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Writing Gay Characters

Updated on August 23, 2017

Introduction

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Megan Rose Gedris. For the past 7 years, my primary activity has been writing and drawing comics with LGBT themes. I also do a lot of prose (short stories and novels) that feature LGBT people, and I've written a lot of nonfiction on the subject as well.

I hear a lot from other writers about how they would love to include gay characters in their stories, but they're too afraid of screwing them up, so they don't try. And that's no good. I don't like seeing people discouraged from including entire groups of people in their stories. So let's fix things, eh?

Before we get into things, I'd like to make a point about something. This lens is called "writing gay characters", but it would more accurately be called "writing non-straight characters". But since that take s a lot more typing, and frankly sounds clunky, I refer to it as "gay characters". I could say queer, but for me, that word has always meant "strange", and I have a hard time constantly referring to LGBT people as such.

Why write gay characters at all?

 

There are lots of reasons to write gay characters into your stories.

1: Challenge yourself. It's very easy to write about people who are a lot like you. But "easy" and "good" are not always one and the same when it comes to writing. Get yourself out of your comfort zone, stretch those writing muscles in new ways.

2: It means a lot to us. One thing that fiction can do for people is give them an escape, a place they can go to feel less alone. For a lot of gay people, being able to see themselves reflected in their media is a big boost to the self esteem, especially for those who are in the closet.

3: The world needs more gay characters. I am constantly trying to find fiction that is both interesting to me, and includes gay people. You'd be surprised how hard this is. I find books that include gay characters, but often they are boring to me. There isn't a lot of variety in the current selection of gay fiction. The more people who write it, the more different stories get told.

4: Profit. The result of #2 and #3, gay people are desperate for stories they can relate to, and they don't have a lot to chose from. Often, we are so desperate for depictions of ourselves that we pounce on anything remotely gay. Writing for the sake of money is rarely good. But I understand that people do write for money, and some of them still manage to be good at it. If this is your goal, consider writing some gay characters.

5: Art reflects life. The world is not a place without gay people, so why should your stories be? Add them in because it's realistic for them to be there.

Any time you put on the mouthpiece of somebody that you're not, theres a professional responsibility to get it right.

-Jodi Picoult

"Gay Characters" vs. "Characters Who Just Happen to Be Gay"

A distinction.

Consider the following paragraphs of fiction:

Scenario 1: Bert stood outside his commanding officer's door, hand hovering over it, unclear as to whether he should knock or not. He loved military life, up until his platoon mates had found the picture in his pack. The picture of Bert and Mike, and their daughter on vacation. Now he woke up every day to constant teasing, the words "fudgepacker" written on his forehead in permanent marker. Gays were allowed in Star Fleet, but very few wanted to be in it, and Bert was starting to see why...

Scenario 2: Bert stood on the cliff face, his breath stuck in his throat. Stepping out into a blitz of raygun fire he could do. Heights, not so much. He remembered going to the gym with his boyfriend and their daughter, and Mike had wanted to go on the rock climbing wall. Even fifty feet up, Bert had started to feel dizzy. Now, almost a mile up a cliff face with some prototype safety gear, there were no words to describe his fear...

So, can you see the difference? In scenario 1, Bert is a Gay Character. The conflict of the story revolves around him being gay. If Bert wasn't gay, there would be no story, or a much different one. In scenario 2, Bert is still gay, but he has a few other things on his mind. The plot doesn't revolve around Bert's gayness any more than a straight sci-fi militaryman's story would revolve around his straightness.

There's nothing wrong with either one. They both have their place, and different people enjoy different types of stories. But scenario 2 shows that you don't have to hollow out a gay little hole in your story to make room for gay characters. Characters can be gay without getting in the way of the story you want to write, and unless a character's straightness is pivotal to the plot, you can actually make any character gay.

You don't have to make a big deal out of it, either. In scenario 2, Bert didn't have a big coming out to get us to know he was gay. In fact, the word "gay" wasn't even used. It was just an offhand detail about Bert's life back at home, that gave relevance to his current situation. And that little offhand detail is going to mean a lot to any gay readers.

TV Tropes - an excellent resource
TV Tropes - an excellent resource

Avoiding cliches.

So, now you know that you can have gay characters in your story. But how to actually write them? What makes a gay character gay?

At it's most basic level, the only difference is that gay characters are interested in the same sex. There is no universal gay experience. For some, it's a nonissue, and for others, it's a major part of their identities.

In this day and age, Gay is a culture. Not every gay person is part of it, the same way not every black person likes R&B, and not every woman likes makeup. But some black people do like R&B, and some women do like makeup, and yes, some gays really do love techno music and interior design.

It's always good to be aware of stereotypes, cliches, and overused tropes, no matter what you're writing, and that goes double for writing minorities. Straight people have a huge pool of stories about straight people to choose from. If they find a story they don't like, they toss it and find a new one. But when you're in a minority, with not a lot of people writing about you, you don't have a lot to choose from if you want to read about people like you. And seeing the same old tired storylines is frustrating.

While thousands of years of human storytelling has made it pretty hard not to fall into at least a couple cliches in any story, you can avoid the big ones. Killer bisexuals, pregnant lesbians, predatory gay men. These, among other tropes, have been done to death. Doing them again frustrates readers, and makes you look like a lazy writer.

How do you avoid falling into these tired storylines? Some basic research. You don't have to put in gel in your hair and go incognito to the local gay club, living amongst the gays for weeks, taking notes all Jane-Goodall-style. Talk to gay people!

Don't know any? The internet is full of them.

Be respectful when you ask your questions, even if the person you ask gets snippy. For a lot of gay people, they get asked the same questions over and over and over again. Even though this is the first time you are asking these questions, it's most likely not the first time this gay person has heard them. If they don't want to talk about it, find someone else.

Can't find any gays, even on the internet?

There is a place to ask me questions below. I will endeavor to help you write better gays.

Avoid at All Costs

A short list of overused plots

Pregnant Lesbians. For some reason, people who write lesbians think they're being incredibly original by having a story about a lesbian couple trying to get pregnant. This has been done exactly 2,405,305 times before. It creates a scenario where, despite not having relationships with men, the lesbians still need men desperately.

Evil gays. Somehow, people find it very easy to write gay villains (or more often, bisexual villains). "But... but... villains are more fun to write, and I wanted my gay character to be fun." Well, if they aren't balanced by some good gay characters, then all you have are a bunch of evil gays.

Slutty gay men / slutty bisexuals. Gay men, and bisexuals of both genders, are often portrayed as unable to commit, promiscuous, and cold-hearted. Particularly with bisexual people, there is a mistaken idea that they cannot make up their minds, and constantly switch back and forth between men and women, and will try to sleep with anything that moves.

The U-Haul. Lesbians have the opposite problem. We're shown as so commitment hungry, that we're lifelong partners after one date. This is crazy behavior.

Group 'em together. I have one character who is a lesbian. I have another character who is a lesbian. They're, like, made for each other, right? Wrong. You can have gay people who know each other and have zero romantic interest in each other.

Closeted homophobe. "I'm mean because deep down, I'm just like you." Yes, this happens, and it is sad and dramatic. But this story has been told too many times. Find another way to create drama in your characters' lives.

"I wasn't really gay!" Also known as "oh, is it sweeps again already?" this mostly applies to things like television and serial stories. A character who showed no same-sex inclinations previously will experiment with someone of the same sex, but either has no intentions of actually pursuing a gay relationship, or ultimately decides to stick with the opposite sex. That isn't to say you can't have characters who are questioning their sexuality, but try not to make it glaringly obvious that Lisa only slept with Mary because you were afraid of losing readers' interest.

Appealing to the opposite sex. Using lesbians to get straight male readers, or gay men to get straight female readers, is really annoying, and perhaps the most overused gay cliché of them all. Many straight women love stories about lesbians, and straight men are perfectly fine reading about gay men.

Dead gays. I spoke too soon. This is the most annoying and overused gay cliché of them all. Gays end up being redshirts, created to die for the sake of the straight characters. Don't create a gay character just to die.

Tokens

Good for the carnivale, bad for your stories.

Some writers are afraid that if they only have one gay character, that character will feel like a token character, made gay just to say "Hey! Look at me! I wrote a gay person!" So if you have one, do you have to go full-blown L-Word on your story?

No. Write as many gay characters as you like.

The trick to avoiding characters coming off like tokens is how you handle them. Do they get their own storylines? Do they seem like they belong in the story? Do they have characteristics outside of stereotypes? Hopefully you can answer "yes" to these questions.

Romance: How Much is Too Much / Not Enough?

Season to taste

I receive a lot of feedback on my own work, and I read reviews of other works with gay characters. There are two big and conflicting complaints:

"Too much sex. Gay people have lives outside the bedroom, you know."

"Not enough sex. Gay people have sex lives, too."

While it's easy to write this off as "Gay people have no idea what they really want," there is a bit of legitimacy to both arguments. There needs to be a balance between promiscuous player and celibate, and a lot of writers have a hard time finding this balance.

A good rule of thumb: Let the gay characters do it exactly the same amount as the straight characters. Split it along character significance. If a straight main character has X amount of romance, then so should a gay main character. If a secondary straight character has Y amount of romance, then a secondary gay character should have Y amount of sex.

So if your story has no one having any romance of any kind, then don't feel you have to give your gay characters love scenes. If your story is just one big orgy, then your gay characters should be getting just as much as their straight cohorts.

Do I have to give my gay characters a girlfriend/boyfriend?

Not if you don't want to, and again, refer to the "as often as straight characters" rule of thumb. Having a story with all the straight people in happy couples, and the gay person alone, is a bit unfair, and readers will get frustrated.

I want to include gay romance. So how do I write it anyway?

Honestly, depending on how erotic you make it, it's more or less the same as heterosexual romance. The gender dynamics are a bit different. Who holds the door open? Who buys who flowers? There are fewer rules when it comes to gay relationships. Consider this an opportunity for literary freedom.

I don't want to get into sex with this, because I'm hoping to keep this a G-rated lens, so as far as how gay people actually do it, well, you're on the internet. I'm sure you will figure it out. The internet is full of really kinky stuff. Some gay people are kinky, while others are very vanilla. Keep that in mind.

What about butch/femme dynamics? Someone is always "the man" and the other is "the woman", right?

Wrong. Very wrong. While many gay couples do enjoy a butch/femme setup in their relationship, and follow a lot of the same gender guidelines that straight couples do, many other couples are femme/femme, butch/butch, or I-hate-gender-roles/I-hate-gender-roles. Have a lesbian couple with two femmes? They both buy each other flowers. Have a lesbian couple with two butches? They hate flowers and buy each other a nice shirt.

The Rule of Thumb

Treat the gays like the straights. If a straight person gets something good, so does a gay person. If a gay person gets something bad, so does a straight person.

The Saint vs. The Devil

Stay away from extremes.

So, you can't make them evil, promiscuous, etc. Does that mean they have to have no flaws whatsoever?

 

Of course not. You don't want them to be completely evil, but completely good isn't good writing, either.

 

Good and evil lie on a spectrum. It's not black and white. Characters can have flaws without being evil.

 

The gay man could be really cheap and stingy. The lesbian could be quick to carry an irrational grudge. The bisexual could like Linkin Park. All of these are flaws, but not "You're going to the special Hell" flaws.

Gay characters in children's/ young adult fiction

"There's nothing wrong with gay people, but kids shouldn't know about it."

You can have gay characters in stories for younger children. There is nothing inherently "adult" about gay people. They are no more about sex than straight people are. A gay person simply existing in a story is no cause for alarm.

If you feel you must explain gay people to your younger readers, focus on the love aspect of it, rather than the sex aspect. Mike fell in love with John. Alice fell in love with Christy. Kids are obviously aware that love exists in the world. They see men and women together, and nobody has to go over the birds and the bees with them. So you don't have to go over the "bees and the bees".

Fixing It

"I've been unknowingly writing horrible gay characters for years! Halp!"

So, you've written a story about a slutty bisexual pregnant serial killer? Well, let's go over some ways to turn that around.

Bring back the balance. So you have a gay character with a bunch of negative characteristics. You can make things better by having a bunch of straight people with the same negative characteristics, showing that it's not just gay people who act that way. Or you can have a bunch of gay people who don't have those negative characteristics. The second choice is the better one.

Mend their ways. Who says characters can't change their minds? If characters don't change at all, then you're writing poorly, gay or straight. So who's to say one of those changes can't be towards a positive, less cliché direction?

Write them out. Try again later. So maybe you've come to realize that there's nothing you can do to make the character better. It might be time for that character to make their grand exit. (Please, don't kill them off, if you haven't already.) Then you can either introduce a new gay character in this story, or write a new story.

One Final Thing to Keep in Mind

The gay community is notoriously picky about how people write about them. And because the people within the gay community are so diverse, you will always have some people who think you're doing an awful job writing about them.

I cannot speak for the entire gay community when I say this, but as far as I am concerned, as long as you write with the best intentions, and truly seek to educate yourself and try writing gay characters well, then you're doing alright. Take constructive criticism into account, but ultimately know that you will never be able to please everyone (in any genre).

Yoda says "Do or do not. There is no try." That doesn't apply here. You should always try.

FAQ

Answers to some frequently asked questions.

More will be added as time goes on/ you write questions that compell me.

 

Why don't you include trans people in this lens?

Because trans is not a sexuality. You can be trans and gay, trans and straight, trans and bi. Trans people have some similar issues, but enough differences to warrant Writing Trans Characters be its own lens.

There is also the fact that since I can't even speak for the whole community I am part of, it's even harder to speak for a community I am not part of.

When I do a similar lens for Writing Trans Characters, I will have some guest writers helping me along. But it's not something I can put together myself.

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How important is it to showcase someone's sexuality (make a big deal out of it)?

Remember the scenarios above, with the "gay character" vs the "character who just happened to be gay"? What it's there to show is, either way works. Some characters make constant mention of their alternate sexuality, while for others, it's a non-issue.

Some gay readers will like that you address the character's sexuality, and think that not talking about it would be an attempt to cover it up. Other gay readers will like that you don't address it, giving a sense of "this person is normal, and there's more to them than sexuality".

It's up to your taste to write it, and your readers' tastes to read it. There is no set quota for how often you need to mention your character is OMGgay.

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You have a whole bunch of things in the "Avoid at all costs" section. I should avoid all of those things? All of them?

If you want to write something original, yes. There are a hundred gay character cliches, but I listed the ones that I did because they are either the most over used, the most harmful, or both.

You might look at one of these and think, "Oh, but I bet I can use one of those in a different way that's never been done before!" Believe me, it's been done before.

I only listed nine cliches. There are more than nine things you can do with a gay person's character. If the only things you associate gay people with are pregnant, slutty, evil, dead, etc., then you might find your "Friend of the Gays" card getting revoked.

Well then, ask me. As long as you're not trolling, I will do my best to answer legitimate questions about gays in fiction.

For comments, see below. This section is mainly for asking questions.

Like it? Think it could be better? Tell me about it!

Can't find ANY gays?

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    • profile image

      sandeep 3 months ago

      Two gays are in love, did they hate their partner if they found, they are bisexual??

      Did gay men hates lesbians??

    • profile image

      Irjdmifcijejfc 4 months ago

      Cool.

    • profile image

      Srednivashtar 5 months ago

      I realise this is a very old article, so you may not get this message at all, but I thought it was worth a try.

      I am currently writing a fantasy story. In my story there is a "Goddess of Love" and she is gay (there's no reason why the entity who represents love can't have their own sexuality while, at the same time, supporting all romance regardless of sexual/romantic preferences).

      I am running into trouble writing the origin story of this goddess. The idea I had in mind, VERY briefly, was that there was once a princess who fell in love with a (female) unicorn. At some point, someone tries to kill the princess by shooting her with an arrow. The unicorn leaps up to save the princess from the arrow. The arrow ends up going through the unicorn and still piercing the princess but, instead of dying, the unicorn and the princess magically fuse together and ascend into divinity as the Goddess of Love.

      Is this too close to the "dead gays" trope?

    • profile image

      Sam 6 months ago

      How can I balance Christian ideals while having gay characters and showing respect to both sides of the spectrum?

      I'm writing a YA epic fantasy and I want to encapsulate the spectrum of human experience and in order to do that properly I feel I should portray all types of people. Any suggestions on the balance between religion and homosexuality?

    • profile image

      Elizabeth 6 months ago

      Hi,

      I actually do have a lesbian character who gets pregnant, even though she doesn't want offspring of her own and the idea of have living beings moving around inside her is disturbing. However, she has to bite the bullet for the sake of her species (she's a werewolf, and the source of magickal power needs to be reborn or they can no longer shapeshift,and due to circumstance she's the only one who could). At no time does she think "oh my I really glad I did have children. I'm a changed woman and now I also like dick." Instead, she continues to not want more. She doesn't hate children/pups at all, she loves her little siblings and nieces and nephews, she just hates being the actual mother of them. She's not masculine except in that she likes fighting and hunting, and otherwise would be considered more femme than butch.

      So that doesn't fall into any stereotypes, right?

    • profile image

      HarleeWriter122 6 months ago

      Thank you so much, I'm currently writing a book, and i kind of want one of the characters to be a non-straight person, but I wanted to make sure that it wouldn't take away from the appeal of the book. soooo...... THANKS

    • profile image

      RAStrain 8 months ago

      Wonderful article. I have thought about many of these things quite a bit. I am writing a high fantasy novel in which there are several fictional nations, each with their own culture. In some, being non-straight is a huge issue, in others, not an issue at all. I have characters of many different sexualities throughout the cast. The one character I am concerned about writing sensitively is a gay man who happens to live in an area where he could face huge consequences for his sexuality if anyone found out about it. So in his personal story, though there are plenty of other events going on that he is part of, being gay is a big source of conflict for him (as in, it is seen a sinful in their religion, etc) and something he thinks about frequently. I don't want my readers to see him as a GAY CHARACTER as opposed to a character who happens to be gay. In your opinion, is it insensitive to write a character whose sexuality plays a role of conflict in their lives? This happens in our world, of course, but I do not want to to appear to my readers to be someone who thinks that this is the only way the sexuality of a non-straight person can be perceived. I have several other characters who are non-straight who live in different areas and therefore do not have these issues. I myself identify as genderqueer, so being sensitive and inclusive is very important to me. Thoughts?

    • profile image

      Nathan 8 months ago

      Hi! I'm just a regular non-gay person here who is interested in writing a gay character. I just read your article, and its really insightful, although I didn't know there were stereotypes for gay people.

      I wanted to ask "Should there be a specific ratio of gay:non-gay characters we should not cross?"

    • profile image

      SpiritedAwayDestiny 9 months ago

      This was helpful but I still have a question. I'm writing an mpreg fanfic where the focus is on a gay couple. I get a lot of feedback saying that while I obviously didn't mean it, some scenes sound transphobic or homophobic. This horrifies me because I love the LGBTQA community and don't want to offend them with badly-worded scenes. Anyway, the biggest issue is how I write about their bodies and how Guy A was impregnated by Guy B. At one look at the characters, you know that both are slim and muscular, but I want to emphasize that Guy A is more (please no offense here!!) "womanly", meaning that he's got a certain dark grace, he's shorter, he carries himself with style, and he's got hips between a man's "solid" ones and a woman's "round". I usually say "hips like a girl" or "slightly feminine" to get this across. He's also got certain attributes that allow him to bear children but not change his gender identity from male. Even with all this, I still (am pretty sure that I) make it clear that he's as much of a man as Guy B, who's broad-shouldered and tall. I also got a lot of smack for a line that said "Do you want to play the girl?", in context meaning that Guy B was asking A if he wanted to top or bottom. A lot of people told me that this is "straightening" the relationship and saying that all gay people should be straight, which horrified me (I hate that that phrase has that duel meaning!). A line reading "We'll make you a girl so we can really be mates" (I see how insensitive that is now) in context is an AU where A and B are mermen and are discussing what they could do to improve their mating. B wondered if they could be human to do it and have real sex and A replied with the above line, based off the definition of sex and mates where the boy goes in the girl yadda yadda yadda (trying to keep it G). I get now that it came across as transphobic and homophobic and I changed it so a detail later mentioned is brought up: he says to make A a girl so they can have kids, and that their being mermen makes it impossible to do anything beyond what amounts to human foreplay. I just really want to get rid of these mistakes, improve my writing, and stop offending people I should be close to. I really want to learn the right way to do an mpreg without people telling me that I'm "womanizing" Guy A and putting a straight feel on the relationship.

    • profile image

      Emily Westmore 9 months ago

      Did this guy seriously insult Linkin Park in this and no one is commenting it? BTW, I'm writing a TV show and I'm just wondering is there such this as too many LGBT characters. Like, there is 3 lesbian heroines, 2 bi villains, 2 gay minor character and a genderfluid hero.

    • profile image

      TwilightSong 10 months ago

      Thanks but no thanks. I'd rather not have LGB characters , well maybe Bisexual characters but definitely no LG characters in mybooks. And it's not about homophobia, it's because I don't connect well with LG pairings. So no way,even if it's for the sake of reflecting real life, I wouldn't write them in.

    • Grainne McEntee profile image

      Grainne McEntee 14 months ago

      Superb piece. Thanks for writing and sharing. I only joined the fanfiction bandwagon late last year and it's been a real learning curve writing gay characters! The only thing to do is keep writing with the mindset to improve. Articles like these really do help that process.

    • profile image

      Tess 2 years ago

      My new favorite gay character, not in literature, but in Cinema, is Gregory Valentine from FOX's new series Backstrom. There's only one episode so far and yet they had me fall in love with him. He's hilarious and fashionable and a punk rocker, which is something slightly new. The actor, Thomas Dekker, is gay as well and he is not the stereotypical type of gay man. He's also a thief, ex-drug dealer and ex-prostitute, and he is a fence as well as an "underground information getter." He's great. The writers weren't planning on putting him in every episode but then they filmed episode one and he did such a fantastic job and was such an exquisite and great character that they vowed to have him in every episode! Hooray! Now, I'm not for the gay movement, but I have no problem with the people. Not anti-gay, just pro-family (despite gay families becoming more common.) Some of the best and most unique people and characters identify as gay or bi (lesbians seem to come up less often.)

      Can't wait for more Valentine! You should check it out.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hey-

      I am a bisexual female trying to write a gay male character trying to deal with his (non-reciprocated) feelings for another (bisexual) male character. See, I can write from the other guy's perspective, because I know how I feel about people I have no romantic interest in even if I am attracted to them. The issue I'm having is less of a "having trouble with the male perspective" thing, but more of a "having trouble writing a character who is attracted to one gender over another" thing. My gay, lesbian and straight friends have all basically answered the question with a "I'm just not attracted to the opposite/same gender," and my bi friend is attracted to only girls in BOTH a physical and romantic way. I honestly don't understand distinguishing between genders other than for purposes of identification, and have been called a bold-faced liar for admitting it. Can anyone tell me how they view people they are not attracted to in any sense without just saying "not" this or "not" that?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Leaving sexuality up to the reader's interpretation is always extremely frustrating. Do you know how JK Rolwing said that Dumbledore is gay? Well, people who have been saying that years before she had him "come out" were ridiculed and put down for 'ruining' his character. So while I don't know about cliché, but it it is frustrating.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have a gay character in my story and a bisexual character in my story. The former is in denial, and dies still in denial (in an unrelated incident), and it's never made explicit that he's gay. (So, even though I as the writer know he's gay, it's really up to the reader's interpretation whether they're gay.) The latter isn't in denial, but is closeted, having chosen to publicly identify as straight, with only another one of the main characters aware of their bisexuality. (Both of these characters are teens.) Are these inherently problematic, or cliched?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Well, it's not like there's any rules to what you write in this situation. If you feel like making these characters lesbians, then go for it. It's your story, so write it how you want it. And trust, you're not the only writer out there who hasn't had true love but likes writing romance. Heck, I think that's the situation with MOST writers. Making them the lead characters depends majorly on the kind of story you want to write and how you want it to be remembered by people. Remember, don't write to please everybody; it's okay to have a story thing that appeals to a specific audience. Just write for the fun of it and stop questioning your reasons and goals so much. Good luck! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Well, to introduce a character's bisexuality the easy way, you could just have them say it, or have someone ask them about their interests. Maybe you can give a character exes of different genders to show this as well, or if your storyline focuses on romance, this bisexual individual could have a central ex that is the opposite gender of the person the character is currently interested in. At least, those are the quick ways to do it. Good luck!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am a person of confused romantic identity (all I really know is that I'm asexual) and personally, I have trouble writing straight characters. I've never actually shared any of my writings before, but literally every story so far focuses on a gay/lesbian couple. I've had straight side characters, of course (you can't just make everyone gay), but I find it a bit difficult to make interesting straight relationships. I understand that there are plenty of places to get advice for writing straight couples, but specifically want to know how another not so straight person can portray them without them being lame side characters???

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @eadoin-grim: Sounds like it would be a sad but unfortunately realistic story. A lot of non-straight people find themselves as the targets of bullies in real life. Usually, non-straight people stay in the closet for this, though that can often make them feel much more alone. So yeah, feel free to write as you please, as long as you draw it out instead of her committing suicide over someone calling her gross. Good luck, even though your plot sounds like something I would cry over... :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am having trouble with trying to intergrade a bisexual person into my story. How would you make the readers aware that a character is bi without makng that character look like they had trouble with one gender and just switch to the other? Also would it be smart to start out a series with the main character that's bisexual to have some bi encounters before putting that character with a certain gender in a relationship and then at somepoint later on move to the next gender?But with a gradual transition in between.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      What bothers me is the binarism in this -- "both" genders. Gender is not a binary, there are people who identify as a blend or third gender or no gender who also ID as queer. "gay" adds to monosexism (erasure of polysexual orientations -- bisexual is not the only one).

      other than that, it's a good guide.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hey, I'm writing a story just for expression...I'm a straight girl, but am curious about lesbians...thinking about two characters and I want them to get together to show love and getting each other through the good and bad times of their friendship and relationship and not for pornographic purposes. Can I write about their love even though I'm straight and have never had true love before? Is it a good idea to make them lesbians or keep them straight? Should I make them lead characters if they are lesbians, even though I'm straight?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I'm writing a story with three gay characters and a pans, rest of cast straight. Two of my gays and my pans are protagonists, but my other gay is evil. He's a rich landlord and very controlling over the people of his land, He treats them badly and couldn't care less about most people. Everyone has to take everything up with him before doing anything, unless they want to get in trouble. It's never stated he's gay. He is going out with another of my gays and that's never stated, but implied. His boyfriend ends up having to kill him so that he doesn't kill his older brother. I'm scared of stereotyping because this particular villain is very fashionable. Is having a very fashionable gay okay?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My antagonist is gay and I'm pretty worried that that'll upset some, especially since he ends up being less than alive towards the end (the whole thing's rather ambiguous and I'm not sure if he'll be in later books, so he could go either way). The fact that he's gay has very little bearing on the plot and is really just part of his character, he's not evilâ just on the opposing side of a warâ and he is only killed because of the way he inadvertently pushed another character into a depression. His relationship with his boyfriend is the healthiest in the story, and is given more 'screen-time' then any other, since there is very little romance in the book, especially regarding the protagonists. So, is it possible for this character to be a 'good' gay character? At all?

      I'd really love some advice on this :)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have a main character who happens to be gay. This character dies, not in any way connected to his sexuality or in order to protect a straight character. In fact, I knew he was going to die before I knew he was gay. I'm bisexual myself, and I certainly don't want to offend, but the character's death is absolutely vital to the plot. Not sure if that fits the cliché or if I'm handling it well.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Daphne I saw your post last week and I was curious so I looked for this book, I found it on www.amazon.com I just finish reading it, GREAT BOOK!! The Author name is Joei Chancellor. I don't usually read the urban books either I must add. I'm curious as well what did you think about the way the characters were written?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I read a book called TOMBOY from butch 2 bitch sorry I forgot the authors name. What did you think about the way those gay characters were written?

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      rosalarian 5 years ago

      @eadoin-grim: It's not unlikely; it's a common thing among real-life LGBT people. Is it a good idea? Well, it's an idea that's been done many, many, many times before. That's not to say it can't ever be done well again, but it has become one of the main narratives of LGBT characters. My advice would be that if you're going to do it, to find some way to make it Not Another Suicidal Gay Teen Story. Find an angle that makes the story unique. What else is the character besides a lesbian? One of the things that makes the repetition of these tropes extra frustrating is that the characters are usually white, middle class, Judeo-Christian background etc. people, and there are a lot of non-white, poor, minority religious etc. LGBT people whose perspectives are lost. Which means even more research into various cultures, but we writers do love our research, eh?

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      eadoin-grim 5 years ago

      I am a straight writer and I am thinking of making the main character in my novelle lesbian. My novelle is leading up to the siad characters suicide so I was thinking her being lesbian and getting tormented about it at her, very conservative, school could be another good reason for her to think that death is a better option. Is this a good idea? Or is it unlikely? :(

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am really interested to know if there are any books for screenwriting gay characters? I know of âThe heroineâs journayâ by M. Murdock any many more books on writing woman characters, but I know of no book helping to write a gay characters. Are there any?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am really interested to know if there are any books for screenwriting gay characters? I know of âThe heroineâs journayâ by M. Murdock any many more books on writing woman characters, but I know of no book helping to write a gay characters. Are there any?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      If my main character was gay and was portrayed in a good way, would it be ok if I had one of the antagonists being an evil gay guy. Who would cause conflict to the main character throughout the book? My book has a mixture of gay and straight, good and bad characters, so i thought having one of the main antagonists who was gay would add more to my plot. The antagonist being gay wouldn't be his whole character, it would just come up here and there among all the other bad things he does. Also there are more conflicts beyond the gay antagonist, he is just one conflict to overcome among many. This article really opened my eyes to what I should and shouldn't write about, so thanks for writing it :)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Would it be okay to have both gay male and lesbian characters in the same story?

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      JimDickens 5 years ago

      Thank you for trying to help us understand the way to approach non-straight characters. I have trouble understanding their viewpoints as much as I had trouble understanding the viewpoints of the heroine in the Twilight books. I need to try to understand people/characters better than I currently do.

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      JimDickens 5 years ago

      Thank you for trying to help us understand the way to approach non-straight characters. I have trouble understanding their viewpoints as much as I had trouble understanding the viewpoints of the heroine in the Twilight books. I need to try to understand people/characters better than I currently do.

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      rosalarian 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I think Hellus is on the right track. Minorities are so often reduced to how they are *different* from the majorities, focusing on one facet, rather than on them as a whole person. Yes, my sexuality and my gender are part of who I am, but they are not all of who I am. Most of the conflict in my life doesn't arise from being gay. Yes, sometimes being gay might influence it, but it isn't the sole driving factor of my life.

      It is often frustrating because many writers see straight, white, male, cis, etc. as the default, and the only reason to stray from that type of character is when you have a role that specifically requires a minority. Hence why female characters are so often reduced to being wives, mothers, pregnant, raped, prostitutes, etc. When women's lives are so much more than those things.

      To not focus solely on sexuality isn't to dismiss it, or portray all the varieties as exactly the same. I find stories that emphasize a character's basic humanity first to be better equipped to create fully fleshed out, three dimensional minority characters that rise further above stereotypes than those that see a gay person as a gay person first and human second.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @Hellus: A person's sexuality/gender/race/etc is just as important a part of their individuality and humanity as, say, their career goals. Making "characters who are people, first, and gay second," implies that sexuality is not a part of what makes a person an individual. Using the "you don't emphasize a straight character's straightness" argument is a denial of the fact that the straight lens is the dominant and "default" viewpoint from which a work is read. Treating your characters as individuals involves DEALING WITH the issues and perspectives that come with being the person that they are racially, sexually and otherwise. If someone were to tell me that my gender, race, and sexuality is merely an afterthought to my identity rather than some of the equally important composites that make up my whole I would take that as a willful dismissal of my experiences and viewpoints. I am straight, fairly young and able-bodied, and these things are not things that are frequently brought to my attention, as I am in those privileged groups. But I am a woman, and willfully or not, I am frequently made conscious of the fact that _I am a woman_ in places and situations where a man would not think twice. Please don't make the mistake of thinking that a POC would think about their race the same way that a white person would, or that a gay person would think about their sexuality in the same way a straight person would. A symptom of privilege is not being aware that others do not come from the same place that you do. I am generalizing, of course, but when you are in that "other" category it is a lot less easy to just ignore those pesky traits like race, gender, and sexuality in favor of whatever else it is that supposedly makes up an "individual".

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      you should put in Will Grayson Will Grayson on your list of good novels about homosexuality. it's co-written by John Green and David Leviathan. ;)

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      Hellus 5 years ago

      Being a straight writer, myself, and in the midst of creating some gay characters for both my fantasy series and a screenplay, I want to strive for characters who are people, first, and gay second. They happen to be gay, but I have to treat them as people with feelings, attitudes, etc. first. I want to be able to give them free reign to tell their stories and avoid putting them into boxes. For myself, one thing I try to do is put myself in a character's sight and see where that character goes. I think the less I emphasize the gay part and the more I deal with the humanity or (otherworldliness of my fantasy characters), the more they'll be appealing and less closed-off from the rest of the story. It's like emphasizing a straight person for being straight, rather than emphasizing that character's humanity. I think the same goes for any trans character, only one can step inside a trans character and perhaps deal with the emotional issues of conflict that really are at the heart of that individual's self. This is a WONDERFUL and MUCH-NEEDED lens! It's much like writing characters of racial difference. We're all human. We have to take each character as a human, first, and use sexual, racial, etc. differences as a means of addition to the character's identity and NOT as the primary focus of that character. My first rule of thumb for myself is to treat my characters as individuals. Whatever issues, quirks, gender or racial assignments, etc. are all mixed up in the character's self. If I get the character right from inside, from that individual's perspective, then everything else should fall into place without having to force anything. Thank you so much for such a great lens!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is a fantastic lens. I'm so glad I found it. As a book reviewer of LGBT related books, I've run across some great stuff and some really bad stuff. Here, you've put into words a lot of things that I think when I read works of fiction about gay characters and works that include characters that happen to be gay.

      I too find that it's often the straight writers who strain to write gay characters well. You're right, they seem to want to create a little hole to slot the gay character into. I've done some preliminary reviews for a few not yet published writers, some of whom really struggled for an authentic feel. From now on, I'm going to point them in your direction and to this lens.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hi name is Jason and I wrote a story of finding his true sexulaity. I was woundering on how to get it out there for everyone to see it and read it. First time writer. Can you help me by pointing me in the right direction. Than ks Jason. I like what I read here.

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      TIRMassageStone1 6 years ago

      Interesting topic

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you, Rosalarian! I've been trying to write two gay characters in my fiction for awhile, but something always felt off to me--having the OMGay Scenario right next to Character Who Just Happens to Be Gay Scenario really cleared it up for me where I was doing wrong. The rest of the post helped to put it in ways I could understand! I'm going to be referring back to this a lot!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Another place to look for gay or lesbian stories is on fictionpress.com. On there, gay and lesbian stories are called slash (this can either be guy/guy or girl/girl) or femmeslash (always girl/girl).

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I like this very much. I have a question. I'm writing this romantic fiction between two women, but I don't know how to write their first kiss. Should they they tell for they feel about each other at first? Should it just sorta happen? They've been in love for a while, but are both too nervous of losing their friendship, to make any move. I hope you can help me :)

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      im an amateur writer, i mostly do it for fun, and have never really finished anything i started. well im working on a story, and i was thinking about the kind of people i want my character surrounded by, and i thought, hey, why don't i make one of her best friends gay? I want him to be a witty character who puts some light in her hell of a life etc. anyway i haven't started writing him, and i was afraid to even try, but this article is so helpful. I've also considered asking a couple of my gay friends to proofread anything i do write and give me feedback. Thanks for this article it helps a lot!! :)

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      Shark_Magus 6 years ago

      This is useful info for anyone wanting to try their hand at writing a story with LGBT characters. I myself am an amateur writer and like many others, afraid to even attempt to write a lgbt character, even as a transgender pansexual. Even in the LGBT community, everyone disagrees with how to represent the acronym as a whole

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      selishXIII 6 years ago

      Hi Rosalarian I really liked your article and such it was helpful and interesting, but i was hoping that you could help me with a few charcters in a book and that I'm writing because i feel your opinion and any advice would be good for my book, and if your willing could you please email me at selish_native13@yahoo.com and then i'll give you details and so about it.

      good job on the article by the way:)

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I really enjoyed your article. Very informative. Thanks for sharing this. Funny, I think every minority goes through this. As an Ojibway, in movies they have us on vision quests or talking to nature, when we are in fact just people like everyone else.

    • rosalarian profile image
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      rosalarian 6 years ago

      @anonymous: There's no set standard for how any two people in a relationship treat each other in private. Figure out who your characters are, what their personalities and upbringings are. Maybe they're tough in public but soften up in private, or maybe they're still tough in private. Even straight manly men have different ways they interact with their women in private.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hi

      It's NaNo looming and I have story brewing... and discovered that two of my characters are gay. I'm proud to note that I managed to avoid ALL of your cliches (yay me), but still... I'm staring at those two with a "Damn you! I have no idea how to write you!" growl...my problem is this:

      I observed that when men interact with each other they tend to be more gruff â no hugs, just a friendly slap on the shoulder. Theyâre not as outspoken or demonstrative about their feelings as women. But these are straight men who may fear to appear effeminate, so if they weren't in the grip of a cultural stereotype, they'd perhaps interact differently. (Which means that I have no idea how men would behave "naturally"... they probably don't know themselves)

      Now, the gay men in my story are not women in menâs bodies (something that ticks me off in slash) and they are warriors aka âmanly menâ *g*. So would they behave as stereotypically male as straight men? Iâm wondering how emotional (and physicl) theyâd be with each other in private. They sure wonât start to recite poetry or gush about their feelings but I canât see them play-wrestle or do drinking (or pissing) contests either (exaggerating here, but you get my point). I feel I canât just model them after how a man in a straight rel would treat his woman (or vice versa), since I havenât cast either of them in the role of âwifeâ. Theyâre both guys. And I have no idea how different the dynamics really are. Any help on this?

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      youngward 7 years ago

      wow...an amazing topic, amazing info.

      Gay Rings

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      Susanna Duffy 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      What an excellent resource! No writer should be without this extremely useful (and incredibly readable) guide to writing gay characters. Brilliant! Blessed by an angel today

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I just came across this page by accident (or maybe not), reading something entirely different and with no forethought of this kind of research ... but there was a link and it looked interesting ... and I think I've realized that one of my characters is gay. I hadn't overly thought about her orientation (I'm at early stages), so I guess she just hadn't told me this part about herself yet. It now seems obvious. Thanks for contributing to the serendipity.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I am writing a story about a musical christian gay teen qwho is hiding his sexuality from a very bigoted and paranoid family. He is very close to his female cousin and they confide in each other. THe story is mostly focused on the male character but the female has her own storyline as well. How do I have the male come out to his dad without making it cliché? Should the dad find out on his own or should the boy tell his dad? Should I include romance for both leads or not?

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hello,

      Your article was very useful when I was planning a story about a teenage Haitian dancer and her sexual identity. I wanted to ask if I could get your opinion on the piece, as my gay friends are not literary or haven't commented on the possibilities of cliché/falsehood in the story. I also wanted to ask your opinion of E.M. Forster's Maurice, a novel about a homosexual male and his life that was censored during the writer's lifetime.

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      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Another lensmaster suggested I visit this. How well done! I'm a writer--both fiction and non-fiction--but I've never written about a gay character. Not yet, anyway, beyond just alluding to the fact that one of my characters was homosexual. But if I ever do find that one of my more central characters is gay, this article will be most helpful to re-read.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @rosalarian: Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. (:

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Although I resent suggesting that being a Linkin Park fan is a flaw, this was an awesome article and I'm totally going to share it with my writer friends. Thanks for posting it!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: I really enjoyed the detective in kiss kiss bang bang. He was an example of a character who's personality did not revolve around his sexuality, although it did come up a couple of times. I found it interesting how the main character was slightly homophobic and Perry kind of brushed it off and laughed at him for it, which is my ussual reaction when I come across people like that.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: I really enjoyed the detective in kiss kiss bang bang. He was an example of a character who's personality did not revolve around his sexuality, although it did come up a couple of times. I found it interesting how the main character was slightly homophobic and Perry kind of brushed it off and laughed at him for it, which is my ussual reaction when I come across people like that.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Just a few more recommendations on good queer characters:

      - most of Melissa Scott's books have characters who happen to be lesbians/gay in them. _Dreamships_ and _Dreaming Metal_ are two that come to mind. IIRC, the main character in "The Jazz" is bi.

      - Laurie Marks' Elemental Logic books have lesbian, gay, and straight couples as major characters.

      - Joanna Russ. Joanna Russ. Joanna Russ. _The Female Man_, _On Strike Against God_, _The Adventures of Alyx_...

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Bravo! I love this lens. I hope you plan to create more great lenses. I checked out your website as well, you are very creative and talented. (5 stars) thanks!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I'd like to suggest Vernor Vinge's _Marooned In Realtime_ as another "Book with Excellent Gay Characters".

    • rosalarian profile image
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      rosalarian 7 years ago

      @anonymous: The rule of thumb is all about balance. I don't want gay characters as shiny pillars of upstanding morality any more than people want to write them.

      If all of your characters are awful people, including the straight people, then the correlation of gay = bad isn't really there, because everyone is bad.

      What can help is making sure these are "characters who just happen to be gay", and center the conflict and the source of their badness around something other than their sexuality (which it sounds like you're doing anyway). Avoid things like "I am bad because my parents didn't love me because I am gay" kind of stuff. Make sure they have a different reason to be bad.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I have a story in my head and have for a long time involving mainly gay main characters. Having read this, it's occurred to me it could be construed as offensive as most of the characters are really awful people. But it's never even occurred to me that anyone would think they are bad people because they are gay...they are bad people because they are bad people. Is there a way to write such a story and not have it come across as "gay people are evil and must reform"? (the main character is a better person by the end of the story and is still gay. also, equally awful straight characters are present.)

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Haven't seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but Willem Dafoe's gay detective in Boondock Saints should go in the "don't" pile. He is a sadist, a semi-closteted self-hater and homophobe, and portrayed as a sexual deviant. He really shouldn't be anyone's example of a typical gay person. He's more along the lines of the effete villain stereotype. The protagonists of the movie are serial killers, but they do it for God. The detective who wants to stop them is a godless sinner. See what's going on?

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @rosalarian: I write GLBT YA fiction, and since 90+% of books in my genre deal with coming out (definitely needed for kids as they come to terms with their identities), my angle is *genre* fiction, using young characters who happen to be gay.

      I've always believed that, in addition to coming-out stories, writing gay teens as the heroes of historical/contemporary fantasies or just plain historical fiction would serve as important a purpose as those coming-out stories in showing gay kids that they can be as kickass as their straight peers.

      Thanks for the great post! I must confess that, as a straight woman, I shy away from writing coming-out stories as I've never lived through the experience, though I've used allegory in one attempt at writing it. It's just too sensitive of a subject for me to try to risk offending people, know what I mean? I guess, for the most part, I'd rather show my support of the GLBT community by writing gay kids in different adventures and so on.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I haven't read very many books with gay characters in them, but one series, The Deed of Paksenarrion, had a lesbian couple in it and they acted just like any other couple. It was really refreshing to see such a treatment.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Comics with covers like the ones you have posted here could be bought for five cents at gas stations and usually always protrayed the gay person in a negative light. With homophobic (Usually) titles and even more morbid story lines.

      I also agree that you, Megan, have covered all the bases. I belong to a small group consisting of me and my good friend dedicated to creating more gay fantasy scifi stories. If there are any good stories like these out there I sure as hell can't find 'em.

      If you're writing a novel with a gay character, don't actively try to shove their gayness down our throats. (Nur) I mean we'll get it after one line mentioning their gay. Gentle reminders along the way also work fine. Keep in mind that gay romance is like any other romance, don't strain yourself by doing lots of research on how gay romance works. As far as sex goes, I could probably right a book about this. Sexual fluidity is all I can come up with, usually its sex that attracts us to people (Physical features) or can be a benefit in an already good emotional connection. It's hard to describe and I forget where I'm going with this...

      As a lesbian I feel no strong like or dislike towards any protrayal of gay people, unless of course in a negative stereotypical way, but I think no one likes that. With that in mind I hope I see a flourish of gay novels for my entertainment. ChopChop!

      And Megan, keep up the good work. :] I'm a long time fan.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      now this is a movie not a book, but how did you feel about val kilmer's gay detective in kiss kiss bang bang? or the gay detective in the boondocks saints. i've always felt that they were decently portrayed but coming from a straight background, i may not notice any kind of slight that may be there.

    • rosalarian profile image
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      rosalarian 7 years ago

      @anonymous: They're all from the 1950s and 1960s, and they are where the cliches were born.

      Most of them are horrible homophobic bs, but a few were written by actual gay people, and we very good.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      *Long Time Fan of Yu+Me and Lesbian Space Pirates*

      =D Wow. Thanks for the advice.

      =3 The books you have pictures of, look really -old-. >.>

      Like, 1942 old.

      <.<

      Are those supposed to be ones that you recommend, or ones that you're talking about- with the cliches and all?

      =P Cause 'Twilight Girls' looks like it might be just up my alley.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: So now we're up to six cents from people who are not the OP, but I was compelled to chime in on the promiscuity point. It's been done before in all literature, because it's a very real way that people fill that void. If you're writing about people with real human emotions, you're going to have repeating themes. How you approach those themes are what makes a story unique.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Don't forget about the Mercy Thompson series...there is a great gay major character (along with his boyfriend, later on, who is a less major character)...of course, he just happens to be a werewolf, but that's forgivable :D

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: While I'm not the OP I'd was just scrolling and thought I'd add my own 2 cents. While from your summary it doesn't feel stereotypical and sound way interesting to read it has the vague feeling in the back of my head that it's been done. Not the super hero thing but rather the gay main character with mommy/daddy issues who turns to sex as a... balm. And I know writing that just now and reading it out loud makes it sound so bad because you probably have tons to interesting backstory and plot to make it not that...bad(?). That being said I think that thing that will determine if your story is being stereotypical or not comes down to what you do with your character. I hope that was helpful and/or useful input.

      PS. Just a curious writer to another is your story one of the ones where everyone is gay...except for Pete (Or in this case the sister)

    • rosalarian profile image
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      rosalarian 7 years ago

      @anonymous: I much prefer reading stories that don't deal with the coming out, don't have drama around someone's gayness, and treat it, like you said, exactly like a straight character only they date the same sex.

      But I do also see the need for coming out literature as a sort of comfort for people who ARE dealing with those situations. And since most of those books are written by people who have gone through it themselves, I can forgive them.

      Unfortunately, a majority of the LGBT books on the market HAVE the coming out story. I don't want them to go away completely, but I do think they should have more balance with books that don't feature such a tale.

      Some of us read as a way of comfort, finding like-minded people we can relate to who have had the same experiences.

      Some of us read to escape, and don't need constant real-world reminders of the hatred we face when we're just trying to relax and enjoy ourselves.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: If it's not important to the central conflict of the story, leave it out. If it is, put it in.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: So, I'm not the OP, but I just wanted to say that I don't think it's stereotyped at all. His promiscuity comes out of a sense of abandonment/loneliness, a story that would ring true no matter the character's orientation or even gender. I think you're fine.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Hourou Musuko is AMAZING. I second that suggestion!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      This is an absolutely wonderful guide and I am amazed at how you've managed to point out just about everything I think about when it comes to gay literature. Many people need to be aware of all this.

      The only thing I'd add is one more plot device that, as a lesbian who scrounges through the available limited gay literature, I am tired of seeing. That is the coming out story. Yes it is important, and yes it very much helps gays who are going through that time in their life, but as a person who has been out for awhile I really want to read about characters who are at my stage of life. Those who have accepted that they are gay, aren't going to pretend not to be because that would be easier in society, and are basically like straight characters only they date the same sex.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @rosalarian: Indeed! There is a very active LGBT forum on Ravelry. It's actually one of my favorite places on the internet, and definitely my favorite place within Ravelry. Lots of good discussions, lots of general chatter, and lots of fun. (Also, knitting and crochet.)

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thank you very much for this, Megan. I run roleplaying games, which involves a lot of storytelling, characterization and plot. I've been wanting to include gay and bisexual characters in my games for a while now but was worried about doing a disservice. This helps me a lot. PS> I love YU+ME!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @rosalarian: Thanks for your input Megan! I think I have some good ideas to include other characters to balance her out. :)

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I have a question. In a story I've been collaborating on for years with a friend, we have multiple gay characters with varying personalities and levels of involvement in the story. One of our main characters is very promiscuous. I don't think we are stereotyping, because he has gone through quite a bit of emotional fuckery. This being a story about superheroes, he and his twin sister (who is straight) were raised by parents who shunned the possibility of them having powers. Completely ignoring it and leaving both of them desperate for some sort of emotional connection. After a rift between the siblings, Jesse (the gay male) turns to physical relationships as a source of affection. His sister Andrea turns to drugs. He continues his destructive sexual behavior for years, before meeting a man who actually interests him. They end up together, but only after a long courtship where he realizes that sex is not love and is not what he needs. It is a struggle for him, but his partner helps him through it.

      I don't feel as if we are stereotyping, but reading this I was concerned that others may not agree. I don't believe our storyline would be any different if he was straight. I'd like to hear your opinion, though.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Just off the top of my head, I can recommend one book-book and one japanese comic-book I can link you to.

      The book-book is Luna, which follows the story of a girl tryig to deal with the fact that her brother is a trans-female. I found it in my school library a while back, so it's probably not too obscure or hard to get a hold of. The author is Julie Anne Peters.

      The link goes to a comic that actually has several trans characters (around four, I think), most of them in high-school. It's light-hearted and fun, while still being very respectful and realistic. It's called Hourou Musuko, which translates to 'Transient Son'. You can find it here: http://www.deviantart.com/users/outgoing?http://www.onemanga.com/Hourou_Musuko/

      Happy hunting and reading!

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      rosalarian 7 years ago

      @anonymous: A lot of people have this conundrum. They want to write someone reeeeeeeally slutty, and being bisexual makes it easier for them to be so. It's less bisexual = slut, and more slut = bisexual.

      So, like I've said elsewhere, you either have to show a bunch of other bisexuals who aren't sluts, or find a way to make your slutty bisexual not a bisexual.

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      rosalarian 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Ravelry? The knitting site?

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      rosalarian 7 years ago

      @anonymous: There have been some cross dressers (the story I did before YU+ME had a cross-dressing man as the main character), no one transexual yet, or at least no one who I made a point to out as trans.

      I have plans to include some in future projects, but YU+ME is almost done and has no real room for new characters, and Lesbian Pirates would end up being completely tacky.

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      rosalarian 7 years ago

      @anonymous: This was a great question, and I addressed it in the FAQ. Basically, not making a big deal out of it is just fine, and preferred by a lot of gay readers. The same way we don't have to get into a straight person's straightness, so we don't have to always get into a gay person's gayness, especially when it has no relevance tot he story.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I thought this was well written.

      Ricky does have a point on the character being a person so you might wanna toss that in as a last minute reminder.

      I have personally have a hard time reading stories that are so stereotypical and cliche. Nothing irks me more than an overused storyline or assumptions that all LGBT people are the same. It's a lousy representation of the LGBT community.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Rosalarian, THANK YOU for opening up this topic! I came here via a link on Ravelry, and loved reading what you had to say (and the comments.) I've been enjoying Yu+Me, by the way.

      I hate how limited the world of fiction often is with regards to orientation minorities. Hollywood "taught" me that a Hollywood ending for a man and a woman was happiness and for me was tragedy. It's absolutely bizarre that my real life is so much better than movies, because that's not supposed to happen! /giggle/

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: >> They can't ALL be paragons of decency.

      Okay, but what if NONE of them are? How common is it for a bisexual character to be any kind of a role model at all?

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: >> They can't ALL be paragons of decency.

      Okay, but what if NONE of them are? How common is it for a bisexual character to be any kind of a role model at all?

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      This is a very comprehensive essay, but I honestly feel that it misses the most important point about writing ANY kind of character that is part of a minority:

      THIS CHARACTER IS A PERSON, TOO!

      Many writers get so nervous about writing a character with different experiences and preferences that they forget what character-building is all about. Tiptoeing around flaws in an effort to avoid offending groups just results in a flat, boring character who can do no wrong. The best strategy is to consider a character's situation simply and honestly and to think of how the character's personality would make him or her act in response. With that approach, there is really no excuse for avoiding characters that aren't just like you.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Just letting people know, I'm open to answering any questions. :) email is dolphin64575@yahoo.com

      btw, Megan, awesome idea! Kudos! :D

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      What of the criticism that I'm not treating someone's sexuality like enough of a deal. I've been writing this story all year for advanced creative writing, with a lesbian character. She's not even the main character, just a major character because the story is mainly about her dad. But have a lot of people in my class complaining that we never find out how her dad feels about her being gay, how she came out, etc. He doesn't care, so I never made it an issue, and they talk about it like she was straight. No big deal. She's been out for at least 5 years by the time the story rolls around, so do I have to include all these details? I don't think they really further the story. Thank you!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: I don't know about any good books with trans in them (not the biggest book reader) but a good on-line comic with some trans characters is http://www.khaoskomix.com/home.html.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Well, of course there's nothing wrong with using bisexuality as an important aspect of the character that connects to the rest of their identity, internally and in relationship to society, but I think you have to understand that seeing a major aspect of your identity represented mainly as a metaphor for or aspect of sociopathy can be extremely alienating.

      For most people, the experience of being bi isn't the experience of living a metaphor. I know that writers use aspects of characters as "mechanisms" and metaphors quite frequently, but it's worth thinking about what that use does to the accuracy of the portrayal. Certainly, someone "hedonistic and commitment-phobic" could be bisexual, but being those things won't make them bisexual or vice versa. If someone is having sex with someone they're not actually attracted to, there's something going on besides love of pleasure. If they are attracted to them, then they would be, whatever their stance on commitment and self indulgence. Leaning on bisexuality as a mechanism to represent something it doesn't actually represent necessarily misrepresents bisexuality and I have to think that basing important aspects of a character on this misrepresentation diminishes the character. (Which is not to say that sexual behavior independent of gender can't accurately be used to represent anything negative--a character who uses sex as a weapon might well wield it against people they're not particularly attracted to, but that's not really about bisexuality, it's about power.)

      Of course bisexuals "can't all be paragons of decency," but using them over and over to represent the same inaccurate vises is very different from just writing some of them as unlikable.