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Across the celluloid galaxy, science fiction showrunners and directors have long since incorporated compelling LGBT characters who are defined not by their sexual orientation or identification, but by their (shock!) personality. Even as modern society still struggles to come to terms with the fact that transgender people want to go to the bathroom where they’re most comfortable, science fiction blazes a path of equality that’s based not on your gender identity, but by how freaking awesome you are. From films to TV (and even a video game or two), here are some of the best-crafted LGBT characters who’ve ever graced our screens.

13. Ellie

One of the main characters from smash hit video game The Last of Us, Ellie is the emotional core of the original title. In that epic adventure, her sexual preferences don’t come up much because she’s a tween, but in the game’s DLC, Left Behind — which takes place a few years later — audiences get some insight into her romantic leanings when she shares a brief, but tender kiss with her pal Riley.


12. Valerie Page

Though she’s only onscreen for a few moments in V for Vendetta, the harrowing story of Valerie Page sticks with viewers. Watching their pure love come undone in the face of unrelenting bigotry in the space of just a short, but powerful monologue, is enough to catapult the main character V, into a life of vigilante justice.


11. Vladimir Harkonnen

Harkonnen may be a homosexual (with a penchant for young boys), but that’s only one facet of this horrible character. A grotesque, “immensely fat” villain in Frank Herbert’s Dune, Harkonnen is one of the Dune series’ most fearsome — if slightly ridiculous — enemies. He is sadistic hedonism visualized.


10. Colossus

We’re going to pretend that the Colossus in Deadpool is the same one that features in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, because in the Ultimate Marvel universe, a minor tweak to Colossus’ sexuality becomes an incisive way to explain the torment some homosexual people feel every day. After all, nothing about Colossus changes but his sexuality, but that one thing — which has no impact on his heroism or his sweet-natured personality — is enough to alienate people who in another dimension, would have been lifelong friends. While we’re talking DP actually, it should be noted that Deadpool himself is known to have quite the romantic thing for one Peter Parker, aka Spider-man. It’s a thing, you could look it up.


9. Sam Adama

In the world of Caprica, the mafia have long since abandoned the ridiculous bigotry of homophobia, which just opens up their ranks to some truly awesome assassins. Take for example Sam Adama, the mobster who’s openly gay and openly freaking awesome. Just put a knife in his hands and you’ll know what I mean.


8. Dorian

Anyone who’s played a Bioware RPG recently, knows that the company isn’t shy about sprinkling its stories with capable LGBT characters. One of the standouts though, is the wizard Dorian. You want to hate Dorian as soon as you meet him in Dragon Age: Inquisition, but it’s somehow impossible. Sure, he’s got that hipster mustache and a cocksure smile, but he’s also intelligent, likable, and crazy powerful. Even if you’re not interested in getting into this guy’s pants, he’s still a fun companion to take along on the main game.


7. Vincent

Eureka, one of Sci-fi’s earliest original programs, was about a town of super geniuses who all worked together at a top secret lab. At the center of it all was a small cafe run by Vincent, a chef with the means and the knowledge to craft any dish you could possibly desire. Unfortunately, most of Vince’s romantic life was vicarious, but that didn’t make him any less charming.


6. Willow Rosenberg

Though she began as Buffy’s resident mousey teen, Willow Rosenberg emerged as one of its strongest characters, blossoming into a powerful witch who understands that love comes in many forms. Played to perfection by Alyson Hannigan, Willow became a vessel of burgeoning sexuality to many confused teens throughout the early aughts.


5. Inara

Joss Whedon’s gone-too-soon masterpiece Firefly, had a host of oddball characters. Easily the most regal and altogether classiest of the bunch was the companion Inara, who specialized in, you know, companionship. Throughout the show’s brief run, Inara takes on a few female clients, explaining that she can be more herself with these women than she can with any man.


4. Frank N. Furter

Tim Curry’s hedonistic transvestite earns a lot of points not only for his innate charisma, but his trailblazing turn as one of sci-fi cinema’s first LGBT characters. Even if his movie — The Rocky Horror Picture Show — is about twenty minutes too long, Curry’s sweet transvestite helps keep the show moving along with his rocking voice and suggestive eyebrows.


3. Captain Jack Harkness

It’s a sentimental favorite, but Jack Harkness is still wonderful. Sure, he’ll tap anything that moves, but that’s just one facet of this time-hopping agent with a strong sense of duty. Harkness (played by John Barrowman) was a welcome, easygoing addition to both Doctor Who and Torchwood. Sure, his Han Solo-esque behavior could easily elicit an eye-roll or two, but that was part of the charm.


2. Albus Dumbledore

Thanks to his capacity as a teacher, Albus Dumbledore’s sexuality never really comes into play in the Harry Potter series. After all, Dumbledore was busy teaching children and fending off the encroaching forces of evil. He didn’t have a lot of time to have relationships. That being said, Potter scribe JK Rowling has confirmed that Dumbledore was, in fact, homosexual.


1. Xena

For several years, the love between Xena, Warrior Princess, and her constant companion Gabrielle was one of TV’s most heartfelt, sweet relationships. Gabrielle anchored her heroic counterpart while Xena strode (or flipped) happily into combat. It was her relationship with Gabrielle that turned Xena from a two-dimensional Conan rip-off, into a fully fleshed-out person with a stoic, but human sensibility.


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