LGBT people have historically played a big part in geek culture. Whether they're directors (James Whale, Pedro Almodóvar, Greg Berlanti, etc), writers (Clive Barker, Virginia Woolf, Truman Capote, etc) or actors (Ian McKellen, Jodie Foster, Ellen Page, etc), these people have managed to make a mark in popular culture despite the stigma surrounding LGBT issues for so many years.
Nowadays, LGBT issues are finally beginning to be explored in more depth and the legalization of same sex marriage in the USA (and several other countries) is a step in the right direction to achieve well-deserved equality for the LGBT community.
Going back to popular culture, over the past 15 years (or so), more and more LGBT characters have been created and many of them have received universal acclaim. Consequently, here are 13 of the best LGBT nerd icons in popular culture:
13. Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Why she is awesome: Willow plays an integral role within the Scooby Gang, who support Buffy, as she fights vampires, demons and other evil in Sunnydale. The series begins when Buffy, Willow, and their friend Xander are in 10th grade and Willow is a shy and nerdy girl with little confidence. She has inherent magical abilities and begins to study witchcraft. As the series progresses, Willow becomes more confident of herself and her magical powers become more volatile. Her dependence on magic becomes so consuming that it develops into a dark force that takes her on a redemptive journey in a major story arc when she becomes the sixth season's main villain, threatening to destroy the world in a fit of grief and rage.
Nevertheless, what Willow is most remembered for is her relationship with the witch Tara Maclay (one of the first lesbian couples on US television). In conclusion, Willow is such an iconic character because of her intelligence, shy nature and vulnerability, but more importantly for her courage to seek balance between what is best for her beloved ones and her remarkable powers.
12. Charlie Bradbury (Supernatural)
Why she is awesome: Charlie is an IT expert, who can literally hack anything, a LARP Queen and she even bedded a real live fairy. If you are not convinced by now that she is a total badass, Charlie is also a lesbian with a taste in electro pop and has a Princess Leia tattoo (in a slave girl bikini astride a 20-sided dice), which she got during a comic con convention while drunk. Charlie is so amazing because she is not afraid to be different and unique.
It is a real shame that the screenwriters of Supernatural decided to kill off this valiant and quirky character. At least the Winchesters made sure that her death was avenged.
11. Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint (Doctor Who)
Why they are awesome: Madame Vastra is a Silurian consulting detective, who along with her wife - Jenny Flint, solves crime and mysteries in Victorian London. Moreover, the Doctor even assumes that Vastra and Jenny are the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, so this makes them even more awesome. Both characters are really intelligent and independent and they have also helped the Doctor on several occasions - they have even saved his life a few times!
What makes Madame Vastra such a wonderful character is the fact that she is open-minded; she changes her opinion on humans and ends up falling in love with one. On the flipside, Jenny offers support and guidance to Vastra in all of her endeavors.
10. Korra (The Legend of Korra)
Why she is awesome: Korra (from The Legend of Korra, a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender) is the current incarnation of the Avatar, responsible for maintaining peace and balance in the world. She is described by her creators as "very tough, very headstrong, and not scared to get into a fight." Although she is talented, her stubborn and hot-headed personality prevents her from easily learning airbending or connecting with the Spirit World.
However, despite her power and her temper, she is most well-known for something else - the series' final scene, indicating the beginning of a romantic relationship between Korra and fellow female character, Asami Sato. The scene was unprecedented in its bold representation of LGBT relationships on children's TV in the West. To conclude, Korra is an iconic character because of her readiness to always pursue her goals, in spite of the obstacles that are in front of her.
9. Oberyn Martell (Game of Thrones)
Why he is awesome: Prince Oberyn, known as the Red Viper of Dorne, is a member of House Martell, the ruling family of Dorne. He is well-known for his fighting skills, passionate temper and sexual appetites. What makes this character special is that he isn’t the stereotypical representation of a bisexual portrayed on TV. Most bisexuals depicted in popular culture are usually female, who like to seduce and antagonize straight men. In addition, Martell was also a really cunning character, who was extremely skilled in combat.
Too bad he was killed like pretty much everyone else on Game of Thrones...
8. Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune (Sailor Moon)
Why they are awesome: Very few characters are as open about their sexuality as this couple from Sailor Moon. Uranus and Neptune are the only two openly homosexual Senshi of the series and their relationship is a crucial element in both the anime and manga. Moreover, they were in a relationship from their very first appearance and they later committed to raising baby Hotaru together.
Overall, not only do Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune possess extremely powerful supernatural abilities, they also serve as amazing role models because of their bravery, valor and fortitude.
7. Wallace Wells (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)
Why he is awesome: Wallace Wells is something more than just Scott Pilgrim's gay roommate. He is easy going and calm, filling the role of Scott's voice of reason. What makes him awesome is that he is very independent and open about his sexuality. Furthermore, he really cares about Scott (after all, they sleep in the same bed together). In conclusion, Wallace Wells is a total LGBT nerd icon, but still don't let him near your boyfriend, because you'll be left single in the end.
6. Alan Scott (Green Lantern)
Why he is awesome: As it is well-known, Alan Scott is the first superhero to bear the name the Green Lantern. However, following DC's reboot (The New 52), Alan was reintroduced as a gay man, who lives on Earth 2 and is a completely different character from the Alan Scott on New Earth.
Later, it was revealed that Scott has a boyfriend named Sam, to whom he intends to propose while on vacation in China. However, before he can do so, the train on which the couple is traveling is suddenly wrecked. A mysterious green flame protects Scott and heals him; a disembodied voice informs him that the crash was caused by a force that threatens the whole world and that Sam did not survive. The grief-stricken Scott is then told that he will be given the power to avenge his love and protect the world. The flame creates a costume for him, and molds Sam's engagement ring into a power ring with which Scott can harness his power. Reborn as the Green Lantern, Scott proceeds to help the other survivors and swears vengeance for Sam.
If this wonderful story doesn't make you feel anything, then you must be Mr. Burns. In conclusion, Alan Scott's selflessness to seek justice and save the world, provoked by the loss of his loved one, deservedly lands him a place on this list.
5. Mystique (X-Men)
Why she is awesome: Raven Darkhölme is, of course, one of the most famous X-Men characters. Throughout most of her history, Mystique has been a supervillain, founding her own Brotherhood of Mutants and assassinating several important people involved in mutant affairs. Besides, she is also the mother of the villain Graydon Creed, the hero Nightcrawler and the adoptive mother of the heroine Rogue.
However, in spite of all of her abilities (shapeshifting, superhuman agility, agelessness and accelerated healing factor), Raven is also known for something even more remarkable. She is one of the first comic book characters to come out of the closet. Sure, Mystique has had male love interests but her most well-known lover is probably Destiny, whose relationship with Raven reveals her humanity in ways that we hadn't imagined existed. To conclude, Raven's willingness to always seek happiness, in spite of what the outside world thinks about her, lands her a high place on this list.
4. Xena (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Why she is awesome: It is true that the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle does not explicitly reveal that they are something more than friends. However, as it has been implied on the show, their relations go far beyond friendship. Moreover, Lucy Lawless even stated in an interview in 2003 that their relationship was deeper than sub-text.
Still, for a show that premiered about 20 years ago, Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001), can be considered a pioneer in showing LGBT relationships on TV. Additionally, Xena is such a brave and intense character that her place on this list is more than justified.
3. Professor Dumbledore (Harry Potter)
Why he is awesome: Albus Dumbledore is arguably the greatest wizard ever. The headmaster of Hogwarts and the founder and leader of the Order of the Phoenix is extremely wise and also possesses an exemplary amount of courage.
However, when it comes to his sexuality, fans and critics have divisive opinions. He has been praised for being a ground-breaking character due to the fact that he was depicted as just a normal, yet, legendary person without his orientation being the main focus of his identity. However, Dumbledore has also been criticized for the lack of expression of his orientation at all. Whether you see the portrayal of his sexuality in the Harry Potter series as something positive or negative, it won't change the fact that our beloved headmaster was a proud member of the LGBT community.
2. Ellie (The Last Of Us)
Why she is awesome: Ellie is "mature beyond her years" as a result of the circumstances of her environment. An impulsive, violent, but also caring and hardened girl, Ellie has been praised for her unique relationship with the other The Last Of Us protagonist - Joel and also for being an LGBT pioneer (especially looking at her age) in gaming. Also, Ellie showed an impressive character progression as the game went on and by the end she was able to control her emotions a lot better (something that any teen and young adult should learn as soon as possible).
1. Captain Jack Harkness (Torchwood; Doctor Who)
Why he is awesome: Who else?! Tough, immortal, courageous, confident and always smiling, Harkness is the perfect example of an (LGBT) icon! Moreover, he is a character who absolutely defies LGBT stereotypes and is the perfect role model for pretty much anyone. Even more important than his coolness and openness is the fact that he is universally appealing and beloved because of his positive attitude and willingness to always do what is right. For all these reasons, Captain Jack Harkness is the ultimate LGBT nerd icon in popular culture.