Let’s Discuss: The Erasure of Sexualities in the FF Fandom

i’m sure most people would rather i do that than run my mouth, but here we are.

Wow, that title is a huge mouthful. I usually like huge mouthfuls and have no problem with them, but that’s not the topic for today. No, this blog post came to me during a discussion with some of my friends in which we were talking about our favorite ships. It’s no surprise that I believe Ignis/Noctis has more chemistry than a galactic supernova, but not everyone supports non-straight ships.

And that’s fine. All of my opinion posts are prefaced with: you are entitled to your opinion (as wrong as it may be). Straight people will often seek out ships that mimic their lives, and people who are not of the straight variety will often seek out ships that mimic their lives. Neither is inherently wrong (**See: fujoshi/lesbian fetishists– and no, this doesn’t apply to anyone who enjoys consuming non-straight media despite not belonging to the group of people! It applies to those who delegitimize us as human beings while still finding the idea “hot.”) And there is a problem when alternate sexualities are delegitimized by the fandom at large when it comes to the characters. Trust.

“If Noctis and Luna don’t get together, who does that leave him with… Iris?”

because main characters have to be straight except when they’re not.

This simple statement started making the gears turn in my dusty, mite-filled brain, and for once in a long time, I had a thought. It seemed to never occurred to my friend that Noctis could be anything other than straight canonly speaking (though she does respect other peoples’ ships!) Despite the ships and such out there, canonly speaking, he is seen as 100% straight and could only end up with a girl within the canon universe by post people, though.

Now, we know that society is 10 million lightyears away from having a gay protagonist of a Final Fantasy game. That’s the unfortunate reality we live in, and until we learn how the space-time continuum works, we’ll never be able to escape and hop on over to where dinosaurs still roam the earth but socio-politics are more progressive.  I don’t blame my friend for thinking that Noctis is realistically only straight- it’s only natural, in my opinion, given the world we live in. No, I blame society’s fucked-up standards.

this is what homophobes fear most.

What is the problem with society when a main character could never be anything other than straight? Do gay characters have to be regulated to quirky side-kicks and flamboyant drag-queens (which, no offense to either. These are very valid types of people who do express themselves in such ways. I respect that 100, but it’d be nice to see other representation without the stereotyping. If you fall into the stereotyping, that’s great! You keep doing you, boo. Love.)

I’m not going to touch much on Fang/Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII due to the fact that, like so many others, they suffer from something non-explicit even though their Lesbian-romance is very heavily implied. But their relationship isn’t really questioned except that they could be ~best friends~. Yet most everyone agrees they’re probably in a romantic relationship. Maybe because straight, cis-men tend to fetishize them (sorry, ladies, they do, we all know it) and girls don’t have the same “BUT GAY MEN ARE THE DEVILS” complex (I am the devil, just so you know).

Let’s not even get started on Persona( which will be another series I will be touching on with this same exact topic in a few more posts). I’m fit to be tied because none of this is remotely okay. If you are a person who believes that all main characters must be straight, show yourself the door. If you are a person who believes they have to be hyper-masculine, show yourself the door. If you hate female protagonists and claim they’re “too slutty, too weak, too strong, too fake” then show yourself the door and let it hit you on the way out. Regardless of what we’d like to believe, the media created in video games is primarily targeted to cis-gender, straight, male audiences.

these games don’t just drop the ball, it flies up and hits them in the face.

And I believe it’s in part to this that none of these issues ever get addressed within games. In these games, sexuality is not a topic which is fine to me (except Persona 4 which we can all agree dropped the ball). Based on love interests, we are supposed to assume a character is conforming to societal norms. These are not real people with complex emotions, they are avatars which reflect us- the player. And that’s why, as a pansexual man (with a preference for men), it’s frustrating to see this assumption. Just because a character is portraying outward displays of romantic attraction towards a character doesn’t mean they identify solely one way or another.

nothing is ever gay. it’s “guy love” or “bromance.”

There is a common statement in fandoms which include real people (i.e. musicians such as KPop), that it is rude to assume someone’s sexuality. And as a whole, this is true. But usually this is in response to “oh, is he/she not straight?” You do not see the same negative responses for keeping with the status quo. By saying a male celebrity looks cute with a female celebrity, no one starts yelling that you shouldn’t assume they’re straight. But by saying a male celebrity and another male celebrity look cute together, you do hear “YOU SHOULDN’T ASSUME THEY’RE GAY JUST BECAUSE THEY’RE FRIENDS.” (Ironically, the appeal of two female celebrities does not receive the same treatment. Good job, double standards.) Acceptable terms are “guy love” and “bromance,” though the latter is more commonly used. I’m thrilled guys can finally be affectionate with each other and people not demean them, but ??? Now it seems to be used as an excuse?

we’d all do well to remember this. and some fans really need this mantra. you know who you are.

But Final Fantasy characters are not real people. Without complex thoughts and feelings, most people resort to arguing that a main cast member being gay doesn’t make sense (and if it does, they are usually the butt of jokes). Or, interestingly enough, that the creator’s intention is the word of God and the game is the Bible. Let me tell you: despite being a “safer” environment as far as violence goes to LGBTQ+ people, Japan is not progressive in terms of LGBTQ+ people. Even if the creator had the intention and laid on the subtext thicker than lube at an orgy, these same people would be adamant that it’s not possible.

same tho.

You see, the subject of sexuality becomes a bit redundant once a canon couple has shown their love and care for one another. While Tidus from FFX might have been the perfect image of a twink or Squall in FFVIII had the closeted emo-kid vibe, they both ultimately did find attraction towards women which is canon within the game itself. However, that doesn’t stop the fandom from having their ships and “what if”s. And to me, that’s a beautiful thing. It’s exploring other dynamics which could have been had the story not panned out the way it did.

And so let’s take a closer look at the situation surrounding the statement that brought me inspiration to do this post…

While I don’t want to spend too much time on the subject of Noctis/Luna (I will be writing about them specifically later), I should touch on it by saying that we do not receive the same confirmations as we did with the two examples above. Being childhood friends is sweet, but it’s not enough to convince some of us of canon romantic attraction. Their engagement was arranged (and also at the behest of Ardyn). And they have very little interaction within the game itself. Do they care for each other? Abso-fucking-lutely. But I’d argue it’s a sibling relationship rather than romantic based on what we’ve been shown. Maybe that will change later.

fandoms thrive on this mentality.

Furthermore, we don’t see Noctis actively flirting with girls in Brotherhood, and his “date” with Iris is uncomfortable. Now, a lot of people give the excuses that “he’s loyal to Luna” (they were not engaged at this point) and “Iris is like a little sister to him.” I imagine the second one is true, and she probably is. But from a person who is not straight, seeing all of these things, it’s easy to see how my conclusion is that maybe he is like me. Maybe this is a character I can identify with. There is a lot of free-reign interpretation to go on in this game, and that’s why I liked it so much. So, for it to be implied or told that these similarities I’ve seen in myself are wrong is annoying at best and hurtful at worst.

Because, to me, Noctis’s sexuality could fall anywhere on the spectrum: maybe he’s gay, maybe he’s bi, maybe he’s pan, maybe he’s ace. Maybe he is the type that needs to feel romantic attraction before sexual attraction. There are so many things it could be other than straight. And I think I notice it more with this game than others because Noctis is the first main character who I feel has many moments where fans have the opportunity to think deeper on his canon sexuality.

you’re welcome.

And their opinions are no less valid than those who believe he’s been in love with Luna the whole time. But even if you’re in a shipping war, stop coming for people by using his (or anyone else’s) sexuality as an excuse to back up your opinion. Use the game, use the other materials. Stop delegitimizing peoples’ opinions when they, too, have their own proof. I mean, this does kind of disregard crack ships made for the sake of scarring people for life (any HP fans remember that horrible Hagrid/Dobby shit that went around? Yeah. Me neither.) Because hey, maybe I didn’t get my OTP about to have an arranged marriage, but I do have them willing to change the fate of the world to save one another. And to me, that counts for a fuckton, too.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES?

Have you ever encountered anyone in the fandom who believes that a main character could never possibly be anything but straight? Are you one of those people who hasn’t given it much thought before? have you been the person to make the assumptions (even innocently!) Let me know, but be nice (i’m a sensitive soul)!
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