Gay characters in non-gay stories

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Robocracy Now

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I know that there are plenty of gay characters in YA. My thing is, how many of them appear in books that aren't about the character being gay?

I'm writing a sci-fi YA set in the future, which is mostly action and suspense and intrigue. Well, a gay kid gets kidnapped and his best friend is blame for it and she has to find him before the authorities find her and save her friend and clear her name at the same time.

Thing is, I want to make the character gay, but at the same time I don't want to spend too much time on his being gay.

Anyone know of any YA that has gay characters in stories that are mostly action and NOT the typical "ohh, wooo is me! I'm gay, wawwwaaa" whine fest?

I mean, I'm gay, and I got over being gay when I was like fourteen and spent more of my time whining about what it would take me to get a car or how much the Yankees sucked than I did being a whining gay emo kid like in so many YA novels.

Aside from my primary goal of writing a good story, I would also like to show a young gay male who is something OTHER than just "the gay kid".
 

Becca C.

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This is something talked about a lot in the YA world. Moving beyond coming-out stories is happening slowly, and there are a few books leading the way. Scott Tracey's paranormal Witch Eyes is about a gay boy but it isn't about him being gay. It's coming out in September.

I know there are others but I can't really remember at this time of night...
 

Robocracy Now

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This is something talked about a lot in the YA world. Moving beyond coming-out stories is happening slowly,

That is exactly what I'm talking about! Can we get beyond the whole "accept that your gay" thing already?


and there are a few books leading the way. Scott Tracey's paranormal Witch Eyes is about a gay boy but it isn't about him being gay. It's coming out in September.

Thanks for the recommend.
 

shaldna

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Anyone know of any YA that has gay characters in stories that are mostly action and NOT the typical "ohh, wooo is me! I'm gay, wawwwaaa" whine fest?

IIRC Hannah Moskowitz (Shady Lane) has a book coming out next year (Gone Gone Gone) with a gay MC.
 

zolambrosine

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I know that there are plenty of gay characters in YA. My thing is, how many of them appear in books that aren't about the character being gay?

I'm writing a sci-fi YA set in the future, which is mostly action and suspense and intrigue. Well, a gay kid gets kidnapped and his best friend is blame for it and she has to find him before the authorities find her and save her friend and clear her name at the same time.

Thing is, I want to make the character gay, but at the same time I don't want to spend too much time on his being gay.

Anyone know of any YA that has gay characters in stories that are mostly action and NOT the typical "ohh, wooo is me! I'm gay, wawwwaaa" whine fest?

I mean, I'm gay, and I got over being gay when I was like fourteen and spent more of my time whining about what it would take me to get a car or how much the Yankees sucked than I did being a whining gay emo kid like in so many YA novels.

Aside from my primary goal of writing a good story, I would also like to show a young gay male who is something OTHER than just "the gay kid".

(Sue Sylvester voice.) Offensive.

I'm not sure it's as easy as "I got over being gay when I was like fourteen." You're on an Internet forum talking about the fact that you're gay. It's a part of a person's identity to consider themselves gay. A person's identity is a huge factor that writers must consider during character development.

I'm not sure if a gay character that just happens to be gay is anymore effective than a stereotypical gay character. To simply say in passing, "btws, this character is gay" would just make English readers pause. We would want to know the story behind his gay identity, because we're in a society where gay identity often brings conflict and controversey - because being gay is considered "the other." What's the point of making a character like that if you're not going to be true to the most common experience in this society? Because whether this is a memoir or a sci-fi YA dystopia, writing should always be true.

(I say "offensive" - but it's not really offensive - but it is kinda offensive. Even if you don't like YA "gay" novels, I think it's important to respect the novels and the writers who have broken down a lot of walls so that we've come to the point where we are now, to even have a discussion like this. Decades ago, it would've been, "can I write a gay character in my YA"? Sure, there are some "gay" YA novels that aren't my thing, but there's no need to bash them, even jokingly.)
 

AyJay

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Robocracy--there are plenty of YA books out there that don't focus solely (or at all) on a gay character's coming out. Check out gayya.org for some titles. Off the top of my head...

Malinda Lo's Ash (and follow up Huntress, so I've heard) has a female MC falling in love with another young woman, and it's entirely matter-of-fact, set in a fantasy world, and focused on the girl's loss of her parents and discovery of a magical world.

David Levithan's Wide Awake certainly deals with gay political themes (in a near future setting) but the conflict centers on trust/distrust in relationships, what it means to be in love, etc., i.e. basic contemporary YA themes.

To expand a bit on what kcallendar said, writing a book to show young readers that gay teens are just like everyone else, could be just as heavy-handed as a novel that seeks to show the pain that some kids face coming out.

Gotta run, may be back later for more...
 

Momento Mori

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THE DEMON'S LEXICON, THE DEMON'S COVENANT and the upcoming THE DEMON'S SURRENDER by Sarah Rees Brennan has a gay supporting character (Jamie) whose storyline is not about his being gay.

MM
 

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The Mortal Instruments series has a gay supporting character (Alec)but that's just a small detail in the really awesome, epic, action-packed Urban Fantasy plot. If my memory serves me correctly (and if wikipedia is a reliable source to refresh it), I think the fact that he's gay is revealed ever since the first book (City of Bones)...

Alec is certainly important in the book for other reasons than him being gay (he's an awesome fighter, for example) so I think this book may be what you're looking for.
 

thebloodfiend

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If being gay isn't a part of his personality, just mention it in passing. I've recently read Gone, Gone, Gone and I loved that while the two main characters were gay, it had no influence over their personalities. It was just their sexuality. And while coming out was touched upon briefly, it wasn't that big of a deal. And I've had so many people tell me that being gay is just a part of your sexuality and that gay people are no different from straight people.

I write a lot of minorities into my work and I've had one beta ask why a particular character had to be black. And if it wasn't important to the story, maybe they should just be white. If race and sexuality have no bearing on how you act as a person, why can't you mention it in passing and move on? Go for it. I, personally, am sick of the gay character who's life revolves around being gay. I understand that it might effect the way that you act around certain people, but why does it have to be the most important thing about you? I also think that you can touch on coming out without treating it as the central defining characteristic of who he is.
 

zolambrosine

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If being gay isn't a part of his personality, just mention it in passing. I've recently read Gone, Gone, Gone and I loved that while the two main characters were gay, it had no influence over their personalities. It was just their sexuality. And while coming out was touched upon briefly, it wasn't that big of a deal. And I've had so many people tell me that being gay is just a part of your sexuality and that gay people are no different from straight people.

I write a lot of minorities into my work and I've had one beta ask why a particular character had to be black. And if it wasn't important to the story, maybe they should just be white. If race and sexuality have no bearing on how you act as a person, why can't you mention it in passing and move on? Go for it. I, personally, am sick of the gay character who's life revolves around being gay. I understand that it might effect the way that you act around certain people, but why does it have to be the most important thing about you? I also think that you can touch on coming out without treating it as the central defining characteristic of who he is.

I don't think personality has anything to do with a person's sexuality or race. I think that the character's experience has something to do with their sexuality or race. In this day and age, there's still homophobia and racism. I think that it would be false to the character's experience to not have them face real-world issues, thus making the craft of the novel generally false. This doesn't make the book the best book it could be. This doesn't help resolve any political real-world issues or any personal issues, in the end.

The novel doesn't have to be ABOUT them being gay - but if real-world conflicts involving race and sexuality are ignored, then their character most likely won't be developed enough. (Unless the story is set in a different world and the narrator goes out of its way to make the point that racism, homophobia, sexism doesn't exist - the society is not a white, patriarchal society.)
 

thebloodfiend

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The novel doesn't have to be ABOUT them being gay - but if real-world conflicts involving race and sexuality are ignored, then their character most likely won't be developed enough. (Unless the story is set in a different world and the narrator goes out of its way to make the point that racism, homophobia, sexism doesn't exist - the society is not a white, patriarchal society.)

This is true. But in certain environments, race and sexuality won't matter. Around certain people, my race matters to them. And it might effect our discussion topics. But it doesn't change me. It might effect how I might act around them but not me as a person.

On a daily basis, here in New Mexico, it doesn't effect me. Somewhere else, like Birmingham or Florida, it might effect me more frequently. I will say that race was more important in those places than it is here. NM is very pro-LGBT. I can't say the same about other places that I've lived.

I don't think race and sexuality should be ignored in any way, but making a book an issue book because a gay character or a person of color is present is not a good thing. It usually makes me put the book down because I can't stand issue books. They're too preachy IMO.

I think they have their place, but I do get tired of them when they're the only thing with minority characters and gay characters getting published.
 
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Medievalist

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I'm not sure it's as easy as "I got over being gay when I was like fourteen." You're on an Internet forum talking about the fact that you're gay. It's a part of a person's identity to consider themselves gay. A person's identity is a huge factor that writers must consider during character development.

It's a factor; being queer doesn't have to be someone's dominant ID in life anymore than being Swedish has to. It's one facet.

I'm not sure if a gay character that just happens to be gay is anymore effective than a stereotypical gay character. To simply say in passing, "btws, this character is gay" would just make English readers pause.

No, really, being queer doesn't have to be a primary factor any more than being straight has to be a primary factor.

Nor do you have to have a hand-waving moment. You can simply have two same sex characters dating each other. You can have a spouse come home to a same-sex spouse and say "honey, I'm home."

Sometimes it's not all about teh gay. Sometimes it's about "I can never have the car because my older sister always has first call." Or I need a job so I can buy a car but there's no work to be had because of all the zombies in town disrupting business.
 

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Is a "non-gay" story a story that is attracted to stories of the opposite sex? Like, a Sarah Dessen novel that is dating a Gary Paulsen novel? That sort of thing?
 

Zoombie

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One of my novels has a gay supporting character. He's very open about being gay.

It's being a unicorn that he's in the closet about.
 

Shady Lane

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thanks guys :)

I made a conscious choice to have it not be an issue in Gone, Gone, Gone. If that makes it a little bit of a Boy Meets Boy-style utopia, so be it. The boys live in my suburb of D.C., and they live an upper-middle-class lifestyle where they, if me and my friends' experiences are any proof, would not receive more than the occasional batted eye for being queer. It's definitely part of each boy's identity, but is it an "issue" for them? no, absolutely not. but again, they're in the right place from the right background.
 

Shady Lane

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oh, but I would totally consider Gone, Gone, Gone a "gay" book, if we're using those classifications (and...why are we?) I mean, it's a love story between two guys, sooooo...
 

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Hah, wow. I'm glad you haven't really suffered, Robo, but to label young people struggling with coming out "whiners" is pretty offensive.

Write what you want. Does there have to be precedent for you to try it?
 

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One of my best characters in my story is gay and he hasn't just come out... it's not about him coming out - it's about his character and the role he plays in the story as a character not as a gay man. He's a great character, in fact the name sake and based on the personality of one of my best friends.

Alec in The Mortal Instruments is a great character and he's gay - but there's no big issue over the fact.
 

Robocracy Now

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This is true. But in certain environments, race and sexuality won't matter. Around certain people, my race matters to them. And it might effect our discussion topics. But it doesn't change me. It might effect how I might act around them but not me as a person.

On a daily basis, here in New Mexico, it doesn't effect me. Somewhere else, like Birmingham or Florida, it might effect me more frequently. I will say that race was more important in those places than it is here. NM is very pro-LGBT. I can't say the same about other places that I've lived.


I agree completely. I'm black and living in Seattle isn't NEARLY as bad as it would if I was a black guy in Kentucky or something

Plus, here, being gay is like being red headed. No body really makes a big deal out of it.


I don't think race and sexuality should be ignored in any way, but making a book an issue book because a gay character or a person of color is present is not a good thing. It usually makes me put the book down because I can't stand issue books. They're too preachy IMO.

I think they have their place, but I do get tired of them when they're the only thing with minority characters and gay characters getting published.


I agree. I mean, black people can do more than march in civil rights protests and gay people can do more than cry about being oppressed. That kind of heavy handed stuff is getting old.
 

Robocracy Now

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It's a factor; being queer doesn't have to be someone's dominant ID in life anymore than being Swedish has to. It's one facet.

I agree 100%. I don' tell people "hi, I'm a gay fan of the Boston Red Sox" or "I'm a gay mechanic" or "I'm a gay MMA fan,". Being gay is just one part of my life, and not the focus of my life the way so many novels with gay characters make it out to be.




Nor do you have to have a hand-waving moment. You can simply have two same sex characters dating each other. You can have a spouse come home to a same-sex spouse and say "honey, I'm home."

Which is exactly what I intend to do, have a gay character and the way the reader finds out is when he and a girl are drooling over a guy at the pool. No preaching, just showing it and moving on.

Sometimes it's not all about teh gay. Sometimes it's about "I can never have the car because my older sister always has first call." Or I need a job so I can buy a car but there's no work to be had because of all the zombies in town disrupting business.

I agree 100%. In my sci-fi novel, I don't think my gay character will pause in his hijacked battle-mech (think Gundum Wing or Voltron if you're unfamiliar with a mech, i.e., ridable battle robot) and say "wow, I'm a young gay male in a giant battle robot. I feel so empowered!"
 

Robocracy Now

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Is a "non-gay" story a story that is attracted to stories of the opposite sex? Like, a Sarah Dessen novel that is dating a Gary Paulsen novel? That sort of thing?

As in those preachy stories that are all about a character being gay and nothing else. We gay folks actually have other things going on in our lives other than being gay, and so many novels, especially YA novels, don't seem to get that.
 

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You really need to read more YA with gay characters then. Go to www.leewind.com for a start. They are not even mostly about "crying about being oppressed". Even in 1989 there was YA fantasy with gay characters not being "whining gay emo kids".
 

Robocracy Now

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Hah, wow. I'm glad you haven't really suffered, Robo, but to label young people struggling with coming out "whiners" is pretty offensive.

I'm not saying that, just saying that so many gay books are whiney. I got called a "fag" by one kid in my freshman year in high school so I took care of it without whining; I just hit him in the back of the head with a chair, breaking his nose on the desk. My father, who was always supportive, understood that I had to defend myself and didn't flip out when I got suspended.

Granted, I had supportive parents, so I guess I was lucky.


Write what you want. Does there have to be precedent for you to try it?

Because if somebody already did it and it worked, I want to see how they made it work and learn from them.
 

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I just hit him in the back of the head with a chair, breaking his nose on the desk.

How did you not get charged with assault, exactly?
 
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