Queerness in Legend of Zelda Series

Although there is no explicit LGBTQ content in the game, some critics have pointed to potential queer characters and themes. For instance, in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time (1998), Princess Zelda dresses up as a supposedly male but rather gender ambiguous character named Sheik. Although Sheik’s gender is continuously debated (see here, here, here, and here), Nintendo representives have said that “Sheik is a woman–simply Zelda in a different outfit” (Riendeau, 2014). That said, in Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS, Sheik is a playable character and not described as a transformation of Zelda. Nintendo similarly declared that Tingle, who first appeared in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000), is not, despite much speculation, meant to be a gay character (see here, here, and here). There are several articles asserting that Link, or at least one of the Links, could be gay (see here, here, and here), but none of the arguments are very conclusive. Another article lists the following characters from Ocarina of Time as potentially queer or at least gender non-conforming: Impa, Nabooru, The Gerudos, and The Great Fairies (Ortberg, 2014). However, we haven’t found other articles making similar claims. That article and several forum discussants have said that the carpenters in Ocarina of Time are gay because of their bouncing walk and the fact that they refer to Link as a “cute kid” (see here, here, and here). If they are indeed gay, it is very implicit. In Breath of the Wild, Link is barred entry from Gerudo Town for the reason of being a “voe,” or a man. He hears about a man sneaking into the town and finds Vilia, who Link can accuse of being a man, despite being dressed as a “vai,” or a woman. Vilia will get offended if this option is chosen, but if Link chooses to compliment Vilia’s beauty, she will offer to sell him vai clothing to get into Gerudo Town. After purchasing the clothing from her, Link will try on the clothing. Afterwards, a gust of wind will lift up the cover over her mouth, revealing her face, and Link will seem shocked. Although the game never confirms Vilia’s gender identity, she is always referred to with she/her pronouns and seems to be offended at the accusation of being male. The only place she is referred to with he/him pronouns is in the Breath of the Wild – Creating a Champion book, which also says that Vilia may have been born with a different name, which could be a reference to transness. Citations:
  1. Bautista, C. (2012, February 3). The Legend of Zelda and the Transgender Experience. Christopher’s Bloghttp://cristophermarc.blogspot.com/2012/02/legend-of-zelda-and-transgender.html
  2. BlueKnightNight. (2008, October 6). Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time: Gerudo Fortress (part 1). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLohUXvkR08
  3. Boccabella, D. (2013, April 3). Link is Gay. Zelda Informerhttp://www.zeldainformer.com/news/link_is_gay
  4. Fruite Brute. (2006, July 26). Top 20 Gayest Video Game Characters #1-Tingle. GayGamer.Net. http://gaygamer.net/2006/07/top_20_gayest_video_game_chara_20.html
  5. Ganon. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganon
  6. Garcia, T. (2012, March 26). A Brief History of Transgender Characters in Video Games [Updated]. TransGamerSociologist. https://transgamersociologist.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/a-brief-history-of-transgender-characters-in-video-games/
  7. Harper, T. (2015, February 19). Dog and Pony Show. ChaoticBlue. http://www.chaoticblue.com/blog/2015/02/dog-and-pony-show/
  8. Hyrule. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universe_of_The_Legend_of_Zelda#Hyrule
  9. Jeffries, G. (2015, February 23). Legend of Zelda producer shoots down gay character rumours. PinkNews. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2015/02/23/legend-of-zelda-producer-shoots-down-gay-character-rumours/
  10. [Legend of Zelda] Sheik is either a Trans Zelda or Zelda’s image of strength. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/FanTheories/comments/38v7tr/legend_of_zelda_shiek_is_either_a_trans_zelda_or/
  11. Link. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://zeldawiki.org/Link
  12. Mangrum, L. (n.d.). Are They or Aren’t They?: Link. Gay-Nerds.com. http://gay-nerds.com/site/videogames/are-they-or-arent-they-link/
  13. Ortberg, M. (2014, April 8). The Legend of Zelda’s Ocarina of Time: Giving the Gender Binary a Swift Roundhouse Kick to the Face. The Toasthttp://the-toast.net/2014/04/08/legend-zelda-ocarina-time-giving-gender-binary-swift-roundhouse-kick-face/
  14. Princess Zelda. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Zelda
  15. Riendeau, D. (2014, August 5). Zelda fans debate Sheik’s gender, but here’s Nintendo’s final word. Polygon. http://www.polygon.com/2014/8/5/5948989/zelda-nintendo-sheik-gender-cosplay
  16. Rumphol-Janc, N. (2010, April 1). Top 5 Reasons Link is Gay. Zelda Informerhttp://www.zeldainformer.com/news/top_5_reasons_link_is_gay
  17. Sheik. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://zelda.wikia.com/wiki/Sheik
  18. The Legend of Zelda. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_Zelda
  19. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_Zelda:_Ocarina_of_Time
  20. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_Zelda:_Majora%27s_Mask
  21. Tingle. (n.d.). Retrieved from [Legend of Zelda] Sheik is either a Trans Zelda or Zelda’s image of strength. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/FanTheories/comments/38v7tr/legend_of_zelda_shiek_is_either_a_trans_zelda_or/
  22. Totilo, S. (2015, February 18). Nintendo Explains Where Tingle Game From. Kotaku. http://kotaku.com/nintendo-explains-where-tingle-came-from-1686538751
  23. Vilia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2020, from https://zelda.gamepedia.com/Vilia
  24. White, K. C., & Tanaka, S. (2018). The Legend of Zelda: breath of the wild: creating a champion. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Books.