Tone down a gay character?

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
User avatar
Holly
Posts: 500
Joined: December 21st, 2009, 9:42 pm
Location: Gettysburg, PA
Contact:

Re: Tone down a gay character?

Post by Holly » March 3rd, 2010, 5:13 pm

KappaP, well said.

I feel the same way about southerners. Books and movies make southerners into cartoons. Give a man a southern accent and he's evil (the bad guy in the movie Avatar had a southern accent), or he has a crazy family.

tameson
Posts: 66
Joined: January 19th, 2010, 7:34 pm
Contact:

Re: Tone down a gay character?

Post by tameson » March 3rd, 2010, 6:19 pm

Seamus, part of it may be knowing enough people from the region or culture. Thinking about accents, I found Princess and the Frog far more amusing because I know people who talk just like that. But the characters were more than the stereotypes- for example the firefly may speak like a Bayou hick, but he was a very clever problem solver (plus the whole love story and self sacrifice thing). It was apparent that while they fit perfectly in the culture, the writers still respected people of that culture. Are the character's real or caricatures?

From your description of the gay character, I would be concerned, but I obviously haven't read the whole work. When you include the more effeminate behavior as part of the full cultural beauty, it raises a red flag. So many gay men are not effeminate or are in limited ways that I worry you might be writing based on the stereotype not personal experience. (I don't mean to say that to offend, just saying how the comment struck me). That isn't to say not to write an effeminate character, just make sure your only knowledge of gay people isn't from Will and Grace or the media in general.

Nick
Posts: 236
Joined: December 10th, 2009, 5:59 pm
Location: Pennsylvania
Contact:

Re: Tone down a gay character?

Post by Nick » March 3rd, 2010, 7:55 pm

Holly wrote:KappaP, well said.

I feel the same way about southerners. Books and movies make southerners into cartoons. Give a man a southern accent and he's evil (the bad guy in the movie Avatar had a southern accent), or he has a crazy family.
Or he is the most kickass lawman the West has ever known (okay, this genre kind of died 40 years ago, but there has been some degree of resurgence, and it makes me squee. I love Westerns)

User avatar
Seamus
Posts: 67
Joined: January 5th, 2010, 12:56 pm
Location: Rockville, MD
Contact:

Re: Tone down a gay character?

Post by Seamus » March 4th, 2010, 9:32 am

I really appreciate KappaP's, Holly's and Tameson's comments. I especially appreciated KappaP's candor. I felt like I ignited strong feeling, which is a good thing, but I wanted to further explain myself. I know and love a number of gay men and women (some of whom are family), so please be assured that I don't include gay characters to simply "have one." (As sincerely as I meant that, I know it sounded an awful lot like "some of my best friends are . . . .") I'm told that something like ten percent of us are oriented that way. Therefore I see a real need for our literature to treat them as part of mainstream stories and not as anomalies. KappaP's "And then they happen to be gay" rule applies here. I certainly hope I have treated none of them as one-dimensional characters, but that is a very helpful caution. As I run into characters naturally from any form of human expression different than my own, I know my own biases come out in my writing -- I am only capable of expressing these voices from my flawed observance of them. I guess the answer I'm hearing is to have someone I know and trust from these cultures read my work and push back. Thank you.
J. Seamus Welsh
welsh.john.seamus@gmail.com
Blog (a playful place to experiment with character voices): http://oh-thereyouare.blogspot.com/
Website (shameless self-promotion): http://www.inwrittenform.com

KappaP
Posts: 58
Joined: December 9th, 2009, 12:44 pm
Location: Macedonia
Contact:

Re: Tone down a gay character?

Post by KappaP » March 4th, 2010, 2:18 pm

Holly wrote:KappaP, well said.

I feel the same way about southerners. Books and movies make southerners into cartoons. Give a man a southern accent and he's evil (the bad guy in the movie Avatar had a southern accent), or he has a crazy family.
Haha! My ms is southern fiction, so i've got GAY SOUTHERNERS! In reality, though, I am very happy with how the fine folks of Kentucky come across... I was very careful to stray from the "we don't take kindly to that in these here parts" *spits skoal* stereotypes and give even the most homophobic characters a realistic worldview to operate from. and there are, more importantly, a decent share of goodhearted people. southerners are fantastic to work with in literature :)

Seamus-- I agree with you 100%... mainstream literature needs more gay characters and those characters need to be dealt with well. And, honestly, I applaud straight authors who take on the task, no matter how tertiary the character is. So good job, and the fact that you're even thinking about the audience's reaction to your character assures me you'll do it well.
www.patchesandsara.blogspot.com

Not a writing blog... at all.

Nick
Posts: 236
Joined: December 10th, 2009, 5:59 pm
Location: Pennsylvania
Contact:

Re: Tone down a gay character?

Post by Nick » March 4th, 2010, 6:36 pm

To be fair, there are people who are actually like the stereotypes, though. I can't believe I hadn't remembered before today, but there's a fellow named George I've known for several years now. Flaming homosexual. Every stereotype you can think of for the flamboyant, effete, drama king gay is all bundled up in this man. This does not, of course, mean you necessarily should make a stereotypical flaming gay, but I would think there's nothing necessarily wrong with it, if you feel the story absolutely calls for it. Same goes for the chew-spitting, shotgun-toting, angry Texan and all them other stereotypes. After all, the majority (in fact probably all) stereotypes have some basis in reality. Just felt I'd point this out.

Now for something completely different.

Erica75
Posts: 73
Joined: February 28th, 2010, 2:45 pm
Contact:

Re: Tone down a gay character?

Post by Erica75 » March 4th, 2010, 8:15 pm

KappaP - so loved your post; LOVED your post! Lafayette cracks me up, too. Plus, you're right. Don't do it just to say you've done it. Do it because it has to be done. I hope everyone gets that I mean: Don't add characters that aren't needed. Add characters that are. Love them all and do them justice. Nick - you're awesome, too. (Sorry if I missed anyone. I'm a working mother, I didn't read them all :)
we blog - erica and christy - http://lynneawest.blogspot.com/

linguista
Posts: 33
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 10:55 pm
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Tone down a gay character?

Post by linguista » March 12th, 2010, 12:53 am

One of the perks of being a foreigner living in Japan is that I have access to a wide cross-section of English speakers. My friends are from NZ, Can, Aus, UK, various US states, Indonesia, India, etc. So I get to see many opinions on these things.

Something I've found is that there are a lot more people than I thought who are absolutely accepting of gays. One of the guys in my prefecture is gay, and I hear him and a mutual female friend talk sometimes, and make jokes about him being more an ass-man than a breast man, etc. And he's just another guy.

I don't think it's preachy if he's a peripheral character and the focus isn't on him being gay.

User avatar
mmcdonald64
Posts: 99
Joined: March 14th, 2010, 6:57 pm
Contact:

Re: Tone down a gay character?

Post by mmcdonald64 » March 16th, 2010, 10:01 am

Well, I'm not sure why your friend singled out people in the "Heartland". I'm assuming he/she is referring to anyone not living in the Northeast or the West coast. As someone from the middle of the country, I can assure you that gay people are accepted pretty much the same as anywhere else and reading about a gay character will not cause readers here to gasp and clutch their bible. That's in general, of course. I'm sure that there are people easily offended all across the country, not just in the heartland. I wouldn't worry about those people because you can't write to please them.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests