Jay is a student at the University of Kentucky as well as a trans man, pre-everything. He has been watching anime since he was 14.
For years, anime has made homophobic and transphobic jokes that are subtle to most, but not all. However, as the LGBT community has grown and emerged, the anime industry has grown as well. There are more and more LGBT characters popping up in today's media and it is making a drastic change on how people who aren't in the community view us. It's a fundamental step to acceptance and kinship between the community and everyone outside of it, and the anime industry is helping to continue that.
1. Nitori Shuichi and Takatsuki Yoshino (Wandering Son)
Initially released in 2011, the series Wandering Son follows Nitori Shuichi, a young trans girl, and Takatsuki Yoshino, a young trans boy. The show deals with serious issues regarding gender identity, dysphoria and the overall problems of growing up as a young trans person. While it is primarily focused on the kids' gender identities, the series also focuses on their romantic emotions towards each other and overall their lives as they go through being both trans and growing up.
Though I haven't finished the series for myself, I do recommend it for any trans individuals, especially younger ones, as it is a good series to relate to and has the trans representation that many other series do not.
2. Yuri Katsuki and Victor Nikiforov (Yuri on Ice)
Face it - you knew this was coming, Yuri on Ice may not have had the best animation, but we all have to admit that the canonly gay main characters threw us for a loop. Yuri Katsuki, an ice-skater braving the international stage, finds himself in the mentorship of Victor Nikiforov, one of the top international skaters. Not to spoil anything, but as it turns out, Victor Nikiforov was enchanted the first time he saw Yuri. As the show goes on, the te of them not only kiss but get engaged (though it seems more implied, they do indeed get engagement rings).
Yuri and Victor really are the gay power couple we needed in this day and age, and theirs is one of the most obvious relationships and examples of LGBT romance we could ask for.
3. Fumi Manjoume and Akira Okudaira (Sweet Blue Flowers)
What starts as a childhood-friends-being-reunited story soon flourishes into a sweet, delicate romance between two girls, Fumi Manjoume and Akira Okudaira. It aired in 2009 and is a sweet lesbian romance that we all deserve.
The story is about young love and growing up learning about your sexuality, and it could really help young girls who are learning about sexuality and trying to come into themselves as young women. It really is a step for the younger generation, as there never seem to be pure lesbian love in the manga and anime world. It's more than just Yuri, it's a healthy same-sex romantic anime that can help young lesbian girls figure themselves out.
Though I haven't watched it for myself, several others recommend it and describe it as 'character-driven' and 'beautiful'.
4. Haruhi and Ranka Fujioka (Ouran Highschool Host Club)
This one might be a stretch, but I can't help but put them in here, my favorite dad and daughter duo. It is canon that Haruhi Fujioka and her father just do not care about gender, what with Ranka being a drag queen and Haruhi destroying gender stereotypes with the classic line, " Besides, it doesn't really matter, does it? Why should I care about appearances and labels anyway? It's what's on the inside that counts. " as well as " Even though I gave my first kiss to a girl by a weird series of events, the night had a good feel to it." and "Listen, Senpai, I don't really care whether you guys recognize me as a boy or a girl. In my opinion, it's more important for a person to be recognized for who they are, rather than what sex they are."
While it may not be explicitly stated, Haruhi is a gender revolutionary and shows that it really doesn't matter how you look or act, it only matters who you are on the inside. Though this series came out in 2006, Haruhi is an LGBT revolutionary, as well as her drag queen father Ranka. Though the term 'tranny' (which is seen as derogatory) was used in the anime, these two were still true LGBT heroes in a time when there wasn't much rep out there.
5. Yusuke Ono and Chikage Kobayakawa (Antique Bakery)
Nothing says LGBT representation like four men owning a bakery.
But really, all sarcasm aside, looking into this anime was actually very interesting, and I already want to watch it for the character's personalities alone. While there are other characters in the series that are canonly gay, these two stood out to me as they do seem to be the main love interests (for each other).
The anime is simply about four men of interesting personalities owning a bakery together, with two of them being in love with each other, one being straight and the other having unconfirmed sexuality. I do think this one is more of a yaoi-type than anything, but it was worth mentioning because of the interesting characters and unbalance love triangle between the straight man and the two gay characters.
I wouldn't exactly recommend watching it just for the LGBT rep, but I recommend looking into it as an anime overall. I try not to put yaoi and LGBT together, but I think it works in this case. I think it puts an interesting twist on the usual love triangles you see in anime and mange, yaoi or otherwise.
6. Sumika Murasame and Ushio Kazama (Whispered Words)
This anime features two best friends, Sumika and Ushio. Sumika is apparently in love with her best friend but doesn't confess because she fears rejection, mostly because Ushio has a type and Sumika just isn't it.
While this is listed as yuri, I thought it was worth putting on this list because of the interesting plot and overall love triangles popping up throughout. They essentially start a lesbians club in their school, and that's pretty good for what's supposedly supposed to be a yuri anime.
This anime is worth looking into for the interesting plot alone, but I think the character's relationships over the course of the anime could rope in a few viewers as well, as it is filled with drama and LGBT love that is actually pretty pure despite the usual yuri expectations.
7. Sailor Uranus (Haruka Tenoh) and Neptune (Michiru Kaioh) (Sailor Moon)
If you've been a fan of anime since you were a kid and have been following along with LGBT rep in anime since then, you'll know this one.
Released in 1992, Sailor Moon primarily follows a group of girls that transform into superheroes and fight crime. One of the most popular anime of its time and considered a timeless classic, it's surprising that it would actually have an LGBT couple that was canon and openly discussed.
Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune ( Haruka Tenoh and Michiru Kaioh) are described as lovers in the original adaption of the series and are even shown this way in the manga. Haruka is the butch lesbian goddess that we deserve, what with her short hair and masculine way of dressing. She's described more of as a tomboy, but we all know a butch lesbian when we see one.
In the English dub, it does describe the two as cousins rather than lovers, but the dub is irrelevant if the original says they're lovers. We're sorry girls, America just wasn't ready back then.
8. Utena Tenjo and Anthy Himemiya (Revolutionary Girl Utena)
Released in 1997, Revolutionary Girl Utena is another classic representation of Lesbian love. Despite the chaotic plot that tends to paint their relationship as problematic, the girls do indeed kiss in the credits of both the anime and the movie. In the manga, it seems more like a one-sided relationship and they form more of a friendship, but what can we expect? It was the 90s, and it certainly was no Sailor Moon level of representation. The movie alludes to a more sexual relationship between the two, but we aren't even getting into that.
The entire idea of the anime is based on what could be a romantic relationship between the two girls if you take out the chaos, confusion and projected feelings. Overall, this anime is a classic and while I haven't watched it myself, it has promising representation despite all the problems and conflicts in the plot.
9. Shion and Nezumi (No.6)
While some may say this is a stretch, both the anime and the manga adaptions of this series portray Shion and Nezumi as having an intimate, romantic relationship. The two share several kisses and waltz together amid chaos as an act of love.
The series teases a potential relationship between Shion and his childhood friend Safu, but Shion rejects her outright, even without knowing about Nezumi yet. When he does meet Nezumi again, they share a 'goodnight/goodbye kiss', which has been said was Nezumi's way of confessing his feelings for Shion.
I'd just like to add that this anime also falls under the genre of shounen ai, which many say is the 'non-explicit yaoi counterpart'. However, every good LGBT manga that I've looked into has been under this category and only proves the point that these two are an LGBT couple.
My case rests.
10. Ash Lynx and Eiji Okumura (Banana Fish)
The most recent LGBT rep we've seen of late was in Banana Fish - which was announced in October 2017 and aired in July 2018.
Banana Fish is more of an adventurous gang story than a romance story, but there is indeed a gay romance between the two main characters from what I gather. Words of love, uncensored kisses between the two and overall feeling of romance between the two is all the evidence we need to determine Ash and Eiji are indeed canonly gay characters.
The kiss they share and their relationship is even more revolutionary than Yuri on Ice, which premiered two years before, While I admit to having not watched it, the romance between these two characters in a world of violence has been one of the most talked about anime of this year.
While some of these may be a stretch, it's a start. The LGBT community has lacked representation in media for too long to let any get by without being discussed, which was why this article was written.
We need LGBT rep now more than ever, it's nice to see that the anime industry has become more and more accepting over the years despite the initial teasing and often degrading jokes included in anime before.
While I haven't watched a few of these, I did extensive research regarding each one and tried to summarize the relationships as well as I could. If you see a mistake or have suggestions for other LGBT anime/Characters, please comment below.
Some cases of supposedly LGBT characters were left out because of their harmful representations of gay relationships or LGBT feelings, and if you believe any of these characters are harmful in that way, please contact me right away, as I believe it's good to have real, unharmful representations that everyone can relate to.
Any more to add? Comment them below!