If you’re reading this, then chances are that you’re at least considering becoming a writer. So for this month, I want to talk to you people about the common clichés that we writers might use because we simply don’t know otherwise. I just want to have you folks understand your characters as you write them and gain a deeper appreciation for creating different characters that are realistic. Let’s talk about some of the prevalent clichés that have some association with LGBTTQ people that had been used depressingly often.
Quick note: this is primarily aimed at people who are interested in the LGBTTQ genre and would like to dive in and explore, but aren’t actually LGBTTQ people, because most of these are common clichés and would be glaringly obvious to the people that deals with this kind of stuff daily. Take your time.
The feminine gay guy
Alright, let’s get this right off the bat: not all gay people act like they went rainbowunicorn-land and had backpedaled their way to the gender roles of the 1920s. While these kind of flamboyant gay men with feminine traits do exist, they are about as rare as the existence of Jeb Bush supporters. This basically the LGBTTQ equivalent of a pimp wearing a pink fedora hat at all times and rappers wearing gold chains around their necks. Yes, they all exist, but it’s been done so many times and used in such a negative way that it has turned into a cliché.
This is usually used as a joke or dismissed as ‘subtle humor’…and that’s not cool. Laughing about other people’s sexuality in your writing never should be even be considered. Being labeled as such can usually result in so much homophobic/trans slurs being tossed around that it would make the kids that play on Xbox Live cringe (and yes, most of them toss around slurs and racism like there’s no tomorrow), physically assault by the kind of “people” that had never evolved past microbe-amoebas in terms of brainpower, and even murder.
Understand that living in a society of any kind would be a more dangerous place for him because he had been seen in a feminine way. Because the very foundation of a person’s characteristics are going to be heavily influenced by the factors around them regardless of what kind world they might live in. It’s not like prejudice against others are going to disappear once they are going back to good ol’ medieval times to have fun with dragons and swords.
The masculine lesbian
Pretty much the same thing as above. We all subconsciously assign gender roles to others, and that’s probably why this also appears a lot in popular culture. Though this one is mainly for the less-than-mainstream ‘novels’ and terrible sitcoms that TV networks are still milking content from (not naming names, but I’m sure many an example pops into mind).
Because of the whole sexism and gender prejudice thing that we had going on pretty since the dawn of time when man finally found a use for lil’johnny downstairs and started finding pairs (yeah, us guys are going to have apologize for that one), we often condemn her as unnatural, or as a threatening figure in fiction as well as real life.
It also takes a lot of courage to walk around attracted to people that our society tells you to not get attracted to. But people feel things when other people comment about that and condemn her for a lack of femininity and the whole ‘lesbian’ thing going on. Homosexuality was considered a mental illness by psychiatrists until the 1980s, go figure.
The world is a hard place to be, and the world rather unsubtly encourages women to conform to the standards set by the guys that probably had never gone near anyone with a different opinion. If said lady doesn’t want to conform or just simply cannot, you are essentially challenging a deeply held belief about femininity that we kinda still take seriously. So if you’re writing about a lesbian who has masculine traits, you need to know that just because you have masculine traits doesn’t mean that you want to be a man (Game of Thrones is a whole different story altogether). It’s a different way of adapting to the environment around them. Coping with society’s pressure against homosexuals isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
The deceptive bisexual/transgender folk that cannot be trusted
Well this is a big one. You can’t exactly pinpoint one exact reason that leads to us thinking bisexuals/transgender folk are untrustworthy or promiscuous. But we do, and that’s not really a correct way of thinking about things.
Often, people mistakenly believe that bisexuals have many sexual partners, or that they change sexual partners frequently. Alternatively, they may believe that transgender folks are being deceptive about their sexual orientation/gender issues in order to trick someone. A lot of people want everything to be folded into nice little categories that doesn’t require much processing power to think about. And that’s generally where the mistakes are made.
There’s no evidence or scientific study that shows bisexuals or transgender folks are no more deceptive than the average Jane/Joe. It doesn’t mean that bisexuals are attracted to a lot of people from both genders, it just means they might hypothetically be interested in going out with someone from a different gender. The same could be said for transgender folks, they aren’t out there to trick anyone. They basically just wanted to feel more comfortable in their own body and express more freedom.
Right, so this had lead me to the conclusion that you really don’t to take a character to the extremes to create a compelling character. Good and evil lie on a spectrum. It’s not black and white. Characters can have flaws without being evil. Your characters shouldn’t be judged through a heavy lens of Black and White regardless of whether they are a LGBTTQ character or not. Give this type of characters a slice of humanity, and you would be one step closer to creating a good LGBTTQ character.
If there is only one thing that you should know when exploring these type of characters, is avoid the extremes. Normal, relatable characters are difficult to write and writing an openingly LGBTTQ character can sometimes be difficult for some writers. Make mistakes, but learn from them and understand what should be done instead.
Born in the peaceful land of China, Yicheng Liu is a guy who made the sadistic decision of moving to the dangerous land of Australia at a young age and has since then enjoyed recklessly darkening pieces of dead, processed wood with ink and maniacally laughs as he darkens computer screens with pixelated text when he can’t find processed dead wood. When not doing any of that, he is making stupid jokes and hanging out on twitter under the handle @liu_liu0074 and making pointless Youtube videos on his channel.
Also, he would beg you to preorder his funny science fiction thriller book on Inkshares: The Remains of Civilization