Warning: In this post, I’m going to be talking about LGBT characters. If, for whatever reason, LGBT topics bothers you or you disagree with that kind of lifestyle, don’t keep reading.
Side Note: I’m straight, and I have a boyfriend. However, I support love, regardless of sexual orientation. People should not be discriminated because of their sexuality. But hey, that’s just me.
Are all the homophobes gone yet? Yeah? Good.
I may be a smidge late in the Pride Month celebrations. I believe diversity in fiction is so important. Every kind of person should, not only be represented, be done justice. Isn’t there a saying about art mirroring life? In any kind of story, the characters need to feel realistic.
Today, I’ll be discussing how to write great LGBT characters in fiction. Here are some things to keep in mind when including a queer character in your story.
Avoid Cliches and Stereotype
Overused stereotypes equals flat characters. Boring and offensive ones too. No one should be just some cookie cut out of a person. Real quick, here are just a few things you may want to steer clear of.
- Feminine gay man who only serves to be a girl’s sidekick
- Masculine lesbian
- Promiscuous bisexual
Sound familiar, right? Now that you think about it? Unfortunately, yes, these stereotypes exist and are everywhere. If you are worried you are creating a cliche, really consider what that character brings to the story. Are they just homosexual for the sake of being homosexual? Every aspect of your character needs a purpose in your story, even a character’s sexual orientation.
Do Your Homework
Make sure you have a good understanding about a sexuality that differs from yours. Understand the common misconceptions. Forget what is presented in the media, walk in someone else’s shoes for a minute. What does it mean to be homosexual, asexual or transgender?
Also, have a good understanding as to what their lives are like. Depending on the time period, what does society think about the LGBT community? If your story centers around a character’s sexuality, think about what it means for that one person to be queer. Even though I’m straight, I try my best to be empathetic of others dealing with things like homophobia.
Consider Their Past
My Fiction Writing professor once told my class that every character carries a back pack with them. This means that, wherever your character goes, they carry their past with them. (May totally be misquoting my professor right now, but that’s how I interpreted what she said) Their personal history can effect their actions and their responses towards others. If they are closeted, they may be fearful of others finding out. They may choose to sneak out and hide their same sex relationship from their conservative parents.
Discovering one’s sexuality is a huge part of someone’s history. Coming out of the closet, dealing with supportive or unsupportive family members, how society reacts to them, past romantic partners. All these things are integral to a character in the LGBT community. Know your character’s backstory, even if it’s not the center of the main plot.
Sexual Orientation Doesn’t Define Them
A character should not be labeled simply as “the gay guy” or “the lesbian” or used as a mere token, you know? A Gay character needs to be just as developed as a straight character. A character should be so much more than their sexuality. Characters need to be multi layered and three-dimensional. They have dreams, and struggles. They have good traits and bad traits. Just like everyone else. Don’t write them off and treat them any different.
Let’s be the kind of writers that challenge the status quo. Write the gay guy who is more than just a sassy sidekick, the lesbian that’s more than just a short haircut.
Who are some of your favorite LGBT characters? Let me know in the comments!
Write with Heart,