Mythology can tell you a lot about a specific culture, says Steve Kenson the staff designer at Green Ronin Publishing, a publisher of role-playing games (RPGs). A culture’s gods and goddesses reflect a society’s core values, rules, beliefs and individuals. And yet, while many video and role playing games draw their characters and storylines from existing mythologies, they largely exclude the gay themes and situations in favor for heterosexual ones.
“Being unrepresented within that mythology not only makes a person feel as an outsider to the culture,”Kenson says, “but completely erased at a cosmic level.”
Kinson spoke a panel entitled “Queer as a 3-Sided Die” alongside Joe Carriker, developer for the RPG version of the Game of Thrones book, A Song of Ice and Fire; Lauren Comp, associate producer at Voltage Entertainment, a creator of Japanese-style romance games; and Jeremy Crawford Co-Lead designer of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons.
While many folks around the world know of Greek mythology and its extensive pantheon, lesser known is the fact that most (if not all) of these gods were omnisexual. They were many times enamored and drawn to mortals regardless of gender, often having sex with anyone and anything, even animals and trees.
Zeus, the father of the gods, for example, is as known for his vengeful lightning bolts as he is for having a wandering set of eyes. Zeus had multiple offspring from his numerous female rapes and romances, but he also had his share of homosexual relationships too. In one instance, Zeus was so enamored by the mortal man Ganymede’s beauty that he turned into an eagle and abducted the boy, bringing him to Olympus as his cup bearer (a companion/servant) to spend his time admiring him.
Another widely known love story is that of Orpheus and his journey to the underworld in search of Eurydice, the woman he loves. He ultimately fails to retrieve her, and afterwards turns to only men for companionship. Because of this, women who wanted to sleep with him grew to hate him. In the end, they kill him by literally tearing him to pieces because of it.
Apollo also had many male lovers. Hyacinth, the beautiful male youth, was Apollo’s lover but Zephyrus, the west wind god also desired him. Zephyrus blew Apollo’s discus off-course ultimately killing Hyacinth. Apollo — instead of letting Hades claim his beloved — created a flower out of his spilled blood, keeping his beauty perpetually above ground.
These are only a few examples in a very long list of same-sex mythology, but others are out there. These tales prominently emerged in a culture with less distinction (and stigma) between “gay” and “straight” desire
As Kenson said, “These stories are not ‘gay mythology.’ They are the history of our world and we must reclaim it by acknowledging them.”
Previously published December 13, 2015.
GX, or GaymerX, is a “queer space”; a yearly convention in Santa Clara, California, where panels center on queer themes, but all are invited and welcomed. As a proud media sponsor of GaymerX, Unicorn Booty covers gaming issues of all sorts. Tickets are available at GaymerX.com.