I am Not a Secondary Character: Queer Kids in YA, and Why We Need to Do Better

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4 comments on “I am Not a Secondary Character: Queer Kids in YA, and Why We Need to Do Better

  1. Good post. As you know, this same issue is also found with “minorities” of all kinds. I maintain that we have to tell our own stories because others damn sho won’t.

    Now my particular slant on including gay and lesbian characters in my stories? I find out that they’re gay or lesbian AFTER they’ve been introduced. It all falls in line with my particular writing philosophy. However, I have yet to write a story with a protagonist who is homosexual. Why? Because I’m not and I feel that, at this stage in my writing career, the characterization would be inauthentic. There is no difference in the emotional characterization, but the devil is in the details; details I’m not necessarily privy to. This is not to say that I don’t aspire to be able to create such a character or characters. I sincerely want to be able to flex my mental muscles and cover as many under-represented areas and genres as I can.

  2. @Amaya

    “Because Iā€™m not and I feel that, at this stage in my writing career, the characterization would be inauthentic. There is no difference in the emotional characterization, but the devil is in the details; details Iā€™m not necessarily privy to.”

    Remember, this is the same argument white authors make in regards to not writing POC stories with POC leads. Obviously not being a queer male, you won’t have the insight of firsthand experience just as I won’t have the firsthand insight of being a woman.

    And don’t get me wrong, I get that writing the other can be intimidating. My advice would be just to write a great character who happens to be gay just as white writers should pen a fully fleshed out character who happens to be a POC. That right there will win 85 percent of the battle. Don’t set out to write a gay character. Write a male character who happens to be attracted to other men.

    You’ll surprise yourself when it comes to your character. šŸ˜‰

  3. Neo, that is an absolutely fair statement. Like I said before, I never know all of the details of any character until I start telling the story. But they’re based on my limited experiences; we all write what we know. I have–for no particular reason whatsoever–not read nearly enough quality fiction with lesbian and gay protagonists. To feel as though I could make an honest effort, I’d have to read a whole lot more just to broaden my experience and get comfortable with telling an effortless story. But you ain’t said nothing wrong. Who knows; this may be the way I approach my next novel. The idea has officially been implanted, and you know how that usually works.

    I look forward to reading Hollowstone!

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