Arthur C Clarke was gay. Did he portray any of his characters as gay (or otherwise LGBT)?


7 Answers 7


In Rendezvous With Rama (1973) two male crew members are in a polyamarous relationship with each other and a woman back on earth.

But no one can predict where the lightning will strike, and years ago Mercer and Calvert had established an apparently stable liaison. That was common enough. Much more unusual was the fact that they also shared a wife back on earth, who had borne each of them a child. Norton hoped that he could meet her one day; she must be a most remarkable woman. The triangle had lasted for at least five years, and still seemed to be an equilateral one.

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    Interesting. That's even earlier than Imperial Earth. I need to take another look at the book.
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 7:03
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    I was lucky to see this question go by -- I'm rereading it at the moment and noticed that passage yesterday.
    – ARM
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 16:01
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    I think I'll make this the accepted answer instead, since it's an earlier example.
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 6:31

Duncan Makenzie, the protagonist of Imperial Earth (1976) is a bisexual man, and sexual encounters with both genders are described. In fact, a romantic/sexual triangle between Duncan, his friend and sometimes lover Karl, and a girl called Calindy, is central to the plot.

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    That was an odd book. I think I liked it though. Read it some time around the mid 80s.
    – Almo
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 16:55
  • Accepted because although both answers are correct, this is the earliest example offered – and surprisingly early for LGBT characters to appear as protagonists.
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 17:43
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    It’s not all that early, really. For instance, it’s two years after The Front Runner, which was a NYT Best Seller, came out (no pun intended). Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 18:02
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    Can't believe I forgot that. Seems like the greater thoughts in that book were more important than the sexual orientation of the characters.
    – JRE
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 20:40
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    @Steve it was 8 years after same sex relationships were legal for Clarke
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 13:57


George and Jerry who appear in the third book of the Space Odyssey series 2061: Odyssey Three.

An old gay couple who are two of Floyd's longest and closest friends; they had worked in the arts in earlier life. George and Jerry help to manage Floyd's personal affairs while he is away.

"2061: Odyssey Three", Wikipedia


Walter Curnow from 2010: Odyssey Two is described as being a "cheerfully well-adjusted polymorph" - i.e. happily bisexual.


Yes, in The Songs of Distant Earth, pretty much everyone on it is, at least, bisexual.

In it, Arthur C. Clark treats sexuality has something volatile, with people not belonging fully to one end of the scale (homo or hetero). The colony on the planet in which the story takes place (Thalassa), was founded with the aid of machines, one of which containing all human knowledge and heroic, or good, history. Wars, Crimes, Religion and overall bad notions, acts or concepts were left out - the concepts of possession, racism, discrimination and jealousy among them. So regarding relationship and sexuality, this resulted in a society where there was no norm for either relationships or sexual orientation. Everyone was free to be themselves in those regards.

At some point the author explains that Earth society came to accept sexual orientation as not set in stone, but having a tendency percentage. An example in the story is Loren, a man for Earth, which identifies as an heterosexual (but with a small tendency for homosexuality), is married to a woman and although in love with Marissa, has a one night stand with her brother, Kumar. Kumar, on the other hand is mentioned as being known for having partners from both sexes.

  • This seems to be a musing on the subject at hand and doesn't really answer the question
    – amflare
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 14:27
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    Do you want me blatantly type "Yes, there are gay characters or Arthur C. Clarke's fiction". I stated that in this book sexuality is volatile and people showed percentages or hetero or homosexuality. Meaning that a great deal of people on the book were, at least, bisexual. I will, nonetheless complement my answer with details on the planet the story takes place. I may help.
    – E.Fonseca
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 15:03
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    Something like, "yes, look at this homo couple/character/whatever" then launch into your musing. It works well as a supporting argument.
    – amflare
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 15:13
  • Yes, you are correct. Changed structure, added context. Thank you.
    – E.Fonseca
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 15:19
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    I also remember his mention of percentage tendencies. It was also established in this story that swinging, and even having children with multiple partners, is normal and acceptable on Thalassa, and that social structures exist to make sure that children are properly taken care of, etc. Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 12:48

There's a rather explicit dialog concerning bisexuality in "The Songs of Distant Earth", right at the beginning of chapter 35 "Convalescence":

"I'm quite surprised," Loren had interjected at one point in a rather seamy narrative. "I'd have sworn you were ninety percent hetero."

"Ninety-two, according to my profile," Horton said cheerfully. "But I like to check my calibration from time to time."

The lieutanant was only half joking. Somewhere he had heard that hundred percenters were so rare that they were classed as pathological. [...]


Possibly in The City and the Stars. There is a girl who is in love with the main character Alvin, but he rejects her and prefer spending time with his new pal instead (who do have a girlfriend). At one point Alvin sees his friend naked when they spend a night together in a tent, and pay some attention to his genitals, which are different from his own (they can be retracted into his body). This was written in the 50s, when orientation was rarely mentioned.

Also in Childhood's End there is a man of mixed race who Clarke describes as beautiful (or perhaps he used other words to describe him, I can't remember).

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