Monday, May 11, 2009

LGBT Characters...Here to Stay

All the recent controversy over gay marriage, Miss California, and the recent creation of the Rainbow Romance for LGBT writers made me reflect upon my own views on writing gay characters.

One consistent criticism of my work is that I have LGBT characters, one of them even being a lead in As The World Dies. In fact, Katie's bisexuality is often described as her being a lesbian, despite her explanation in the book of her view on her sexuality.

Other LGBT characters appear in ATWD. Ken and a new character named Betty in Siege, are both openly gay in the story. Though they both have good friends and loyal supporters, their sexuality is not always comfortable for some fort citizens (even some friends). In fact, in Siege, it becomes a point of contention with some. These three characters are vital to the telling of the story and I never thought twice about removing them or altering them to be straight. Even when people criticized them when the story was originally posted online, it did not occur to me to change them.

As the novels grow more popular and sales continue to be brisk, I see an occasional review that makes a huge deal out of Katie's sexuality. One person even spoke of sexual tension between the "lesbian" and the "sexually confused" Jenni. Talk about seeing subtext where there wasn't any! I feel defensive of Katie when these reviews post and defensive for bisexual people as a whole. They are a greatly misunderstood by both the straight and gay community at times.

But...I won't change Katie.

Recently, I received an awesome review at Rainbow Reviews. It positively made my day. I worried about getting Katie's sexuality right and as straight woman, I sometimes struggled with her point of view. But this review made me feel I had done a good job.

When I set about writing this post, I thought of a million arguments about why I should include LGBT characters in my stories and was working myself up into a pretty good defensive mode. Then I realized all my internal arguments weren't actually about why I write about LGBT characters. The truth is I write about LGBT characters because they are people, no different from anyone else except for the person they love. It feels natural and right to have LGBT characters. Its not for a political or religious agenda. It's just...right. LGBT people are in our lives every day.

This poster pretty much sums it up (except I would add Bisexual and Transgender to the top).

My good friend, Dr. Pus, and I recently were discussing LGBT characters in the stories I write and he publishes. He has told me that I must fight to keep Katie bisexual should ATWD ever become a movie/tv show or get picked up by a major publisher. I told him I would. And he has recently written an amazing introduction to a new book by Kody Boye called "Sunrise" that has a gay man as a major character. We both agreed that its time for us as straight people (and people of faith), to stand up and support our fellow human beings.

And that is the truth of the matter for me. I'm writing about human beings. And they will be all different colors, religions, ethnic groups and sexualities.


  1. And of course I agree with you 100% Rhia. When "Sunrise" is released, most likely in two weeks, I'm sure I'll hear a few of the same comments you have. It's a shame the ignorant have such loud voices.

    I'll just do as I have always done.

    Love ALL People ALL The Time,


  2. Too many people are far too close minded, even in these times. I can understand your aggravation with poorly thought out or even stinging reviews. If I were you I would imagine this everytime I read a review on your book talking down to your use on LGBT: Joe R. Lansdale, who is considered one of the best authors in the world, has an immensely popular series of books that center around two characters, Hap and Leonard. Leonard is a gay black man. So I wouldn't worry about being targeted for your use of LGBT as you're in good company.


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