I must admit, lately I feel like I've found a cause I want to get on a soapbox for. It wasn't intentional, just a strong feeling when I explored my emotions on the subject. It has to do with gay characters in books.
If you've read my past posts, you'd find I have nothing against gay characters. Bring them on, I say. Hey, I'll even write a few of my own. And I have and those stories have been a blast to write. But through it all, a thought has wondered. What will happen if I pursue publishing those stories?
The biggest tragedy would be someone would ask me to change my characters to make any relationships hetero. That's not happening. Nope, I'd turn down the money (mind you I would wince but as of right now I'm sticking to the idea that I would say no deal.) What if my story did get picked up to be published? Where would it go, what shelf would it occupy?
My friend Chris said something that struck a cord with me. (He also said I made him feel all warm and tingly. A first for him I bet... Okay, something I said made him all happy but I'm still counting it because I said it. =P) He said he hated the term gay literature. I had to agree. Any story I've written that has a gay character isn't a gay story. It's a story with gay characters and when you view it like that you might agree that gay literature is wrong. We don't say a story with male and female leads is hetero literature. Nope, we say it's a paranormal romance of young adult.
So what's the deal with labeling stories with gay characters as gay literature? Some might argue it makes it easier for a gay person to find those stories. Now we're assuming gay people only want to read stories with gay characters.
How about this?
How about we get rid of the GLBT section? How about under the romance section we add a subcategory next to the Western romances or historical romances for books with gay characters? Why don't we stop shoving those stories away in their own little, dark corner and let them have a place with the rest of the stories out there? If someone doesn't want to read them, then pass over the section. I have no desire to read westerns so I never look at them. It's labeled, a person shouldn't be surprised at what may be contained between the pages.
I guess my problem is I cringe thinking of all the wonderful stories that aren't getting the same chance because two characters that dig each other just happen to be the same gender. Same can go for writing containing characters of ethnicity. Why exactly do they need their own section that cuts them off from potential readers? Why can't they go neck and neck with the rest of the books? They deserve the chance, don't they? This is America, where equality reigns free? Then why are we hiding the books that are different?