A local thrift store chain where I live in Montreal has a liquidation center for items that haven’t sold, or that they don’t believe they can sell at all. It’s a cavernous space, like a big box store or a warehouse, filled with rows of gigantic yellow bins. Inside each bin is stuff, stuff that somebody wanted or had to part with.

About half or two-thirds of the store is given over to enormous mounds of clothes; no sorting by size or type of garment (although leather goods have their own bins). The rest is a wild miscellany: pots and paintings and books and electronics that may even work, and naturally, toys and games.

I’m a regular visitor to the liquidation center thanks to my fiancée, who collects vintage dolls and sews, both hobbies that can be well-served by a dive into the bins. I usually look mostly for books, when I’m not helping her search for something. But one day, I turned down a row of books and found, what else? The floor of one of the aisles littered with Magic cards. I grabbed them up, and looked in the adjacent bins, and wound up with a pretty good stack of some souls’ discarded Magic collection.

In the end I had probably between 100 and 200 cards, ranging from Core Set 21 at the latest, to (believe it or not!) one card from Homelands. There were no cards of particular rarity or cost; this isn’t a story about finding unexpected treasure. In fact, it’s rather the opposite–a story about the thrill of going through the trash. It’s interesting to dive into a set as a carefully constructed whole; it turns out, it’s also interesting to consider these cards as objects without a context, without connection to each other–little mysteries from the thrift store. The thing I like about thrift stores is the sense that everything in it has a story; everything was discarded, for one reason or another, but it doesn’t just disappear.

What’s going to happen to your Magic cards, when you’re done with them?

I don’t have an in-person crew to play with that I could draft or play with. My face-to-face play is limited to occasional draft nights at my LGS, and my collection is limited to the cards I pick up doing that, and a handful of pre-con Commander decks I’ve hardly touched (and one Nissa Who Shakes The World I bought because it was on sale and, why not?). So, after I instinctually grabbed these cards and gleefully looked through them, what on earth was I going to do with them?

Well, it’s simple, isn’t it? What do I usually do with Magic cards? I make up stories in my head about how gay they are. So, here are the top ten queer cards from the cards I found at the bottom of a thrift store bin.

Warriors’ Lesson

Starting us off is this uncommon from Theros in 2013. We can’t see the second of these two figures very well, but the nearer is an extremely built woman–look at that definition! I’m firmly on the record as a big fan of muscular women. I can’t justify a higher ranking of Warriors’ Lesson, though, because we just can’t see our hotlite (trademark pending, it’s a portmanteau of hot and hoplite) all that well. Nice armor, though.

Skyknight Legionnaire

“Manspreading” is a light-hearted term for a real phenomenon, men who spread their legs wide and thereby take up much more space than necessary. The classic example would be on a busy subway; picture a woman scrunched in on herself to make room for the knees of the man sitting next to her, which extend well into her personal space.

Sitting with your legs spread wide in a crowded space is straightforwardly rude, and it’s a gendered behavior that presents a clear visual metaphor for patriarchy, which made it a meme for a half a second a few years ago. Outside of that context, it’s an assertive, relaxed, confident posture that communicates a sense of command (naturally, this can spill into arrogance if you’re not careful). It can be very attractive, probably when men do it I guess, but definitely when women do it, especially because of the added layer of gender play, the assumption of a masculine role or at least eschewing a feminine role. If you want proof that this posture is a rejection of patriarchal expectations, look no further than the fact that women were expected to ride horses side-saddle–that is, with their legs closed–up until the late early 20th century.

Anyway, all of that is to say that the Skynight Legionnaire and her, er, very carefully illustrated greaves and armor over her…how do I say this politely? Core?…may have been drawn with the male gaze in mind, but she’s definitely gay as hell.

Aviation Pioneer

Aviation Pioneer was first published in Core Set 2019 (in 2018, naturally), and then reprinted in Jumpstart 2022. I started playing in 2020, so I essentially missed the core set era entirely, and to be honest I was vaguely surprised to learn there are cards printed for core sets that don’t appear in expansions first.

Our Pioneer here is a woman, not old but not young, in a beautiful outfit that seems vaguely like a uniform. She’s smiling warmly. She reads to me as encouraging, maybe even mentorly? It’s an interesting choice given that the name calls to mind the rough-and-ready engineers and daredevil pilots of early aviation. Those days are far behind Aviation Pioneer now; she’s comfortable, respected, and ready to pass on what she knows to the next generation. Sadly she’s used to brushing off crushes from admiring students like me, and probably laughs about them with her life partner over dinner.


Looking back through my past articles in this series, I seem to have just a bit of a bias against black cards–but not on this list. I wonder if that relates somehow to the lack of a story connecting these cards. I’m what’s traditionally known as a “goody-two-shoes” and have a natural bias towards uncomplicated heroes, the occasional Ayana, Widow of the Realm notwithstanding. But without that strong overarching story drawing me to the heroes, I’m able to look at this version of Bladebrand from Core Set 2020 and say, “wow, a woman in a striped singlet is laughing as she (magically?) juggles knives and threatens me–that’s pretty hot.”

Duskmantle Operative

I was excited to include a card from War of the Spark in this list, a set that looms large in my personal Magic history even though it predates me starting to play by a bit. The Duskmantle Operative’s hair is short enough to be androgynous, but long enough to style; her outfit is practical but contains both masculine and feminine stylistic touches. You can tell she’s from Ravnica because my girl here is on the cutting edge of street fashion.

Celestial Enforcer

“I look to the heavens for hope. You will kneel.” “Yes ma’am.” So glad Magic figured out warrior angel women.

Keeper of the Mind

By far the oldest card to make the list, Keeper of the Mind brings us all the way back to Exodus in 1998; this piece of cardboard took 25 years to make its journey to a thrift store bin and from there into my possession (and yet is worth $0.28). Can I just say, I love the old blue card frame? Gorgeous.

Our Keeper is dripping with both precious gems and attitude and I really have nothing to say other than that that stare really makes me want to see if I can get her to smile (and maybe stare into my eyes).


No comment.

Sheltered Aerie

I love this card for the sense of safety it conveys. Outside, just a window away, dragons and all the dangers of Tarkir. Inside, lush vegetation, and a femme goes to the farmer’s market to buy fruit to bring home to her partner for dessert. The world is hard, but safe places and moments of joy are possible, and therefore worth fighting for.

Markov Patrician

I can’t say for certain that this Innistrad card is the best art in the whole stack of Magic cards I found, but it might be. It’s the framing that does it for me, the “camera angle”, if you will, so painterly and intimate. There’s something specifically Impressionist about the whole thing, despite the dark palate; one thing that’s great about this piece is that it feels to me like a painting that this woman might own. And of course, at the exact center of the image is a bloody handkerchief, its exact provenance unknown but its purpose clear, adding a touch of horror to the languor and quiet dread of the rest of the scene.

And all of that artistry and emotion lends power to our Patrician. This is a woman used to getting what she wants. That’s sexy, even–especially–if she’s also dangerous.

Dora Rogers (she/her) is a writer, game designer, and heart-eyes lesbo from Montreal. She is one half of Gal Pal Games, and you can find her solo TTRPG and interactive fiction projects on itch.io. Follow her in all the places, or catch her on Arena playing questionable Vorthos decks in Standard.

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