Arcane is very gay. I’ve made that clear several times, whether I’m touching on how the show managed to surpass all of my queer expectations or how it helped craft a fandom that seems to embrace everything about its unexpected approach to big ol’ lesbians in animation. It pushed boundaries nobody even knew existed, and that’s so wonderful.
While the second season of Arcane might not be here for a couple of years, its community is showing no signs of slowing, and that’s a testament to everything it managed to achieve, turning League of Legends from an impenetrable MOBA into a universe begging for further expansion. I’ll never touch the game, but that isn’t necessary to appreciate everything Caitlyn and Vi’s gay adventure manages to achieve.
Speaking of – they need to fuck in the second season. Now hear me out, I’m not talking about an explicit declaration of sapphic adoration purely designed for titillation, but a moment of justified intimacy between two women who are clearly in love with one another. The first season is all about the slow burn, focusing on Vi and Caitlyn as they are brought together under circumstances far beyond their control. Vi is a butch young woman with a troubled childhood who spent the early years of her adulthood locked away in jail, while Caitlyn hails from a privileged family with substantial political and economic power. You know – Oil and Water.
Yet it’s these differences that make their chemistry so irresistible, with Vi unafraid to tease the taller woman by calling her “Cupcake” and poking fun at her uptight ways. Caitlyn gives as good as she gets, but all of these japes and remarks are surrounded by a caring blanket of stolen glances and moments of flirtation so obvious that you’re tearing your hair out waiting for one of them to make a move. I almost went feral during the final act when the two are pouring their hearts out in the rain, Vi making it clear they aren’t right for one another as she brushes a hand across Caitlyn’s cheek before turning away, putting her hood up, and walking away into the night. That’s SO FUCKING GAY OH MY GOD, LIKE COME ON. Caitlyn then returns home to be sad in the shower for a few hours, which is a very normal and straight thing to do when a girl leaves you behind in the most dramatic way possible.
When the two are reunited thanks to Jinx’s homicidal urges, spectacular animation is able to showcase the finest emotional details strewn across their faces. Expressions of panic and love carved into their features as it becomes clear that perhaps they won’t make it out of this place alive. We’ve never seen a queer relationship in the medium approached with such raw maturity, emotions shown through words, actions, and expressions that leave absolutely no other interpretation to be made. These two really are Piltover’s finest.
Some have argued that the lack of a kiss in the first season alongside no concrete admittance of love means that Riot is holding back so the show can appeal to wider international audiences, and that’s a justified fear I haven’t cast aside given League of Legend’s popularity in such countries. But I have faith that Netflix will allow the show to express itself in the most uncompromising way possible, and the first three acts are representative of that vision. However, much of the show is still heteronormative in its execution, despite so many steps being made to pull this universe away from the male gaze it has surrendered itself to for so long. It isn’t all about appealing to straight men anymore.
Vi and Caitlyn feel like characters designed with realism in mind. Their bodies are clear objects of desire in the right context, but their body language, dialogue, and motivations are framed in a way that is undeniably queer, and there’s something beautifully refreshing about that. However, we still have an obligatory straight sex scene that – while tasteful – feels out of place in the wider narrative. The show is mature enough in its storytelling to justify nudity and sex, and part of me thinks it should, but Jayce and Mel weren’t the right duo to lay (sorry) the foundations. With Vi and Caitlyn though, such a scene between the two wouldn’t just be justified with the right execution, it could make a historic statement.
Queer animation is growing more and more pronounced in recent years, but many of these examples hail from shows aimed at younger viewers like Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, The Owl House, Steven Universe, and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power – cartoons that show young people that it’s okay to be queer and to never be afraid of exploring one’s own identity. It’s a powerful message and one that will continue to spread throughout the world, even if some countries love to label Lumity as really good friends who want to travel together. Come on now, these witches gay good for them, so stop denying it and let them be happy.
Arcane is having the same impact for an older audience, one that is filled with queer people who are already out and proud or those who are testing the waters with a reasonable feeling of anxiety. I’m a mixture of the two, which is why I’m losing my marbles over Vi and Caitlyn on a daily basis even though the show aired over a month ago. I live for the lesbians. A sex scene between the two women, especially one that feels like a natural milestone in their relationship, would be huge for the medium, giving such scenes an element of normalcy in media that far too often still treats them as taboo. Gay sex exists in so many wonderful forms, and Arcane showcasing that Vi and Caitlyn’s passion for one another can extend to that in a way that feels real, warm, and passionate would mean so much for not just shippers who feed on fanfics and fanart, but everyone.
Sex isn’t always the climax to a relationship, especially queer ones where self doubt and euphoric discovery are such a core part of our existence. Vi and Caitlyn could fall into bed together after the heat of battle, finding relief in one another’s arms as the outside world passes by. Their romantic feelings might not even be fully cemented yet, but lovemaking doesn’t have to abide by a linear fashion especially when two fiery personalities are involved. Arcane has done so well by not sticking to established conventions at every turn, and following the same behaviour with Vi and Caitlyn’s growing relationship would absolutely be the right move. Growing up I spent years defining my own subtext in representation, but now there’s so many examples of concrete LGBTQ+ characters and themes I want to see them go even further. I’m not pushing an agenda, I just want the media I love to reflect the real world in ways that it still fails to, and who would have thought Arcane would be leading the way? Give me gay sex or give me death.
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