June is celebrated as pride month for the LGQTB+ community and it's a time to celebrate who we are after hard fought battles were won for rights and general acceptance. Queer characters in games are nothing new, especially when looking at BioWare franchises, though still generally underrepresented, but there's one in particular that had a storyline that mattered in a guttural way that spoke to millions of gamers all over the world.
Dorian Pavus was introduced in Dragon Age Inquisition as a well-bred gay mage from Tevinter, the land of blood magic and free-reign mages free from Chantry control. There were many toxic traits of Tevinter culture, including the rampant slave trade, questionable magical use, and the focus on breeding to keep one's name in the Imperium above individual happiness. That obsession with preserving the line led to a shunning of same-sex relationships due to those relationships not bearing children of their same line, and with heritage being such a strong mantra for this location it's more than generous to say that there was little to no tolerance.
When the Inquisitor meets Dorian, he's glib, seemingly arrogant, and has a nasty habit of rubbing people the wrong way but once those protective layers of metaphorical armor was shed, the character underneath was strong yet vulnerable, intelligent yet hungry for more knowledge, and genuinely a good man despite all attempts to make him feel to the contrary. He's also a gay man that has a deep-rooted denial of self-happiness due to his countryman and because of his own family.
Halward Pavus, Dorian's father, tried to use blood magic in a ritual to change Dorian, something the Inquisitor learns after speaking to Dorian on a regular basis. This attempt could have left Dorian dead or a "vegetable," something that Dorian admitted in an emotional one-on-one with the player. But to him, his father didn't care. He would rather a vegetable than a "disgrace" and it was that nefarious attempt that caused Dorian to flee Tevinter and join the fight down south to prove that there is something about Tevinter worth saving and he then became a symbol for positive change.
What made his character so special was not that he was gay, though representation is important, it was how BioWare crafted his loyalty mission into a scenario that spoke to many. Coming out sometimes has dangerous overtones. There are many cases of young adults "coming out" to their parents only to be disowned, beaten, or worse. In Thedas, that worse included a blood ritual, but his personal quest took him and the Inquisitor to Redcliff for a one-on-one scene with Dorian and his father. A scene that is made even more impactful for a male Inquisitor romancing this particular character.
During the scene, Dorian sheds all propriety and lets his anger be felt when faced with his father in a small tavern. The entire meeting was a setup, as Dorian and the Inquisitor thought that they would be meeting a family retainer to try to bring Dorian home only to find out that this was a smokescreen and they were face-to-face with his father himself.
The dialogue was raw no matter which options were chosen but where it was truly special was the proud and "mighty" Halward Pavus admitting his wrongdoings and taking responsibility for the lost trust between himself and Dorian. Dorian, as one could imagine, couldn't shake his suspicion that this was yet another trap, but if given the opportunity from the Inquisitor as a show of support, Dorian has the option to leave with words unsaid or a chance to hear from Halward his remorse and actions for the road ahead.
It's not a bandaid; the relationship isn't magically (heh) mended if Dorian chooses to stay and hear his father out, but it does open up a new dialogue tree with the Inquisitor to talk about those very real emotions that so many feel when faced with being hated for who they are and in those beautiful moments when that hate dissolves and becomes a fertile ground for new beginnings, accepting beginnings.
With Dorian's personality seemingly so egotistical and proud, seeing him at his most vulnerable and listening to how deep-rooted his country's attitudes are about homosexuality and his own father's disapproval really elevated this character into something so special. His growth as a person independent of his country and his family came back tenfold when he truly gave himself to be who he was always meant to become, a person 'worthy' of the Inquisitor's love and a person with the skillset and the passion to make his homeland a better place for all.
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The realism and non-rushed progression of Dorian's story and growth as a character truly makes him a beloved character in BioWare history and because of that well-drawn out narrative, he will always be one of my favorite characters of all-time.