An old journalist of the British newspaper The Observer once said that "nobody likes referees, except referees wives."
The men in black, powerful as no others inside the pitch, must pay that power with the price of being condemned to be the eternal villians of football. Shankly once reflected about how their essential problem is that they know the rules but not the game. Di Stefano limited to say that it was convenient to stay away from the black clothes.
Whatever, the fact is that even the universally respected Pierluigi Collina
was hated by some
to a certain extent.
However, from Chile to Russia referees are usually hated because of their actual actions on the pitch, for things that happened because of their will and that were of their strict responsability. And that hate is something legitimate. After all, that's what a referee essentially is, "...an abominable dictator who exercises his tyranny without any possible opposition."
And nobody truly likes tyrans.
But regardless of the language or culture, every referee has a right (or a curse): to be recognized by the name that their parents gifted them. All have that... except in Spain.
Spain is a peculiar nation. Goths, Latins and Moors crafted with wars and marriages the culture of a country that once had the biggest empire in history. Just the last century saw absolute monarchists, socialists, liberals and even anarchists having the political power in the lands of Don Quixote. But it was another kind of ideology, the worst of all ideologies
, the one that caused the issue behind this story.
Hemingway, Orwell and Camus told better than I could ever do what happened in the Spanish Civil War, explaining how "...one could be right and be defeated, that strength can destroy the soul and that sometimes courage is not rewarded"
. So lets time-jump a bit: It is already the late 60s. The cruelest dictatorship of Western Europa survived the fall of their German and Italian allies, and now in fact it is a friend of those that destroyed them
, in their bigger and colder war with the essential enemy. A young referee enters into the scene.
The name that their parents gave him was Ángel. His mother's surname was Martinez. Until then everything was well, especially as it happened that the referee clearly had a bright future since the first time he took the whistle and the black clothes, but it was his father surname what ruined everything: Franco
, just like the one of the dictator.
Spanish customs mandated that referees, just like players, were known by their surname, the one that everybody inherited from its father. But in this case there was a problem: in a dictatorship you can't disrespected the dictator without facing consequences, but now a way was found to avoid that, and what was worse, is that it was something as legit as effective.
And of course that journalists exploited it, even if the true intention behind it was as diffuse as witty. The likes of "Franco is truly bad”, "Franco is biased against Barcelona", “Franco just massacred Sevilla” or “Everybody is blaming Franco" flourished in radios and newspapers. And when a government has the power because of force and fear and not by legitimacy, that kind of acts, no matter how small, quickly can start something different, something dangerous
to those above.
It isn't clear if it was Franco himself or just one of his minions the one who decided to take action against it. It happened more precisely in 1971, after a particularly watched match in the Sánchez-Pizjuán where Angel Franco didn't had an optimal performance. The orders weren't public, not even to the referees, but from what day to other the change happened: Referees (must
) had to be called not by their first surname, but by both, the one of his father, but also the one of their mother (in Spanish naming customs, the mother's surname is also inherited to the child even if it is almost never used).
And to hide the intention behind it, the order wasn't just for the particular case of Franco, but for every referee: Every single one of them.
And almost 50 years after that, that order became a legit custom, and just like Angel Franco had to became "Franco Martinez", when the likes of Antonio Mateu, Jesus Gil or Alejandro Hernandez became professional referees they also had to become different persons, and that's how Mateu Lahoz, Gil Manzano or Hernandez Hernandez were born.
But what about the referee that started such particular situation? Well, his problems didn't stopped with that match in Sevilla, more like the opposite. Now that the Generalísimo had taken notice of his existence, his career didn't depend of his own merits anymore. Despite being a genuine good referee, if not the best of Spain, he was relegated to background league matches and not a single one of the domestic cup that was named in honour of the dictator. All of it to minimize the still existing risks of course.
And this absurd reached its peak in 1973. Despite all precautions, Franco Martinez was chosen to referee the Basque Derby
. And what it was worse is that just in the same days that a military court was making a pseudo-trial against some captured members of the armed Basque organization ETA (that in those years would kill Franco's right hand and heir in their innocent attempt of proving if fascist ogres could fly).
With 6 Basques sentenced to death, pamphlets and mouth-to-mouth rumors were pretty clear in their intention: "After the Basques issues with this Franco were over, it was going to be the turn of the one of Madrid"
. So a meeting as secret as urgent was called in Murcia's cathedral. The instructions from the referees committee to its connoted
member were clear: "you will say that you injured himself in a training and you won't referee the match." And that was what happened. Decades later, Franco Martinez admited that not even his family was able to know the truth.
But eventually justice was served, and even if the dictator died in his bed and not shot against a wall, his namesake was able to finally referee what he deserved because of his genuine skill.
He was able to card the likes of Cruyff, Juanito, the Butcher of Bilbao and Maradona in la Liga, refereed 3 Copa del Rey
finals (after the competition received its new name), and was sent to Argentina as the Spanish representant to the 78' World Cup. He continued as one of the top referees of the world for over 15 years and also was the one of the legendary Battle of the Bernabeú
between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao.
Today at his 81 years,
Angel Franco Martinez is the Vicepresident of Spain's Referees Comitee, and he can be called by his first name.
A few months ago, a whole lot of pretty horrible news came out of Ubisoft (and in some ways, the news never really stopped
). Pertinent to Assassin's Creed and it's legacy was of course the now notorious treatment of it's female characters. u/WhiteWolfWhispers
made a post over a month ago going through every female character in the entire series. It was a great post and I have been inspired to do something... somewhat similar.
Sorry-not-sorry for stealing and adapting your idea Wolfie!
Media in general is usually pretty bad at representation for anyone other than the straight cisgender white man. It's been getting better, but it has a long way to go. In the same way that it is important to celebrate the women in Assassin's Creed, I think it's also important to celebrate queer people in the series. Many of the issues coming out of Ubisoft were not only relegated to women - instances of homophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry
were also shared.
AC hasn't been the worst
series with regards to queer rep, and as far as AAA games go it's one of the better ones (though that is a very low bar to clear). I wanted to write up this list and explore the historical context behind a few of AC's queer characters. Originally I was planning just a simple list and one-sentence description. But pretty quickly I got sucked down the history rabbit hole and it got a lot bigger than I originally intended. Anyway,
The criteria for making this list are:
- The character is either explicitly queer, or
- is coded as such, or
- is otherwise stated to be so outside of the game.
I also need to make clear that there is a very good chance
I am forgetting characters (especially if they are from novels, some of the comics, or even if they are from obscure sidequests). I also may have missed some obvious ones that might have been coded as queer that I never noticed. I'm not an expert on queer rep in media, and I can't pass judgement on whether someone was represented "good enough" or not. If anyone knows characters I missed, please put them in the comments and I will add them to the list! And if anyone has corrections, I welcome them too! I'm here to learn as much as anyone else.
Also, the disclaimer that I shouldn't have to add but will anyway: The existence of this post does not mean that being straight, or cisgender, or anything is bad. It's not. It's not a bad thing to be yourself. People aren't defined by their gender or sexuality unless they choose to be. If you don't care about this post, then just move on instead of commenting "who cares?" or "who asked?". The answer to both of those questions is "clearly not you". Don't expend the mental energy. I'm not here to step on your toes or tell you what to think, so please don't come and try to do that to others here.
So without further ado: Main games (In-Animus) Assassin's Creed
Assassin's Creed 2
- Abu'l Nuqoud - ? - This is generally all speculation. As far as I can find, Nuquod is not based on any real person. However, there is potentially something going on with this guy - He poisons all the guests at his party as revenge for the poor treatment he believes they give him. He considers himself an abomination, and this is very likely in reference to the scarring on his face, as well as potentially his weight. A lot of his words echo someone who maybe has internalised a lot of bigotry, and learned to hate themselves because society tells them to. Either way, nothing definitive here, all speculation. But it's an interesting thought.
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
- Leonardo Da Vinci - Leonardo is a gay man (or a bi man). Revealed in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood's DLC "The Da Vinci Disappearance". On the historical side, it's a bit less clear than AC portrays, but definitely still a possibility. When he died, one of his pupils, Melzi, described Leonardo's relationship with his pupils as loving and passionate. Leonardo himself was also charged with sodomy in relation to an incident that ultimately was dismissed for lack of evidence (though apparently one of the involved parties was related to the Medicis, and so there is a possibility of a coverup to protect the family).
Assassin's Creed Revelations
- Leonardo Da Vinci - See above
- Salai - Leo's boyfriend/assistant
Assassin's Creed 3
- None, as far as I can find.
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
- Also none, as far as I can find.
- That said, while as far as I remember there are no instances of any two-spirit people in the game, it is worth mentioning that some native American groups include some form of third gender as a valid identity. According to what I can find, while the English term "two-spirit" is disputed in terms of accuracy, the prevailing understanding is that these people are not considered men or women. While not necessarily related to the games themselves, I thought it might be interesting to talk briefly about an early instance of nonbinary gender identity in history. Please note: I am not from the American continent, and I have very limited understanding of Native American culture. Please do some reading about this on your own if you are interested, I am not the right person to talk about this in any detail.
- Also, here's an honourable mention that I would have loved to see in the game - The Public Universal Friend - Colonial and post-Colonial United States. The Friend was a born-again preacher who left the cities and started a church out in the countryside. The Friend rejected all gender and all pronouns, and gender equality was a key part of the church that the Friend created, to the point where many women joined up, some of whom would later go on to also reject gender and names. When asked about gender, the Friend would reply "I am that I am". The Friend and the related Church didn't appear in AC3, but it would have been interesting to see this early nonbinary figure preaching around Boston.
Assassin's Creed: Rogue
- Mary Read - Possibly trans man, possibly nonbinary person, also possibly a woman. Hard to say - Let's talk about Mary Read for a bit. In AC4 Mary is portrayed as a woman that takes on the alias of "James Kidd" in order to fit in around men. In terms of in the game? Mary's gender isn't really presented ambiguously. However, as pointed out to me by u/Evergreen19 in another thread a while back, the historical truth might be a bit more complicated. Taking on the name Mark Read from a young age - ever since the real Mark Read (Mary's older brother) died, Mary fought in the British army for years as a man. Mary then eventually fell in love with a soldier. They married, and Mary lived openly as a woman again until the husband died. After that, the Mark Read persona returned, and using it, Mary re-joined the military. When the ship Mary was aboard was taken by pirates, "Mark Read" joined the pirates. Eventually, on a ship with Calico Jack and Anne Bonny, Anne and Mary potentially had a relationship at the time (does that count as gay or straight... or something else?) - Anne Bonny (also living as a man) was supposedly attracted to Mark Read. They both ended up revealing to each other that they were women, a fact Anne used to temper Jack Rackham's jealousy at the two of them becoming close. In summary - Mary Read lived mostly as Mark Read, including using that persona to join the military and live as a pirate. It's entirely possible that Mary was actually a transgender man. At the same time, it is also entirely possible that Mary messed around with gender in a bunch of ways for the sake of happiness (such as living as a woman while married, then being a man again after being widowed), not unlike some nonbinary identities. And also, of course, the possibility remains that Mary was really a woman who adopted the persona of a man just to fit in. We'll probably never get an actual answer to this (not least because gender theory was generally poorly understood in the British Empire at that time), and that's fine. Any interpretation of Mary is reasonable, I think. But we should always account for the possibility.
- Anne Bonny - Similar to Mary, she is definitively a woman in AC4. Similarly to Mary, Anne lived as a man while working as a pirate. Other than that though, I can't find too many details about Anne. Similar logic applies to the above - how you choose to interpret Anne is up to you, but don't discount the possibilities.
- Jack Rackham - Mentioned by u/kaijino_Orochi - Potentially bisexual. In the game he definitely says a couple suggestive things towards Edward. While it's unclear whether or not he was actually flirting or if he was just super drunk, reading him as bi definitely seems reasonable. Historically, I can't find any mention of him being bisexual, but he supposedly was in a relationship with Anne, and perhaps even Mary at one point, both of whom were presenting openly as men on their ship.
Assassin's Creed: Unity
- Outside of the modern day, not much as far as I can find.
Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
- Chevalier d'Eon - A French spy. She was most likely a trans woman, and also possibly intersex. It is kind of disheartening to see her portrayed as just a crossdressing man in Unity. She lived as a woman for 33 straight years, and asked to be legally recognised as such.
- Marquis de Sade - Most definitely bisexual. But I do want to note that while Unity portrays him as an ally to Arno (if a bit untrustworthy), and a decent enough person, the real history is a bit less forgiving: He would supposedly torture maids for his own pleasure, abduct and abuse children, and all manner of pretty horrific things. This all happens chronologically before we meet him in Unity (in fact, torturing a maid he tricked into working for him is as far as I can tell the reason he was in the Bastille in the first place when we first see him in Unity). In short, this guy was a monster and I'm not sure how I feel about Unity just seemingly ignoring it. So... Unity is 0/2 here...
Assassin's Creed: Origins
- Jacob Frye - A bisexual man. This is official canon, confirmed by the writers. It's also evidenced in game too - he has a granddaughter (Lydia), meaning he has to have had kids at some point (so, therefore presumably had a child with a woman). In the same vein, him and Maxwell Roth are in some form of relationship during the main story, even though the story seems to try and hide it, there are hints here and there. If you want a rundown of the evidence from the game itself, please check out this thread I made on twitter a while back. Either way, come to your own conclusions about their relationship. But Jacob is bi no matter what.
- Maxwell Roth - Gay or Bi guy. Again, see evidence above. Not a real historical figure as far as I can find.
- Lewis - Roth's assistant, also possible ex-lover.
- Ned Wynert - Transgender man. He is not a real historical figure as far as I can tell, and nobody in dialogue references the fact that he is trans. But it is clearly listed in his database entry. We don't get to learn much about Ned in the game itself unfortunately - of all the games "contacts" he gets the least screen time (I presume due to time constraints and cut content).
Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
- Venator - ? - I feel shitty putting him on this list since he's shown to be a sadistic villain. But I guess he counts? He paid for a room at the Herakleion brothel and him and his soldiers were serviced by twins - a boy and a girl. Anyway, fuck Venator.
- Julius Caesar - ? - This one is really vague from what I can find. Apparently Caesar denied all rumours of sex with men, and apparently rumours like this were a common occurrence to discredit political opponents back in Ancient Rome. So I don't really know for this one, but I guess it's possible. In the game though, his sexuality is effectively presumed straight (or bi as well, but it's not really relevant).
- Alexander the Great - While technically we don't ever meet the guy in the game itself, he is important to its plot. Alexander was very possibly gay or bi, with some accounts talking about instances of him displaying affection for people of the same gender.
Modern day and other media
- Kassandra. Bi gal. Obviously, it depends on your choices and the romances you choose to pursue - the only romance the game forces Kassandra into through the story is a straight one. But the fact that she can be in relationships with women indicates that the Animus understood being in relationships with women to be reasonable possibilities for her. At the end of the day, everyone is free to have their own interpretation.
- Alkibiades. Bi guy. I mean... I feel like I don't have to explain this one much. That man is a nymphomaniac. In terms of the history, I can't find references to Alkibiades' sexuality. I think it was a creative choice by the writers instead, likely with the intention of reflecting the fact that Alkibiades was considered to be very good looking, and incredibly charismatic, and that people generally took a liking to him and the things he would say. As a side note, the kinds of political antics Alkibiades got up to in his real life are quite entertaining: He made enemies in Athens that forced him to flee to Sparta. He then made enemies in Sparta that made him flee to Persia, before eventually returning to Athens once again by convincing Persia to make strides in the war that would secretly benefit Athens. Pretty shrewd guy, and we see that in the game.
- Mikkos - From Lemnos. A romanceable character and therefore Bi, like all romanceable characters (except for Natakas/Neema). That said, as pointed out to me by u/dwarrowdam, the romanceable characters usually aren't written with the purpose of being bisexual - they are so because of the existence of the two possible protagonists. There is an important difference between characters like the gay couple on Lesbos, and the blacksmith in Lokris who could be either straight or bi if you picked Kassandra, or gay or bi if you picked Alexios (and in both timelines, he is exactly the same person).
- Kosta - A blacksmith in Lokris. Romanceable character
- Diona - From Kythera. Romanceable character
- Zopheras - In Lakonia. Romanceable character
- Aikaterine - In Athens. Romanceable character
- Xenia - Romanceable character, pirate lord of Keos.
- Odessa - Kassandra meets her in Kephallonia, but they meet up later on as well. Romanceable character
- Auxesia - In Phokis. The woman the Eagle Bearer sleeps with on behalf of her husband
- Daphnae - Kassandra meets her in a temple in Phokis. Romanceable character, leader of the Daughters of Artemis
- Lykaon - In Phokis. Romanceable character
- Roxana - From Hydrea, where her and Kassandra meet for a tournament. Romanceable character, my personal favourite romance quest in Odyssey
- Thaletas - On Mykonos. Romanceable character
- Kyra - On Mykonos. Romanceable character
- Aspasia - the Ghost of Kosmos, and surprise romanceable character.
- Bryce - From Lesbos. Her girlfriend is lost to Medusa.
- Ligeia - From Lesbos. Taken by Medusa. Her girlfriend Bryce tries to rescue her.
- Like... almost every other character in the game I mean Ancient Greece was really gay
: Assassin's Creed: Gold
- Isaac Newton - One of the main characters of Audible's audio drama AC:Gold. Implied to be in love with Nicolas Fatio de Duillier. In real life, while there are some (though seemingly few) historians that believe Newton and Duillier were in a relationship, it appears likely that Newton was actually asexual and aromantic (generally referred to as aroace). He was never married, and apparently never showed interest in the company of women. In one instance, he was somewhat coerced into an encounter with a woman by a former friend of his (John Locke), with whom he later severed ties with after suffering a mental breakdown, writing that Locke "endeavoured to embroil [Newton] with woemen". Accounts of his relationship to Duillier appear to be disputed.
- Nicolas Fatio de Duillier - Implied to be in love with Isaac Newton in AC:Gold. The history is divided, as seen above. It's possible, though more people seem to agree that either Isaac was aroace, or that it is much too difficult to draw any conclusions.
- Arend Schut-Cunningham - Gay guy. married to Harlan. Former MMA fighter.
- Harlan Cunningham - Gay guy. married to Arend.
Assassin's Creed has explored a lot of history - there are undoubtedly people that I missed. Also, I'm not an expert in history. If there are other things I have missed, or could have phrased better, let me know!
With respect to the historical figures that might differ to how they were presented in AC, in most cases I don't necessarily think the way that AC chose to show them was wrong
. It's history, and we don't really have a complete picture of much of anything. You'll notice that the status of many of these historical figures is up for debate. Only in the case of AC:Unity was there seemingly an attempt to really ignore the history of its queer characters.
Sources for this was mostly a lot of Wikipedia
(what? I'm a poor uni student, not a historian!), mixed with some other searching in cases where the wikipedia article was ambiguously worded. Below are the non-Wikipedia
sources I drew from:
FWIW: When I use the term "queer" here I use it as an umbrella term for sexuality and gender diverse people. I understand not everybody uses that term or even likes it - that's cool. But just keep in mind that my usage of it here is as an umbrella term.