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Anyone writing characters with diverse genders or preferences?

BearBear

Troubadour
In my earlier works circa 2010-2012, I had no idea there were more then two genders. Well, color me surprised ten years later.

A few of my characters were bi, gay, at least one would be considered asexual, and probably a few were demi thinking back, but I wouldn't say a disproportionate number of them, this is out of a hundred characters or more. I have yet to ever have non-binary or any of the plethora of choices out there.

For me this was just natural considering I've had bi, gay, demi and ace friends and acquaintances, though they didn't call themselves those terms back then. Now that I've had a couple trans acquaintances, and hear about this diversity, I wonder what my newer characters will be like. I'm just getting back into writing after a 4 year hiatus.

All critical discussions of gender or sexual preferences aside, do you have characters that are this way?

How important is that identity to the character? How important is it to the story?

I'd love to hear all about them if you'd like to write about them.
 

Queshire

Auror
I've had several nonbinary characters. They've mostly been secondary or somewhat minor characters though I have been toying around with a nonbinary protagonist. I did have a genderfluid protagonist in a story that will never see the light of day, but I wasn't happy with how I portrayed them. I haven't really done any identities more specific than that.

How important it is to them and to the story is somewhat hard to say. My plots and character arcs tend to be concerned with other things and my settings are places where other gender identities are pretty much just accepted. As a result it's about as important as being a man or woman is for a cis hero in a regular ol' fantasy story.

That said, one of my most prominent nonbinary characters was a god in a setting where they could randomly pop up in sort of a Greek Mythology type way and misgendering them was considered incredibly bad luck by the residents of the setting.
 

Mad Swede

Maester
Yes, some of my characters are non-binary. My view on it all is that gender identity should come across as a natural part of the character, it shouldn't feel forced or out of place in the setting. The setting itself matters, because it's the in-setting societal attitudes to gender identities and what those attitudes mean for the characters that then drives plot development.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
In our first book, we forgot straight, white, cis, abled, hetero males. True story. :D We added a couple in the following books, but they're in the minority. We write urban fantasy, and we believe that urban fantasy should be urban, which means diverse. So all three of our MMC's ended up being bi, we have a lot of LGBTQ+ secondary characters, and a lot of racially diverse characters. We're a little lax in the disability area, but we're improving slowly. We have a deaf wizard and several characters with PTSD, and our older FMC is an addict. We have two trans men in prominent roles in the story, and one of our antagonists is a black attorney who is the senior partner at his law firm. He's also a shape-shifting great white shark, the city's Shark King, and gay. Our local Vampire King is also gay and a Viking. And goodness, when I type it all out, we're doing okay. lol
 

BearBear

Troubadour
Did you do that intentionally or did it just evolve that way? I'm interested in how to incorporate such things and how it is relevant to a storyline. I live in an urban setting and often write about urban settings and say if a character was gay, you would only know that because of a stray comment they'd make and it doesn't have anything to do with the plot. So light and natural if you know what I mean.

I see how it would make sense why you'd have a group of friends that are all similarly minded.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
Did you do that intentionally or did it just evolve that way? I'm interested in how to incorporate such things and how it is relevant to a storyline. I live in an urban setting and often write about urban settings and say if a character was gay, you would only know that because of a stray comment they'd make and it doesn't have anything to do with the plot. So light and natural if you know what I mean.

I see how it would make sense why you'd have a group of friends that are all similarly minded.
It was a whoops. We changed the race of one guy the night before we published, because the question, "Does this character need to be (white, straight, abled, cis)" is always on my mind, and when I told my crit partner he replied, "Wasn't that your straight white guy?" Oops. Other than that everyone developed within the needs of their characters and the plot. Seahaven, our fictional city, is in the Pacific Northwest and very much a Birkenstocks and granola town. Much recycling.
 

pmmg

Vala
In any diverse world, there will certainly be a portion of its inhabitants that are more on the homosexual side of the scale. Since I try to capture a diverse world, such characters may appear. But I am not engaged in finding a way to include them, making them have heroic roles to appeal to some reader community, or trying to strike a blow for any type of social justice. While is it true there would be many homosexual type people in the world, there would also exist a lot of attitudes about them that I would not equate to 'today's values'. And so, such characters are not likely to find a lot of open arm support in many/most cultures.

In the course of my story, the sexuality's of many characters is in play, but not in a prominent way. For the most part, since the story is not really about anyone's sexuality, its not really important that I make sure the reader knows what it is. For the MC, it would be hard for a reader to definitively say one way or another. I would call the character suffering trauma on most things sexual, and not pursing any course on it. Some other characters have pursued relationships, and they have been of the heterosexual variety. There are several characters that are clearly not heterosexual, and others the reader would have some reason to suspect on, but I doubt any would find them in any way special for being such.

As an author, I am not interested in gay issues, and the story will likely remain neutral on it. My sense on this is along the same lines as other issues we wrestle with on the site, which is along the lines of what is true, and what is credible. I would probably start to question the credibility of a story that was showing a gay friendly world with no pushback from the cultures in it. I would say the same forces that caused homosexuality to be rejected in many cultures and religions would exist in any world that had essentially humans (or human-like beings), with the same genders and attributes.
 

BearBear

Troubadour
In any diverse world, there will certainly be a portion of its inhabitants that are more on the homosexual side of the scale. Since I try to capture a diverse world, such characters may appear. But I am not engaged in finding a way to include them, making them have heroic roles to appeal to some reader community, or trying to strike a blow for any type of social justice. While is it true there would be many homosexual type people in the world, there would also exist a lot of attitudes about them that I would not equate to 'today's values'. And so, such characters are not likely to find a lot of open arm support in many/most cultures.

In the course of my story, the sexuality's of many characters is in play, but not in a prominent way. For the most part, since the story is not really about anyone's sexuality, its not really important that I make sure the reader knows what it is. For the MC, it would be hard for a reader to definitively say one way or another. I would call the character suffering trauma on most things sexual, and not pursing any course on it. Some other characters have pursued relationships, and they have been of the heterosexual variety. There are several characters that are clearly not heterosexual, and others the reader would have some reason to suspect on, but I doubt any would find them in any way special for being such.

As an author, I am not interested in gay issues, and the story will likely remain neutral on it. My sense on this is along the same lines as other issues we wrestle with on the site, which is along the lines of what is true, and what is credible. I would probably start to question the credibility of a story that was showing a gay friendly world with no pushback from the cultures in it. I would say the same forces that caused homosexuality to be rejected in many cultures and religions would exist in any world that had essentially humans (or human-like beings), with the same genders and attributes.

My writing is a reflection of the culture I experience and in that respect, being in a big city where these are non-issues and no one cares either way, such is the sentiment of the characters and their cultures. Where there is very little outward bigotry or intolerance here for race, gender or sexuality, so it is in my stories. As you pointed out, this isn't necessarily realistic, it's just the way I'm comfortable. Color, sexuality and gender are rarely if ever mentioned or even alluded to, of course I never used "they" exclusively for a character and I wonder if I could such that it doesn't sound overtly pushy or exhibitionist, ya know?

The way I write, these things work themselves out and I wouldn't be thinking about it if it wasn't inevitable. No thoughts run through my head without reason or foreshadowing so to speak.

Thanks for your thoughts. No, I wouldn't force it nor want it to appear forced. Also I write for me, as I am my biggest fan, not for the sake of social issues or to appeal to any group. Let the producers worry about that or something.
 

Queshire

Auror
Honestly if the characters in the story don't blink at a same sex relationship or nonbinary peep but you do then you're probably not part of my target audience. In the age of e-books we're not as bound by physical page space, but a writer only has so many words to capture and hold onto a reader's attention. Generally I have more interesting things to spend those words on than coming up with some comprehensive argument why this particular magical fantasyland is welcoming to lgbt peeps. If a reader can't accept the scenario as it's presented then that's on them.

Of course similar reasoning can lead to a story where lgbt characters generally don't appear and at that point it really just comes down to writer's choice.
 

pmmg

Vala
Honestly if the characters in the story don't blink at a same sex relationship or nonbinary peep but you do then you're probably not part of my target audience. In the age of e-books we're not as bound by physical page space, but a writer only has so many words to capture and hold onto a reader's attention. Generally I have more interesting things to spend those words on than coming up with some comprehensive argument why this particular magical fantasyland is welcoming to lgbt peeps. If a reader can't accept the scenario as it's presented then that's on them.

Of course similar reasoning can lead to a story where lgbt characters generally don't appear and at that point it really just comes down to writer's choice.

Well, I agree with this, save only that the reader/author relationship is symbiotic. So I would say its the readers/writers choice, and if the reader cannot accept it, it not just on them, its on both of them. You can write it, and I can choose not to read it. I can tell you what I think is turning me away, and the writer can choose to ignore it, it goes both ways. But if you are trying to pick up an audience and the audience is sending a type signal, the writer ought to measure that as well. They can choose not to.

Why bring this up at all? Cause I am asserting, again, that the further you get away from what would be likely, the harder the suspension of disbelief. We've been round and round on that before...I'd point you back to the circle (but its not credible<-->but its fantasy). I assert that it will be an important detail to explain, how this came to be. It will hurt the credibility if it is missing. Others (Quesh) may assert that does not matter, I just choose to write and the audience can go with it or not. Totally fair. That's the risk an author always takes.
 

Queshire

Auror
Well, I agree with this, save only that the reader/author relationship is symbiotic. So I would say its the readers/writers choice, and if the reader cannot accept it, it not just on them, its on both of them. You can write it, and I can choose not to read it. I can tell you what I think is turning me away, and the writer can choose to ignore it, it goes both ways. But if you are trying to pick up an audience and the audience is sending a type signal, the writer ought to measure that as well. They can choose not to.

Why bring this up at all? Cause I am asserting, again, that the further you get away from what would be likely, the harder the suspension of disbelief. We've been round and round on that before...I'd point you back to the circle (but its not credible<-->but its fantasy). I assert that it will be an important detail to explain, how this came to be. It will hurt the credibility if it is missing. Others (Quesh) may assert that does not matter, I just choose to write and the audience can go with it or not. Totally fair. That's the risk an author always takes.

You're not wrong. I just disgree that this is a subject where such a thing would apply.
 
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