gender: euphoria in the moonlight

every once in a blue moon, my autistic brain latches onto something unexpectedly, and forms a tight bond with it. this does not happen to me very often, but i've learned to go with it instead of trying to resist it - embrace the joy it brings me, no needless self-loathing over how my brain works

anyway, back in 2019, this happened with Castlevania. more specifically, Symphony of the Night and Alucard as a character. i honestly don't play games very often, but i watched a stream of someone playing SotN for a bit and thought "actually, maybe i'd enjoy playing this?". which was a surprise to me; since i bounced off literally every Metroid game i've tried after 20 minutes, i just assumed i hated the "metroidvania" genre

Alucard standing in front of an elaborate fountain with  winged statues and blood-tinted water

there's a lot i love about SotN, as a game. i love the sound design, the music, the lavishly drawn pixel art, all the goofy secrets and details in the game. i was immediately charmed when i found a pair of sunglasses that were self-described as "cool-looking sunglasses", or when i realized how many little pixel foods existed in the game. no one told me how absolutely silly this game could be behind the dramatic gothic flair, and i adored every part of it.

the equipment menu, highlighting a pair of yellow and red sunglasses with the description: Cool looking sunglasses Alucard standing next to a table with a glass of milk, and a piece of toast with a poached egg on top

and... i loved how it felt to play as Alucard. i'm really not an action game kind of person, but something about the gameplay and physics just really clicked with me. not to mention how i found his animations immensely satisfying to just look at - i'd walk around for fun, not doing anything, just watching his cloak and long hair swish back and forth

Alucard walking in place wearing a pink cloak

looking at and playing as him gave me so much euphoria that i didn't know what to do with. i'd identified as a lesbian for several years at that point, but i was just starting to wonder how true that was for myself. i wasn't sure how much i identified with girlhood, or seeing myself as someone only interested in women. but i didn't quite identify with masculinity, and a lot of the experiences i'd seen from nonbinary folks didn't really resonate with me either. i had no interest in binding or cutting my hair short, and that's generally the only thing i'd heard people talk about in regards to nonbinary identity, at least in the circles i was in. it was a narrow definition in many, many different ways.

black and white ink drawing of Alucard brushing away a lock of his hair with some blood splattered on his cheek black and white manga panels of Alucard awakening from his vampiric slumber, looking down at his hands

i absolutely had a crisis here for a while. how could i reconcile being attracted to a character who was canonically a man, when i had been very loudly identifying as a lesbian for so long? the communities i was in at the time were pretty strict and unforgiving about identity, and i was scared. but i didn't know which one scared me more: being thrown out by my peers, or the fact that i was feeling increasingly disconnected from the label i previously found comforting 1

a screenshot of the pause menu, listing various stats. Alucard's portrait is visible, with his long wavy hair on display and a stoic expression on his face.

every time i paused the game and saw Alucard's portrait in the menu, i kept thinking, "god i wish that were me." i wanted to have long wavy hair, fluttering voluminous eyelashes, clothes that flowed with each step i took, but not in a traditionally feminine way. at long last, it sank into my head: i could choose my own gender identity and define it however i wanted.

so... as a result, i'm really attached to Alucard. i probably would've realized i was nonbinary sooner or later - there's plenty of characters and concepts that i've been attached to for years, and i recognize a lot of that now as gender envy. but the one who opened the door to my gender exploration was Alucard, and every time i see him, i think about the euphoria and joy i feel about my gender now

Alucard holding his sword in front of his face
  1. nonbinary lesbians exist and are extremely valid, but i am not one. it is simply not a word i use for myself anymore. please respect my choices on how i identify, i do not need help picking words