Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gay Characters

Yesterday, Don't ask, Don't tell was finally repealed. So I thought today would be a good time to write about how to write gay characters. It is really simple, don't.

I don't mean don't have characters that are gay, just don't introduce them as a gay character.

Chances are you have real life friends that are either gay, straight, or bi-sexual. If not get out of the monastery more often. When you introduce them to other people that's not the first thing you say about them. If your introducing your straight friend to another friend you will be more likely to say, “This is Bob, he works as a programmer” or “he is a huge stamp collector”. You don't introduce him by saying, “This is Bob, he loves the boobies”. So why would you introduce a character that is gay that way.

In ALIEN THOUGHTS, Yar's male boss had had an affair with the male Senator who recommended him for the position. By the time the reader found that out they already knew that he didn't swear, liked mint, ran really long meetings and thought all problems could be solved over lunch. So by the time the character was shown as being gay, he was already a full character.

Sexual identity does play a huge part in how someone looks at the world and how they are judged, but so does height, weight and what they do for a living. Even if the plot revolves around the fact that the character is gay, there is a lot more to the character than that. If there isn't the character really needs to be fleshed out more.

In the character bible for STAR TREK (TOS) Gene Roddenberry wrote, “The T in James T Kirk does not stand for Tom Cat.” The character of Kirk was very hetro despite what fan fiction might say, but that wasn't the main part of his character. If you are writing about a Space Adventurer that has a group of guys waiting for him at every port, that's a side part of his character. It's the Space Adventures that get the reader hooked.

So if you are writing a character that is gay, think about if you would introduce the fact that a character is hetro the same way. The reactions from other characters can be different but the reader is going to like or dislike the character based on other parts of their character.

Outside of porn, nobody wants to read about a gay character, but a character who is gay can be interesting. Just like nobody watched STAR TREK because Kirk was hetro, but his hitting on every green or blue chick that walked by added to his character.

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