Warning: The following article contains minor spoilers for the upcoming HBO series A Game of Thrones.
There are plenty of gay characters in A Song of Fire and Ice, a series of fantasy novels currently being adapted by HBO for television, the first season of which will be called A Game of Thrones. But what was a little more subtle in the books will be much more apparent in the series.
The same-sex relationship between the characters of Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) and Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) will be very apparent by the third episode in the ten-episode first season, which bows April 17th.
Executive producer and series writer D.B. Weiss tells AfterElton.com, “I think there will be a scene mid-season that will make you very happy.”
Renly is “gay in the books, too,” says George R.R. Martin, the author of the bestselling novels. But online chatter suggests that not every reader picked that fact up.
“I never meant to make it a mystery,” Martin says. “I like to handle things subtly. I couldn’t ever actually say, ‘such-and-such is gay,’ because, as I’m sure you know, the word wasn’t invented until the 60s. And I’m talking medieval times, and I’m not going to say, ‘so-and-so is gay.’ But I thought it was pretty clear in context.”
Finn Jones as Loras Tyrell
The character of Renly is non-stereotypical in many respects, a handsome, charismatic warrior and leader. Was Martin intentionally intending to defy stereotypes?
“Yes,” he says. “But there are other gay characters in the books that are villainous or that are bad in various ways. I think every group has good and bad people in it, whether we’re talking an ethnic group or a religious group. So I try to portray a variety, especially when I have hundreds of characters. So I can do a gay hero and a gay villain and a gay coward and a gay brave person, just as I can do fat people who are good and bad, and so on.
“I do have lesbian characters in the books, and bisexual characters too,” he adds. “The Red Viper of Dorne [in book three] is bisexual. I try to reflect a whole spectrum of humanity as best I can.”
The plan is for each season of the series to tell the events of each book, four of which have been written so far, out of a total of seven books planned.
“One of the luxuries of a show like this, one of the upsides to it, is you can really get a chance to dig in deep to the characters and explore who they and what makes them, and why they’re doing the things they’re doing,” Weiss says. “We had two great actors, Finn [Jones] and Gethin [Anthony] who play Loras [Tyrell] and Renly [Baratheon]. [Their being gay is] an integral part of who they are, their relationship to each other.”
Weiss gives credit to HBO for being allowed to explore the characters’ sexuality. “One of the great things about [that channel] is that they give you the freedom to show full people, and sexuality is an integral part of who they are. It’s really important to present their sexuality openly and honestly, even if they aren’t able to in the [fictional fantasy] world in which they live.”
Better still, the gay characters will become more important in the second season, based on the second book. “They have a bigger role than they do in the first,” Weiss says.
Meanwhile, preview screenings suggest that one of the show’s more villainous characters, Viserys Targaryen [Harry Lloyd], reads something like an effeminate gay villain: very blond, affected, and cowardly.
“He’s actually not [gay],” Weiss says.