Welcome to the eleventh article in our Pride series for the month of June! Each day we will be highlighting a different LGBTQ+ character who we think is a great example of representation, dynamic characterization, and overall badassery. Check out the rest of the series here.
The Captive Prince is a trilogy series written by C.S Pacat. It was brought to my attention while I was in Barnes and Noble with a friend, complaining about needing something new to read. I was telling her how I had read through all of my fanfiction bookmarks, and really needed something new to sink my teeth into. She told me that she had just the series for me, and boy she was not kidding. When I first started reading this series, I was completely enamored by the two main characters, Laurent of Vere and Damianos of Akelios, who was also referred to as Damen.
Today’s post is going to talk about Laurent.
Laurent of Vere is the 20-year-old Crown Prince of Vere, with his uncle acting as the Regent until he turns 21 and becomes of age to take the throne. From his first sentence, he comes across as rude, closed off, intolerant and uncaring. He is dismissive of everyone around him, and seems completely self absorbed. There is no direct reference to his sexuality in the beginning, just a brief description of how things are done in Vere. All of the nobility keep “pets” otherwise known as concubines. These pets are always the same sex as the person keeping them because bastardy is not something that is tolerated among the aristocracy. There is no taboo on homosexuality, as a matter of fact, it is almost frowned upon to not have a least one pet. This is Laurent’s world when he receives Damen as a pet.
There are many times within the three books that Laurent is referred to as frigid or not sexual. These comments come from all around him, but as we begin to see more and more of Laurent’s real nature, it’s not frigidness, more of a desire to stay in control and not allow himself to be played or manipulated. As his relationship with Damen continues to grow and evolve, there are times that we get to see Laurent start to lower his guard and talk to Damen about things like sexuality. One of the conversations that stood out the most to me is when Laurent and Damen are in a camp and Laurent is asking Damen about sex. He refers to the pet system in Vere and asks Damen if Akelios is similar in order to avoid bastardy. Damen states that he’s slept with men, but not because someone told him he had to, but because he preferred a man at that point. Laurent thinks about what Damen has said and confided that he has never been with a woman before.
Throughout the series, Laurent never shows any desire to be with a woman, and when someone asks him about continuing his royal line, he states that it will die with him. We see Laurent come to terms with and be ok with only desiring men. To me, this is part of what makes this series and it’s two main characters so powerful. It’s not about being an LGBTQ+ book, it’s about showing that no matter what you sexual orientation is, you are still you. Laurent was not treated differently one he told Damen that he preferred men, it was just one or two lines and then the story moved on. Laurent is a powerful, complex and amazing character who happens to like men instead of women. It doesn’t diminish him or make him any less. He is not defined by his sexuality, rather he is defined by his intellect and razor sharp wit. People in Vere and Akelios do not care whether you are a man or a woman, there is no stigma attached, other than that of a royal line choosing to not continue itself with children.
I see Laurent as a powerful LGBTQ+ character because the author allows the relationship between he and Damen to grow and flourish, and yet, Laurent doesn’t change. The story is about who he is, not who he loves. It continually demonstrates how smart and intelligent he is and how he saved two countries with the man he loves. We see him portrayed as a calculating, manipulative, intelligent gay man that saves the day, rather than a gay man who is also smart and happens to save the day in the end. His sexuality does not define who he is and what he can do; we see that he can be all these things at the same time and it’s amazing. Truly a character I enjoyed learning and watching him grow through the three books.
Do you have a character spotlight suggestion? Leave it in the comments down below!