Top 10 LGBT characters in film
#10 – Danvers (Rebecca)Her sexuality may not be explicit in either Daphne du Maurier’s book or any of its film adaptations, but let’s not mess around – Mrs Danvers was an evil, heartbroken old lesbian, and if the second Mrs de Winter had been willing to call her Danny and squeeze her arse occasionally then Manderley would never have burnt down. Think about all the times Danvers sneaked into Rebecca’s bedroom to cuddle that horrible fur coat, feverishly chewing on piles of nun-made knickers, and know true fear.
#9 – Frank Fitz (American Beauty)Yeah, we could have gone with Jim and Jim, but why pick the predictable gays when you can have [SPOILERS] the Nazi-loving military prick instead? Having spent years burying his repressed sexuality under layer of homophobia, Frank finally tries to connect with another man in a single, doomed encounter in Lester Burnham’s garage. It may not be a happy moment (except compared to what he does next), but it’s an incredibly powerful one – with a salutory message about the dangers of shackling one’s true self. Surprisingly, it’s quite hard to make jokes about a tortured gay fascist.
#8 – Roxie Richter (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)We’re not stupid – the Scott Pilgrim character who should be on this list is Scott’s cool gay roommate Wallis (played with impossible aplomb by Kieran Culkin, absolutely our favourite of the Culkin clan). But we needed more girls, and something about Roxie’s facepaint, her Hot Topic belt/urumi thing and that cute way you can make her orgasm to death by touching the back of her knee won us round. Plus she has the best line in the film: “Bi-curious? Well, honey, I’m a little BI-FURIOUS!”. You go, Roxie.
#7 – Mitch (ParaNorman)The clip above marks pretty much the first time we can think of a major character in a kids’ film not being straight – and, fantastically, Mitch’s sexuality has no bearing at all upon the film. We’ve encountered a few ghastly bloggers (mostly ones who trumpet their ‘Mom’ status to the heavens, because they’re otherwise totally unqualified to do anything) who think that this makes ParaNorman in some way less child-friendly; if you’ve got a spare hour later, perhaps you could leave them some abusive YouTube comments.
#6 – Nic (The Kids are All Right)Annette Bening and Julianne Moore present one of the most convincing on-screen relationships of recent years in The Kids Are All Right, which explores the effect on a lesbian couple and their children when they unexpectedly meet their sperm donor. We were totally smitten with both Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore), not to mention their brilliant daughter Joni (Mia Wasikowska), but Nic’s making the list because Jules has an affair with Mark Ruffalo. You don’t get to boff Bruce Banner AND get celebrated for being a lesbian, Jules.
#5 – Gordon Deitrich (V for Vendetta)Wilde, Peter’s Friends, (probably) Stormbreaker… Stephen Fry’s stature as the most endearingly establishment LGBT man in Britain has contributed to him landing a long list of gay roles. But we’d like to ignore the obvious choices to zero in on Gordon, the TV presenter who falls foul of a dystopian Britain’s secret police after lampooning the despotic Chancellor Sutler on his programme. Unfortunately, when the G-men go to Gordon’s house they discover a secret room filled with banned art, a Koran and some distinctly fruity photos. Inviting the occasional pretty runner to his house to maintain the pretence that he’s a red-blooded hetero, Gordon has hidden in plain sight for years; nominally safe, but doomed to a shadowy and unfulfilled life. In a film so full of huge themes and larger-than-life characters, his story (and that of Valerie, V for Vendetta’s other gay character) play out as a particularly poignant counterpoint to the main plot.
#4 – Alyssa Jones (Chasing Amy)The first time I watched Chasing Amy, I developed a huge crush on Joey Lauren Adams. The second time I actually paid attention to more than her voice (SO HUSKY), which was more interesting and almost as enjoyable. Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) is hopelessly attracted to Alyssa (Adams) despite her ostensibly being a lesbian, and spends the film trying to resolve his complicated feelings regarding her sexual past. He doesn’t do a particularly good job of it, but Chasing Amy‘s willingness to acknowledge the fluidity of sexuality sets it apart from the ‘straight-straight-straight-MASSIVE GAY-straight’ dynamic that colours many Hollywood films.
#3 – Albert Goldman (The Birdcage)Although I’ve tried to steer away from the most stereotypical portrayals of gay men in this blog, ain’t no use writing about gay characters without mentioning Nathan Lane. There are plenty of problems with The Birdcage, most of them relating to Hank Azaria, but Lane’s performance as Albert and his alter ego Starina is a masterclass in comic timing and raging passion. He’s a more convincing woman than Joan Rivers has ever, ever been.
#2 – Brandon Teena (Boys Don’t Cry)The only transgender person on this list, Brandon is also the only real one. Hilary Swank’s Oscar-winning performance was based on the true story of Teena, an American transman (for the avoidance of doubt, that’s a female-to-male transgender person) who was brutally raped and murdered in 1993. The publicity surrounding Teena’s death and his subsequent onscreen portrayal did much to raise awareness of transgender issues and transphobic hate crimes in the United States; if you haven’t seen Boys Don’t Cry, the only person losing out is you.
#1 – Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter)Who else? The world went mad when JK Rowling revealed that Hogwarts’ beloved headmaster was gay (we think she did it to piss off the people who said she was disseminating witchcraft), but we can’t think of a better ambassador for LGBT rights than the wizard who defeated Grindelwald, earnt the Order of Merlin (First Class) and has a beard long enough to dye in rainbow colours. Plus, once again, his sexuality is basically irrelevant – it’d be nice if we could get to a point where more characters in books and onscreen are gay without it necessarily being a plot point. Albus leads the way again – no wonder they put him on a Chocolate Frog card.