Well, I finally gave my discussion posts a name, since they’re turning less into discussions and more into rants. Standing On My Soapbox seemed to be an accurate term for the stance I take every Thursday. I’ll get a graphic for it soon enough, once I get picmonkey working on my new computer (a MacBook!!!), but for now we’ll be bland.
Anyway. This weeks SOMS is *drumroll please* gay characters in books. It seems to be the hot topic for me this week, from my Liebster award rant to my grumbling in my Top Ten Tuesday post, I figure I should probably dedicate an entire post to the subject so I can get it out of my system and stop bringing it up over and over again.
Now obviously this is a huge problem in today’s society and is hotly debated everywhere, so I’ll try to be as sensitive as I can. I really do apologize if I offend anyone, and if you disagree with my statements, kindly explain why in the comments below.
Let me try to sum up my main points right now, and then break them down in the further paragraphs.
- If you make it a problem, it will be a problem. Don’t make it a problem, and it won’t be a problem! Simple as that.
- Don’t let a character be defined by their sexuality. If they’re gay, so be it, but that isn’t the only label they ascribe to.
- Don’t resort to stereotypes of the gay community. Not everyone is Neil Patrick Harrison. Not every gay man loves to shop and wear ascots. Not every lesbian dresses like a man and has no interest in feminine clothing or makeup. Just stop the stereotypes in general, to be honest – straight or gay.
#1. Don’t make it a problem, and it won’t be a problem. This right here is my main point. Ever watched Teen Wolf? You should, if your answer is no. Don’t be put off by the cheesy title. Back to my point. Teen Wolf has a character named Tyler, and he is unashamedly gay. And guess what? No one makes a big deal about it. None of the characters are flipping out = I don’t get caught up in their emotions and get riled up with the “how dare they include a gay character on a tv show??” issue. No one is wigging out? Okay, I’m not wigging out. Tyler’s boyfriend breaks up with him – Stiles and Scott take him to a gay bar to get over it. It’s just what they do.
The same thing happens with Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who. In fact, Ten’s final gift to Jack is setting him up with Alonso (correct me if I’m wrong, Whovians). Jack will get it on with whoever accepts him – male or female, human or alien. That’s just who he is, and no one questions it. No one makes a big deal about it, and it’s just one other facet of Jack, just like me having blue eyes is just a simple fact to accept.
See what I’m getting at here? If it isn’t treated as a problem, then the chances of me thinking it’s a problem automatically shrink down to .1%
#2. Don’t let a character be defined by their sexuality. Just as I don’t identify myself by being straight, why should the opposite be true? There is so much more to a person than their orientation. Plus, with how many different kinds of orientation (pan, bi, trans, gay, lesbian, etc) exist, do we really want to take the time to label every single minuscule difference? I’m romantically attracted to guys, but does the fact that I can look at a chick and say “Damn she’s hot” change the fact that ultimately I’d like a husband? Ah, no. It just means that I can appreciate the magnificent example of humanity that’s standing in front of me. If we were to analyze every different person I found to be attractive, we’d be lost forever trying to label my sexuality. Sometimes, it’s best just to leave it alone.
I ranted a bit there – sorry. Back to my point. If the first thing you do is say, “This is [insert character name], and he’s gay,” I’ll be put off immediately. Why lead with the gay? Why not lead with, “Hey, this is [character name], and he’s my best friend, confidant, and the most loyal and trustworthy person I’ve ever met.” Now, which introduction would you prefer? That’s what I thought.
#3. Don’t resort to stereotypes. This should just be a blanket statement for any character in the history of forever. Example: I am a straight woman. Does that mean I remain in the kitchen, stay at home and care for my kids (if I had any yet), and be the perfect housewife? Hell no! Just because I follow the traditional marriage route does not mean that I stick to the stone ages. Sure, I want my husband to provide for me, but if you think I’m going to be sitting on my butt all day, you’re sorely mistaken.
So when a gay man is presented as fairy-like, obsessed with fashion, prissy, and talks with a lisp, it’s just like, “Come on, really?” Really. Just, no. No. No. No. Same with lesbians: I know for a fact that there are some very feminine women that just so happen to like other women – not all of them are butch and do all they can to look like a man.
I hope this explained my position well enough. And I also hope this explains why I stay away from the LGBT books, just because I find that they stick to these examples as their tried-and-true formula. And I feel much better now that I’ve said my peace, to be honest.
Now it’s time to sound off and stand on your own soapbox. What are your thoughts on gay characters in books, especially YA literature? Do you think I’m totally off-base and want to strangle me, or do you agree with one or all of the points I’ve made and have a jar of cookies with my name on it in your home?