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  1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    How should I write a convincing gay MC?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Link the Writer, Mar 22, 2011.

    I had a long time trying to figure out who Heridon (protagonist of my modern-day mystery series) would fall in love with until last night I woke up with a realization that made perfect sense. Heridon is gay.

    I smiled. Of course, it made sense and it fits.

    Of course, Heridon would likely be a closet homosexual as he's still unsure of how his friends will act should he tell them. (He especially doesn't want to tell his football buddies.) The plots are about the mystery, not Heridon's sexuality. That's just one of the many sub-plots I have.

    I do have some questions though...well...basically...

    I have no idea about homosexual life other than one person likes another person of the same gender. How should I go about doing this?

    Also, I thought of surprising the readers by not revealing that Heridon is gay until a later book (but dropping seedlings of hints here and there to imply that he is). Is that a good idea or should I mention it somewhere in the first book?

    Heridon has become a more interesting individual to me and I can't wait to write about him! :D
     
  2. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    By now gays come in all shapes, flavors,sizes , poltical leaning etc.

    Cool spins on a gay characters.

    The gay who grew up in a repressed rural setting who is way out of the closet in the big city ....he is here , he is queer and he needs everyone to know it.

    The gay who hates the attention seeking, limp wristed type gays .He loves gay sex but hates the overt gay lifestyle that makes his confliction with his sexuality/social life even more complicated.

    The 50 something father, just now divorced after trying to be not gay as he raised a family with his childhood sweetheart wife
     
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  3. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Well..Maybe have him not be interested in women, like he sees a 'hot' girl but doesn't comment or his mates are talking about a hot chick but he just brushes it off like 'Yeah whatever'. He doesn't have to act feminine or anything, I think little hints like that could get the point across.
    One of my characters is a lesbian, and I'm just portraying her as a normal person. Yes, she's gay, but I don't want people to think that changes something about her personality.
    Hope this helped.
     
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  4. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    Google Esera Tuaolo
     
  5. PurpleCandle
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    PurpleCandle Senior Member

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    You know, I would think that a gay man falls in love with another man the same way that a hetero man falls in love with a woman.

    I would think that just like in straight relationships comes all of the same emotions lust, desire, the feeling of completeness and love.

    Link, I see that you are a male. Think about the times that you have lusted after your object of desire, I am guessing that would be a woman.

    Was it something about her appearance or something she did that made you look her way? Did she make you laugh, did she smell inviting, or was it her smile?

    Whatever "it" was, you could probably apply it to a gay man lusting after another man.
     
  6. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's about it. The only thing difference is that you're attracted to the same sex instead of the opposite. Ignore the stereotypically camp and those who feel they need to campaign for equal rights 24/7 and you're left with just ordinary people.

    I think subtle hints work better unless the character comes across someone they're interested in sooner. If the novel isn't about the characters sexuality then there's no need to mention it until it becomes relevant.
     
  7. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Essentially the same as with heteros, except perhaps with the inconvenience of homophobic stigma, and a more masculine interpersonal dynamic. I'm bi and have never felt that my gay relationships were fundamentally different from my straight ones, although the social pressures certainly are.

    But then again, I get quite irritated with pseudo-femininity, fey accents and people who otherwise define themselves by their sexuality or contrive a persona around it. My POV might not be.. useful.
     
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  8. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I've mentioned this in other threads, but unless you do some real life exploration it's like a Mongolian writing about the Black American experience when they have never seen a black person and have never been to the US. Different types of people have different psychology and you honor them by basing your character on a composite of real life people of that type.
     
  9. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I disagree.

    It cannot be "the same" because if it was, then homosexuals would be attracted to members of the opposite sex. There has to be different mechanisms at play and that's why there's a different result obtained.

    We had a great thread on PC speech going a few days ago and one determination was that PC is to say how things SHOULD be, not how they are. Everyone is not equal in all the things they do.
     
  10. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Think about what expectations he faces and how he deals with them. Expectations from society, from family, from friends, from lovers, from girls, from people he work with. etc. Both the people expecting him to be straight, and the know that he gay. (Does they expect him to come out of the closet? To stay there?)
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree just write him as a normal guy attracted to another bloke. Look up John Barrowman - A Day in the Life and Making of Me (BBC documentaries both on youtube), also oddly the things he did with Al Murray were enlightening. He is particularly good because he talks about his experiences very openly. I'm fortunate to have known several gay men and have one as a best friend. So I was able to base them off real people.

    My gay characters are a little camp but then my whole book and the setting is they are very normal within the world they live in.

    When my first gay character was outed by his partner (didn't even realise I had done it until I read it back), I was determined that they would be normal characters within a story. I don't mention them being gay I needed a coming out scene but kept that brief and powerful (it was what saved Socrates life), but after that I have let him hold hands with his character, he calls him hon (I chose the term of endearment from one couple I admired), they have fun and lark about together, kiss etc So far my characters have been certfied attractive and good by the gay men that have read them.

    The only thing is I would like to get in is the line 'You don't get in the way of a gay man when he is hanging curtains.' Purely because I have had three of them use that exact phrase in six months.
     
  12. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's the same, apart from the fact they are attracted to different genders. Don't worry about the fact he's gay because that doesn't automatically mean he'll act in a stereotypical homosexual way or anything. In fact, it annoys me when people write, or just assume, that all homosexuals act in a specific way.

    I don't think a character's sexual orientation is a big thing. Heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, who cares? However, you will want to include hints of him being gay otherwise it will be a bit out of the blue. So, maybe hint at his disinterest for women e.g. if women flirt with him, and if he's with other men how he acts around them and the typical situation of trying to pull women, and how he feels when other men get close?
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you really have to ask this, you should not be writing a gay character. If you don't know a subset of the population well enough to answer this for yourself, you should either get to know members of that subset well enough to write them (at which point you probably stop thinking of them as a separate group), or forget it and choose another population.
     
  14. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    You have no idea about homosexual life? Read some gay stories for research, the internet should be full of them.

    The story of the closet homosexual that overcomes his fear of being "outed", how his family and friends will react, etc. is fairly common these days. If you want to write a gay story with a twist, I'd suggest thinking outside the box.

    How about an openly gay MC, who has a gay love interest, past gay lovers who may or may not pop up from time to time to cause drama, the MC could be active in the gay community, an advocate for gay rights...and for the bombshell plot twist, he could be a closet straight guy. A character who always had self esteem issues, little or no sense of personal identity, nothing about himself that ever made him feel "special", so he has been masquerading as a gay man for years, without actually being gay. By "Being gay", suddenly he a sense of adventure of making up stories about his past fears of being "outed" and suddenly sees himself as someone important, because now he can "be somebody" by standing up for gay rights as an activist. He finds that suddenly he's more popular with the ladies as their "harmless gay friend", which in itself could serve as a point of irony for a story for a MC that has low self esteem.

    It could also explain his failed gay relationships in the past and why his former lovers keep showing up to cause drama...as well as being a another dramatic story bombshell when his current boyfriend finds out he's really a straight liar and not a gay lover at all.

    Something along those lines would be new, bold, creative...and rather different.

    Something to think about...
     
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  15. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    As far as whether you should mention he's gay earlier on or later in the series -- I'd go with later in the series.

    Use little clues that he's gay, as Youniquee said, but don't make it too overt - make it so that in, say, book 3, when he comes out, it will make sense, but the readers wouldn't have guessed before the coming-out moment.

    If you make it a big deal in chapter 1 of the first book, it will seem like that's an important part of your series, and you said you want to keep the focus on the mysteries Heridon solves and not on who he'd prefer to be with. So saving it until later on in the series will make it what you've indicated you want it to be -- an interesting twist and subplot, rather than trying to define Heridon as gay or making it into a big deal.
     
  16. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Yes. The past two posts are correct. That's what I should do. Heridon strikes me as a man who doesn't care if people think he's gay or not. If they have a problem, then he doesn't spend time with them. He jokes around with his BF around his other (straight) friends.

    He doesn't have a problem with it. His family knows he's gay. His friends know he's gay. He doesn't care if anyone has a problem with it. He'd most likely play with them by asking them to sit next to him so he can weird them out by patting their leg.
     
  17. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Really, don't overthink it more than that. The last little thing you said gives more about his personality than his sexuality, and that's what you should really be focussing on. Maybe it feeds in sometimes, but for the most part he's just another human being doing human things.
     
  18. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    I can tell you right now that we're just like everyone else, in that we're completely unique. Speaking as an open lesbian, I know that the stereotypes are usually false. I say usually because there are some more 'masculine' lesbians, just like there are more 'masculine' heterosexual women. Make sense?

    If you want to know about emotional and mental attraction, think about what would attract him as a person, not a gender. With physical attraction, ask women. Really. I find that I'm largely attracted to what men like in women, and so are many of my gay friends. But then, he'd also have his own preferences, right? It's that simple. If you need any help, you know where to find me.
     
  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Thanks for the information. I'll PM you if I have questions.

    I'm definintely going to focus on Heridon as a character and his personality, not his gender/sexuality. After all, I've been loving dear Heridon for a long time and this just makes him even more unique to me. =D
     
  20. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ahaha, I would have offered inside information too but I think I'm way too messed up to speak for what's normal for anyone of any sexual preference. :p
     
  21. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    We can speak freely. :D

    When I picture Heridon's BF, I picture the BF to be a self-assured, witty, calculating dude who seems to make Heridon's life complete. The other two guys in what I call "The Copper Gang"*...well, one of them's too busy wallowing in angst and rage and the other's too distant, too aloof. He's friends with them, but they lack something he needs.

    To me, the BF is like a little brother Heridon wants to protect and defend, yet the BF proves quite capable of taking care of himself. He acts as an achor to Heridon's anxiety and his wit and charisma makes him an intriguing fellow to Heridon.

    * The Copper Gang consists of three boys (including Heridon) and three girls. They all go to the same university together and find ways to hang out and together, they solve mysteries.
    ** The BF may or may not one day join the Copper Gang.
     
  22. Sidewinder
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    Sidewinder Contributing Member Contributor

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    The thing you have to understand is that sexuality is a fundamental part of a character, and not just some spice to add to the roast. What is it about him that makes you think he's gay? If this is a really important part of the character, then I have to disagree about the assessment that you shouldn't be writing a gay character to begin with. If this is you expressing something interesting and nuanced that you feel about people, then it could just mean that you have to familiarize yourself with homosexuality before you move forward. You have to put yourself inside your character's skin and feel what it's like.

    Now if you're just trying to make your character a little more quirky, then maybe homosexuality shouldn't enter into the picture. For one thing it can be a bit insulting to gay people if the character's sexuality isn't fully fleshed out, and is just there as a sort of quirk. But that's not even your biggest problem. Saying the character is gay doesn't necessarily say anything about him in a vacuum. What does it mean to the story that he's gay? And don't think you can make it work just by doing research. That might help, but you have to answer the question of why the character is gay, and the answer to that has to come from you. It's not a character detail that people are going to ignore, and it might even distract from the rest of the story. So what is it doing there to begin with? It's no small thing, who a character is attracted to or isn't. You might even say that sort of thing can end up defining someone if you make it too central.

    I'd say it's a bad sign that you're looking for other people to answer the question for you. Spend some time with yourself on this one, and ask where the idea comes from.
     
  23. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    The group of friends is called the Copper Gang -- isn't Heridon's last name Copper? So they're naming their group after him? That seems a little weird to me...is there some reason the group has determined Heridon is more special or something? I mean, if someone in my group of friends wanted to name our group after themself, I'd think it was a bit conceited and I'd probably be somewhat taken aback.
     
  24. LordKyleOfEarth
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    I totally just TL;DRed the above pages, but let me add this:

    How should a heterosexual character act? I imagine that list is impossible to write, because it is so diverse. The same is true of homosexuals, there is no single "gay" trait that can be identified (just like there isn't a "straight" trait).

    You said that it makes perfect sense that he is gay, why is that? If his sexuality is not a issue, why bother bringing it up? There is a major character in Harry Potter who is gay, but it's never mentioned because it wasn't seen as important to bring it up.
     
  25. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Do you believe in cultures?
     

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