Ouran High School Host Club is one of those things that everyone can look back at with some level of fondness and cringe. Don’t worry, I’ll rant and rave about cringe-culture of the early 2000s later. But for now, we’re going to talk about how incredible Ouran was for nonbinary folks.
Haurhi Fujioka was probably the first “gender-bent” character I had ever been introduced to. This was back when that was the term commonly used by the very vocal straight girls and women who made up a good chunk of online fandom for a character who presented as their opposite binary gender. Since then, Haurhi has been referred to as nonbinary by most fans because the character is more genderfluid and doesn’t ascribe to one specific gender (though does use she/her pronouns in her mind).
As the main character of a “reverse harem” anime, Haruhi subverted pretty much every trope that would normally be thrown at her from the idea that every single character should be in love with her (only two people in the long version of the manga want to date her) all the way to the fact that her role in every other anime/manga of this category were demure girls with no idea that she was the token of everyone’s affections. Haruhi enjoyed being seen as a boy because she both liked all the attention from the girls and didn’t have to deal with the “back-stabby” culture that the more controlling elite girls dealt with.
She was also raised by a father who began drag after his wife died in an attempt to give Haruhi some form of a maternal figure. While Haruhi does criticize him about it, it’s not about him doing drag, it’s about how over the top protective he is about her. She is uncaring about the overt lesbians who try to draft her into their all-girl’s school, enjoying the attention she gets from them and even agreeing that the guys who she hangs out with are pretty much dingles when it comes to emotional reciprocation.
In the very first episode we learn that Haruhi is uncaring about gender-norms, that the boys in her new club aren’t perturbed about the idea that a gay boy came to their host club (just surprised that Haruhi swings that way), and that despite the set up for Haurhi to be hyper effeminate after the big reveal that she was born a girl, she remains excited to continue letting everyone believe she is a boy and would begin using the more masculine Japanese pronouns when talking about herself.
For the most part of the story, Haruhi seems aromantic and asexual, something that hadn’t really been done before in a reverse harem anime/manga. It’s a good while before she even entertains the idea of entering a relationship with anyone, and even then it’s only with people who she is incredibly close with. Majority of fans argue that because of this is demi-romantic (possibly demi-sexual, however this topic is never explicitly brought up in the story). The story definitely lends itself to this, because despite very obviously being a romance, it appears one-sided with various boys and girls easily falling for Haurhi and her personality and then her shutting the possibility of a budding romance with her.