The Legend of Zelda’s beloved and iconic protagonist, Link, is tagged in more than 17,000 pieces of fanfiction on Archive of Our Own. Among those stories, more than 300 are tagged with “Trans Link,” and nearly 2,000 feature Link in a romantic relationship with Prince Sidon (or Ganondorf, for the enemies-to-lovers fans). AO3 may not be the only metric for how many Zelda fans interpret Link as gay and/or transgender, but it’s one of the biggest.
This is no surprise, as fans have been speculating on Link’s gender and sexuality since at least 2009, though realistically he’s been on the minds of queer players since The Legend of Zelda was first released in Japan in 1986. Nintendo has denied rumors that Link is queer. In a 2015 interview with Kotaku, Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma said Link is “not gay. He’s just an odd person.”
However, though Aonuma shut down speculation about Link’s sexuality within the franchise canon, his statement also opened the door for further fan interpretation. Oddity has long been inextricably linked with queerness, even beyond the etymological connection. For decades, heteronormativity has forced queer people to exist on the fringes of society.