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Jacob Frye: The 1st Canon Bisexual Assassin

Assassin’s Creed is an action-adventure series beloved by many, including myself.

Ever since the first game was released in November of 2007, the series has not been shy to explore territory that wasn’t as popular in the gaming world. In the first game, you play as a Muslim. During Brotherhood, Leonardo DaVinci comes out as a gay to Ezio and, in a DLC, Ezio meets Leonardo’s boyfriend, Salai. Heck, Assassin’s Creed 3’s ending is a criticism of religion. Suffice to say, Ubisoft is open to trying new things, and they give their writers full creative freedom over the characters.

And thus, the writers have given us Jacob Frye, the first canon bisexual Assassin in the series.

At a simple glance, this might be a controversial statement. It’s never explicitly said in the game, and many immediately wave off the kiss scene in Sequence 8 as a one-sided affair. Many will even point out that Jacob has a granddaughter, implying that he settles down, gets married, and has children. At a simple glance, the only gay character is Roth. Many gamers fail to realize that an important part of storytelling is a little thing called subtext and that much of a character’s personality, nationality, sexuality, etc. can be told without ever explicitly stating otherwise.

The LGBT gaming community isn’t strangers to the usage of subtext to present LGBT characters. Everything about Jacob’s character clicks once you realize that he’s a bisexual man in Victorian London, where being LGBT was shunned in mainstream society. Jacob, unlike his sister Evie, is a restless and aggressive young man who has a beef with his father and the Assassins. While at first it’s not totally understood why he holds such anger and hatred for his father and the Creed, Jacob’s sexuality suddenly makes everything clear. Jacob’s father had always taught him to repress all of his emotions when following the creed, and as a bisexual young man who was already experiencing confusing feelings, this wouldn’t have sat well with him. As a result, he rebels against the Creed and his father’s teachings, instead drawn to the life of a gang leader in London. It’s here that Jacob truly flourishes and comes to accept who he is. Jacob’s not a stranger to the oppressive nature of Victorian London’s society, so he makes it his business to recruit and protect orphans, poor men and women hoping for a better life, sex workers, and even other LGBT people. It’s how he finally meets Maxwell Roth and grows a crush on him.

At the beginning of Sequence 8, Jacob is invited to parlay with a rival gang whose leader is Roth. When Jacob asks Roth why he wanted the allegiance in the first place, Roth mentions that he wants “to have a little fun with the bravest man in London.” In response, Jacob looks away and smiles. This is where subtext becomes extremely important. Jacob’s smile is bashful and insecure, a trait not previously attributed to this character. Jacob has always been confident and reckless with everything, so why the insecurity? He’s entering unexplored territory. All of Sequence 8 is dedicated to their budding romantic relationship, all of which comes to a climax when Roth kisses Jacob as he dies. It wasn’t just added in so gamers can laugh at Roth, it’s the culmination of Jacob and Roth’s relationship with each other. Again, subtext plays a big role here. A number of emotions can be seen on Jacob’s face after he pushes Roth away (confusion, hurt, surprise) but Jacob is never disgusted. He never even makes an effort to wipe the kiss off, instead solemnly accepting it before collecting Roth’s blood on a handkerchief.

As for the gamers who absolutely refuse Jacob’s sexuality because he has a grandchild, I would like to remind them that Jacob is bisexual.

He’s romantically and sexually attracted to men and women. The implication that Jacob does get married and has children with this unknown wife does not invalidate his bisexuality.

Of course, for those who still absolutely refuse Jacob’s sexuality despite proof in the game and the writers confirming it as canon, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate breaks walls in other ways. Syndicate includes the first playable female Assassin in the series, Evie Frye, and portrays her as a kickass lady with an immense thirst for knowledge. This is an absolute breakthrough for female gamers looking for a female character that isn’t either totally sexualized or arm candy for the male protagonist. Another important character is Ned Wynart, the first transgender character in the Assassin’s Creed main games and one of the very few transgender characters in video games (the only other one that comes to mind is Erica Anderson from Catherine).

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is a very important game that’s near and dear to my heart. The inclusion of LGBT characters and powerful female leads opens the doors for future LGBT protagonists and other strong lady characters. It shows that LGBT characters can be important for more than simple romance options in Fallout, Dragon Age, or Mass Effect. It shows that women are just as powerful and important as their male counterparts. It proves that games with these kinds of characters can be successful and enjoyable, and I hope it encourages other companies to include these types of characters as protagonists in future games.

Susana Valdes
Written by
Tuesday, 09 August 2016 00:00
Published in Editorial

Susana came into the gaming world a bit late in her life, but it hasn't stopped her from completely immersing in it. A die hard fan of the Assassin's Creed series, she hopes to broaden her horizons and fall in love with different gaming genres. She enjoys otome games (Japanese dating sims directed towards girls) and visual novels; she constantly fights to have Japanese games localized in the US. When she isn't playing games, she's usually reading a book or working as a freelance writer. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where she hates the nightlife as much as it hates her.

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