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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

A Definitive Ranking of Literary Vampires

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.

Bears waving.
Hey, how's it going today?

Thank you for joining me today. I hope all my LGBTQIA+ readers are still having a safe and happy Pride.

Pride flag with the words "happy pride."
Happy Pride!!

Today is June 22, we’re officially in Cancer season, and the month is almost over. Now listen, June is also my birthday month and I’m getting greedy. I want to talk about Gothic Literature! I know I talked Dorian Gray last week, but it’s still my birth month, my birthday was only a few days ago, and I want to continue talking about Gothic Literature. We’ll switch things up next week, but for today I’m back on my bullshit.

As you’ve seen by the title, we’ll be ranking literary vampires today. Literary vampires only! No movie vampires, although a few of them do have movies attached to their names as well. And I obviously can’t rank every literary vampire ever so I’ll only be ranking a top five. But we’re not ranking these characters based on their powers or how evil they are or really anything that has to do with being a vampire. We’re ranking them on how much of a gay icon they are.

Vampire turning into bat.
I wish I had a gif of a vampire holding a Pride flag but I sadly don't.

Firstly, I need to thank a few friends for their input. Levi, Katie, Frankie, and Amanda, thank you so much my loves! Secondly, when I say “gay icon,” I am referring to how much of an icon the LGBTQIA+ community views them as along with how gay they are in their original text. Get it? Got it? Good! And third, it should be noted that there is a long and complex history between vampires and the gay community. While today people like me and my friends joke that vampires were created to “be gay and do crime” and I’m creating this pointless, humorous list just for shits and giggles, vampires from the 18th and 19th century were originally created to be viewed as monsters. They are always the villains of their stories. Vampire literature originated as cautionary tales, and the ambiguous sexuality they all seemingly possess is not because of authors being progressive, but because being gay was “wrong” and “unnatural.” I could probably write a whole other article on that topic, but that’s not what we’re talking about today. So to cut things short, I want to direct y’all to an article I found while doing research. Surprise! Vampires Have Always Been Gay discusses how people have viewed vampires and their connections to the LGBTQIA+ community throughout their existence in more detail, and it’s a great article. I highly suggest giving it a read when you get the chance.

Now with that, let’s get to the list!

Michael on the Office doing a drum roll.
Drum roll please!

5. Starting us out on this list, we have none other than Lestat de Lioncourt! Lestat is very much the star of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, and pretty much became a bisexual icon the moment readers met him in Interview With the Vampire. He is a flamboyant, in-your-face type of person, and he most certainly does not hide the fact that he loves men just as much as women. Actually, he likes men more than women, but the sentiment remains: if he desires someone, he makes his feelings known. Lestat is unapologetically himself and I love it. He definitely originated the saying, “be gay and do crime.” He deserves a place on this list.

Book cover of Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice.

4. Bringing us in at number four, we have Shori from Fledgling. This book is really interesting. Not only does it discuss life and death, it also has discussions on family, community, and race. Not to mention the whole new take on vampires it provides. This is not a review though. Maybe one day we’ll talk about Fledgling, but right now we’re simply focusing on Shori being a gay icon. I don’t think she’s the obvious choice like Lestat or some of the others on this list are, but she is pansexual and in a polyamorous relationship. A relationship that some characters respond to with biphobia thus opening up an important conversation for Shori and other characters to have, and also one for readers to have together as well.

Book cover of Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler.

3. Oooohhhhh, we're halfway there! At number three, please welcome to the stage Gilda from The Gilda Stories! This book is from 1991 and needs to be talked about more. Very, very quick synopsis. Gilda is 12-years-old at the start of the novel. She’s a runaway enslaved woman who becomes part of a group of vampires. The rest of the story is about the adventures she has over the course of 200-years, found family and community, as well as processing the trauma of slavery. It’s a great book, I highly suggest picking up a copy. Her romantic relationships are also a big part of the novel. She’s a black, gay, vampire trying to survive in the 19th century and she lowkey thrives. Gilda knows that because she's a vampire she's never really going to have a true love match or super long term relationship, but she still doesn't shy away from love. She allows herself to fall in love with women despite societal norms and the whole the vampire thing. I think she gets forgotten about a lot and she does not deserve that. So she's number three on this list.

Book cover of The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez.

2. Drum roll please! At number two we have Eli from Let the Right One In! When I asked my friends for their input on this list, they all immediately said Eli. Ever since this novel was published in 2008, there have been debates regarding Eli’s gender identity. Personally, I view Eli as a nonbinary individual. Let the Right One In’s author, John Ajvide Lindqvist, has stated before that Eli is an androgynous person. At the end of the day, Eli can simply be considered as a vampire who identifies as anything other than a cisgender individual. Eli makes it up this far on the list because they get a happy ending! Let's be real, lots of vampires don't get happy endings; especially the ones who are open about their sexual and gender identities. But Eli and Oskar get to leave the city together, and it’s heavily implied that the pair remain together forever and are very happy which isn’t seen too often.

Book cover of Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

1. And finally, bringing us in at number one: Carmilla! We must respect our elders people, and Carmilla was the first, the OG, vampire. Ok, she technically isn’t the first vampire, but she’s the first interesting vampire, and she’s definitely the first vampire to have strong LGBTQIA+ undertones, so she’s the OG in my eyes! I will accept no criticism on this matter. She paved the way for every other literary vampire and she is the number one gay vampire icon.

Carmilla illustration.

Thank you for joining me today! Let me know in the comments if you agree with my list. Who do you think should be on here? You can also let me know on Twitter. Follow RHRML at @RHRMLBlog. Until next time, I must bid you all adieu. I'll see you all next Wednesday with a new review.

Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving.
See y'all next week, bye!

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