Blizzard's first Overwatch short story "Bastet" confirmed the second LGBT hero in Overwatch is Soldier: 76 -- also known as the definition of an America-loving macho man. To some fans it came as a surprise, while others believed the reveal was a long time coming. As one would suspect, the debate about whether the reveal was pandering or even necessary to the story became a hot topic among fans.
The sexuality of fictional heroes isn't important to the story, and it never will be. But even if the story of Overwatch isn't affected by how many of its heroes aren't straight, learning about their identities -- gay or otherwise -- does matter.
Overwatch's lead writer Michael Chu confirmed as such on Twitter when he announced Soldier: 76 and Vincent, a man briefly introduced in "Bastet," were once in love and had a relationship. Unsurprisingly, a portion of the fanbase did not receive the news as well as large portion of it did and questioned how could Soldier: 76 be gay -- and more importantly, why did it even matter? Why do fans need to know this?
A character is more than just their sexuality, which is a message the Overwatch universe continuously enforces with its cast of characters who have incredible powers and importance to the lore. And just as much as these sexual identities do not dictate what a character is, people cannot argue that these identities do not matter.
whine harder homophobes pic.twitter.com/uLvixx4h0i— your local gay cryptid (@shiroi0015) January 8, 2019
Soldier: 76 is as basic of a war hero in a video game can get. He's a character seemingly hand-picked from Call of Duty, as some fans point out, with his kit and story. He is what one might picture when they think of an American war hero: a buff, and typically white, man. But as much as he is all these things, he is also gay. And that is a part of his identity that players should not ignore.
There aren't any major hints to Soldier: 76's life outside of Overwatch, as his story revolves heavily around the organization and what followed, but that also means there is very little surrounding his romantic life. Blizzard did not need to make hints about his sexuality in the past, though his ex-boyfriend Vincent was actually seen as early as two years ago in the Reflections comic, because his sexuality doesn't define who he is.
The purpose of making heroes who are "less likely" to be part of the LGBT community is to break the stereotype or idea that people need to be a certain way to be LGBT. To think that it's impossible for someone like Soldier: 76 or Tracer to be an LGBT character is harmful as much as it is wrong to assume so.
Even as brief as the reveals are, to confirm a major character in a video game is LGBT is a big deal. Tracer and Soldier: 76 aren't just central to the game's story, but they are seen everywhere in merchandise or promotional items for Overwatch. They are also the first two heroes a player meets when starting the game for the first time.
As minor as the reveals were in terms of their delivery, Blizzard is trying to help educate gamers on acceptance of others -- especially the LGBT community.