1. AmyWriter
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    AmyWriter Member

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    Gay Or Not Gay?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by AmyWriter, Dec 22, 2015.

    I'm not sure this thread would go here. Actually, I dunno WHERE it would go. But, anyway, I've been working on a novel about two brothers. I recently realized that the novel actually centers around one of the brothers so I just made it about him. I'm calling the story The Trouble With Tony. The main character, Tony, is a 15-year-old boy who is struggling with bullies at school, no one believing his imaginary friend, Sofia, actually exists (Sofia actually tells the story), and being gay. Yes, gay. And this book is for middle-high schoolers. Well, I've always had this idea of Tony being gay (since I, myself, am lesbian) but I didn't think I should add it until I read this inspiring book about a Transgender boy (sorry, I mean girl) and I thought, "The best way to get educated is to read books so if I want to educate people I should reveal that Tony is gay." so now I think I should reveal to the reader that Tony is gay. But, I'm still not sure I should. Especially because Tony's boyfriend is 5 years older than him (which I might actually change). So, basically, I'm asking: should I reveal that Tony is gay or not? I want to keep my audience middle-high school and revealing that he's gay might mess that up.
     
  2. Acornlad
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    Acornlad New Member

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    I would not explicitly say that your character is gay within the story. As in middle/high school, a character's personality and sexuality is not fully developed, however, I would recommend maybe giving the character that feeling of not belonging or being different than the crowd, with thoughts, mannerisms, or interior monologue,

    Just a suggestion, I'm new to writing, but this is how I would go about it.
     
  3. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would definitely feel more comfortable if you change the 20yo/15yo to something closer, but beyond that, just point to one of a thousand books about straight teenagers falling in love when people try to claim that there's a problem.
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ok. Why not? I knew I was gay when I was 15. I knew before that age, but 15 is a good age where the realization becomes difficult to shrug off or rename as other things. All your friends are well invested in having a boyfriend or girlfriend at this point in life because, because that's what you do when you're 15! I can even tell you who I was madly crushing on at that age. A fellah named Jimmy who lived across the street from me. And I was 15 in 1985. There was zero support for someone my age coming to grips with being gay. No person to look up to, no one to serve as a role model, nothing in society that said "it's ok to feel this way" and still I knew it. I would think that today kids that age would be much more open to being open to themselves.
     
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it would be really weird to write a book about someone who's in a romantic relationship without mentioning the romantic partner, so... whether you come out and say "Hey, everybody, Tony's gay, and that's just fine!" or just mention his boyfriend and let the reader figure it out, I think you have to mention the boyfriend. Don't you?

    (That said, I think a relationship between a 15 year-old and a 20 year-old is pretty controversial - I wouldn't worry about the gay aspect nearly as much as the age gap)
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I forgot to comment on this part. Yes, I agree with @BayView. When someone is 40 and their partner is 45, no one bats an eye because by that point in life 5 years is nothing. But in the early years of one's life, 5 years can be huge. The difference between 15 and 20 is significant. o_O
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that Tony being gay is not an issue, but what I see as an adult/child romantic relationship is a huge issue.
     
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  8. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I think you don't have to reveal he is gay.
    I mean, the character might not know himself or be entirely sure.
    It's not super black and white and since you're a lez I assume you remember a bit how it is when you're figuring everything out.

    As for everyone saying they don't like/feel comfortable(or whatever) with the age gap, I say it's fine.
    This kind of relationships DO exist and there's a reason why younger people are interested in the older and vice-versa.
    I mean.. It's not like he's 40. Then, it's a totally different subject.
    5 years sound like a lot because of their youth but it happens a lot so go with it if there's a good reason for the lover to be that much older (and interested in a friggin' teen>.>)
     
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  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, if he's dating a man, it seems like he's at least reasonably sure. If he were, say, hanging around with a 15-year-old-friend and having complicated feelings for the friend, I'd accept the "not sure" idea. But dating a 20 year-old? Unless the 20 year-old is celibate or assexual or something, there's probably at least some physical action between them... it sounds like the MC is reasonably sure he's attracted to men.
     
  10. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    If he goes around craving D all day, then yeah, he's certainly gay and I doubt that's news to him.
    But you can be in a sexual relationship and just "going with it" as you figure stuff out.
     
  11. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see the problem with revealing the character to be gay, but more so with the age gap. Someone who is 20-years-old and dating a boy would seem to me to be a sexual predator, and maybe taking advantage of the fact that others see your MC as both mentally unstable (imaginary friend) and deviant (because of his sexuality). I couldn't see their relationship as romantic at all. I'd handle that carefully if I were you, especially if you are marketing this to the YA audience.
     
  12. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    The socially awkward teenager who seeks acceptance plot has been done to death already. Adding the idea of being gay doesn't change much in terms of plot. However, the point about the 15 year old having an imaginary friend has a lot of potential. I think that a story about the struggles of a teenage schizophrenic would be far more interesting.
     
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  13. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    I'm going to have to agree that the age gap is a problem. Not that you can't write a story about something that controversial, but you mentioned that you wanted to educate people on the topic, so if the purpose of the book is to remove the stigma around homosexuality then throwing in a pedophilic relationship is probably a bad idea, especially since pedophilia is an existing fear that already surrounds the debate.
    That said, I think you need to figure out what exactly it is you're attempting to do with this book. After all, while there is a market for this sort of thing, the majority of people that age are paranoid about being perceived as gay, so you'll probably be pitching this towards a more niche crowd if you want to tackle such subjects.
     
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  14. aj*colher
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    https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/653.Best_YA_Fiction_with_GLBTQQI_themes_characters#6017769

    There's plenty of books for young adults with gay characters. That's not a problem at all! It's actually the main reason some young adults would read your book. But I have to agree with NeighborVoid, the imaginary friend sounds like a more interesting story, especially if you don't feel confident writing from a gay boy's perspective.
    Really though, you should write the story you want to tell. If there's a boy in it that's attracted to an older man, and you feel that's true to his character, write it. Stuff like that happens, whether it's PC or not, and reading is supposed to open your mind to other people's REALITY, not expose them to more safe social norms. Don't worry about readership. Don't worry about genre. Don't try to force your story into a particular hole and censor your own ideas to try and make it fit.
     
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  15. Lea`Brooks
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    Alright... This talk of pedophelia is irking me, so I'm jumping in.

    When I was 15, I was in a relationship with a 19yo. We first got together when I was 14 and he was 18, and we were together for a year and a half. Granted, we both knew it was illegal, because of the age of consent law. But we still had intimate physical contact. I also dated a 22yo at 16 and a 27yo at 17.

    There was nothing "predatory" at all about any of those relationships. I was very mature for my age and enjoyed the company of older men. Nothing wrong with that. The only reason people frown upon it is because they view kids under the age of 18 as just that -- kids. But most people don't realize that they are, especially in this day and age, very mature and knowledgable about sex at a very young age. I knew girls in the 7th grade who were already experimenting with sex. And this was over 15 years ago. Think about how much has changed now, with the Internet at their disposal. If the age of consent was lowered (and in my opinion it should be, with certain limitations to prevent pedophiles), would a 15yo dating a 20yo seem so wrong? Probably not.

    Yes, it's controversial, and I think it's best to avoid such a drastic gap in a story, because, since it is illegal, it could give the reader the wrong idea. But painting every person who dates people under age as a predator is not true in the slightest. A 30 year old dating a 15 year old, however, is a different story.
     
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  16. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Lea`Brooks I feel your comment is directed at me. I'm glad you had good experiences with your partners, but it is illegal and if someone had found out, the older partner would have ended up in jail. A fifteen year old can't vote, drink, drive a car, and perhaps has never had a job. Being "mature" for their age doesn't negate it as a crime. In addition, the MC has an imaginary friend he thinks is real, which would potentially make him mentally unstable. It's a concern that should be thought about instead of blindly romanticizing the relationship. If the author chooses not to, that's his or her choice.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2015
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  17. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    There's a market for it, I think. I'm not very knowledgeable about the BL (Boys Love) genre, but I do know it's not out of the ordinary to have an older young man involved with a younger one. It's actually a trope within the genre.

    Also, not all bullied frail boys are gay. :) I have a character just like that, but I thought making him gay was actually "cliché" so I didn't go that route.

    I mean, the fact Tony is gay seems to be just a detail in what's a really innocent story, from what you've told us. It shouldn't hurt anyone.
     
  18. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    Yeah, that's a trope in real life too. :p
     
  19. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    There's definitely a middle school auidience for LGBT+ fiction. "Drama" by Raina Telegemier and "Husky" by Justin Sayre are popular examples. However, if you're throwing an age gap in there, you might wanna make it for high schoolers.

    Also, "boys love" are usually aimed towards older girls or guys, not middle schoolers.
     
  20. ancientdragon48
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    ancientdragon48 New Member

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    Wow, that is a very deep, meaningful, question. To me a character is like an actually human running around in my head. If they come to me blonde haired, blue eyed, with a sugar addiction...that is exactly how I write them. Tony came to you gay because he knew that you would understand him and most certainly you do. Write him gay, let his rainbow shine! Don't change a hair on his pretty little head.

    As for the age group you plan to share this with...that could actually be a very good thing. Young, confused and unsure of their own shoes, a middle schooler could really use a friend like Tony. A character who makes them feel good about themselves because they aren't alone.

    Good luck, sounds like a fantastic read.
     
  21. SilentDreamer
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    I wonder about mentioning the boyfriends name, and letting people figure it out themselves - that way it's totally normalised, because you'd never said "Tony is straight, and has a girlfriend called Meredith".

    I'm thinking of my own WIP, I've only mentioned my MC being gay, because she comes out to her friends, prior to being kicked out by religious parents - (trope-y I know, but the rest of it isn't so much). If I didn't, parts of it would make it look like her sexuality was "caused" by something, rather than 'just is' - as a gay woman, I know it "just is".

    The age thing - meh....could you make him a little older? Eg the age of consent (here it's 16 - regardless of who you sleep with...as long as you are both at least 16), and the boyfriend the same gap - it's not predatory, but it might just make it go over a bit easier....and at 16, teens are just as conflicted as 15!

    SOrry - my two cents on it.
     
  22. Acanthophis
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    ^I actually think keeping the age as it is current may make the story more genuine. I know from my own experiences that the dating pool is already 1/10th the size for us (even smaller since many are closeted), that seeing not sticky-speaking 'legal' relationships is somewhat common. Age is pretty arbitrary, anyway. Some countries require the parties to be 16 or older, 18 or older, and even 14 or older. Couple this arbitrary age requirement with a small dating pool, and you'll find that people are more willing to break the law. Age is a horrible indicator for whether or not somebody is emotionally and/or physically ready for a relationship - granted, it's the best we have for a general population, but that doesn't mean it's good.
     
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  23. Aster
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    Aster Member

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    Regardless of how you encode a consensual sexual relationship between a 15 and 20 year old, readers will decode it based on the law of their country and the social attitudes of their culture.

    It will definitely distract from the message of your story. If it makes no difference to the message of the story that the love interest is much older than your protagonist then just make them the same age or make your protagonist above the legal age of consent.
     
  24. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    I think by 'revealing' it you're actually putting emphasis on the label itself. Just write the story and relationship as it develops, and don't bother putting a label on things. Allow the reader to realize his relationship orientation on their own, instead of just labeling your character and hoping that describes him more somehow.
     
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  25. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Definitely do gay. As long as we're afraid of depicting it freely, the stigma will be hang on easier. We're breaking ground when we're brave, not afraid .And I also think, in a modern real world setting, it's unrealistic not to depict people using the modern labels. That's what they're there for, they're categories, and I assure you modern high-schoolers know and use them. I would be more worried about the 15 x 20 thing because that more confusing morally. I think people should only have sex once they reach age of consent, but I'm not too uncomfortable with that age gap, especially if the relationship is good. I suspect a lot of people would be similar, they appreciate the romance, but the age element is kind of a concern, an elephant in the room. That might interfere with the story, if the relationship is supposed to be seen positively. And as others pointed out, pedoey vibes are not good for the promotion of gay rights when that's a negative stereotype we have. The imaginary friend thing is cool btw.
     

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