imagine a gay character who’s entire story isn’t surrounded by him being gay
slow clap for JK Rowling
Imagine a gay character who is ACTUALLY SHOWN AS BEING GAY IN CANON AND POSSIBLY HAS ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS AND INTERESTS AND STUDF who’s whole character isn’t just about being gay
And a round of enthusiastic applause for Andrew Hussie
You’re all forgetting someone
I can also think of a certain local radio host…
Gee, webcomics and podcasts… almost like the only examples we can find are outside the control of major media conglomerates… what a weird coincidence!
Major media conglomerates do not appreciate or support LGBTQ characters: that is a great truth.
However Malinda Lo’s Ash and Kaisa, Rick Riordan’s Nico, Ellen Kushner’s Richard and Alec, Sarah Waters’s Maud and Susan, Scott Tracey’s Braden and Trey, Ginn Hale’s Belimai and Harper, Tamora Pierce’s Daja: there are many (though not as many as one could wish) textually gay characters who have a lot going on besides their sexuality. Most of those above even published by major media conglomerates. ;)
I see a lot of people saying ‘This thing doesn’t exist’ when what they mean is ‘this doesn’t exist in the 1% of the very most popular media I’m aware of.’
No offence meant to Harry Potter or anything else, but the MOST POPULAR piece of media is often not the place to find those characters—though y’know some of the above have managed to do preeeetty well—because media that upholds the white straight boy is seen as more promotable, because consumers unconsciously gravitate toward and feel more comfortable with the familiar, or just pick up what they see/hear about the most (i.e. the most promoted thing). It does often require a little extra effort (googling, ordering online) to find media that’s more diverse. But it’s worth the effort, I think.
Or… sure, people can continue just reading Harry Potter.
samanthagamgee9-75 said: Do the names Hibiscus, Clytemnestra and Scylla in Sisters Before Misters represent Holly Black, Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan? Is Marcus significant for anyone? Maureen Johnson or Malinda Lo?
Yes… although one of us did not realise we were writing a story in which the wicked witches were a little similar to us for some time, and then the other two smacked her about with throw pillows. ;)
It is true that I have been trying to get either MJ or Malinda to run away with me for some time also, but those cruel minxes keep turning me down. Oh well. Back to romance novels and the constant pursuit of evil!
Sometimes I read reviews of books* in which people criticize a book for having moments that feel explainy or educational around tough topics such as race, sexuality, politics. I agree that reading dialogue about these issues can sometimes feel didactic or…
So, I sorta get what this person is saying, but I also get a bit tired of people who complain about how few books there are with women characters that aren’t about love. First of all, I love love. In my opinion love is the single most important thing about life. I know these kinds of posts are mostly dissing “romance,” but frankly, a lot of the dissing of “romance” comes from the long tradition of dissing anything women like (i.e., sexism). Finally, who gives a fuck about “great” books as defined by the Western canon? A lot of them have nothing to say about people like me (lesbian, Asian American), but that’s why I don’t look to them for the Truth About Everything. Here are some books I read as a girl and a woman that are about women doing things, including embracing love:
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley — Girl’s a self-taught dragon slayer. Yeah, she finds some love too, and it is complicated and wonderful, but she saves the world first.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery — Sure, everybody knows about Gilbert Blythe, but Anne Shirley’s tale is first and foremost about Anne. She doesn’t even give Gilbert the time of day till basically the last page of the book. The Anne books are about a smart, vulnerable girl with big dreams who goes after them. Plus there’s her friendship with her bosom friend, Diana Barry, which is clearly one of the best female friendships in literature.
Every book that Madeleine L’Engle ever wrote — Girls! Doing! Things! My favorite L’Engle will always be A Ring of Endless Light, because the main character, Vicky Austin, discovers just how complicated life and love are. They’re not simple, things don’t always end happily, grief can be transformative, and love is good.
Finally, that quote and that article are both shaped by a heteronormative worldview that’s common but disheartening. For queer folks especially, love is certainly not taken for granted, and I don’t think there are nearly enough love stories for us. The first book I read with a woman falling in love with another woman was Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet. It was such an eye-opening miracle of a book. The main character Nan King’s romances are definitely not about relying on men. Nan’s romances are acts of courage and acts of claiming her own identity. They’re rebellious and brave and sexy and inspiring.
I know that women often get the short end of the stick when it comes to literature and the discourse on it. But it’s not like books about wonderful complicated loving women don’t exist. They do. I’ve read them my entire life. It would be great if we could sometimes talk about how awesome these books about girls and women are, instead of forgetting they exist.
I do not think almost all of my main characters are? Cynthia, Mel and Kami are women of colour. Alan is disabled. Angela and Jamie are gay.
That said: I am a very flawed person and of course I could, and wish in the future, to do better. A lot of my characters definitely are privileged—Ash, Jared, Kit, Mae and Nick are all white, non-disabled, cisgendered and present as straight. (I don’t necessarily see them as straight, but as they give no definite indication that they’re not, I don’t think I deserve any credit for anything that’s not in the books.) I try to examine their privilege, and not to give them narrative privilege within the text over other characters.
Nor am I saying that my characters who do not conform to the all-white all-straight able-bodied cisgendered default are perfect representation: I am very sure they’re not, and that despite my best efforts I have made mistakes. They are important to me, though, and so I try and do right by them, and every time I make a mistake with them I am grateful when it is pointed out and attempt to do better in the future.
I’m not saying I deserve any special credit, any praise, or a cookie, for trying: trying is the only correct way to behave, and I wish I was capable of doing a better job. I am very aware of my shortcomings as a white straight author who comes from a pretty privileged background. (The Ireland I grew up in was not a diverse place, though it has been getting more diverse.) Other authors certainly do better: Malinda Lo’s excellent fantasy novels inspired by Chinese and Celtic culture, Kate Elliott’s Spirit Walker series which she describes as an ‘Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy adventure.’ Often, I am held back by my own ingrained falling back on defaults, and by fear of messing up.
It is also worth remembering that authors are not the only ones controlling the face of YA. I tried to sell a novel centred on a gay romance: it was not bought. I am not saying this was because publishers are cruel and homophobic—maybe the story was lousy! My sales are lousy, so I totally understand publishers not wanting to take chances on novels of mine. Should I ever have the power of being, um, even slightly successful, I would try to use that power to promote more diversity: to get books published and promoted that otherwise would not be. I think the bestselling authors we have should try to do that now.
I am committed to changing the face of YA, insofar as I am able. That doesn’t mean I always do a good job, and I am always sorry not to have done better. I hope my previous books show that I am trying, but I also hope my future books (if I get to write future books) will show I am doing better.
Last night I went to Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess tour stop in Menlo Park. Check out the bus, clearly about to be abducted by aliens! Also pictured: me and Sarah Rees Brennan, and Cassie signing my copy of Clockwork Princess. Check out her signing wrist brace! I think there were hundreds of people there last night. So awesome to be in a room with so many readers!
Poor Cassie labours so mightily! I keep lunging at her with bags of ice and people are like ‘STOP THAT TALL LADY, GOD KNOWS WHAT SHE WANTS TO DO WITH THAT ICE!’ But it is all for lovely readers, who I am having a blast meeting.
And it is always a joy to see the beauteous Malinda. We ABDUCTED her onto the bus. ;)