Ever since I was a child, I’ve gone through phases where I just become fascinated with certain fictional characters to the point that they permeate my thoughts and leave me thinking about them well after I’ve finished reading. It’s consistent enough that I can look back on ages in my life as “ah yes, the era when I was obsessed with ___.”
At age 9, it was Dustfinger from the Inkheart trilogy. When I was 15 and the very first Hobbit movie came out, I went through a phase where — and perhaps I was too old for this but I feel like I can trust you, readers — I wanted to be just like Bilbo Baggins. At 20, my anxious, overwhelmed, more-or-less-winging-it college senior self found Good Omens’s Aziraphale oddly, and yet comfortingly, relatable.
I could keep going.
From an outsider’s perspective, the level of infatuation for these characters almost seemed like a crush. And it’s true that I loved, and still love, these characters. But the type of love was less attraction (which my demisexual self felt sparingly) and more an all-consuming curiosity and admiration.
The way I’ve expressed this admiration has changed with age. While my teen years were full of doodling and fan fiction writing, I now find myself thinking of characters after I have finished the last pages of a book. Hoping that they’re well. Wondering what happened to them after their official story ended.
What follows are six LGBTQ characters I have been thinking about lately and wishing well. Most are from recent releases, within the past few years, with one soon-to-be-released novel as well. If you haven’t read any, let me tell you a little about why I loved these characters and why you might, too.
Shizuka Satomi (from Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki)
I am a sucker for a jaded and cynical character who, when others show them the unconditional love they deserve, changes as a person. And Shizuka Satomi was one heck of a character. I cheered for her as she discovered a found family that loved her unconditionally and worried about her as she struggled to navigate a Faustian bargain with her soul at stake. Without spoiling the plot, her character made me think about what it means to love others and to heal from pain in the past.
Albert Entwistle (from The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain, out May 24)
The whole time I was reading, I just wanted to give Albert a hug so bad. His story was a poignant one as he healed from decades of trauma from homophobia and pressure to remain in the closet. The way he experienced social anxiety felt so relatable, and his growth as a character made me want to connect more with the people I interact with every day like he did. He is a sweetheart, and watching him rebuild his self-worth and believe that he deserved the same kindness he offered others was beautiful.
Julia and Ro (from Anxious People by Fredrik Backman)
Fun fact: I loved this book so much that I made my husband listen to the audiobook with me immediately after I’d finished. We were newlyweds, myself deeply in love but nervous about how to be the best spouse I could be, and what that meant.
Julia and Ro, a young queer couple whose apartment search is sidetracked by an unusual hostage attempt, quelled some of that fear. The two were not perfect partners, and they sometimes got frustrated with each other, but they moved forward with hope and respect for each other.
There are not a lot of openly queer couples where I live. Often, my husband and I feel like the only ones wherever we are. Julia and Ro were the characters I needed as a newlywed. They reassured me that you don’t have to be a perfect spouse. That would be too much pressure for anyone to bear. You’ve just got to do the best you can to treat your partner with love and respect.
Razzmatazz (from Life of Melody by Mari Costa)
First off, if you haven’t read this graphic novel yet, you are in for a treat. Razzmatazz is a fairy godfather who, after finding a child in the woods, reluctantly decides to raise the baby as a co-parent with a shapeshifting beast named Bon. But over the decades, the reluctancy turns to a genuine fondness as Bon and Razzmatazz fall in love.
What I loved about Razzmatazz…where to start? His style, his conviction to do the right thing no matter what, his chaotic stint as a part-time librarian. He was a lovely character to spend time with, and it made my heart so happy to see him get the happy ending he deserved.
Hayden McCall (from Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler)
Hayden is a teacher and amateur sleuth from the cozy mystery Devil’s Chew Toy. The reason I loved him so much was more than the fact that I felt a kinship for him as a short queer guy, though that of course helped. He is a character that cares so much about the people he meets — enough that he puts his life on the line just to make sure they’re okay. I admired that a lot. A clever sleuth is always fun to read about, but it was his kindness that made him easy to root for.
Looking to discover other characters you can love and relate to? Take this Which Fictional Character Are You? quiz.