Congratulations, young writer, you live in a time unlike any other in modern history. It’s a time filled with incredible opportunities not seen since the advent of the printing press.You live in a time where your words can reach millions almost instantaneously. You live in a time where gatekeepers (like traditional publishers) no longer exist, though, honestly for some, a good edit could come in handy. You live in a time where the character reflecting your life no longer need to be veiled.
This, perhaps, is most important to you, as a LGBTQ writer.
Now, I’m not the most well-read guy. After the standard high-school literature and the smattering of classes I had in college, I’m mostly a popular fiction reader. With that background, I can’t think of a single, major character from a mainstream book that was gay until Dumbledore–and he was in what was, ostensibly, a children’s book!
When I realized what J.K. Rowling had done, my head nearly exploded. Not only had Dumbledore been revealed as the greatest wizard of all time in her world, he was the one character that main character, Harry–of course, trusted above all others. He was the source of knowledge, and the leader of the Order of the Phoenix, the good guys. But, he was gay. All of his other character traits, his stature in the book, were not affected in the slightest by his sexuality.
That was a lesson to me. If I break it down, it’s this: your characters don’t have to start out with the single foundation of being gay, straight or even asexual. Like our development as people, we don’t pop out of the womb desperate to watch Glee–even though we may know we are somehow different. We grow into who we are, and so should the characters we write.
So, how should this revelation affect our writing?
Well, I, for one, think that our characters and stories should come from our imaginations. Our characters will reveal themselves to us over time. If they’re gay or straight, shouldn’t stop you from writing their adventures, and don’t let that stop you from writing for a more general audience than just the “gay” marketplace. (Besides, I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of the same “coming out” stories. I want more than that for our community.)
It’s important that readers of all kinds find our work accessible and interesting. Gay characters–whether they’re main or incidental–help to create worlds that reflect real life and just might foster greater understanding in our world.
Living in his hometown of Seattle after graduating from Emerson, Reese Delaney works for a large corporation by day, and by night, creates new worlds of his very own. He loves coffee and the coffee crowd where he draws his writing inspiration.