It's clearly not the first time I stumbled over the assumption that the mainly heteronormative depiction of gaming characters causes "severe disconnections between player and avatar if the player identifies as a minority".1
So maybe this seems "logical" at first, but the weird thing is that I can not really relate to that. The character might be male and hetero – as long as he looks good, I don't have a problem with that. After all, most of the cultural products I consume now (and consumed in my childhood – books, films, plays) usually feature heterosexual couples. The world would look pretty bare if I set aside every medium that does not involve (exclusively) a minority.
So, instead of keeping the question "How does a girl gamer feel while playing as Mario, a stereotyped Italian male plumber in Mario Sunshine? How does a gay gamer feel while playing as Jack and being forced to marry a girl or live alone forever in Harvest Moon?" purely rhetoric, it might be time to ask people exactly that. Do they feel disconnected? Can't they play a game because the main character isn't gay, or female, or black? Or do they accept those figures as stand-ins, purely metaphoric representations to deal with the game mechanic, just as a board game token? As parts of a story, where the characters just happen to be male and straight?
Robert Yang stumbled over a quote by Jim Sterling recently:
Jim Sterling: "Arcade Gannon’s sexuality isn’t a big deal, and that’s how videogames should play it."
... and it made him not exactly happy:
The argument that [all] gay video game characters should downplay their sexuality might be well intentioned, but is ultimately representative of the most dangerous kind of homophobia -- a homophobia wrapped in intellectualism, appearing "tolerant."
True, sexuality isn't the only thing that defines a person -- but for the vast majority of LGBT people, I would argue that it's a crucial part of personal identity. To insist that effeminate gay men are "camping it up" and should just "be normal" is homophobia. [...]
Sterling is proposing selective blindness and a glass closet for ALL gay characters in ALL games as a model to emulate. Yeah, stay invisible and don't make a fuss! That always works.
I must admit, that I'm pretty fed up by the mostly campy portrayals of gays in games (when they make they final cut, that is), so I would tend to go with Jim Sterling's advice when designing games myself right now, but yes:
For every silent shoegazer hipster gay who "you'd never think", we also need a muscle queen dancing in a peacock speedo on top of a Ferrari. Because they're gay too.
Go read the whole article, because it provides a balanced view on an important debate.
And it should be an issue.