1. lettuchi
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    lettuchi Member

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    homosexuality and making it believable

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by lettuchi, May 14, 2012.

    I'm writing a sci-fi novel with two separateromantic threads. So, I have two characters who are gay and questions about both. One is basically out, everyone knows he prefers men, and has gotten flack for it his whole life. He's a priest- the high priest of the realm. As the story starts, I have him noticing subtle details about men's figures, and the leader of a group of monks basically calls him out and insults him, insinuating that "his type" is dirty and disgusting(It's not a sin per se but it's looked down on among people of high station). Is this enough for the reader to get that he's homosexual? I plan on having a small exchange later between this priest and an old friend where they recall his being bullied as a teen, that will put things in the open, but that doesn't happen until past the half-way point.

    Second character. He's a prince, and is in love with the priest. It causes him significant emotional stress. He has a consort, whom he beds solely to put on appearances, but he's become cruel to her. I have him noticing physical characteristics about the priest when they are together. Also, there is a scene where the consort interrupts a game of chess between the two, and the prince flips out on her, saying he never wanted her in the first place. Is this proper foreshadowing of the situation? By the end of the story, they are together as a political unit and have had a romantic encounter, so it's coming up eventually anyway in a form that the reader can't miss.

    Anyway, I appreciate any input. I want to handle this well as it's an important story arc and I don't want it to be clunky or overdone, but I don't want it coming out of left field either.
     
  2. jg22
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    jg22 Member

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    In terms of sheer believability, I find it somewhat difficult to believe that homosexuality will still be taboo in the near future, never mind a distant future. Is there some reason why society has regressed in the future setting of your novel? It seems a little old fashioned. I think I would not make this a gay thing, but rather concentrate on your prince character and his affair with the priest. Make the affair the point of contention, not the sexuality of the two characters involved. Have a complex triangle between the priest, the prince, and the consort. You could introduce the sexuality of the two male characters through 'suggestions' (noticing men's figures) and inference, but don't drag it out for long- just enough to make the reader realise the dynamics you are setting up, and be prepared for what follows. Once the sexuality of both characters has been established, put the issue aside and focus on the relationships between the characters and what happens to them.
     
  3. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    You may want to add a single line explaining what they mean about 'his type'. You know, maybe:

    "You kloreks are just disgusting." The man said. Klorek was an offensive term for men who preferred other men to women.

    It's somewhat inelegant, but it gets the point across. Most readers tend to assume that a character is straight until proven otherwise, so you'll want to outright say it.

    With the other character, it sounds like he may not be entirely clear on his sexuality himself, so hinting about it without outright saying it could work better for him. It could really work to keep the readers guessing about his sexuality.
     
  4. lettuchi
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    lettuchi Member

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    Jg22, most of the story takes place on another world with a pretty conservative culture. I agree that I should focus on the dynamic between them, thanks for the suggestion.

    Ettina, good suggestion there, thank you!
     
  5. John Eff
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    John Eff Member

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    Concentrating on the dynamics as suggested seems the way to go. With subtle clues the reader will soon know what's what.

    As for the reason that homosexuality is dispproved of, you have it right there: religion. It is, after all, the reason we have it here and further gives you the opportunity to take a satirical swipe, if you're of a mind to.
     
  6. niverik2k
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    niverik2k New Member

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    I don't think religion is an original idea for anti homosexual sentiments in a sciencefiction that takes place in the future. It doesn't give room too explore such issues, other than equating religious people (regardless of whether its a made up religion or not) with such beliefs. You should consider other societies views on the issue. For example what where greeks views on homosexuality. Men might have had such relationships, but they where expected to grow up and get Married. Or Romans looked down on Catamites (a young handsome companions). Or Asian Cultures, and native american cultures. What did egypt think about homosexuality. Did middle easterners frown upon homosexuality before even the Jewish religion flourished (some scholars indicate that is the case). How do these views compare to our ideas of healthy relationships and healthy homosexual relationships today.

    Science Fiction has the opportunity to move beyond subjective religious opinions (an argument that can't be won or loss) and explore the vast myriad of other elements influencing homosexuality through history. I hope this is useful. Conservative culture doesn't have to mean religious culture. There are conservatives in Japan and every country of the world.
     
  7. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    Give more than enough credit to the reader's intuition. Subtle is the way to go, I think, since the characters are seeming to try to hide their feelings. You don't want the reader to know from the start that these guys will be going all Brokeback Mountain, right? That's too predictable--I think your ideas are good ones and they'll give enough to the story without ruining it.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    > but I don't want it coming out of left field either.

    What's wrong with it coming out of left field? I'd think that it would be an interesting and enjoyable discovery for the reader. Carefully creating situations _just_ to signal, "Hey! He's gay! You got that, right?" feels a little labored to me.
     
  9. P R Crawford
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    P R Crawford Member

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    Totally agreed with Tristan and "ChickenFreak". "Subtle is the way to go".

    Keeping it subtle will allow the reader to feel a sense of mystery around the topic. More attentive readers will feel rewarded for their attentiveness (and appreciate being "insiders" to the story), while less attentive readers get to enjoy an "ah-hah!" moment when it all becomes plain as day...
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I failed to comment, before: I think that in your effort to signal that these men are gay, you're having them engage in negative behaviors that are directly tied to their being gay, and as a result, you're at risk of communicating stereotypically negative views of gay men, even when you don't have such views at all.

    For example, why is your prince being cruel to his consort? He presumably chose this consort, for his own purposes (his need to pretend to be straight), right? And now he's mistreating her because of his own decision to attach her to him?

    Now, maybe he is that kind of guy. Let's imagine that he was expecting a guest who is a vegetarian, and he instructed his cook to prepare a vegetarian meal. And that he later threw a tantrum at the cook for failing to provide meat at that meal. If he'd do that then, OK, he's an unpleasant bully and his choice to mistreat his consort is in character with that. If he wouldn't, then I think that it's out of character.

    Similarly, but to a much lesser degree, for a high priest to be spending his time evaluating the attractions of the men that happen to cross his field of vision is rather juvenile behavior, even if he keeps the activity in his own mind. Now, I know that people argue that everyone has zillions of sexual thoughts every day, whether they're conscious or not. So if he were straight, would you assume that he'd be similarly evaluating the nuns? If so, that's consistent; if not, then why does being gay cause him to have worse behavior?
     
  11. lettuchi
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    lettuchi Member

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    Thanks for the comments, I really appreciate it.

    He is that kind of unpleasant person, at least at this point in the story.

    It's not a particularly sexual sort of noticing traits, just observation, but the last thing I want to do is have any sort of continuing of stereotypes. I'll have to go through and correct for that.
     
  12. P R Crawford
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    P R Crawford Member

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    It might be a good idea to talk with a gay friend about what he notices in a male he finds attractive. Or even ask in a gay forum - the worst that could happen is you get flamed... :redface:
     
  13. Lumipon
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    Lumipon Member

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    A few questions!

    is the point to have the readers second-guessing their sexuality or their love for each other?

    And does the prince himself know that he is gay? You say that he beds his consort only because he needs to keep up appearances, but if both the characters know they are gay, you can't really be subtle about it. Unless y constantly tip-toe around their true feelings.

    Though it's a totally different case if the prince actually struggles with his sexuality. Between the expectations of the public and his own, confused desires. He might just be a dick to his consort because it was an arranged marriage. Gay or not, that can stress you out pretty bad.

    So bottom line, when the character struggles, we can relate to it and empathize. If both characters already their sexual orientation, it's just a "forbidden love"-story. Though nothing really wrong about those either.
     

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