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Thread: On LGBT main character

  1. #26
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yumpty-tum View Post
    I think it depends what you're trying to do. If you don't make it A Statement, which can come across as preachy and/or virtue-signalling, then why should it hurt? As long as the character is compelling then nothing else should be an issue. J. K. Rowling did it really well with Dumbledore - from book 5 on it was fairly obvious that he was gay, but nobody gave two hoots coz it wasn't signposted as a "here, look how progressive I am! I've written a gay character!" thing. Dumbledore was just Dumbledore, and as a small aside he happened to be into Bad Boyz. If, of course, you're proselytising then you'll get backlash because nobody wants to be told how to be a Good Human via their fiction. So just write a good story with a good character and try not to push your views down people's throats and nobody will care whether MC likes guys, gals or slimy tentacled creatures.
    I didn't think about Dumbledore possibly being gay until book 7, when the whole relationship with Grindewald came out. Even then I wasn;t sure, because awkward, lonely adolescent kids who are unusual in their talent or interests can have hero worship complexes and very intense attachments to like-minded peers that aren't sexual or romantic. That DD was an older man who seemingly lived alone at the school made him feel more asexual than anything else to me. But that went for all the other Hogwarts teachers too. None of them (save Hagrid and possibly Filch with Madam Pince) appeared to have anything resembling a romantic interest, let alone family.

    Some would argue that DD's orientation was too subtle and glossed over. Of course, he was always a fairly remote character, and the narrative camera didn't spend any time with him when he wasn't with Harry and never dipped inside his head. If there were any LGBTQ students at Hogwarts, that was also glossed over. No one (for instance) was mentioned to have attended the dance in book four with a partner of the same gender, nor did any of the romantic pairings that were mentioned in passing in the book feature two students of the same gender, nor were non-gender conforming students described. All the plot-significant romances mentioned in the books were M/F.

    I don't think that writers need to make a big deal about orientation if it's not a big deal in the culture portrayed, but there are ways of showing that different orientations are a part of a world and normalized (or not) without turning it into a so-called "issue" story as well. If opposite-gender romances figure into a story and are shown, even peripherally, then surely same-gender ones can too.

    When someone or something isn't fully regarded as normalized yet in our own world, presenting a fantasy world with no portrayal at all of that something or someone will be taken by most readers as an absence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Magnus View Post
    While there are many (white heterosexual men) who somehow blow a fuse every time someone they are expected to relate to isn't a white heterosexual man, I think it's safe to say that they don't often open a book.
    Sadly, this doesn't appear to be true. The whole "puppy" brou-ha-ha with the Hugos suggests that there are still plenty of readers (and writers) who want the genre to be male (and white, straight etc) dominated. The question is whether or not you want to write for these readers or for readers who are interested in seeing more realistic (and empowering) diversity in the books they read.
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 07-18-2017 at 01:01 AM.
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  2. #27
    practical experience, FTW Tazlima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    While this is a great line, too many recent events have proven this to be entirely false. There's a fairly vocal (but, I keep believing, small) contingent of SFF fandom that wants Adventurous Heterosexual White Boys In Space (and/or With Dragons And Submissive Women), full stop, and anything else is PC rubbish.

    I'm trying to articulate what's bothering me about bits of this thread. I don't think anybody's intending to say this, but there's an undertone here and there of "it's OK to write queer characters as long as you're not too loud about it" with varying (subjective) definitions of "too loud."

    And I don't think that's necessarily what people mean to be saying. But it strikes me a bit like someone saying "Watch it when you write about folks from Wisconsin, because it'll come across as message fiction." Because queer people are, and including them in a book, even as (gasp!) a main character, shouldn't be any different than any other character decision.

    Of course I realize it is, because of the world we currently live in. And I'm a big proponent of sensitivity readers if you're delving into a character who is enough Not You that you're concerned about missing the subtleties. But explicit inclusion of non-majority/non-culturally-dominant characters is no more a political statement than not including them.

    It's really interesting that you interpreted the comments that way, because I interpreted them quite differently, and now I'm wondering if I misunderstood something, or (if you're younger than me) perhaps it's a generational difference.

    I guess it comes down to your perception of "message fiction." Message fiction has its place in the market, but for a long time, it felt like it was the ONLY place you could look to find a bit of diversity. Look at picture books for example. When I was a kid, POC were starting to appear in PBs, but the majority still featured images of white children. And when I DID see picture books that had a dark-skinned child on the cover, seems like nine times out of ten it was specifically about that character's cultural heritage.

    Now there's nothing wrong with books about different cultures. They're interesting and informative, and they certainly have their place on the bookshelf. But where was the picture book about a hispanic child going to the dentist for the first time? Where was the picture book about a black child who can't find his teddy bear? Stories about small, everyday things, or even crazy things? I don't recall seeing any POC in the works of Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss. I don't remember any POC in the Ramona books or the works of E.B. White, or Roald Dahl, or most of the other authors I loved growing up. (I'm not saying there weren't any at all... I haven't read those stories in years and memories are funny things, but if they were there, I don't remember them).

    No, the only way a child could be black was if the story was set in Africa. Hispanic children only appeared in PB versions of Mexican folktales. They were segregated into "message fiction," and LBGT characters weren't on the radar at all.

    As depressing as it was that POC were relegated to this one corner of the market, it was a good and beneficial thing, because it was a foot in the door (a door which still isn't open like it ought to be, but that's another conversation). If you're being squashed into a corner and are fighting to free yourself, you have to push HARD. You can't just be a Hispanic child going about a normal day, you have to be a Hispanic child doing Hispanic things.

    Look at the show Will and Grace. An awful lot of the premise of the series (especially in the earlier seasons) boiled down to "Will is gay. See how gay he is?" And it NEEDED to do that, because people needed that first hard push to accept that, "OMG! This kind of person exists, and can be likeable!" It's like giving a toddler their first bite of a new food, and they fight it because it's new and unfamiliar, so you shove it in their mouth and they make a bunch of weird faces and eventually it hits them... "wait... this is good."

    Now I see modern depictions of same-sex relationships, and often I can only admire how far we've come. Modern creators don't need to fear that daring to make a character gay will get them cancelled (as happened with "Ellen"), and they have an audience that's grown up in the midst of the fight for LBGT rights. Compare that with my parent's generation, who were raised without being told homosexuality even existed. Modern writers have a much more savvy audience from day one.

    The ability to create nuanced LBGT characters is a hard-won luxury that earlier writers simply didn't have. The gay person no longer has to spend every scene going "I'm gay, I'm gay, see how gay I am?" They still CAN, and if the story is focused on the character's experiences as an LGBT individual, there's nothing wrong with that. There will always be a place for stories about specific life experiences, but that's no longer the only option.

    So when I see people saying, "careful not to fall into the 'message fiction' trap," I don't see people saying, "message fiction is bad," and I certainly don't see anyone saying "LBGT characters shouldn't be TOO LBGT." I see them saying, "we have the luxury of making them more than just "the gay one," so let's take advantage of that and make sure we're writing fully realized characters that are more than just their sexuality or the color of their skin.

    I dunno if this makes any sense, and I'm out of time and have to go, so Imma post it and come back to reread later.
    Last edited by Tazlima; 07-18-2017 at 03:49 AM.
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  3. #28
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tazlima View Post
    So when I see people saying, "careful not to fall into the 'message fiction' trap," I don't see people saying, "message fiction is bad," and I certainly don't see anyone saying "LBGT characters shouldn't be TOO LBGT." I see them saying, "we have the luxury of making them more than just "the gay one," so let's take advantage of that and make sure we're writing fully realized characters that are more than just their sexuality or the color of their skin.
    I actually think we agree, and it may be just how I read the comments (and the fact that I've thinking of how I deal with the sexuality of my own characters, which is definitely evolving).

    I've also heard people express both desires: to have stories that are specific to queer experiences, and to have more generic stories that star queer characters. (And all variants in between, of course.) So I guess when I read people saying "Yeah...watch it" I start thinking things like "uh, nobody's ever told me to watch it when I write hetero characters" and I wonder what it is I'm suppose to watch.

    So yeah, it's probably my own issues coloring my read, and my apologies for misreading anyone. (And FWIW, I'm 52.)

    ETA: As I think about it, I can see how I might have interpreted the comments exactly the opposite of how they were intended.
    Last edited by lizmonster; 07-18-2017 at 03:15 AM.
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  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    I actually think we agree, and it may be just how I read the comments (and the fact that I've thinking of how I deal with the sexuality of my own characters, which is definitely evolving).

    I've also heard people express both desires: to have stories that are specific to queer experiences, and to have more generic stories that star queer characters. (And all variants in between, of course.) So I guess when I read people saying "Yeah...watch it" I start thinking things like "uh, nobody's ever told me to watch it when I write hetero characters" and I wonder what it is I'm suppose to watch.

    So yeah, it's probably my own issues coloring my read, and my apologies for misreading anyone. (And FWIW, I'm 52.)
    Here's an interesting way of tracking change. This is an AW thread from 2006.

  5. #30
    Not as sweet as you think Aggy B.'s Avatar
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    To be blunt, I've never had folks tell me to be careful about having a white/het/cis/abled male as the lead. Or the sidekick. Or the villain. The caution about unsaleability always comes with those who are considered minority or special interest groups. Then it's suddenly "Do only what the story requires or it will be message fiction." (Sat on a panel with a dude who literally yelled at an audience member about this and completely shut down the conversation. We ended almost 20 minutes early because no one else wanted to talk after that.)

    I am, quite frankly, past the point of assuming best intentions when folks tell me that I need to be careful about having a queer or PoC or female character as the lead. If that's something that is a red flag to a reader, they aren't my audience. (And, sometimes that instinct is just that - an instinct. We read what we are familiar with. But straight/white/cis/abled male saves the day is a damn message.)
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  6. #31
    practical experience, FTW Tazlima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    I actually think we agree, and it may be just how I read the comments (and the fact that I've thinking of how I deal with the sexuality of my own characters, which is definitely evolving).

    I've also heard people express both desires: to have stories that are specific to queer experiences, and to have more generic stories that star queer characters. (And all variants in between, of course.) So I guess when I read people saying "Yeah...watch it" I start thinking things like "uh, nobody's ever told me to watch it when I write hetero characters" and I wonder what it is I'm suppose to watch.

    So yeah, it's probably my own issues coloring my read, and my apologies for misreading anyone. (And FWIW, I'm 52.)

    ETA: As I think about it, I can see how I might have interpreted the comments exactly the opposite of how they were intended.
    Lol, I'm thinking maybe I'm the one who misread. I tend to assume people have good intentions and give them the benefit of the doubt far more than I should at times, so perhaps I'm being naive.
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  7. #32
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tazlima View Post
    Lol, I'm thinking maybe I'm the one who misread. I tend to assume people have good intentions and give them the benefit of the doubt far more than I should at times, so perhaps I'm being naive.
    I don't think there's anything wrong with assuming good intentions, especially with something like this where statements can be interpreted in multiple ways. I need to do more of that. And I think others have made the points I wanted to make with far more eloquence.

    As far as sales go - at this point I'm aware of so many variables that affect sales, I'm not too worried about the sexuality of my characters. (And having said that, almost all of my MCs so far have been shown in hetero relationships - although some of them are bisexual - so I haven't really tested the hypothesis.)
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  8. #33
    practical experience, FTW themindstream's Avatar
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    On the subject of message fiction, I'm not going to tell anyone not to write it. (Hell there are certain groups who will accuse you of it just for having non white male main characters and they largely aren't worth listening to.) But as a reader there are some messages I just think have been done to death and they tend to be the most simplistic formulations of those messages. They are messages I agree with. There are doubtless people who still need to hear them. But they should not be the end all, be all of the message.

    "Racisim is bad and racists are bad" is not news to me. "Racisim is complicated and does not go away by our wishing it so" is. "Women who rebels by doing man things" is cliche to me (note: historicals get a free pass). "Women have always done things that men do" is a revelation.

    ...I don't actually know if there's a LGBT parallel in this. Actually, I can't think of any "message fiction" with LGBT as the subject. In my experience they just started appearing in stuff I was reading as another permutation of possible romantic relationships and because it was fantasy/sci fi, the stigma that got attached to it in real life was written out.
    Last edited by themindstream; 07-18-2017 at 07:34 AM.
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  9. #34
    Luv's Conscript AyJay's Avatar
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    I'm glad you chimed in here Liz, because I was feeling the same thing, and was just not quite bold enough to say it. If you're an author who's not queer, and even if you are queer, but not--say trans, or intersex, or gender-fluid, etc.--it's so important to do your research, get some feedback, just as you would want to do when writing about folks from Wisconsin if you're not from Wisconsin. And I wholeheartedly agree: bemoaning "message books" raises my skepticism, and my horns at times. I think, for many readers, and many people within the industry, that's code for discomfort with queer storylines.

    A couple of my books received industry and reader reviews that were similar to the one you mentioned for Hurley's book. In one case, the reviewer felt it necessary to point out the lack of heterosexual characters (have you ever read a book review that points out the lack of queer characters; now that would be pretty awesome actually). In another, the reviewer felt it necessary to mention that he doesn't typically read "these kind of books" (after mentioning the gay content) and ended by saying it was a good book for "open-minded readers." Those were both industry reviews. I'm more forgiving of the squeamish reader reviews 'cause, well, any reader has a right to post on Amazon or Goodreads as long as they're not doing so to be malicious. And FWIW, the former book had many supporting heterosexual characters, both are fantasy adventure primarily, and neither had more than one or two sex scenes, nor were romance. Like your Hurley example, the reviews weren't pans; they ended up saying some nice things along the way. But they left me feeling kind of trampled.

    May not need to be said, but I'm not bringing this up because I think the books are so fantastic, every review should be golden. But I do wish those books had been judged more on the storytelling and read by reviewers who did not feel distracted by the queer content in those particular cases.

    I haven't been doing this for a long while, just ten years, and I would agree with the statement that publishers are looking for LGBT titles more so than say thirty, twenty, ten, even five years ago. Still, fantasy books with queer main characters are a tiny fraction of the titles published every year. We've hardly reached the point where the gender and sexuality of the main character is a non-issue. I think that books exploring those issues are getting more recognition (N.K Jemisin is one example in the sci fi world), but there's a tendency to take those few critically-acclaimed examples and generalize them beyond the realities of the genre. Not any reason to NOT write queer characters, by the way. Just sharing my perspective and experience.

  10. #35
    practical experience, FTW Richard W. Fairbairn's Avatar
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    I have several LGBT characters in my Bullet series. The sexuality is not an essential part of the story. I have a transexual bridge officer, a gay engineer and a semi-asexual fighter pilot. The sexuality of the characters doesn't play a part in the story, apart from the fighter pilot who was unable to return the affections of his "rear" - the female officer seated behind him in the fighter.

    Actually, this spoils the plot a little so forget you read it!
    Last edited by Richard W. Fairbairn; 07-18-2017 at 03:30 PM.
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  11. #36
    figuring it all out Jeff Bond's Avatar
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    A word of caution, if you're seeking to go the traditional route with agents/publishers/etc. Completely leaving aside how things "should" be ... I was told by two separate agents that a WIP of mine, a thriller featuring a lesbian protagonist, wouldn't fly because of the "own voices" movement. The character's sexuality wasn't a large part of the story, but felt right to me for a few reasons. (i.e. she was in a corporate setting and I wanted to amp up some cultural conflicts.) Both these agents explained that just in the last year or so, publishers are hesitant to sign a book with a protag from a marginalized group by an author not from that group. Obviously that may or may not be an issue for you. Just wanted to share my experience in case it helps you or another reading the thread.

  12. #37
    Luv's Conscript AyJay's Avatar
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    I wanted to say two things...

    First, it took me so long to post my above comment - distractions at home along the way - a bunch of people posted in the meantime, so my apologies if it reads out-of-place. Liz's comment (#24) was one of the last in the thread when I started that comment!

    Second, not to argue with the value of stories in which the MC 'happens to be queer' (because I love those), but more so to introduce a different viewpoint...As a reader (and a writer, necessarily I suppose), I seek out books with queer MCs, so sexuality is never incidental to me; honestly, I suspect it isn't incidental to many readers, though for those who steer away from queer stories, the reaction may be subconscious in some cases, i.e. if you say you don't care what the sexuality of the MC is, but you never read queer books (or only do so for research or some other obligation), well, you're making choices there based on sexuality.

    That's not to be judgy. I do wish more people sought out queer books; it certainly would help me as an author! But these days, I'd say 80% of my own pleasure reading is queer books, so I get that readers gravitate toward stories they can relate to in various ways; or again, in my case, may want to support certain types of authors (queer or non-queer). Like I said above, my contention is I wish there were more industry reviewers and industry people in general who were enthusiastic and well-read in queer lit. I think, along with many other aspects of diversity, some of the gatekeepers in the industry have slapped on the "send me diverse characters" sticker because they like that sentiment politically, even if they're not experienced with diverse books. Take a look at all the agents seeking out diverse titles and then check out what books they've actually represented, for example.

    I guess I ended up saying three things. Sorry.

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Bond View Post
    A word of caution, if you're seeking to go the traditional route with agents/publishers/etc. Completely leaving aside how things "should" be ... I was told by two separate agents that a WIP of mine, a thriller featuring a lesbian protagonist, wouldn't fly because of the "own voices" movement. The character's sexuality wasn't a large part of the story, but felt right to me for a few reasons. (i.e. she was in a corporate setting and I wanted to amp up some cultural conflicts.) Both these agents explained that just in the last year or so, publishers are hesitant to sign a book with a protag from a marginalized group by an author not from that group. Obviously that may or may not be an issue for you. Just wanted to share my experience in case it helps you or another reading the thread.
    That's not about the "movement" so much as the underlying cause: that we're tired of straight men writing lesbians like pulp novels written for men.

    There are lots of books that aren't like that, but they can be harder to find.
    Last edited by AW Admin; 07-18-2017 at 06:28 PM.

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by themindstream View Post
    That was a great essay. Thanks for sharing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by yumpty-tum View Post
    J. K. Rowling did it really well with Dumbledore - from book 5 on it was fairly obvious that he was gay, but nobody gave two hoots coz it wasn't signposted as a "here, look how progressive I am! I've written a gay character!" thing.
    IMHO, Rowling did it very badly with Dumbledore. Dumbledore in Books 1-6 is a Wise Old Mentor Figure, and Wise Old Mentor Figures don't have sexualities (it's like asking about Gandalf's sexuality - it simply doesn't exist). Book 7 is ambiguous - while the Grindelwald thing can be read as sexual, I just read it as Victorian-era male bonding (the Victorians envisaged close relationships between men without envisaging them as sexual - Frodo and Sam would be another example).

    Basically, Rowling is wanting all the credit for writing a Queer character, without actually writing a Queer character - if she wanted to make Dumbledore gay, she should have put it in the books (and there are ways of doing that so children won't notice). This protagonist of my own book is a bisexual male, and it isn't a huge thing (his society sees it as nothing strange) - but he is shown to be attracted to men and women, on the principle of Show Don't Tell.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by SillyLittleTwit View Post
    IMHO, Rowling did it very badly with Dumbledore. Dumbledore in Books 1-6 is a Wise Old Mentor Figure, and Wise Old Mentor Figures don't have sexualities (it's like asking about Gandalf's sexuality - it simply doesn't exist). Book 7 is ambiguous - while the Grindelwald thing can be read as sexual, I just read it as Victorian-era male bonding (the Victorians envisaged close relationships between men without envisaging them as sexual - Frodo and Sam would be another example).
    This has so many sweeping assertions embedded in it that I can't even . .

    1. There were truly non-sexual same-sex relationships between men in the Victorian era. There were a lot that whether or not they were sexually consummated were romantic and homoerotic.
    2. Making it not homoerotic in the absence of sex implies that being queer is all about the sex, and I'm sure you didn't mean that.
    3. There were and are lots of romantic same-sex homoerotic relationships between women then and now as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by SillyLittleTwit View Post
    Basically, Rowling is wanting all the credit for writing a Queer character, without actually writing a Queer character - if she wanted to make Dumbledore gay, she should have put it in the books (and there are ways of doing that so children won't notice). This protagonist of my own book is a bisexual male, and it isn't a huge thing (his society sees it as nothing strange) - but he is shown to be attracted to men and women, on the principle of Show Don't Tell.
    You know an awful lot of people identified Dumbldore as queer long before Rowling answered a question about his sexuality on stage. This mirrors real life where straight people are often astonished to discover that someone isn't straight.

    And I absolutely do not think it was a publicity stunt.

    I'm also a little squicked regarding the passing references to

    Quote Originally Posted by SillyLittleTwit View Post
    if she wanted to make Dumbledore gay, she should have put it in the books (and there are ways of doing that so children won't notice).
    Most kids have someone in their local orbit who isn't straight. A parent, an aunt or uncle, a friend, a teacher . . . most kids don't really care.

    You know who does care? The kids who aren't straight. It's huge to them.

    Is Rowling supposed to make sure that all the non-queer characters are clearly straight? So that, you know, we can tell?
    Last edited by AW Admin; 07-18-2017 at 10:01 PM.

  17. #42
    practical experience, FTW Simpson17866's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SillyLittleTwit View Post
    if she wanted to make Dumbledore gay, she should have put it in the books (and there are ways of doing that so children won't notice).
    Is it a problem that children noticed Lily and James Potter being straight? Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia? Arthur and Molly Weasley? Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy?

  18. #43
    practical experience, FTW themindstream's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AW Admin View Post

    You know an awful lot of people identified Dumbldore as queer long before Rowling answered a question about his sexuality on stage. This mirrors real life where straight people are often astonished to discover that someone isn't straight.
    Honest question, was any of that before book 7? I'm not involved with the fandom and the books were coming out at a time when I was much more naive about non-hetero relationships.
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  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by themindstream View Post
    On the subject of message fiction, I'm not going to tell anyone not to write it. (Hell there are certain groups who will accuse you of it just for having non white male main characters and they largely aren't worth listening to.) But as a reader there are some messages I just think have been done to death and they tend to be the most simplistic formulations of those messages. They are messages I agree with. There are doubtless people who still need to hear them. But they should not be the end all, be all of the message.

    "Racisim is bad and racists are bad" is not news to me. "Racisim is complicated and does not go away by our wishing it so" is. "Women who rebels by doing man things" is cliche to me (note: historicals get a free pass). "Women have always done things that men do" is a revelation.

    ...I don't actually know if there's a LGBT parallel in this. Actually, I can't think of any "message fiction" with LGBT as the subject. In my experience they just started appearing in stuff I was reading as another permutation of possible romantic relationships and because it was fantasy/sci fi, the stigma that got attached to it in real life was written out.
    Not sure if it counts, but I purposely wrote an effeminate male character who other characters often assume is gay. Yet he's actually completely straight and quite comfortable in his body. He's just strangely drawn to more feminine things.

    I partly came up with this character because as a kid, other kids kept calling me gay because I was feminine.

  20. #45
    Assistant Deputy Backup SillyLittleTwit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AW Admin View Post
    This has so many sweeping assertions embedded in it that I can't even . .

    1. There were truly non-sexual same-sex relationships between men in the Victorian era. There were a lot that whether or not they were sexually consummated were romantic and homoerotic.
    2. Making it not homoerotic in the absence of sex implies that being queer is all about the sex, and I'm sure you didn't mean that.
    3. There were and are lots of romantic same-sex homoerotic relationships between women then and now as well.
    Yes. I am aware of that. My point is that the Victorians would not have considered Frodo and Sam's relationship as sexual, due to different cultural norms. It just happens to be how I read Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

    (Not least because it avoids the disturbing situation where the only example of homosexuality in Rowling is Dumbledore falling in love with wizard Hitler, then shunning all further attachments. In a setting that otherwise portrays love as entirely positive).

    You know an awful lot of people identified Dumbldore as queer long before Rowling answered a question about his sexuality on stage. This mirrors real life where straight people are often astonished to discover that someone isn't straight.
    It is not about Dumbledore being straight. He isn't straight any more than he is gay - within the books themselves, he has no sexuality (wearing purple robes does not make one homosexual). Which is why Rowling should not be claiming credit for portraying a Queer character when she has done nothing of the sort.

    Most kids have someone in their local orbit who isn't straight. A parent, an aunt or uncle, a friend, a teacher . . . most kids don't really care.

    You know who does care? The kids who aren't straight. It's huge to them.

    Is Rowling supposed to make sure that all the non-queer characters are clearly straight? So that, you know, we can tell?
    FFS.

    1. The "children won't notice" thing is in reference to featuring adult sexuality in a children's book - nothing to do with "protecting children from evil gays". I've had this discussion before about Rowling not putting Dumbledore's sexuality in the book, and the common answer is that "she can't. It's a kid's book."

    2. A fictional character does not have a sexuality until they are given one. Dumbledore isn't given one - he's not straight, and he's not gay, any more than Gandalf is.

  21. #46
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    Why are we discussing hypothetical Victorian opinions about characters created long after that period?


  22. #47
    Assistant Deputy Backup SillyLittleTwit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helix View Post
    Why are we discussing hypothetical Victorian opinions about characters created long after that period?
    Because in-universe Dumbledore and Grindelwald had their relationship in 1899.

  23. #48
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SillyLittleTwit View Post
    IMHO, Rowling did it very badly with Dumbledore. Dumbledore in Books 1-6 is a Wise Old Mentor Figure, and Wise Old Mentor Figures don't have sexualities (it's like asking about Gandalf's sexuality - it simply doesn't exist). Book 7 is ambiguous - while the Grindelwald thing can be read as sexual, I just read it as Victorian-era male bonding (the Victorians envisaged close relationships between men without envisaging them as sexual - Frodo and Sam would be another example).

    Basically, Rowling is wanting all the credit for writing a Queer character, without actually writing a Queer character - if she wanted to make Dumbledore gay, she should have put it in the books (and there are ways of doing that so children won't notice). This protagonist of my own book is a bisexual male, and it isn't a huge thing (his society sees it as nothing strange) - but he is shown to be attracted to men and women, on the principle of Show Don't Tell.
    This seems ... dubious. And a litle bit unfair to the wise old mentors. Do they all have to be without sexuality? I'm all for more asexual representation, but I don't think I want it if you are just making all your wise old mentors asexual because wise old mentors aren't allowed to be sexy. Unless you are saying that asexuality grants awesome wizard powers. That I could possibly get behind.

    In the hiatus novel I made the wise old mentor gay (and also the villain's ex), because why the hell shouldn't he be?
    Alex

  24. #49
    practical experience, FTW Simpson17866's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SillyLittleTwit View Post
    (Not least because it avoids the disturbing situation where the only example of homosexuality in Rowling is Dumbledore falling in love with wizard Hitler, then shunning all further attachments. In a setting that otherwise portrays love as entirely positive).
    OK, that seems fair when you put it that way.

    1. The "children won't notice" thing is in reference to featuring adult sexuality in a children's book - nothing to do with "protecting children from evil gays".
    Is being gay fundamentally "adult" and "sexual" in a way that being straight isn't?

  25. #50
    Ni. Peng. Neee-Wom. edutton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albedo View Post
    Unless you are saying that asexuality grants awesome wizard powers. That I could possibly get behind.
    I can think of more than one magic system where that would (or does!) totally work.
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