One of the most prominent themes in the novel is racism, with the vampires' struggle for equal rights serving as a parallel to the Civil Rights movement in the United States in the 1960s. The vampires in the United States are fighting against discrimination by the living and working for the right not just to vote, but also to marry. They seek both political and social equality with the living.

While Harris's universe does not have laws which segregate the vampires from the humans, the characters in Bon Temps make no secret of their dislike of Bill, and of vampires in general. While they are fascinated by Bill's stories of the Civil War and are willing to listen to him tell about these experiences, they keep him at arm's length and are moved to violence by the idea of vampires feeding off of and having sex with humans. The inhabitants of Bon Temps do not approve of Sookie's relationship with Bill, but they leave the pair alone because Sookie herself is viewed as abnormal. When the vampires Malcolm, Diane, and Liam move in, the town is incensed and three men burn the vampires' house while they sleep, an event which parallels the lynchings and murders of African Americans in the south during the 1960s.

There is also a similar parallel to the Gay and Lesbian Rights movement, one which the author acknowledges is intentional. There are numerous references to the "coming out" of the vampires. The vampires experience similar identity issues to gays and lesbians, as many struggle to go "mainstream" and fit into human society. Bill represents this type of vampire; he drinks True Blood and frequents Merlotte's Bar and Grill, even though he does not eat or drink. Other vampires, however, flaunt their otherness; for example, Eric Northman runs a nightclub that turns vampirism into a flamboyant display. Pam represents those vampires who walks in between the two movements, wearing the stereotypical black, gauzy dress while at Fangtasia and the...

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