Gay characters in non-gay stories

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Gale Haut

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It kind of did. More what I was trying to get at is that you are going to have gay kids growing up without even having a support system in their home life. In fact, many end up getting the opposite of support and growing up in hostile homes that teach them that what they are is evil, funny and gross.

So it's really not the same thing as (your words) "a straight person always thinking about being straight." It's more about someone trying to come to terms with an internal conflict: who they are v. who they are supposed to be. It's basically a Man v. Self and Man v. Society conflict. And there's plenty of literature with straight characters dealing with these issues, so why is it somehow more self indulgent for a gay narrative to deal with gay conflicts?
 
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thebloodfiend

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So it's really not the same thing as (your words) "a straight person always thinking about being straight." It's more about someone trying to come to terms with an internal conflict: who they are v. who they are supposed to be. It's basically a Man v. Self and Man v. Society conflict. And there's plenty of literature with straight characters dealing with these issues, so why is it somehow more self indulgent for a gay narrative to deal with gay conflicts?

What I'm trying to say is that any character who focuses solely on that one aspect of who they are is not three dimensional, hence you are left with an Alex Sanchezesque story. They have their purpose, but they aren't interesting enough to read again and again.

It isn't a man vs. self story. It's a boring story. Coming to terms with you are is completely different. In Will Grayson, being gay is just ONE problem Levithan's Will deals with. It doesn't define who he is. Dealing with being gay, if it's just one part of the story doesn't bother me. When that's all the story is about, well, you need to start writing another story.

An internal conflict is supposed to be complex. Otherwise the story gets old. In, Then Again, Maybe I Won't, Tony deals with many different issues on top puberty. But that's not the most important issue. If it was a three-hundred page discussion on male puberty, you can bet that I wouldn't have read all the way through.

Three-hundred pages of nothing but "I'm gay and I'm being bullied" is simply bad writing, not internal conflict.
 

Gale Haut

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Oh yeah. I definitely agree... Though, I think if we were to be in a book club together and read one of these books, we would likely come away with different interpretations of what makes the character flat or 3D. But that's just a guess.
 

Kitty Pryde

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So seriously, who's writing these books solely about "being gay and bullied" or about gay characters that are about coming out and nothing else, or only about being sad and emo and tortured over gayness? Because I can't say I've read any from the last decade.

Read Rainbow Boys lately? We've got: dating people you don't have feelings for, sketchy internet hookups, unsafe sex, lack of sex education, looking like a 'freak' and not fitting in, the magic of first love, abusive father, absent father, power of friendship to help overcome adversity, bullying both verbal and physical, and relationships with HIV positive people. You will note that none of the above topics are gay. Seriously, what bad whiny-gay-kid coming-out books is everyone complaining about?
 

Lydia Sharp

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So seriously, who's writing these books solely about "being gay and bullied" or about gay characters that are about coming out and nothing else, or only about being sad and emo and tortured over gayness? Because I can't say I've read any from the last decade.

Read Rainbow Boys lately? We've got: dating people you don't have feelings for, sketchy internet hookups, unsafe sex, lack of sex education, looking like a 'freak' and not fitting in, the magic of first love, abusive father, absent father, power of friendship to help overcome adversity, bullying both verbal and physical, and relationships with HIV positive people. You will note that none of the above topics are gay. Seriously, what bad whiny-gay-kid coming-out books is everyone complaining about?

This.

And some other things. But mostly this.
 
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Gale Haut

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That's what I was thinking, Kitty. But I only conceded that IF a coming out book was two dimensional I wouldn't like it. Just like I wouldn't like any book that is two dimensional. I don't know why this has to be stated specifically for LGBT issue books. But whatever.
 

thebloodfiend

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House of Night - The gay characters are nothing but gay.
Evermore - Mike is nothing but gay.
Crash Into Me - Jun Ei(I can't remember how to spell her name) is nothing but gay, or at least her life revolves around being gay.
Nick and Norah - Thom is nothing but gay.
Naomi and Ely - Ely is a stereotypical gay boy.
Glee - Don't get me started.
I Know It's Over - Nathan's only problem is coming out. I like him, but other conflict would have been nice.

This isn't just about LGBT issue books. It's about any book, but because this thread was started on the topic of LGBT books, I focused on them. I can give plenty of other books that focus on minorities ONLY dealing with being a minority.

There's nothing wrong with a book that deals with coming out. But when it dissolves into nothing but being gay, as is the case with the books above, that is a problem.

The problem starts with a stereotype. Such as the feminine gay boy. Then, when your character is nothing but that, well, would you want to read that book?

If you want to discuss this in terms of anything but LGBTQ issue books, we can. I just didn't want to derail. But I'll discuss drug issue books, race issue books, abuse issue books, anything. It's not the LGBTQ that's the problem. It's the way it's presented. I've never dealt with any of these issues outside of my race, and that's apparent every time someone looks at me, so maybe that makes me a bit callous on this subject.

I think it's inaccurate to even compare sexuality with race. But I've noticed that a lot of people tip-toe around both subjects so as to not offend anyone. There isn't anything wrong with that, but sometimes comments can be blown out of proportion.
 
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Shady Lane

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I'm out. I think I've said all that I had to say and I'd just be repeating myself and repeating myself at this point. But quick note that I wasn't alluding to Obama's birth certificate. I was just talking about birth certificates.

It's an issue of trusting the writer and trusting the book, I think. You have to trust that I'm aware of issues of queerness and that I've taken them into account until I give you reasons not to. That's just the contract between the writer and the reader, and it's true with any book. It's what makes reading awesome.

Aaaand I'm out.
 

Kitty Pryde

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Nick and Norah - Thom is nothing but gay.
Naomi and Ely - Ely is a stereotypical gay boy.
Glee - Don't get me started.
I Know It's Over - Nathan's only problem is coming out. I like him, but other conflict would have been nice.

The problem starts with a stereotype. Such as the feminine gay boy. Then, when your character is nothing but that, well, would you want to read that book?

Haven't read all of these, but...Thom is a musician, he is a supportive yet mocking friend, he is a taxi service for goofy drunk girls, he is an asian-american dude, he is generally a big shit-talker...for such a minor character he seems well rounded to me.

Ely is likewise a well-rounded character to me. I don't know how he's a stereotype--characters can have stereotypical traits, just like real people can. Some gay guys are feminine, have a great fashion sense, enjoy musical theater, dislike Nascar, whatever. And plenty don't. So what's the problem?

Glee? Kurt is an awful lot like lots of real people that you don't really see represented on tv outside "My So Called Life" and "DeGrassi". And he's not 1-dimensional, we have his loss of his mother in his backstory, his difficulty being really different from his father, almost losing his father, unrequited love, having the hots for his stepsibling, making a blended stepfamily, competition with his friends in glee club, being stifled in a boring small town, lack of sex education, bullying, again none of these things are gay.


A lot of discussion in this thread (not singling out you in particular) feels like "well, i like a book with a gay in it, as long as they aren't just gaying it up all over the place like a big rainbow explosion". I don't see how the subject of gayness makes a book worse or better. I don't see how a more-gayish-gay detracts from a story!
 

Medievalist

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A lot of discussion in this thread (not singling out you in particular) feels like "well, i like a book with a gay in it, as long as they aren't just gaying it up all over the place like a big rainbow explosion". I don't see how the subject of gayness makes a book worse or better. I don't see how a more-gayish-gay detracts from a story!

QFT

There are all sorts of people in the world.

There are all sorts of characters.

There are all sorts of readers.

Write the best book you can. Write hard, write true, and then revise and do it all over again.
 

Gale Haut

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ETA: Glee only focuses on gay stuff? *shakes head sadly*

Fine. Not everybody has to agree to like the same shit.

Anyway, here's something that's helped mold the way I think about this subject. One of my favorite essays is "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" by Langston Hughes, specifically because I can relate with it not as a black man but as a gay man. You can take it for what you want. But after I drop this link, I too am bailing on the convo. (For realsies this time.)

One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, "I want to be a poet--not a Negro poet," meaning, I believe, "I want to write like a white poet"; meaning subconsciously, "I would like to be a white poet"; meaning behind that, "I would like to be white." And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America--this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.

But let us look at the immediate background of this young poet. His family is of what I suppose one would call the Negro middle class: people who are by no means rich yet never uncomfortable nor hungry--smug, contented, respectable folk, members of the Baptist church. The father goes to work every morning. He is a chief steward at a large white club. The mother sometimes does fancy sewing or supervises parties for the rich families of the town. The children go to a mixed school. In the home they read white papers and magazines. And the mother often says "Don't be like niggers" when the children are bad. A frequent phrase from the father is, "Look how well a white man does things." And so the word white comes to be unconsciously a symbol of all virtues. It holds for the children beauty, morality, and money. The whisper of "I want to be white" runs silently through their minds. This young poet's home is, I believe, a fairly typical home of the colored middle class. One sees immediately how difficult it would be for an artist born in such a home to interest himself in interpreting the beauty of his own people. He is never taught to see that beauty. He is taught rather not to see it, or if he does, to be ashamed of it when it is not according to Caucasian patterns.

READ MORE...
 
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zolambrosine

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Hey guys! I'm sorry, I'm not much in the mood for debating anymore, but I'm sure we're all on the same side here... and in the interest of solidarity, I bring good news:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/atlantic/20...egalluppollfindsmajorityfavorgaymarriage37962

:D:D Keep up the writing. No matter the stance on how it should be done, I'm pretty sure that writing with a passion for LGBT in YA will help change the world for the better.
 
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