Writing About Other Sexualities

This post was originally made in August 2014. I felt like it was time for an update. 

Representation is important and publishing is finally starting to embrace diversity. If you're thinking about writing queer characters, there are many things to consider, especially if you're writing about a sexuality that is not your own.

The most important thing when writing queer characters is that being queer is not the only thing they have going for them. They have pasts, futures, hopes, dreams, motivations just like any other characters. They shouldn't be here to play the role of "Gay Best Friend #1." Coming out stories are not the only queer stories that matter. They're extremely important, don't get me wrong, but we also need stories about characters who just happen to be queer, just like we have thousands of stories about characters who just happen to be straight.

Do your research. Don't rely on stereotypes or misconceptions. Not all gay men are interested in fashion. Lesbians are not going through a phase. Bisexual does not equal polyamorous. Don't perpetuate myths and remember that everyone is different. LGBT people experience different environments depending on the area in which they live their family, and their friends. Some are only out to certain people, some are out to everyone, and some aren't out at all.

Bisexuals are still bisexual no matter the gender identity of the person they're dating. A bisexual woman married to a man is not straight. A bisexual woman married to a woman is not a lesbian. Sexuality is not about current relationships but general attraction.

Characters don't have to have a label. It can be a comfort to many people to categorize themselves, but some people choose to simply live their lives and fall in love without labels. Some people experience preferences within their own orientation, but this doesn't make a difference in how they identify. A bisexual woman with a preference to dating women is still bisexual. 

Asexuality is a valid sexuality, but it shouldn't be confused with being aromantic. Asexuals can still be in fulfilling relationships. Asexuality comes in a spectrum, with a wide range of preferences when it comes to sex. There isn't one way to feel.

Do not introduce gay characters just to kill them. For reference, the Bury Your Gays page of TV Tropes.

Finally, some examples of positive queer representation:
  • Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab 
  • Heroes of Olympus series, Magnus Chase trilogy, and Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan 
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller 
  • Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Li
  • How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
  • Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo 
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (see also the movie Love, Simon which is everything I've ever wanted from a gay teen romcom) 
  • The Pros of Cons by Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar, and Michelle Shusterman 
  • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

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