I’ve discussed this with various queer-identified friends who were also listeners early in Night Vale‘s history, and found (anecdotally) that we all had one odd experience in common. Namely: it took us a really weirdly long time to realize that Cecil was actually supposed to be in love with Carlos. It’s weird because the show does anything but make a secret of it: in the first episode, for heaven’s sake, Cecil not only refers to him as “perfect” and “beautiful,” but flat-out says that when Carlos smiled, he “fell in love instantly.” Pretty unambiguous, right? And yet, I – and most everyone I know who was listening at the time! – just slid right by those lines. We heard them, we were charmed and amused, but we understood that “I” as though it were Cecil speaking as the voice of the town: that this was just another odd thing about Night Vale, that a scientist visiting from parts unknown would turn out to have a magical and universal appeal on the sole basis of his perfect hair and teeth. It wasn’t until much later, in fact until Cecil spoke of the idea of going on a “date” with Carlos in episode 16, that it finally began to dawn on us that this was actually something perfectly ordinary in all Night Vale’s strangeness: just a man attracted to another man.