For LGBTQ gamers, HBO's 'The Last of Us' adaption represents a watershed moment


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Jan 19, 2023
LGBTQ gamers who spoke with NBC News said the third episode of the series, focusing on a queer romance, gave them hope for the future of video games.

For some LGBTQ gamers, their first exposure to a queer character in a video game was the curmudgeonly Bill in the 2013 blockbuster hit "The Last of Us."

On Sunday, a decade later, those gamers watched in awe as Bill's story — a romance with his partner, Frank — became the focal point in episode three of HBO's wildly popular adaptation of the game.

"It was gorgeous, and I was so not expecting it," said Darion Lowenstein, 41, a video game consultant, who is gay. "Obviously, I've played the games religiously and I know there's gay characters in there, but I was not expecting an 80-minute … tearworthy piece of art."

Queer gamers who tuned in said it felt like a watershed moment for LGBTQ representation in video games.

Stories like that of Bill and Frank, that focus on the couple's romance without the societal ills of discrimination and bigotry, can be important forms of representation, Durkee said

Drag queen and horror game Twitch streamer Elix said if the show hadn't been based on a video game, she might not have considered it such a leap forward.

"Because it's an adaptation of a game, and I still see it as the storyline of a game, absolutely," Elix said of the episode progressing queer stories in the gaming industry. "I don't think I've ever seen a game portray a relationship in the LGBTQ umbrella like this. This was excellence."

More in the article: HBO's 'The Last of Us' adaptation is a milestone for LGBTQ gamers

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