Voltron Legendary Defender Does Not Deserve Points For Queer Representation For Shiro!

Shiro Voltron Legendary Defender Season 8 Episode 13 Shiro wedding
Is the reason they didn’t show Keith’s expression is because he isn’t happy? Ha! (Image: Screengrab)

It is always frustrating to see when a show decides to destroy all of the potential it has when it comes to queer representation. Voltron Legendary Defender Season 8 showed how the writers didn’t learn anything after the backlash the animated series received over how Shiro was handled in the previous season. And yes, VLD does not deserve any of the queer representation points the writers were clearly aiming for!

I wrote a piece back in August about how Voltron Legendary Defender Season 7 decided to reveal Shiro as gay and how the writing showed him easily fall into the ‘Sad Gay’ trope. The reveal was met by backlash from the fandom which led to the showrunners writing an open letter.

While fans were understandably disappointed about Shiro’s treatment, some of them were looking forward to the final season of VLD in hopes the showrunners learned something and would give the character his due.

But then, Voltron Legendary Defender Season 8 was made available on Netflix and it was a mess, especially during the last 10 minutes of the finale. Do make sure to read Jamie’s review.

Not only did the show kill Allura for emotional exploitation, the ending they give Shiro was out of character. I understand the fandom’s frustration with the decision to marry off Shiro to some random guy.

Certain fans feel not liking the wedding makes them homophobic or being ungrateful considering it is the first marriage between male characters featured in a Western animated show. Others think it was a cheap afterthought to please the queer audience and get some queer rep points for VLD.

As far as my opinion goes, yes, VLD will be remembered as the first animated show to feature such a wedding. No one can take that way from VLD and that’s just… Sigh! However, it will also be remembered as the series with poor queer representation.

Marrying Shiro off to some random guy is not representation! The writers could have used this opportunity to have a minor character come out, someone the audience already knew a bit and could imagine being married to Shiro down the line.

Also, if the show wants us to believe Lance can become some Altean-hybrid through a kiss, you know the fandom would have been okay with Adam coming back. The writers could have had Allura change reality in some manner to save Adam. It would have been better than the random guy Shiro tied the knot with.

Furthermore, the rest of the Paladins weren’t shown to be married. They ended up working to make the galaxy better. So, making Shiro the only one who settled down to find happiness didn’t sit well with me. They could have had him on the Atlas continuing to do good in the world. The writers could have still thrown in a random guy as his husband on the ship, but still, a Shiro who continued to play a role in making the universe better would have felt in character.

In a way, how VLD wrote Shiro can be considered as representation because they gave us a character (with a lot of layers) who just happened to be gay in an animated series.

However, when it comes how the writers specifically handled his sexuality, all I can think about is tokenism, done only to get some queer rep points and failing in the process.

Shiro deserved better. The fandom deserved better.

Feel free to share your thoughts with us.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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About the author

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

Comments

  1. I agree. It was really disappointing to see Shiro reduced to a token gay character. The fact no one else was in a relationship made that clear.

  2. That guy looks familiar and I’m too busy crying to look back through the season to see where he came from. Can you or something else please tell me why he looks familiar? I think he was part of the bridge people and we got some voice from him? Idk

    1. Actually… I think je looks a little like adam… but with short hair and without glasses…
      Would be fun to have a little spin off with explaining, but I don’t think that this will happen…

    2. SOPHIA JAGLOWSKI

      If you mean the guy Shiro marries, I am 99% sure he’s the same guy shown in a few scenes in the episode “Clear Day”, when Shiro Is in the arm wrestling tournament.

      1. he was in the episode clear day were the crew members were playing a game of shooting a ball and knock out the alien check it out yourself his not random

  3. I have to disagree. Let’s take a look at Shiro for a hot second. He had a disease in his arm on the garrison, he was taken prisoner and mutilated by the Galra for a year and lost his arm, he died, he came back to life, among many other things. He’s been through a lot and, after all of that, who wouldn’t want a break and find happiness. To add, you all complained how there wasn’t any representation in S7 (which is true), but then you all finally get it and you complain that it wasn’t good enough? Are you kidding me? It’s the first animated gay wedding in Western animation, as you put it, and it’s in a kids show! What is good enough for any of you?

    Anyways, as a gay trans man I thought that Shiro’s happy ending with his husband was everything and made me even more emotional after Allura just died. It may not have been enough for you and people as entitled as you are, but for many others it was more than anyone could have ever wanted or expected from showrunners who didn’t owe anyone anything other than a good show.

    Sorry this was long. Have a nice day.

  4. I’m pretty sure that guy was on the bridge crew of the Atlas. He had some lines, and maybe even a name. As far as him not remaining on the Atlas, we don’t know how far in the future that wedding was, and we did see him still working on building the coalition during the initial flash forward. Also, he’s older than the other paladins, lost his arm during the years he spent fighting as a gladiator, and is currently living in the body of his clone since his original body freaking died, so maybe he’s earned his retirement.

  5. Shiro’s final wedding scene was a compromise for all the whiners who were not happy that one of the strongest and selfless characters in the series was a gay man. The writers showed how Shiro, despite losing his limb, love, life and lion, could not be deterred and would not compromise his heart and humanity.

    This series was not about romance. Some viewers wanted the characters to hook up but that was not the purpose of the show. It was about war, loss, sacrifice, redemption and family. The only reason that Allura and Lance had a relationship develop was to add a more personal element to her ultimate sacrifice. None of the other paladins had any romantic relationships yet members of the audience continue to complain about Shiro’s status.

    Shiro was Asian, yet we saw no other representation of his heritage beside his name. For most viewers, the name “Shiro” alluded to his background as much as “Lotor”, “Honerva” or “Allura”, just a proper noun to identify a character. Yet I did not see any uproar by Asians.

    The greatness of VLD is that our differences strengthen our humanity. We are not defined by our gender, race or physical attributes; however, we are a summation of our thoughts, intents and deeds.

  6. I don’t agree with this. I went through a few of the comments, and I agree with them. And this character wasn’t random; he was on the Atlas crew I believe, and he was in the Clear Day episode a lot as well.
    This wasn’t a random character, and I’m pretty sure that the staff did their best for this. A lot of people simply wanted Shiro to get the ending he deserved, and that varied amongst most. But all I wanted was for him to be happy.
    Shiro lost his arm, he lost Adam, he was forced to fight to survive, I’m pretty sure he might’ve been experimented on, he even DIED. He was also older than the other paladins, and had PTSD issues because of the Galra. He even had a disease in his arm at some point! So Shiro’s marriage and retirement was all well earned. We got to see the man he married, and the amount of stress Shiro went through is a good enough reason for his retirement, at least for me. The Voltron crew have been planning this the entire time, and they tried to make their fans happy. And maybe it wasn’t the best representation, but it’s the first western show, let me add KID’S show, to have a gay marriage.
    Allura’s death was being hinted at over the entire season as well; go over and look, I promise you’ll find hints and foreshadows. Lance becoming a hybrid might’ve had something to do with his past lineage, or the fact that Allura somehow changed the reality a bit, thus making Altea come back. Everything has an explanation, something that was hinted at over the entire series, and it was all nicely wrapped up.
    Sorry this took so long, I am a very passionate Voltron fan. If I came off as rude or mean, I apologize, that wasn’t my plan; I simply wanted to state my opinion. Anyone who read the entire comment; thank you for reading, it was a long comment, I know. Have a nice day, afternoon, night, or noon, depending on when you’re reading this!!

    1. The “relationship” between Shiro and his random husband is completely relegated off-screen, the dude is only named in the subtitles, and considering none of the other paladins settle down and leave their work behind, nothing about Shiro being specifically singled out with this treatment simply for being gay is acceptable.

      If they wanted his retirement to feel like an earned respite from all the trauma he’s undergone, all they had to do was have him express something to the effect of “I’m tired of fighting” at any point in the previous seasons. But they never did. They completely dropped his PTSD after season 1. Shiro always soldiered on and took pride and purpose in his work as a soldier, a leader, and pilot. It’s literally why he broke up with Adam! Because he valued his passion more than being tied down in a relationship.

      That’s why this random retirement/wedding combo is so insulting. None of the straight characters were diminished to just their sexual orientation and all the straight romance in the show was developed on-screen. There is nothing rewarding or happy or progressive about tokenizing and sidelining Shiro because of his sexuality.

    1. He’s not random? Can you even name him? Did he and Shiro ever talk to each other? Do we know anything about his personality? Did you know that in the leaks for the finale from October, he was in the background of the wedding while Shiro originally tied the knot with Roy Fokker from Macross?

      The wedding is an empty and shameless attempt by the studio to save face. It’s an absolute insult. All the straight characters got their relationships and crushes developed on-screen. Once Shiro was revealed to be gay he had even his friendships with the other male paladins toned down because god forbid straight guys be friends with a gay guy.

      If they were too cowardly to actually develop a gay relationship on-screen, a tokenizing wedding to an unimportant by character isn’t earned and doesn’t deserve any praise. They didn’t want to do the work, so they don’t get a gold star.

  7. Creo que cada uno fue feliz a su modo, para los que fuimos muy observadores se habló casi de la vida de todos pero en la que menos se profundizó fue la de Shiro, el que después de luchar tanto haya encontrado el amor cuando sabíamos que era gay y se tomarán la molestia de casarlo que en un programa por muy open que nos sintamos en esta era para mí fue impactante y ni siquiera creo poder ver algo así al final, personalmente Adam se me hizo desagradable desde el principio, si bien se podría decir que lo dejo porque no quería sufrir fue egoísta, pensó solo en el y no en que Shiro estaba muriendo y que su sueño era salir al espacio, me parece muy bien como lo encaminaron todo, es la vida real, no podía ser el típico cuento de Disney con Lance y Allura juntos, Adam regresando de la muerte, me parece que Shiro siguió adelante y logró ser feliz bien merecido, no por querer verlo con otro de los miembros de voltron porque pudo haber Sido fantasía de muchos quiere decir que sea desepcionante que volvieran gay a todos los paladines , es ridículo, me alegra y me encantó el final, aunque triste y realista, y me encantó Shiro creo que me enamore por primera vez de un personaje gay en u a serie animada por algo primordial, no cayeron en el estereotipo del típico gay que todos creen es el único, era un hombre varonil y viril, y señores y señoras así es eso es diversidad, no solo las personas más femeninas si no todos hay distintas tonalidades en ese gran arcoiris. Creo que en realidad muchas personas jamás estarán contentos con nada si hay gays porque los hay? Si son muy femeninos porque los son? Si son masculinos por que? Si se casa porque lo casaron? En fin creo que a muchos nos gustó y revivió nuestro amor por voltron para quienes somos de la vieja escuela y lograron hacernos sentir más nuestra está vez la historia!

  8. Shiro being gay is only part of the character the writers didn’t want to Shiro being gay as the focus. His depth to his character and being gay was just to add to the mystery of Shiro. There was never an explanation of the characters in the original series. Trying to make Shiro an iconic figure is off the mark. He is a great character that happens to be gay….People need to stop looking for a gay Jesus and just accept that some one is gay and it is what makes them a person not a definition.

    1. I totally agree NAYMLES. I was in the GSA at our school and in one of our lighter discussions we talked about how we wanted to see characters that had a lot going on about them and were gay. Yeah, it’s great to see a characters coming out story but we really don’t have enough that are already out living their lives, with focus on issues other their sexuality.
      And for a kids show. I think it was done okay, maybe not great but not something to be so upset over.
      At least that’s my opinion

    2. I agree with NAYMLES and HAFSA MALIK also. I thought it was very tastefully done because it is an opening for parents to talk to their kids about it. I could not understand the anger from “fans”.

  9. This is so true, thank you for bringing it out, I get that VLD gets some points for finally bringing out some LGBTQ representation but they could have done it in a better way than just marrying off Shiro to a random character where they have only talked once, if they wanted to marry him off to that guy that I can’t remember his name no matter how hard I try, they should have given them at least two or three little but cute moments together to let the fandom have an idea that they might get married and not just marry him off and have him settle down while the rest of the Paladin are working hard to make the universe a better and safer place when he was at the fore front of it all.

  10. I’m just tired of everyone taking up a torch and saying “It’s not this! It’s not good enough! It’s not representative enough!”
    Guess what? It’s FINE.
    Shiro isn’t a “token gay character” just because they didn’t give his sexual orientation the spot light for an entire episode or arc. This is Shiro, the humble guy who gives everything he has for the sake of others. Not making a big deal out of himself is perfectly in character for him.
    Allura dying to save all of creation and following her conviction through to the end is also within expectations. She’s always had a will of steel and would do anything to help others, even give up her own happiness.
    The endings for both of these characters are perfectly acceptable and within the expectations the story set up. Anyone complaining about it just isn’t happy it didn’t go the way they personally WANTED it to go.

  11. People like you are one of the hugest problems we have in the LGBTQIA community. Whiney edgelords like you are why we get so little damn representation.

    They treated his sexuality like it was a non issue, AND THAT’S HOW IT SHOULD BE.

    Also: no other relationships? Um, sure let’s ignore Lance and the princess. Or the angry lesbian half golra.

    Get a grip, and grow up.

  12. I think that thay added a sexuality to shiro is beautiful and the writer of this should be more mature and not be referring to a gay relationship as queer points its stupid get a grip and stop

    The fact that there are 1 but 2 gay/queer relationships is amazing and it is people like this that dont even understand that it is no different from a heterosexual one that ruin it

  13. Okay first off, that’s not some random guy he was a character called Curtis (I’m pretty sure that’s his name don’t copy me cause I’m not entirely sure). He was from season 7 I believe.

  14. I don’t agree with idea of thrown Shiro into relationship with Adam again. It’s not any way better than thrown Shiro into marriage with [man]. Adam is the same background character with no more personality than [man] and he and Shiro broke up a long time ago. The idea that gay people can have only one partner for life and even if they’re broke up they still come back to that person no matter how that person treat you before isn’t something good. I would prefer if writers didn’t kill Adam and show that he move on and now in new relationship and he and Shiro can have a closure. But it’s not happen, so if studio too coward and homophobic to actually give Shiro a romantic relationship with a person with who Shiro already have a close bond in the show, it would be better of them leave it open ended.

  15. To be fair, I am quite fed up and disappointed with you journalists and writers – seeing that you think you can speak for all of the people of the LGBTQ community.

    For one, Voltron was not about romance or sexual orientation, it was about epic intergalactic space battles and the development of an amazing journey. Honestly, I thought it was lovely they included Shiro’s wedding at the end. Disney could take some notes from the writers and animators of Dreamworks. They didn’t portray him as a stereotype, neither was his sexuality his focal point or single character trait. That’s why I loved him so much, as he was a strong, well written character. The entire series was absolutely phenomenal. Dreamworks set a milestone in cartoon animation series – similar to the Last Airbender series.

    Honestly, as a bisexual woman from a country that is not so privileged like your western nations, I really have to say: shame on you. It is their story and it is their right to do with it as they please – even if I don’t agree with it. That is their property.

    Curtis was not some random character, but actually a part of the crew later in the 7th season I believe.

    Besides it is a kids and teen show. It is not here to represent our current political ideologies because it plays part in a future completely different from our reality. I don’t think people care at that point whom you fall in love with – its just not that important. I wasn’t even the slightest bit bothered.

    Why should I care if I am being represented? What is it with the constant representation for the past three years? I really don’t understand why people get riled up with EVERYTHING nowadays. Should I be mad that there isn’t a 6ft tall bisexual woman with dark hair and light green eyes? Because that would be a representation of me. How does that relate to anything in a story?
    If you are so adamant about thrusting your ideas and wishes (secret ships) into a series or movie / book you like, how about write your own? The creators of the shows aren’t psychic and they sure won’t ask each and every person on the planet if they want to be represented, or if their group needs representation.

    What happened to telling a good story with creative ideas?

    I do endorse freedom of speech and yes, you are absolutely right to voice your opinion on the show, but for crying out loud…
    It is a cartoon. It is not real. It is only a creative form of media. Nothing more.

    There are actual, real and more important issues in the world that need immediate attention – not some cartoon show that runs on Netflix.

    -Cheers

    1. In addition to Farid not being from your “privileged western country” as you state (lol dude) there’s some other points I want to address here:

      “seeing that you think you can speak for all of the people of the LGBTQ community.”

      No one said this. Nobody. We are a geek news blog. We write from our perspectives and it states that clearly in our about page.

      “Honestly, as a bisexual woman from a country that is not so privileged like your western nations, I really have to say: shame on you.”

      As stated, Farid is from Pakistan. Shame on YOU for your gross assumptions.

      “Why should I care if I am being represented? What is it with the constant representation for the past three years?”

      If you don’t care, that’s fine. But there are plenty of us who do care. Representation matters. Here’s an excellent story: https://me.me/i/whoopi-goldberg-explains-how-star-treks-uhura-impacted-her-representation-12676674

      “Besides it is a kids and teen show.”

      KIDS AND TEENS ARE QUEER TOO, SUSAN. Honestly, as a bisexual woman, shame on YOU for making the implication that our sexualities are not something that children should be exposed to. That’s terrible.

      “Should I be mad that there isn’t a 6ft tall bisexual woman with dark hair and light green eyes? Because that would be a representation of me. How does that relate to anything in a story?”

      This is a bad faith argument. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_faith

      As this is a poor argument strategy it does not deserve a response.

      “If you are so adamant about thrusting your ideas and wishes (secret ships) into a series or movie / book you like, how about write your own? ”

      Farid DOES write his own books. He has several. So he’s way ahead of you there.

      “There are actual, real and more important issues in the world that need immediate attention – not some cartoon show that runs on Netflix.”

      In the past two years I’ve been to 9 different political rallies, met with one of my senators, volunteered for two campaigns (one congress, one presidential), written over 30 letters to representatives (including two responses from each of my senators via email and one tweet response to a letter I wrote), and spent countless hours reading constitutional law so that I can understand parts of my government I don’t have a strong background in.

      But go off about how we aren’t paying attention to the “important issues.”

  16. his name is iverson in the episode knight of light after clear day the crew members where talking about shiro winning the competition then he entered and looked in his left and said his name

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