'Hunger Games' Star Elizabeth Banks Thinks Effie Trinket Might Be Gay

When Hunger Games star Elizabeth Banks was asked by Advocate if she's played any lesbian characters, she gave the last answer anyone would think of:

"I don’t think I have — although Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games might be gay. My vision of the Capitol is pansexual like ancient Rome, where everybody’s doing everybody."

While it wouldn't be a total surprise if Effie did have a more fluid sexuality, that's likely not the first thing that pops into viewers' (or readers') minds -- most people assume heterosexuality as "the default," as the "normal" way for a character to behave. But new revelations about fictional characters show that attitude is changing.

I don't have a television in my apartment right now (I'm not one of those holier-than-thou no-TV types, obviously, my old one just broke), so I've been re-watching New Girl on Netflix. And there's a remarkable moment in the "Bully" episode that I didn't catch the first time around that highlights this point.

Throughout the whole episode, Jess struggles with this mean little girl, and when the little girl's parents come to the school science fair, it's not the child's mom and dad who show uo, it's her two moms. And no one says anything about it. Most people (myself included) pictured this troublesome girl having an overbearing mom and a smug-faced dad in an old-school, nuclear-family style, but she has two (equally annoying) moms instead, and no one even so much as makes a terrible joke about it.

Obviously, Banks talking about Effie's sexuality brings to mind Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series. Although Dumbledore was "officially" outed, he was also a character from a popular book-to-movie whose sexuality was never really mentioned. This revelation surprised people a great deal -- Dumbledore was a seemingly celibate character, and if he had any sexuality at all, it was assumed to be straight. For some people, it ruined the character, but J.K. Rowling's admission of Dumbledore's sexuality only made the character deeper and more realistic. Of course he would have human urges -- he's a wizard, not a robot. And it was all the better that his sexuality was not his defining characteristic, which is so often the case with gay and lesbian characters.

Having characters in popular culture "surprise" people with their sexuality is a good thing. It challenges our notion of what is the norm. Banks' guess at Effie's sexuality represents a move even farther forward and shows us that it's becoming easier for people to interpret characters with ambiguous sexual preferences as gay.

Hopefully, this allows gay and lesbian people see more of themselves in these characters, too.

Photo: Murray Close