Hello lovable kiddos.
today we’re talking about sexualities! Or rather, how not to write them.
lgbtqia+ community has been getting a lot more screen time in books and other forms of media. which is awesome and changes things up with the normal format of books. It’s also a subject that I care about a lot.
But sadly, with all this air time, there’s a lot of room for error and a lot can go wrong, hopefully by the end of this, none of that will happen to any of you lovable kiddos. So let’s get rolling.
Research, research and oh yeah research.
Did you know that there’s different degrees of the asexual spectrum?
Do you know the difference between being Bi and Pan?
Do you know what Demisexuals are?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions that’s totally fine but like every subject that you don’t know about. you want to make sure you know what you’re talking about and make sure that you understand what you are writing about.
And when I say research. I’m not talking about just reading the wiki page. -Although that’s a great place to start.- You should go on forms and FAQ’s on sites that is dedicated to whatever sexuality you want to write about.
Or if you are part of writing groups just ask the people in the group if someone is gay (for an example.) and willing to talk, there’s be people that are more then willing to help with your research.
If you feel like peopling, you can try and find groups or meetings and talk to people who are open to answer your questions. Although be aware that that not everyone is comfortable and open with their sexuality, so make sure to ask people if they are okay with the questions before you ask them.
there’s a lot of people put there that would be more than happy to talk and would love to see more diversity in books. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to these resources and learn all you can.
Don’t fall into tropes/stereotypes.
I feel like I really shouldn’t have to say it. But just in case…
gay guys aren’t flamboyance drama queens.
Asexual aren’t creepy lonely virgins.
Bi people aren’t seeking attention.
Pansexual aren’t just trying to be a special little snowflake.
Lesbians don’t hate man.
Let’s face it, this is just lazy writing. Or at least misinformed writing -that’s why research is very important. – and if you fell into this trap then it’s a clear sign that you need to flush out your character more, get to know them as you would a close friend.
Sure, if it fits to have your Ace character to dislike sex and never want to fall in love, go for it.
Or to have your pan character be an odd duck more power to you.
But please stay away from offend stereotypes. And don’t have the character come out only to show off their gayness and then pop back into the rainbow-colored shadows never to be seen again or talk about their coming out ever again.
Adding characters just to prove a point or to show off that you can write a different kind of character is just bad writing and It will only make people roll their eyes and groan with how awful your story is.
Think about it this way, would it be racist to throw in a black person just to be like ‘hey look, it’s a black guy!’ well, then how do you think lgbtqia kids would feeling if you changed black guy to trans person?
but this has been a good transition to my next point.
Don’t add them in for the sake of it.
Here’s the thing, I think it’s a good thing to add these kind of characters to books, show or games. I really do.
But I think that they should only be added or stated that they’re lgbtqia if it has a point. and not just because you want to be like ‘hey look, I have a pan/demsexal character, look how trendy I am!’ or to boost as a writer. it’s really off putting and is a little insulting. There’s right ways to handle lgbtqia characters.
Although warning there’s some *SMALL SPOILERS* for harry Potter, and the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series BTWS nothing too big but in case you don’t like any spoilers at all. Okay, if you are still reading this part, we’ll get back to it!
take Dumbledore from harry Potter. He’s gay but J.R Rowling didn’t have a reason to state that he was in the story so she just never said or pointed it in the main books.
She didn’t make it a huge deal or add a scene just to be like ‘hey, he’s totally gay by the way.’ Because his sexual Orientation has nothing to do with his actions in the story. He just likes guys.
And then on the flip side, there’s Nico di Angelo from Rick Riordan’s the Olympian series. Nico’s sexual Orientation is used to not only to justice some of he’s actions and behavior with Percy -with whom he has a crush on.- But it also helps develop a friendship between Nico and another character Jason. And a later a relationship with another character named Will. All of this is to show the growth of a character that thought they were doomed to be friendless and alone forever.
And to talk about a story I wrote. I had a Bisexual girl that was also Asexual. Named Elanor -this story is still in in the outlining phase so bear with me for the lack of over all detail.-
Other then the fact that it just felt right for the character, I made it a point to show these things for a couple of reasons.
1) I wanted her to be flirtation towards everything and everyone but her crash. I wanted that she didn’t know how to flirt with him, so she acts all stiff and kind of cold because the quote is ‘people flirt to let someone they like know that they feel something towards the person they like, but I flirt with everyone so how would I hint to him that I like him?’ and there’s a point where Elanor is scared to tell another character who’s a girl named Ashley, that she was Bi because she didn’t want her friend to think that she’s only trying to sleep with her
2) the reason behind her being asexual came about because I thought that it would balance out the loudness of Elanor flirty-ness, that she’s this very upfront person that flirts with both genders but in the end she doesn’t want anything sexual from anyone, she’s kind of all bark and no bite. but it’s the big thing standing in the way of her crush Chris -who likes her back.- from telling her how he feels about her. Because he knows that she’s Asexual and he feels like she wouldn’t like him back because of this fact.
In the first example. It shows that you don’t need to let your readings know in the context of a story, a character’s sexual preference doesn’t have to drive their actions or is the only thing that makes up who they are. it’s not a defining thing.
In the second it shows that it can drive the character’s actions; it can help build a character’s growth and arc and help them forward.
And the third shows that not only can it be used for a character’s arc but can also be the thing holding them back from the things they want.
Not everyone is open about it.
This is more of a guild line and a note rather then a don’t.
not everyone is so open about their sexuality, there’s a lot of confusion and a lot of mixed feelings about the whole thing, there’s a lot of questions that are brought up and you have to find answers for yourself and not everyone comes to those answer easily. Even though we’re at a time were it’s more open minding and people are free to be who they are. it’s still something that people struggle with.
There’s still reasons to be afraid to be open about it, so yes, you can write a character that’s open about their sexualities and comfortable with it. actually please do so!
But be mindful that not everyone is like that. So, make sure that it fits and is believable for the character. A shy, reserved person isn’t going to be so open to talk about who they like. wither they are gay or not.
And that if you take up the habit of writing more lgtbqia characters (which I really hope you do.) that it’s not just a copy and paste of the last one. Everyone’s journey is different for another one’s.
Alright lovable kiddos, that’s all I got for you today, this is something that I will revisit and expand upon some point soon. as I said before this is a subject that I feel very strongly about. But for now, I hoped that this helped you from falling in the pit falls and bad habits. And hopefully if you didn’t know anything about the lgbtqia community that you learned something new.
Until next time!