12 Queer Characters in Literature

We’ve picked some of our favourite queer characters from some of our favourite books and compiled the following list for you. Add your own favourites by commenting below!

 

1. Idgie Threadgoode

From: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg

Fried

Synopsis: Idgie Threadgoode is one of the main characters in this 1987 novel which weaves together the past and the present through the blossoming friendship between Evelyn Couch and Ninny Threadgoode. Ninny regales Evelyn with stories from her past, focusing in on the relationship between Idgie and her friend Ruth. The pair eventually become lovers and spend their lives together, running the Whistle Stop Café.

2. Nancy Astley

From: Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Tipping

Synopsis: Set in Victorian England during the 1890s, Tipping the Velvet tells a coming of age story about a young woman named Nan who falls in love with a male impersonator, follows her to London, and finds various ways to support herself as she journeys through the city.

3. Celie Johnson

From: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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Synopsis: The Color Purple is a 1982 novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.
Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of colour in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The character of Celie Johnson has a lesbian relationship with Shug in the novel, something which is left out of the film version.

4. Michael Tolliver

From: Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

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Synopsis: This multi-plot narrative follows the complicated lives of a motley group of characters gingerly finding their way through a maze of sex, drugs and longing in 1970’s San Francisco. As relationships entwine and sever and as layers of secrets are revealed under other layers of secrets, the narrative explores themes related to human frailty, the nature of family, and the tension between sexual freedom and emotional freedom.

5. Shed

From: The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer

moon

Synopsis: Set against the harsh reality of an unforgiving landscape and culture, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon provides a vision of the Old West unlike anything seen before. The narrator, Shed, is one of the most memorable characters in contemporary fiction: a half-Indian bisexual boy who lives and works at the Indian Head Hotel in the tiny town of Excellent, Idaho.

6. Stephen Stills

From: Scott Pilgrim Series by Bryan Lee O’Malley

scottpilgrim

Synopsis: Stephen Stills is the lead singer, guitarist, and “talent” of Sex Bob-omb, featured in the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley. In the Final Volume of the series, Stephen reveals he’s in a relationship with Joseph, the producer of Sex Bob-omb’s album.

7. Albus Dumbledore

From: Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

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Although it’s never mentioned outright in the books, J.K. Rowling confirmed that Dumbledore, the headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts throughout the Harry Potter series, was in fact a gay man.

8. Liza Winthrop

From: Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden

Annie

Synopsis: Annie On My Mind is a 1982 novel by Nancy Garden about the romantic relationship between two 17-year-old New York City girls, Annie and Liza. Liza, the protagonist and narrator of the novel,  is a 17-year-old girl living in the upscale neighbourhood of Brooklyn Heights. She attends Foster Academy, a private school nearby, which is facing financial trouble.

9. Divine

From: Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet

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Synopsis: First published in 1943, this free-flowing, poetic novel is a largely autobiographical account of a man’s journey through the Parisian underworld. The characters are drawn after their real-life counterparts, who are mostly homosexuals living on the fringes of society.

10. Cal Stephanides

From: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

middlesex

Synopsis: Narrator and protagonist Cal Stephanides (initially called “Callie”) is an intersex man of Greek descent with a condition known as 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, which causes him to have certain feminine traits. The latter half of the novel, set in the late 20th century, focuses on Cal’s experiences in his hometown Detroit, Michigan, and his escape to San Francisco where he comes to terms with his modified gender identity.

11. Sissy Mankshaw

From: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins

cowgirls

Synopsis: Sissy Hankshaw, the novel’s protagonist, is a woman born with enormously large thumbs who considers her mutation a gift. The novel covers various topics, including “free love”, drug use, political rebellion, animal rights, body odor, religion, and yams.

12. Jeanette Winterson

From: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

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Synopsis: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a novel by Jeanette Winterson published in 1985, which she subsequently adapted into a BBC television drama of the same name. It is a coming of age story about a lesbian girl who grows up in an English Pentecostal community.

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