Um... I think there are plenty of coming of age books that are whiny without having a single LGBT character in them. Blaming it all on "teh gays" is not exactly fair.
I don't think the OP ever said that.
There's always a need for any type of story that can help a person overcome difficulties in their life, but over-saturation is never a good thing. There are different coming out experiences. And so far, 90% of the LGBTQ books that I've read deal with the same coming out experience. It's not a question of them dealing with gay characters. I don't care. It's a question of me reading the same story over and over again to the point that they've bored me to death.
All experiences aren't the same. I talked about this over on Goodreads with a fellow black reader. We're pretty much fed up with reading about the "urban" experience as if that's the only experience black people can go through.
The question makes no sense to me. I'll illustrate why by switching out one word: "I know that there are plenty of christian characters in YA. My thing is, how many of them appear in books that aren't about the character being christian?"
Being gay is only one facet of a person, just like religion and race. All these things have meaning and change the way the character acts, but none should be treated as the be-all-end-all of a character.
So basically, I'm just saying what people above have been saying. Don't made a huge deal out of it, just do whatever you need for your story.
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.
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.
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.
If you are a race that makes you "the other", then that automatically gives you a different experience than a person who isn't. A study was done recently. White people realized they were white in their pre-teens, for the most part. People of color realized they were of their race in ages five to seven. That's huge. That alone is a topic to write about.
It does matter where you live, I agree - but that doesn't change the nation's overall climate? A character would have to be living under a rock (and maybe he/she is, that could be a story) to not know that people accuse him/her of crimes against humanity, that hate crimes are committed, that people HATE them just because of that sexuality. It'd be ingenuine for anyone to say that they're unaffected by hatred aimed towards them. There has to be some sort of reaction from that character.
You know, for the last part I also agree. I dislike issue books. It makes race, gender, sexuality an issue, instead of something that should also be taken into the mainstream. But it's not black and white. I'd say there's an important gray area where characters (in this world) can't just ignore that racism, sexism, homophobia exists. (And of course, this should extend into all "issues." Class, religion, disability, anything that makes a person the "other.")
Shady, you're right on so many levels. But I can't get this "move beyond" business out of my head. Do you think that writing outside of the trials of a character's sexual identity is superior to addressing them directly?
***The novel I've been working on for the last ten months is a borderline issue book, and I'm having a mild crisis at the idea that I'm not going to stand a chance at publishing it because everyone has decide in the publishing industry that we have "moved beyond" LGBTQ issues.
1. Maybe it's a consequence of being the only white kid in my grade at my first school, but I was aware of my whiteness from the age of six, if not far before. I'd like a link to that study?
2. Just because someone is affected by something doesn't mean it goes into the story. Someone writing a story about a character who was like me wouldn't have to mention my creepy obsession with the Holocaust if the book were about the time I got lost at my school and camped out all night in front of the art building. Or vice-versa. Both of those things are true and I'm sure both say something significant about my personality, but it's just not right to say that as writers we're obligated to show all of what makes our characters who they are. We just have to show you who they are. We do not have to show you the strings. This is a magic show.
We just don't have to. You can damn well assume that my gay characters have to open up the newspaper and read about someone else trying to stop them from getting fundamental human rights or open up their email and see an invitiation to sign a petition to stop gay people from being killed in a country far far away. You can assume that they have that awareness and a zillion other things because those are aspects that are absolutely part of the current gay experience. But I do not have to show them to you, as long as my character makes sense as an individual from that context. I don't have to prove that any more than I have to show you my character's birth certificate.
But people who are other'd by society find acceptance in many places. Not every interesting conflict this kind of person deals with is essential to their being other'd. So essentially it would be like writing about a conflict they are involved in that has nothing to do with what sets them apart as different. Is there really something wrong with that?
This is true - but usually, those places are then other'd (I like that) by society too. For example, "gay colonies" aren't accepted by society. That's why it's a separate colony. There are many instances where race-identified support groups face overt racism on college campuses. Those places/groups are necessary for support from within, but that doesn't mean outside society supports them as well.
You definitely can't write a character in a vacuum, and for that reason I agree that a writer who makes a supporting character (or even MC) gay could end up surprised at where that takes their story. But I really don't think there are universals to the gay experience. There because there are examples of these things you've mentioned doesn't mean they have to be included in every story.
I disagree that it's as simple as you say. These two characters coming home to each other - are they on a television program? In a character's imaginiation? It's hard to see a scene in any novel where that would be a passing moment, and not have to have any development further than that. And not even only for that specific scene. Development of experience is necessary, and in this day and age in the USA, it would be insincere to make characters who are completely unaffected by hatred against them that is blatantly seen everywhere.
Elizabeth Bear said:Frederick Valens let himself in the front door, expecting a silent house and darkness. Instead a puddle of light fell over the easy chair, an afghan-swaddled figure lying through it. The holo flickered in the corner, sound turned off. Valens felt around for the remote, unwilling to raise his voice to command it to darkness.
It snapped off on its own, and Valens's husband shrugged off the blanket and came across the faded Persian carpets. A sleepy African gray parrot—Valens couldn't tell whether it was Dexter or Sinister—clucked in the cage that took up the west wall of the room. "Georges," Valens said. "You waited up."
"I can never sleep when you're in space." A stocky man, bald as an egg now but with a twinkle in pale eyes that lay deepset behind spectacles he refused to give up for surgical vision correction.
"The whole time I was on Mars. You didn't sleep then either?" Valens bent down and kissed Georges on the mouth.
"Not a wink. Seven years. I wasn't bald when you left, remember?" He gave Frederick a squeeze and stepped away. "You look exhausted. Tea's hot. We've got stuff for sandwiches."
Then, in Alabama, things changed. Yeah, dramatic I know. Not only was I the smart kid, but I was the smart black kid. And with that goes tokenism and those stupid patronizing comments about race.
I don't mean to make light of your situation, but I wonder how you would feel if you grew up solely in that situation in maybe something equivalent to a foster home with white parents who also focused on your race. Do you think that without the backdrop of a diverse learning environment and a supportive family you would still have the same sense of identity?