This post is an updated version of one that I did a year or so ago, so it might be familiar to some readers.
Before I get to the stories I collected for today, I'd like to give a shout out to storyteller Danielle Bellone, who guest blogged here not long ago about the importance of creating new traditions, and new stories, with the use of fairy tale elements.
Let's see some stories that do present a different perspective. In order to find most of them, we have to step outside the realm of fairy tales.
Probably one of the most famous examples (courtesy of Gabrielle from Xena, who, fittingly so, is returning to us soon in her full lesbian glory, and also this song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch), this Greek story can be found in Plato's Symposium. It talks about how people originally had two faces, four arms, four legs, and two sets of genitalia, until they got split down the middle by the gods - ever since then, everyone has been looking for their other half. The story includes three kinds of "round people" - male/female, female/female and male/male, accounting for same-sex relationships.
Achilles & Patroclos
Never outright stated in the Iliad, but generally accepted by later Greek and Roman authors as a romantic relationship. Definitely a close and special connection, given how their story goes...
(Read more about it here)
Apollo, Zephyros & Hyacinth
Probably the most famous same-sex love triangle of classical mythology, but not one that really ends well for anyone involved.
(Read more about it here)
Nisus & Euryalus
Two Troyan heroes in Virgil's Aeneid who travel together, fight together, and even die together.
(Read about them here)
By the way, there is an entire Wikipedia page devoted to LGBT themes in Classical mythology.
The Warrior Girl
This Spanish Gypsy folktale elegantly points out what happens when someone wants to decide someone else's gender based on what they wear, or what their interests are. It is quite entertaining.
(I blogged about it in detail here)
The girl who became a man
This is not one folktale, but an entire folktale type (numbered as ATU 514 - The Shift of Sex). It can be found in various cultures, including Hungarian, Norwegian, Albanian, Ossetian, and Portuguese. The basic story tells about a princess that sets out to war disguised as a man, rises to a high rank, lives as a man, marries another princess, and in the end, by a blessing or by a curse (depending on the variant), physically transforms into a man as well. Some variants are more sensitive to the topic than others. My favorite is the Ossetian one.
(Read the full Hungarian version in English here, and my blog about the Ossetian version here)
A story from Ovid's Metamorphoses (Book 9.666-797) in which a girl is raised as a boy to deceive her strict father. She falls in love with and gets engaged by her father to a girl who loves her back, thinking that she is a boy. The day before the wedding Iphis prays to the goddess Isis to grant her a wish for change, and the goddess turns her into a man, after which he happily marries the girl he loves.
The princess and the demon
This one is another favorite of mine, from India. Starts out similarly then Iphis, except in this version the prince(ss) meets a tree spirit/demon on the way to the wedding, and agrees to exchange sexes with him for a year. At the end of the year he returns to the site of the deal, and finds the tree spirit happily married and pregnant. They both agree they like their new sex better, and stay that way.
(Read the story in this book)
Another Greek classic. Remember the old blind prophet from the Odyssey? Well, according to legend, he spent seven years as a woman, in some versions of the story as a sacred prostitute in Corinth, while according to others as a wife and a mother. After seven years the spell got reversed, and Tiresias was a man again. This ties into him being blind: Apparently Hera blinded him after he was called on to decide a debate between Zeus and her about who enjoys sex more, men or women. Tiresias said women enjoy sex NINE times more (suspiciously accurate number), and was blinded by the goddess and given the gift of prophecy by Zeus as a consolation prize.
(Read about Tiresias here)
Another story from Ovid's Metamorphoses. It is a Greek myth about a girl that is "ravaged" by Poseidon, who then offers to reward her with a wish (how generous) (Poseidon's an asshole). Caenis asks to be turned into a man so she can never feel helpless again. This story speaks more to gender difference and sexism, but it is interesting to note that Caeneus then goes on to be a hero among the Greeks and the father of an Argonaut.
(Read the text here)
You can also read about LGBT themes in various mythologies here.
Are there any other stories that I should definitely add to this list?