An alternate universe is a trope common in science fiction and fantasy media, as well as fanworks, in which one or more elements of the original media is changed.
Mainstream media examples may be of special interest to LGBT fans because they are sometimes used to introduce alternative sexualities or gender identities for characters.
- In the Marvel Comics alternate universe earth-3490, Tony Stark (Iron Man) was born a woman named Natasha Stark and married Steve Rogers (Captain America).
- Wolverine was depicted sharing a kiss with Hercules in an alternate universe in X-Treme X-Men #10.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Willow Rosenberg got her first inkling of same-sex attraction in an alternate universe in "Doppelgangland." Shocked by the behavior of her alternate self, Willow exclaimed, "That's me as a vampire? I'm so evil and skanky. And I think I'm kinda gay!" The real Willow later entered a long-term lesbian relationship with Tara Maclay.
In fanworks, which already have much higher LGBT representation, changes to a character's canon sexuality are less likely to be treated as something worthy of describing the work as an alternate universe by itself. However, "always a girl" or "always a boy" genderswap AUs, in which a character is born a different binary sex than they are in canon, remain common.
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