale OTP Challenge Tag

Arielle made a blog tag! And it’s all about fairy tale OTPs, and there’s also a version for your writing! It’s beautiful!

Not all of the fairy tale couples I answer are ones I hardcore ship, although some of them certainly are. A few of the couples are ones I barely ship but I answered them anyway because they were the only ones I could think of for the category ^.^

(And yes, I know I’ve talked about this topic of ships before, but I hope you’ll be forbearing and allow me to talk about it again. :- D Some of them will probably be ones I’ve talked about many times before, and some of them are new ones.)

1. The first fairy tale OTP you shipped

Beauty and the Beast, of course! Say what you will about Stockholm Syndrome, but I love this story. It’s about loving someone for their personality, which can be kind of a rare message in fairy tales (people fall in love at first sight a LOT and I’m not complaining but it’s still nice to see the other kind of love every now and then).

The Beast is monstrous and inhuman. He truly is frightening at first. But Belle is very good at seeing past appearances. She spends time with him and gets to know him. He isn’t handsome, and he’s not even necessarily as intelligent as everyone else–at least not in the traditional way (I fully believe that there’s more than one way to be intelligent). But Belle falls in love with him anyway, because Belle can see that he is kind and good. Belle loves him for who he is. Belle is human enough to love a monster, and I love that element of the story.

2. The cliché fairy tale OTP that everyone ships but you still love

See above! Beauty and the Beast is probably one of the most popular fairy tales. 😉

3. Your favorite hate-to-love fairy tale OTP

Probably either Prunella or Ivan and the Princess Blue-Eyes. This will come as a shock to no one, of course. 😉 Prunella and Bensiabel are both very sweet characters, and Ivan and the Princess Blue-Eyes is just… a perfect fairy tale. You really have to read it for yourselves. The princess is very murderous. She’s one of my favorite characters of anything ever.

I also like Hades and Persephone so much–though it can probably be argued that it’s not exactly an enemies-to-lovers relationship, because did she actually fall in love with him? Ovid focuses more on Demeter’s thoughts and feelings rather than Persephone, from what I can remember. But I prefer to think that Persephone did love Hades, eventually. (I also prefer to think that Persephone knew exactly what she was doing when she ate that pomegranate, even though I’m not sure if that’s backed up by mythology at all.) Either way, though, Persephone is a deadly, powerful woman, and I love her a lot.

4. The fairy tale OTP with the craziest relationship

Can I answer Ivan and the Princess Blue-Eyes again? There are so many crazy relationships though! How am I supposed to choose!

Oh! And I almost forgot Tam Lin! Janet and Tam Lin are insane but they love each other, so it’s okay. (We only ship them from the version where everything is consensual though, of course. The Tam Lin from the other version can go die.)

Oh, and of course Scheherazade and her husband. That was…something else. Stop murdering people, hero!

Literally no one in Arthuriana has a normal relationship, so I would like to enter all Arthurian ships ever for this category. But more seriously, from everything I remember about Tristram and Iseult, they are…insane. TRISTRAM HAS NO CHILL, PEOPLE. I don’t hardcore ship Tristram and Iseult (I’ll gladly ship Iseult with…literally anyone else, actually. Brangienne. Guinevere. Palomides. Anyone), but they’re crazy enough where I feel obligated to put them here anyway.

5. The best-dressed fairy tale OTP

Probably from…Allerleirauh. I can not spell that. The heroine has a dress as golden as the sun, a dress as silver as the moon, and a dress as shining as the stars. I’d say you can’t get much more best-dressed than that!

I will give East of the Sun, West of the Moon an honorable mention though, just because I had a picture book of that fairy tale when I was young and the heroine’s clothes in that were SO BEAUTIFUL. I think the drawings were Persian-influenced, from what I remember.

(I’m not willing to die for Allerleirauh. I am willing to die for East of the Sun, West of the Moon.)

6. Star-crossed love: the forbidden love fairy tale OTP

I’ll go with the obvious one and answer Rapunzel! It’s not necessarily my favorite fairy tale, but I think it has the potential to be very cute, and I think it deserves more retellings 🙂 The themes in this fairy tale are very interesting as well, and I do like this fairy tale, even if it isn’t my favorite.

The hero and heroine certainly go through a lot for each other, and they definitely deserve their happy ending.

7. The funniest fairy tale OTP

I’m going to have to go with the couple from My Candlestick here. The heroine is hilarious, and I happen to love the pairing of ‘chaotic and slightly bad girl and a guy who barely talks (but both are equally losers).’* Just a weird thing I noticed about my ships.

*NOT AT ALL to be confused with a manic pixie dream girl/stuffed shirt. Those relationships are boring, imo. Or at the very least, most of them are.

Actually…I just realized that Wei Wuxian and Lan Zhan (not from a fairy tale, from a TV show called The Untamed) have that exact same relationship, so apparently it doesn’t even have to be a girl and a guy.

8. The fairy tale OTP with the most growth in their relationship

See Scheherazade. The husband going from ‘serial killer’ to ‘not a serial killer’ was some pretty good character growth.

But more seriously, Ywain and Laudine! From what I remember, Ywain’s whole character arc is about learning to prioritize his wife over tournaments and being a knight and hanging out with his bros, and I think that’s a nice lesson. (I’ll admit I can’t really remember if the lesson is as emphasized in the actual story, or if it was more in a retelling I read when I was little. I’ll also admit that I just found out that I have switched between spelling the name ‘Yvain’ and ‘Ywain’ on this blog and I’m mildly embarrassed. But I’ll probably switch again.)

9. The sweetest, most adorable fairy tale OTP

Kate Crackernuts and her hero? ADORABLE. I loves them. They’re just…so sweet.

The couple from a Chinese fairy tale called The Red Pearls is so CUTE and I love them very much. Liu Hai is such a good husband.

This isn’t a fairy tale (the story is apparently from a very long Indian epic called the Mahabharata that I have not read yet even though I probably should eventually), but I read about Savitri and Satyavan, and Savitri saves her husband and outwits the god of Death and it’s just…They’re so cute! There’s a holiday centered around this story in some parts of India, apparently. This couple just seems…so pure. So unproblematic. Unlike other characters I’ve given love and attention to on this cursed site. So, yeah, it’s not a fairy tale–I think it’s a story from Hindu religion, from what I can tell–but it’s still a very cool story.

Also, can we talk about how cool Savitri’s name is

Also, may we have a very respectful, very artistic, very wonderful Disney movie that doesn’t ruin any part of this

OH, and we can’t forget Lancelot/Galehaut. Lancelot and Galehaut are just…💙💙💙 Galehaut is the lord of the Distant Isles, and he’s the son of a giantess and a knight named Brunor–and apparently, according to Wikipedia, Tristram killed his parents?! Tristram, you small disaster child. Anyway, Galehaut waged a war against Arthur until he realized that Arthur had a knight named Lancelot who just so happened to be extremely cute. Lancelot and Galehaut become best friends and possibly more than friends. 😉 From my understanding, there is much mutual pining between the two. OTP material. (Also, they–*sobs*–ACCORDING TO WIKIPEDIA THEY GET BURIED NEXT TO EACH OTHER)

This story is in the Vulgate Cycle, I think. Galehaut barely shows up in Le Morte D’Arthur, which is probably why we don’t have tons of angsty retellings. But we need some!

Again, we need our Disney movie but we aren’t going to get one for obvious reasons (Disney is a COWARD afraid of true love and also parts of Arthuriana are probably too weird for Disney to attempt anyway, so I doubt we’re likely to get an in-depth retelling outside of cute Sword and the Stone antics)

10. The OTP who snuck up on you, the one you didn’t expect to love

Robin Hood and Maid Marian. While I like Robin Hood, I’ve never gotten too deeply into the legends. But I read a story about Marian here and I love the idea of Marian fighting Robin Hood and falling in love with him. I think it’s based on an actual legend, from what I know? Which is very cool. I henceforth command that every Robin Hood retelling feature Robin Hood and Marian getting into a duel.

Anyway, I like couples who get into sword fights, so I’ll admit I lowkey ship it now. It’s not a ship I’ll die for, but I still like it!

11. The moodiest fairy tale OTP

The fairy tale definitely isn’t perfect, but I love Michael and Lina from a version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses collected by Andrew Lang. I honestly like this version more than the Grimm version, and I’d be very interested in reading a retelling of this one!

Anyway, it is very moody and dramatic. The princesses keep cursing young men to dance in their enchanted castle forevermore. Lina almost puts a curse on Michael. These two have no chill, and I like it.

12. The class-crossed fairy tale OTP

The Laird’s Lass and the Gobha’s Son, a Scottish fairy tale about a girl who falls in love with a blacksmith and then turns herself into a dog in order to force her stubborn father’s hand. This story is so WHOLESOME, and I love it.

13. The obscure fairy tale OTP who isn’t shipped by many people (or anyone)

I’ll probably have to go with one of my Arthurian ships for this one. Although it might be argued that most of the OTPs I’ve mentioned here are at least somewhat obscure?

I don’t think Lancelot/Gawain is very widely shipped, from what I know, but if you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you’ll know I kind of ship it. They’re both characters I like a lot.

14. Your very favorite fairy tale OTP you’ll love for the rest of your days

Heh. Probably Mordred/Guinevere. (I could have put this one for the obscure category, because the fics on AO3 are shamefully few, but I decided not to.) I genuinely love them a lot. I like the idea of Guinevere actively assisting in the fall of Camelot rather than just ending up with a lot of survivor’s guilt and blamed by scholars everywhere (not that I mind Guinevere in those versions, not at all, but PEOPLE NEED TO STOP BLAMING HER FOR THIS and also it’s kind of depressing). I think I’m also attracted to the idea of Mordred attempting the whole courtly love roleplay thing and failing miserably because mate you weren’t supposed to take over the kingdom that’s taking things a little too far. I also just love the inherent drama this ship entails–I love sexy dramatic ships where one or both halves of the couple are perpetually covered in artistic, aesthetic blood.

Also, this ship is actually canon in some versions of the legends, in case you didn’t know. The relationship was by all accounts consensual, she ends up surviving and going to a convent because to hell with these weirdos, she’s getting out, and then Mordred and Arthur, of course, end up killing each other in the pointless battle of the century. But then there’s also the other version where Guinevere goes, “no thank you, I am not, in fact, interested in bigamy. Now if you excuse me, I am off to the Tower of London. Goodbye.”

Anyways, this is a disaster ship on so many levels, but it’s my problematic fave, as they say.

*Chants* D i s n e y m o v i e no I’m kidding it’s probably darker than Disney is willing to go, unfortunately

There weren’t any instructions for tagging, so I won’t do it, but certainly feel free to grab the tag if you wish! Talk to me about fairy tale and Arthuriana related ships in the comments!