Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Gender choices for my characters: When it matters and when it doesn't





I was thinking about my lesbian couple in The Servant Girl, the bi-sexual guy in Badlands and the genderless main character in Mirrors and I realized how little sexual orientation plays in most of my stories.  Yes, I have couples like Devlin and Cha -- but you really ought to think about Dancer, as well.  I don't write romance novels or erotica, but that doesn't mean I ignore the personal lives of my characters, because that is -- after all -- part of their world.  I tend to make their sexual orientation into nothing unusual that needs to be shown in a bright light.  (Mirrors is a bit different, but Skye being genderless has less to do with the story than other aspects of the tale.)  (If you are interested in any of these stories, look at the 'Zette at Smashwords' link to the right.  Smashwords offers versions for Kindle, Nook, PDF and more.)

I have two YA contemporary novels (neither published yet) about young gay men dealing with the problems they face (I'm not Who You Think and Whispers of Winterwood).  I have one short story published out there, Seri Ember, about a clone who was a sexual slave and changes gender at the whim of the owner.  I'm sure if I sat down with a list of the 100 or so novels I've written, I'd come up with more gay and lesbian couples, and maybe even a transgendered one or two (never mind the short stories -- I can think of a few there, too).

However, for the most part, the orientation of my characters is not important to the stories.  I leave some of them ambiguous on purpose.  If it doesn’t matter to the story, I'm not going to parade their sexual orientation out with signs and banners.  Why?

Because I think that's the way it should be in real life.  Whom you sleep with or are attracted to in the real world is none of my business.  It has absolutely no effect on my life.  Yes, it might be obvious when I meet you as a couple, but otherwise, I really don't care.  I write my characters in the same way.  This doesn't mean I don't know the answer as a writer, but unless there's a reason, I'm not going to parade the choice out simply to draw attention.

My future society has bigotry, but it is not the same as ours.  I have conflicts between Port Rats and Citizens and between earthers and colonists.  We are a contentious species and I suspect there will always be something we'll find to make divisions.

But still, I write the future (and some fantasy) in terms of what I want to believe will happen.  If we can leave behind our useless prejudices against race, color, sexual orientation and gender, I think we'll have a great future as a species.  Otherwise, we're simply going to keep miring ourselves down in insoluble problems, because none of these things can be changed by the individuals who are under attack.

I am tired of people waving their religion and shouting 'freedom of religion' as a reason they can create hardship for others.  They seem to forget that 'freedom of religion' also means 'freedom FROM YOUR religion' and that we are not required to believe what our neighbor does.  Maybe it's time they step back and let their God make the judgments when the time comes.  I seriously doubt He's watching CNN to see which side of the line people are standing on, so maybe some people need to stop worrying so much about the spotlight and head back to their places of worship.

We are whom and what we are, each of us unique in our own ways.  Those are the stories I write. Those are the people I want to know.  Others write other types of stories, and there is nothing wrong with that, either.  We are all looking for understanding in our own ways.  We are all trying to write the stories that will appeal to you.  And sometimes, in subtle little ways, we're trying to show you a better future.

1 comment:

Connie Cockrell said...

LOL! Good post. It's never occurred to me to write about gay, lesbian, transgendered, etc. Mainly because I never think about it. Mainly because I'll talk about romance but I don't get into the character's sexual lives. They have them, I just don't write about it much. Here's to a better future where we don't think too much about these things.