LGBT Characters in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

This article is by Marc Davies.

If you have watched television, read a newspaper, seen a play or been to a movie in the last couple of years, there’s no doubt that you would have been exposed to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people and their issues.

The only way you could avoid it is by living under a rock, and even then you’d probably discover said Rock has a penchant for designer clothes and an obsession with maintaining its rocky skin in fabulous condition.

Whatever your personal views, LGBT people have been readily accepted by much of mainstream media. There are popular movies and sit-coms with gay characters. Literary fiction has embraced gay characters and gay issues. If you go to see the ballet or a musical, you can bet half the cast is probably gay. And pop music embraced gay performers and music long before Elton John and Queen became best sellers.

Few and Far Between

When it comes to science fiction and fantasy, however, LGBT characters are few and far between. Their prevalence in the genre is much lower, in my view, than it is in other genres.

I’m not just talking about books, either. The same applies for movies, comics, computer games, and role playing games. In movies and television series, in particular, the absence is quite readily apparent. I can think of dozens of movies and television series off the top of my head which have LGBT characters, and yet few of them could be classed as science fiction or fantasy. Think of some of the recent blockbusters. Avatar? No. Avengers? No. Lord of the Rings? No. Harry Potter? Well, there was a rumour about Dumbledore, but…no.

So, why is this important?

Let me start by saying this is not a crusade. I don’t have an agenda in writing this article, more a curiosity about why a genre I love and write has developed this way. I read and write fantasy and science fiction for numerous reasons. Sometimes it is just for fun; I love a good adventure story. But ultimately I think the highest calling of any form of art is to challenge people and test the boundaries of our society. To do that, art must to some extent reflect reality; otherwise it has no point of reference.

So why don’t science fiction and fantasy reflect reality in this case? The most widely quoted statistic is that approximately 1 in 10 people in western societies are LGBT or curious. If the genre was to reflect this reality, we would see approximately one in ten characters being written as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

I can’t claim to have undertaken any kind of study to determine exactly how many characters in the genre are LGBT, but I have no doubt they fall far short of the 1 in 10 ratio. Probably closer to 1 in 100. And if you consider how many main characters are gay, rather than just some two-dimensional gay side-kick thrown in for fun, the statistics are probably even worse.

The only fantasy novels that I’ve read which have unambiguously and openly gay protagonists are The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan, and China Miéville’s Iron Council (which I both really enjoyed). No surprise that they are relatively new books, either. Sure there are undoubtedly others, especially in sci-fi, but they are few and far between.

Why So Few?

In my view, the reasons for this are varied and complicated. Here are some of the contributing factors I can think of:

  • Often it’s not necessary for the writer to mention a character’s sexuality, so it can be hard to work out an accurate percentage of LGBT vs. straight characters. There’s some truth in this explanation, but it only holds true for side characters, not for important characters. I have another gripe with it too. If it’s not necessary to mention a side character’s sexuality, then why are so many villains portrayed as gay?
  • Fantasy books are often set in medieval settings or other worlds which are not socially progressive. Being gay in those worlds would be taboo, so it makes sense that few characters would be out of the closet. My gripe with this explanation is that it doesn’t apply to science fiction. Most modern science fiction books (other than dystopias) are set in worlds with liberal social values. And yet the absence of LGBT characters is still readily apparent.
  • Readers want to escape from reality. By including LGBT characters, the writer is drawing them back to real world issues they don’t want to deal with. Okay, I’ll buy that one. Kind of. Going back to my original premise, the highest calling of an artist is to challenge readers’ views. You see science fiction and fantasy authors challenging other social norms (such as with racism and human rights) far more often than they address LGBT issues.
  • Reader demographics. Traditionally, it was young males who read science fiction and fantasy. This group also happens to be the most likely to be uncomfortable with LGBT characters in fiction. While this explains many of the older science fiction and fantasy books, it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny anymore. Females make up the biggest reader group by a long shot these days. Then there’s the fact that people in the LGBT community are great supporters of science fiction and fantasy. How could they not be after seeing Capitan Janeway’s hair?
  • Successful stories often owe their success to the fact that they appeal to the common denominator. This I agree with. Writers want to sell books and make money. Why write about a topic that might only appeal to 1 in 10 of your readers?
  • Now, the big one: fear. Tackling a subject that induces heated debate, criticism and even hate mail is not an easy step for a writer to take. Some writers might be afraid of upsetting their existing readership, or–heaven forbid–giving people the wrong idea about their own sexuality. Gay by association? People have been convicted on less evidence.
  • Publishers have huge influence over which books get published. Often they won’t take a chance on a book they think is too risky, and writers tend to self-censor depending on what they think their publishers will want.

Of all the above, I have been at least partly guilty of the last. My debut novel HIVE deals with some LGBT issues (although they are not the focus of the plot). When I was searching for a publisher, I removed any reference to those elements from my initial queries because I feared they would put off mainstream publishers.

Was I right to do that? More than one agent advised that I was, but I’m not so sure. Ultimately the LGBT elements weren’t hugely important to the plot, so I appeased my conscience on the basis that cutting them out helped to reduce clutter.

Maybe that makes me a sellout. But one thing is for sure: I wish some of my favourite authors would take up the challenge and tackle this issue in their writing.

It’s long overdue.

What other factors might be causing the genre to avoid this issue?  Also, who are your favourite LGBT characters?

About the Author:

Marc Davies is an author of science fiction and fantasy.  His debut novel HIVE is available now on Amazon.

The Hive is out there…visit marcdavies.net.

This article was contributed by a featured author whose details are mentioned above. Are you interested in writing for Mythic Scribes? If so, please check out our submission guidelines.

64 Responses to LGBT Characters in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

  1. I’d add Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint to the list (oh! Just saw the Alc/Seregil comment above – nevermind), as well as Elizabeth A. Lynn (Chronicles of Tornor) – both excellent books/series. Doris Egan included some gay characters in both City of Diamonds as well as her Ivoran books, and I enjoyed Catherine Cooke’s Winged Assassin series too (came out in the 80s). Michaela Roessner’s Stars Dispose was excellent, as were the gender fluid relationships in Zohra Greenhalgh’s Trickster books. Someone’s mentioned Melissa Scott – her books are amazing and well worth a read. There are some really terrific books/authors listed here, I’ve made a list and will be going back to some old faves and new authors – thanks, everyone!

  2. Having cut my teeth on m/m romance (some historical and some romantic) I’m now editing my first fantasy novel. So in six weeks or so I should be sending a fantasy with one gay and one bisexual hero off to my agent. (Plus a straight hero, a straight heroine and a heroine whose sexuality frankly hasn’t come into it yet, though her gender identity is in some flux.) 
    I’ve been worrying about how mainstream publishers will take to it as well, but I console myself with the thought that if they don’t like it, I’ve already had interest from small presses, or I could always self publish.

  3. The Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling, no ambiguity there, LOL! Definitely bi and gay characters abound.

  4. It is interesting that you write this.  Two years ago I purposefully created a lesbian character in my fantasy series.  There was no underlying reason why I did this, at least none that I know in my conscious mind, I just felt that this character was gay.  It never ocurred to me to even question the idea of reader acceptibility or taboos based on eras.  She called for it, I gave it to her.  Simple as that.

  5. I’ll point out a type of writing activity some of us writers do. Roleplay. Almost all roleplayers are aspiring writers from my experience, and those of us who’ve done a lot of RP, whether on forum based writing or in an MMORPG have encountered the trope of the man who plays a lesbian, and essentially play it horribly realistic.It’s not too much of a stretch for me to imagine there’s a certain stigma to it in fantasy, where folks might see anything sexual as excessive. (hell, in roleplay, sexuality of any kind is looked at oddly.) Hell, I’ve seen it here on the forums here, and other writing forums. An attitude of violence being A.Okay, and sexuality being bad or unnecessary. Lastly, the type of fantasy matters too. For my medieval-dark-low magic fantasy, I have a focus on the drama and the romance WITH the typical action. My main female in my finished manuscript is bisexual. In my current project, one of the main female characters is indeed a lesbian. One of the mighty chieftains is pretty much a closeted homosexual (it’s expected of a chieftian to carry on his line in the culture I’m writing for) It really is up to the author, really.

  6. I’m going to say, H.G. Giger’s “Alien.” It’s neither male nor female.. Gay nor straight, and yet, there’s something curiously sexual about the creature. I like that. :)

  7. Awesome article, Marc, and definitely relevant. The Mists of Avalon was the first fantasy novel I read with any LGBT elements in it, and inspired me to write about it in my own work. I wish there was more out there, and more power to you for taking the risk with Hive.

  8. Caitlin Kiernan’s fantasy/horror/dark fiction stories and novels are rife with GLBT characters as are those of Poppy Z. Brite. And I like and dislike them all. And for the right reasons. I think. Reasons relating to what kind of people they are.

  9. I’m another vote for Captain Jack Harkness :). Also, Dumbledore, though Rowling didn’t bring him out of the closet until after the series was complete.
    I have several prominent LGBT characters in my own fantasy writing. The two main characters of first book in my Malora series are bisexual (on the Kinsey scale, I’d put Lani at a 2 and Dia at a 4). The fifth book has a narrator who falls in love with a person who switches genders every time he uses his magical ability. He identified female as a child, male as a young adult, and by the end, he identifies as neither. A male character also admits to loving him. This caused some pronoun issues, so I had him explain it that he wants to be called whatever gender he’s presenting as at the time, so he is variable. Two of the protagonists of the middle book of my work-in-progress trilogy are a gay couple, but their status never really comes up in discussion because the narrator thinks nothing of it, it’s just part of who they are.

  10. +1 on Robert Heinlein.  Gay, bi, time travel sex (just what do you call having sex with your past/future self?), group sex etc…  And he brought polly into the light pretty much on his own.  Just about everything on the LGBT spectrum and beyond.  All written generations ago.Reading Stranger in a Strange Land at 12 +/- (many years ago) pretty much makes me shock proof to the younger generations’ cute little sexual antics.  And some of his other writings leaves me less than surprised by how things are going otherwise.

    • Hmmm, I was editing the above and it kicked me off.  I was just going to add:And, there are quite a few (I can think of 6 without trying) authors that had gay/bi characters 15+ years ago.  Though I will admit, I can only think of 2 or 3 main protagonists that weren’t hetro.   Mostly supporting characters.  But that might just be my reading list.

  11. Check out almost any book by Laurel K. Hamilton. It’s there. (LGBT characters) but it really doesn’t intrude into the story, so I don’t really care.

  12. As a gay writer, I include gay protagonist in my stories, partially because when I started writing I wanted to read about people like myself. Now I’m on a quest to show real qualities in gay characters not just a bunch of stereotypes. It’s a hard fight because so many people just want to see the stereotypes, but I’m growing a fan base who like to see realistic portrayals of the LGBT community. It does my heart good when I get fan mail telling me that although my characters were gay, I didn’t force the sex issue like so many do and I made the characters believable. The audience for gay fantasy/scifi is out there and they are looking for things to read. Thanks for the awesome post and some very interesting comments. Great way to get a dialog started and open a few eyes.

  13. You forgot Anne McCaffrey.  She has several LG characters in her works.  I suggest her writings…for far more than just that.  She was the best SF/F writer in the galaxy, in my opinion!

  14. I’ve been a writer for well over
    thirty years, and a voracious and eclectic reader (with a definite
    preference for fantasy), but up until a few years ago if I read a book
    with an element of ‘romance’, it was invariably heteronormative. Then I
    discovered fanfiction, and within a year had become a fan and writer of
    male/male stories. Although it’s not important, I identify as a straight
    woman in a wonderful long-term relationship which is perhaps why I had
    grown tired of het romances. I found the power and dynamics of M/M
    relationships when woven into a story were fascinating and exciting. I
    wanted to read epic fantasy with all its grandeur and tragedy, but for
    the romantic or erotic relationships to be male/male. And I found them. I
    am not talking about 4,000 words of bad smut, but novel-length epics by
    mature adults who, like me, have been writing for years, but who have
    careers, and simply enjoy writing. Some of my favourite stories would be
    completely dog-eared and falling apart if they were published novels.

    I honestly can’t see myself ever gain  being satisfied with books where the relationships are heteronormative. M/M relationships, GBLT characters, and also subjects like polyamory
    are huge in fanfiction, and although one has to search for
    the good stories, there are more than one would think, especially in the
    older fandoms with experienced writers. (Of course we recommend exceptional stories too, which makes it easier). I wish the mainstream would
    catch up as there is, if fanfiction is anything to go by, a huge market
    for GBLT. I know only one e-publisher who deals with same-sex relationships: Dreamspinner Press. Fanfiction broke the the envelope a long time ago, dealing fearlessly and skilfully with GBLT characters. I just don’t understand why mainstream is so laggardly in catching up.

    • Vanimore_ I know of quite a few, mostly through writer friends who are published by them. Samhain Publishing does a _lot_ of this stuff, including Alex Beecroft’s novels (some fantasy, some historical); Amber Allure, who publish L A Witt (SF, UF, etc); and the rather obviously named Queered Press who publish Naomi Clark’s urban fantasies about a lesbian werewolf PI. It does tend to be small press, though, particularly for the spicier stuff, but maybe a certain mega-bestseller will change that ;)As for why big publishers are less keen – it all comes down to numbers. Sad to say, gay characters probably turn off more readers than they attract (sorry, unavoidable double entendre!). My own publisher, Angry Robot, is larger than most small presses but not a Big Six imprint (though this is how they started out before going independent). I should perhaps menton that I’m not the only author there with non-straight, non-cis-gender protagonists, though I am in a minority.

  15. Not that being LGBT is really important to be a character at all or why it is a significant reason why a character would be significant but I always suggested Pizza the Hut from Space Balls

  16. 1) There’s a simple solution to “I’m not gay so I can’t write gay characters because I don’t know anything about gays.” Research and/or talk to gay people. Read stuff written by them and about them, not stuff written by straights about gays. If you’re going to get an accurate view of a marginalized and oppressed community, you listen to the people who are actually a part of it, not the allies’ opinions. This is absolutely vital.2) There’s the larger problem that people automatically read fictional characters as straight until proven otherwise. Unless you check yourself, you will make these assumptions. That’s why POC and LGBTQIA folks advocate for better representation all the time. Just as a character is white until the author describes them as black, a character is straight until the author states they’re gay (or cisgender until proven trans*, able-bodied until proven disabled, etc). Open and obvious representation is fantastic, but it’s also good to adjust your own mindset and not make assumptions. Even an uber masculine character who drinks hard liquor and owns 5 spaceships can still be gay.3) The worst kind of representation is tokenism. If you have one gay male character, do NOT make him a one-dimensional sass machine. Likewise, your one lesbian character doesn’t have to be a butch with a mohawk and an array of facial piercings. If she is, make her more than that. Remember that they’re people. Avoid stereotypes.4) In general, reading up about how marginalized groups exist in and experience the world will help you immensely in crafting good characters.5) Also avoid queerbaiting, which is what a lot of popular shows are doing now. They write in all of this homoerotic tension between characters to cater to the fan base, but they don’t actually make the characters gay. Don’t do this for the sake of doing it. Fandom will make everyone gay anyway, but don’t purposefully tease just because you know that.6) Not every gay person has a dramatic story about coming out and being gay is not the only thing that gay people talk about.7) There is more that falls under LGBTQIA issues than marriage equality, although that’s an important component.8) Always stick by this standard: CHARACTER; GENDER/RACE/ORIENTATION, ETC. Not GENDER/RACE/ORIENTATION,ETC.; CHARACTER. The fact that they’re a person comes first.

  17. I have a gay character in my Riyria Revelations series but it’s “no big deal.” In fact I don’t think in all the letters and reviews I’ve ever seen that anyone has even mentioned the fact. Many readers might not even realize as it is mentioned only in passing. I think sometimes authors sometimes shine too bright a light on it which comes off a bit negatively to me.

    • author_sullivan With respect, Michael, I don’t think “shining too bright a light” is the problem. So we are supposed to pussyfoot around the sexuality of our characters to avoid offending homophobes? Uh, no.I’ve had maybe one reviewer on Goodreads complain about the gay themes in my first book, and then in such a way that it said more about his attitudes than my writing. This is in a book that has two openly gay characters, a bisexual, and at least two (non-graphic) gay sex scenes, so it’s not like it’s only mentioned in passing!

  18. Now, to return to the topic, I’ve been reading and quite enjoying Melissa Scott’s and Lisa A. Barnett’s “Points” fantasy series (Point of Hopes, Point of Knives, Point of Dreams), about a casually bisexual society. It’s an excellent series, with worldbuilding that is only strengthened by its wide diversity in characters. And I really like the main characters, a point (policeman) and a swordsman who eventually become lovers. (And, for those who need their reading material chaste, there is no sex on the page.)

  19. I don’t think the argument “I’m straight/Christian/white/Chinese/whatever so I couldn’t write a realistic gay/Jewish/black/European/whatever character” holds much water. Yeah, it takes work for most people, and you’re not going to achieve perfect results the first time you try, but it’s a learnable skill. That’s why Nisi Shawl and I wrote Writing the Other and teach the workshop of the same name.

    Imagine if I claimed I couldn’t write realistically about people of faith because I’m an atheist, or couldn’t write realistically about men because I’m a woman. I expect a wide range of people would tell get quite vocally upset. And they’d be right to disagree with me.

    Writing the Other breaks down the process into clear steps. But, to quote the late Octavia Butler, what you do when writing characters who differ significantly from you is “make them people.”

  20. Check out Gail Dayton, Jacqueline Carey, or Laurie J. Marks. All seem to address the subject as so normal and everyday that there is no reason to fuss about it. Its refreshing.

  21. If you like LGBT characters  you really need to read the Last Herald Mage series by Mercedes Lackey. Magic’s Pawn, Magic’s Promise, Magic’s Price. The main character is gay and has to deal with a lot of the issues a gay person would have to deal with in a society that didn’t exactly like gay couples. Actually Mercedes Lackey touches on this kind of issue a lot in the Valdemar series, there are many gay couples, men and women.

  22. One of my favorite novels is a cautionary tale called “The Immortals” by Tracy Hickman. In the future, gays are rounded up in concentration camp and unbeknownst to the rest of society are bombed every month or so. It was one of Hickman’s most powerful novels because it dealt directly with how dramatically society can lose their humanity when they allow fear and bigotry to rule out. Quite a few of the characters were unsuspecting medical practitioners working at the camp where the story primarily takes place. It is available in print, ebook and as a podiobook if anyone is interested in checking out a good example of somebody dealing with the subject within a science fiction setting in the near future.

  23. Yes, Chris Tucker played Ruby Rod, but while fabulously flamboyant he only seem interested in women. I agree with Jason, though, that sexuality isn’t really the main thrust (intended) of most SF-F. I could mention that a character was closeted and went off on some quest into space or the Crimson Wastes to avoid societal pressure but unless it’s relevant to the alien hordes ahead or the lost orb of Celty, so what? You might as well ask why so few Chinese characters.

    • @Phoenix Just-Phoenix It depends if your characters are in relationships. Sure, if characters are single and not dating (like Dumbledore), it doesn’t matter a rat’s arse what their sexuality is. But I have main characters with partners, both temporary and long-term, so of course that impinges on the story. Love is a powerful motivator, and not just in romance novels…

    • Not really. You’d be hard pressed to find a single good genre book that doesn’t have some romance elements to it. And discrimination between different races is actually an issue dealt with in copious amounts in the genre.

    • @Phoenix Just-Phoenix I think you could fairly ask ‘why so few Chinese characters’ as well. It’s nice to have people like yourself to identify with in fiction, whether you’re gay or Chinese (or both.) And I’m sure that applies even while you’re discovering the lost city of Arrgh, whether with romance or without.

  24. Harparin in the elenium series had sex boys (although arguably was a pedophiles) and there are at least a few gay characters in GRRMs aSoIaf. I could probably think if more if I cbf. It’s a but of a non-issue to me. If you want to write LGBT characters into your books, do so. If you don’t – don’t. If you want to read about LGBT characters they exist – and have since Dorian grey or earlier

  25. We’re still in an era where gay protagonists are most common in stories about “gay issues.” (It’s like how, in countries where black people are a minority, black protagonists are most likely to appear in stories about racism.) Writers who want to write directly about gay issues, using actual gay characters, usually write realistic fiction so as to be as close to the subject as possible. Science fiction and fantasy writers sometimes approach the subject by creating societies where issues of gay and straight are different from how they are today, thus shedding light on what’s permanent and what’s not, but they’re more common to take a distant view, writing about people who in some way parallel gays, often not even mentioning gayness. (For instance, vampires-as-gays, or mutants-as-gays.)The upshot of this is that, so long as it’s not common for gays to appear in works not focused on “gay issues”, science fiction and fantasy will continue to feature gay stand-ins more often than actual gays.

  26. What I mean by preference is, if you want to make characters who are gay, etc. go ahead. As a straight person I don’t think I could create a realistic gay character. As a Christian I don’t think I could do it, mainly for the same reason as above.

  27. Not my thing, really. Does one’s sexual orientation really matter in a story? But, this is all a matter of opinion and preference.

    @Jackie: Are you thinking of Chris Tucker?

  28. Not my thing, really. Does one’s sexual orientation really matter in a story? But, this is all a matter of opinion and preference.

    @Jackie: Are you thinking of Chris Tucker?

  29. I love the idea of a main character having 2 mums or 2 dads. That’s something I definitely haven’t seen in the genre. Ad my favorite is without doubt Ringit from Steel Remains.

    • @Marc Davies Friday, Time Enough for Love, both by Robert Heinlein.  Though I think the kids had more than 2 mums and 2 dads.

  30. One of my protagonists has two moms. Another has a gay brother. I’m down with the rainbow, and the rainbow is wearing +5 gauntlets of dexterity.

  31. Andrea Cort, from Adam-Troy Castro’s series. More like Bi, cause she’s in a threesome. Sort of. But yeah, her.

  32. R.A. Heinlein. He took sexuality to places nobody was comfortable with in his day (in science fiction or anywhere). These days it’s not so alarming.I’m happy to report that I’ve had my share of sexually confused or alternatively aligned characters in both science fiction and fantasy. Although in my futuristic sci-fi I tend to lean more towards sexuality being more open minded and who cares (I think that’s called pansexual, but I don’t keep up on the buzz words).In fantasy though I agree, it’s definitely pretty far and few between. I broke through that wall in my Voidhawk series, but outside of that I agree, it’s still very much hidden under the bearskin rug.

  33. Karen Wehrstein and Shirley Meier both do (great!) fantasy weblit with lots of bi characters, some homosexual, and there is one transgender character in Karen’s current work.  Check them out.There will definitely be G/B/L characters in my current WIP. In the society I’m writing, bi is sorta the default. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to work in a transgender character, for the reason that gender (and gender ROLES) are not important in this society. I don’t think there’d really be much outward indication that a character was transgender, unless I went way out of my way to put it on the table somehow. We’ll see.  

  34. Have you read Storm Constantine’s ‘Wraeththu’ trilogy? She writes a gay protagonist very well.
    In Robin Hobb’s ‘Far Seer’ ‘Liveships’ and ‘Tawny Man’ trilogies the fool is transgender (male in ‘Far Seer’ female in ‘Liveships’ and male in ‘Tawny Man). In the books where the fool is male and Fitz is the MC, the fool is in love with Fitz.
    If you look back to more ancient myths like ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Tain’ you find hints that heroes such as Achilles and Cu Chulainn might be bi-sexual.
    In my WIP people are free to sleep with / have relationships with who they please regardless of sex. The only rule is that those who possess elemental magic are expected to have sex with others with complementary elements to produce powerful offspring. Admittedly LGBT themes don’t come to the fore in this novel as it’s action based and my male MC is in love with a woman. It’s hinted at that he had feelings for one of his male friends who he was forced to kill, but that story line will only be revealed if I get the chance to write a prequel.

    • I loved the Fool in Robin Hobb’s works. I never saw the Fool as tackling this issue though. I think that’s because Hobb portrays the Fool’s ability to switch sex as such an integral part of its species that it was very clearly not a human trait. In doing so, Hobb made the whole process so mystical it was hard to identify it with LGBT issues. From memory the Fool also changed sex to female be more compatible with Fitz, which kind of diffused any message the Fool’s character might have had in this regard.Glad to hear the world in your work is very open!

  35. I think you’ve probably captured the majority of the issue in the notes above, but I thought of another reason a normally socially conscious writer might avoid the topic.  Fear about doing it wrong.  This is something I’m struggling with right now.  The backlash, if you mess up, is just as bad as doing it at all. So, I feel stuck.  I don’t like the idea of not contributing to diversity in SF/F, but I also don’t want to offend people simply because I wrote poorly.  As the saying goes, intent isn’t magic.  I’m too inexperienced at writing to take the chance.   I hope the writers at the height of their field– in craft and audience–will show us newbies the correct way to proceed.  It would also be good to have more examples from LGBT writers;  I hope that publishers will be more open to new voices and perspectives.

    • @MKJones I understand that – I feel the same about writing PoC characters, having grown up in a provincial town with a mostly white population. All I can say is that beta-readers of the corresponding minority are essential. I had a gay friend beta The Alchemist of Souls, and a Muslim friend beta The Merchant of Dreams (which is set in the Mediterranean), and I’m very grateful to both.

    • Good point MKJones. The topic probably is so far removed from the experiences of some writers, that they struggle to identify with it. But be brave and I’m sure you will do it justice. After all, I’ve never swung a sword or fired a gun buy my writing is full of both those things.

  36. Interesting points, Marc – and also interesting to note that both authors you name are British (as am I). Despite our long-standing reputation for being straight-laced, we seem to be a lot less uptight about homosexuality on this side of the Pond, hence I think gay characters are becoming a lot more common in fantasy over here. Note that I deliberately specify ‘gay’ – the other members of the QUILTBAG rainbow still don’t get much screen time, though I hope this too will improve (I’m making my own contribution with a bisexual male protagonist…).As for favourite LGBT characters: I have to agree with you on Ringil from The Steel Remains, but would add Alec and Seregil from Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series, and Richard and Alec from Ellen Kushner’s Riverside novels (actually, Alec’s a bit of a twat, but the books are great!).

    • I haven’t read either of those Anne. I’ll have to check them out. And I agree with your comments about Brits. I lived in London for 3 years (which is where Hive is set) and I generally found the Brits relaxed about most things.

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