Monday, September 12, 2011

#YesGayYA (and adult books too!)

So the writing world is all a twitter again. Something happened, something noteworthy in my opinion. It came across my stream as a harmless tweet, then a few tweets up another person posted about it. I clicked the article and started reading. (Article in question can be found here.) For those of you who don't wish to click, I'll give you a quick summary. Two authors were told/ask/requested by an agent of a major agency that if they wanted their story published they either had to take the gay character out or make him straight.

By now, you all should be saying, "What?"

And with good reason. I know a lot of people who frequent this blog are writers. We have writer minds and thus have little to no control over our characters. They pop in our head, fully formed with a life and events they can't wait to tell us about. Part of that includes their sexuality. I've said in other blog posts, that I don't pick my characters sexuality. They declare it. Although, the current work in progress, my main character was a little confused about his. He's got it figured out now (bisexual in case you're curious.) Me trying to change something about my characters would be like asking a friend to change their hair color. Permanently. Sure they can dye their hair, but that doesn't change the fact they were born with a certain hair color and it'd still be wrong of me to demand that of them.

I couldn't never ask that of my characters or my friends. Or books I read. I read a book a few nights ago. It was amazing, I devoured it and want to read more from that author. Guess what. The main character was gay! His love interest was gay. I never once thought, "Gee, this story would be SO much better if the main character was straight. He/She is totally unrelated to me because of that fact." You know why that never crossed my mind? Because it didn't matter. I still related to the character and his struggle, I empathized with him. OMG stop the press, a straight, white chick is empathizing with a gay police detective. The world will now end.

I don't think so.

I think any agent/publisher/editor who thinks just because a character has a different sexuality than most that the readers won't connect is wrong. I'm proof of that. As a reader any book I've read, it doesn't matter what gender, race, sexuality, shoe size is, if the story is good I find myself relating to the character, understanding their struggle, cheering them on. And as a writer, I refuse to change anything about my characters. They are who they are and that should be enough for readers to connect with.

PS, this is going to throw my blog dates completely off I bet. I am so OCD about the little date being at the top of every blog post and if it's not it's going to annoy me so much. On the other hand, if it is, I'll still be annoyed because I decided to post M,W,F and I already posted for Monday.

PPS: Here's a list of books w/ LGBTQ Characters.


  1. You can also check out Lee Wind's blog for a running list of LGBT YA books, fiction and non-fiction (and kids' books, too):

    I'm Here, I'm Queer, What the Hell Do I Read?

    The books are listed in his sidebar widgets, and they're not even complete as I think there might be limit as to how many links you can have per widget (but don't quote me on that).

  2. Thanks for the link Hayden. Can always use more books to read. ^^

  3. Ironically, I hosted an author recently who had the opposite request - would she make the main character gay?
    She stood her ground and said no.

  4. Honestly, Alex, I think she made the right choice. It'd be hypocritical to say you can't ask an author to make a gay character straight but it's okay to make a straight character gay.