A question that comes up with many Sim-type games hits on the romantic relationship side of things. Who are the potential dateable characters? Is there a major difference between how the relationships evolve? Is same sex dating an option in the game?
Players can be gay or straight in Stardew Valley. There are six romanceable female characters and six romanceable male characters, any of whom the player can date then marry regardless of player gender.
Now to be clear, the game is far from perfect on this front. If you’re looking for a game that has an agenda or is politically active on the representation front, that’s not Stardew Valley and wasn’t their intention. That’s not the vibe that the game, but the ability to make a choice and be accepted by the entire local community is, and that’s the one area where the game shines.
The representation is here if you want it via the right to make a choice and everyone in Pelican Town being accepting of it, with very few seeing nothing odd or different about that at all.
Is this a perfect LBGTQ game? No, there are some cringe moments and arguments about representation are valid, but compared to the games that inspired (late 1990s Harvest Moon) Stardew Valley, this was a major step forward to normalize same sex relationships in big mainstream games.
Is Stardew Valley Gay-Friendly?
This depends on how much activism you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a very active game that embraces the politics of LBGTQ and representation in general then, no. Stardew Valley has never been about that. But it is about no one blinking at a player’s choice. They get their happily ever after with whomever they choose.
Unless you go the DF route and divorce everyone for fun, but in that case that’s on you…
There some legitimate concerns about diversity and representation, but there are some other equally valid considerations to take into account when tackling the question of whethera
Growth Continues from 2016
One important detail I think gets overlooked too often in the discussion recently is when the game came out. A lot is changing socially, and although 2016 really wasn’t that long ago, it is amazing how much attitudes and public acceptance on LBGT issues have shifted positively from 2016 until now.
Or from 2010 when the game was first in development until now.
Inclusivity was not a big topic in 2010, and while the march to always be better/do better is important, it’s also important to see how important this game was in providing a “This is normal, this will be a part of the game” framework that set the foundation for further improvements that could help later.
Side Note: If you’re looking for a game in this genre that does a great job specifically with representation, take a look at our Best Games Like Stardew Valley and scroll down to Verdant Skies. Behind a cool indie Sci-Fi farm sim town builder you have some really great stories and amazing representation – not to mention one of the most underrated little indie titles no one talks about.
Do we need to move beyond the foundation? Sure – but applying 2021 standards to a game started in 2010 ignores a lot of societal changes that happened in those 11 years ignores intent and that’s dangerous.
Stardew Valley was meant to be inclusive and to allow players to make their decision and have it accepted by the entire community. For the time, that was huge step forward.
Were there cringe moments?
Well he’s a jock, maybe someone like Sebastian…
Are there moments where this is handled clumsily? Sure. Coming from someone who started this in 2010, it’s far more understandable.
So is Stardew Valley gay-friendly? I’d say yes, though it’s far from perfect. The intent is good. The trail-blazing aspect for mainstream games to follow, especially in this genre, was really important (as the remakes/releases of Old Harvest Moon games shows – they did NOT have this option originally but they included it on the re-release).
And if you need more or better than that: never underestimate the abilities of capable modders for creating great options for players who feel the need for some changes to Pelican Town!
The best mods for this are actually changing year to year so your best bet is a Google search, however a few that have met with high ratings to this point include:
Common Inclusivity Questions on Stardew Valley
Is Leah bi-sexual in Stardew Valley?
Officially no. She’s notable because an early cut scene where she’s on the phone with an ex changes the gender of the ex based on the gender of a player. So if you’re playing as a male, her ex was male. if you’re playing as a female, her ex was female.
Are there anti-gay characters in Stardew Valley?
Ah, this is coming back to old grumpy George. If you are a male PC and choose to marry Alex, there will be some dialogue with George that is pretty cringe. He states he was against gay marriage and didn’t understand it, but he wants his grandson to be happy. It’s a real cringe moment, and one that has caught some heat for arguably not being the best way to address this.
Another potential way to look at is is that this can be a good nod to the difficult often cringe-level conversations when someone much older is trying to change and doesn’t understand the language or how to handle something that was taught to them as wrong for so long, and the fumbling that takes place when someone long entrenched in their ways is trying to put out an olive branch.
Opinions on this scene will vary, but George is the only character dialogue in the original game who has that type of directly potentially offensive belief.
Can you be a lesbian in Stardew Valley?
Yes. Female players are allowed to romance, date, and marry any of the available female marriage candidates in the game.
Can you be gay in Stardew Valley?
Yes. Male players are allowed to romance, date, and marry any of the available male marriage candidates in the game.
Can you be bi-sexual in Stardew Valley?
In Stardew Valley the mechanic is to be dating one person at a time and one marriage. So you could break up with some people and switch between who you’re dating, but there’s no dating more than one at once or any other mechanic that would work in a way to suggest this.
Can you change genders in Stardew Valley?
Yes a player can change their gender in an existing game of Stardew Valley. You need to befriend the wizard but once you have access to the Shrine of Illusions you can pay to change appearance and in that screen you have the ability to switch from male to female or vice-versa.
Are there mods that allow me to make Stardew Valley more LBGTQ friendly?
Yes! Never underestimate the army of Stardew Valley modders out there. Check out the two options above or look around for others that are currently in development.
Stardew Valley tackles this question in the simple way it tackles any question related to the game: by simply following what was right for the aesthetic that the game designer wanted.
ConcernedApe wanted a Harvest Moon homage that took the farm sim/life game genre to a new level. And it’s worth noting that those Harvest Moon games did not allow same sex relationships or marriage in the original releases (though some of the remakes have, thankfully, changed that).
Pelican Town is supposed to be a wonderful community that although it has its problems offers a peaceful place and a better life and that includes whatever partner you settle down with in town whether boy-girl, girl-girl, or boy-boy. Date and marry any of the eligible players you want, and the town accepts it without question.
So can you be gay in Stardew Valley? Absolutely. Marry whomever you want and enjoy playing your own game as you make the farm of your dreams, whether modded or unmodded!
Other Stardew Valley Articles You May Enjoy
- Stardew Valley Fences
- Stardew Valley Chickens Guide
- Stardew Valley Fruit Trees Guide
- How to Farm Solar Essence in Stardew Valley
- Should I Take a Cat or Dog in Stardew Valley?
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.