This is an article I wrote a year or so ago for another blog. I’m cheating this month because I’m on the deadline train and I like the article and want to rewrite it a bit and re-share.
Hope that’s okay!
I wish there wasn’t a gay fiction category.
There are many reasons people read and write fiction of any genre with gay characters. My favorite type of story is not the one where the focus is on a character being gay. I love the story where the main character(s) just happen to be gay. Being gay shouldn’t be considered a character flaw so it stands to reason it shouldn’t be what defines a character.
I think it’s great when a book/TV show/movie has characters that also happen to be gay. Their sexual orientation doesn’t need to be the story line.
The Syfy Channel is an excellent example of doing just this. Yes, this is television, not books, however script writing is still writing and all movies/TV shows start out in a written form. LGBT representation is wide-spread in Syfy’s original programming. They don’t shout about it, or advertise it and the importance of the character is not the fact that he or she is gay or a lesbian or bi. These facts are one aspect of the many layers of a character.
One of the best examples of how Syfy channel has accomplished this is the show Warehouse 13 (great, fun show, give it a watch if you haven’t already). From the start the LGBT community has been represented. In season 3 they added a gay character to the regular cast, a former ATF agent, Steve Jinks…aka Jinks or Jinky on the show. He’s also a Buddhist and has recently ended a long term relationship with a man who is US Marshal (cha-ching).
Jinks is badass. He’s a wonderful, multi-layered character who also happens to be gay. He’s got an awesome story line that has nothing to do with his being gay. There is no real angsting over will the other characters accept him or not, which is refreshing. They take his being gay as just him. They are supportive when they have to work with Jink’s ex, asking if they should hate him, because they could do that. Later Jinks and his ex discuss what went wrong between them.
There is a second character, a woman HG Wells, and she’s openly bi. As with Jinks that’s not what is important about her character. She’s one of those good bad guys. The fact she’s bi comes out during her story line but isn’t the focus of her story. Her character has layers upon layers and they all come together to create a memorable, fascinating character.
Let’s not forget Caprica with a gay man who was an enforcer!
The Star Trek franchise is taking the same approach. From the first appearance Star Trek has always boldly gone… and they’re not stopping now. Hikaru Sulu, another badass character was recently revealed as gay. It’s not a big announcement, I understand there’s a family picture and some mention of his husband. How awesome is that? The focus is on the man and his part in the story, not who he goes to bed with at night.
These characters are treated like all the other characters on the show. They are what they are and their story lines is what is important. The focus of their character is what they do, not who they sleep with. I think that goes a long way in promoting the LGBT community in general.
There is certainly a place in literature for the coming out or coming of age traditional LGBT story and those stories need to be told. However, we must also have a place for this other type of story where there are gay characters but the story doesn’t revolve around that aspect of the characters.
Actor Morgan Freeman made a wonderful statement about Black History month that can also apply to LGBT people. He basically says to stop prejudice and bias we need to stop talking about it. The Syfy Channel, Star Trek franchise and publishers such as DSP Publications have done an amazing job of showing how to do just that.
“Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman.”– Morgan Freeman.
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