1. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    LGBT Short Story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JJ_Maxx, May 3, 2013.

    Stories come to you sometimes without warning. Sometimes I feel like I don't have control over the stories that I come up with.

    A story came to me and I knew the two male characters were going to be gay. One of them is married to a woman and is coming to grips with his sexuality. They are both in a very masculine line of work.

    I told the story to my wife and she kinda looked at me a little funny. She thought the story was good but I think it took her a little off-guard.

    As a straight guy, why does it feel like people are uncomfortable with me writing this? Should I write it?

    I know this is a touchy subject but I've written stories from both male and female perspectives and I don't see the difference.

    Is it just social stigma?
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's social stigma.

    You're a straight guy and have been all your life. You came up with the story. Did it make you gay? Of course not. If you wrote it down, would people think you were gay? Some might, but not the ones who are important to you - they know you too well already. But strangers who read it might. If the strangers think you're gay, does that make you gay? No. Does it matter to you? It shouldn't. And if your wife thinks you might be gay, it probably doesn't have anything to do with this story. My guess is, she knows you're straight.

    So don't worry about it. If you like the story, write it.
     
  3. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suspect a mix of both. Your wife may be apprehensive that you feel the need to tell the story of a 'straight' man who is happily married and then realizes that he's actually gay and needs to leave his wife. I doubt it's true, but she may be afraid there is a autobiographical element to the tale.

    As to the masses being hesitant, I suspect that comes from people being afraid that when a person writes from a perspective they don't personally know, it often comes off as stereotyped or shallow. I'm sure you have the skills to do your characters justice, so don't sweat it. I'm sure I'd get some looks if I announced I intended to write a book about how hard it was for nuns living in 1890's Ireland--something I obviously am not naturally aware of.
     
  4. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Thanks guys. Perhaps it takes writers to understand the writing mind.

    The story will get written and people can either read it or pass on it.

    Thanks for the encouragement.
     
  5. Mackers
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    Mackers Contributing Member

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    I think there's some freudian psychology going on here.



    Just kidding :)

    I think you should go ahead and write any story in any form if you feel you've got the passion to finish it. If, obviously, you think it has a decent concept and you think it will give you the license to not only showcase your skills as a writer - there's perhaps an element of that - but most importantly because you think it has the makings of a good story
     
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  6. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    It's just social stigma. I read a short story from Bernard Malamud where the twist at the end was that a man's "old friend," was actually his old gay lover. When I read it, i was surprised, but I had no problems with it.
    But it could be since I'm 18. Younger people tend to be more supportive of LGBT than most older folk.
     
  7. squishytheduck
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    squishytheduck Senior Member

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    This is definitely true. I get the feeling that everyone reading anything I write, who does not write themselves, wonders in the back of their head how much of my story is autobiographical, and are very surprised if I say something is not at all. It's not a bad thing, but there's a difference between writing about yourself and writing what you know that's hard to define unless you've been there.

    That said, I always do worry that if I'm writing about people or situations I don't have much experience with if it comes off as inauthentic or preachy. I probably wouldn't write a story focused on a glbt issue if I weren't gay, though I wouldn't hesitate to use that as a trait of a character or backdrop of a story.
     
  8. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    A lot of people still consider LGBTQ+ themes taboo for a lot of silly reasons - particularly when it comes to gay men, because there's a general assumption that gay men are all automatically "feminine" and this is somehow a bad thing because ??????? It's all a bunch of nonsense. You should definitely write this story, though, and post it up when you're done! I'd love to read it.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    This is why I often do not share details of my writing with my wife. If I were to tell her something like this, I know she would immediately worry that I was trying to "tell her something".

    It IS just social stigma. And not just about being gay. I sometimes think the transgendered folks have it the worst, because there isn't the move toward mainstream acceptance of them that we are seeing toward people who are gay.

    We were talking today about a woman who teaches in the same program she does. The woman in question is 30, married (and talking incessantly about having children), but she is also very tall (about my height, and I'm 5-10), and very athletically built. She played basketball in school and volunteers at a rec program for kids with special needs. She's a very anxious person, always has to be active, and lately has been dressing very casually at school, and the impression I had was that she reminded me of a 14 year old girl - overactive, awkward, uncomfortable with her emerging womanhood. My wife replied, "Yes, she's a real tomboy". Well, that wasn't exactly what I meant, although many girls that age who are tomboys would likely fit that description.

    But it also occurred to me that girls who are uncomfortable with their femininity are much more easily accepted with "she's a tomboy" than are guys who are uncomfortable with their masculinity, although only to a point. But I didn't say anything about it for the same reason.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    A lot of people don't understand that gender identity is very different from sexual orientation. The interrelation between the two is very complex and very dependent on other aspects of the individual.
     
  11. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    Not to stray off-topic, but oh man, the kind of abuse the trans* community suffers through is absolutely horrific. I tag along to an LGBTQ+ support group every once in a blue moon, and there are people of all different ages and backgrounds who show up and share their stories, and some of the stuff I've heard from tran* folks just makes my skin crawl. People can be so horrible to each other, and for no good reason.

    On that note about masculinity and femininity, that's largely part of how people perceive traditional gender roles - masculinity is "strong" and femininity is "weak." So a woman with masculine tendencies is just "a tomboy," but a man with feminine tendencies is seen as weak or creepy or pathetic. It's all very silly.

    Aaaah, yes thank you! That is my biggest pet peeve. It's amazing how many people just don't grasp this concept.
     
  12. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It seems to be much harder for men to do, but my whole outlook is: who cares if someone thinks I'm gay? Unless I'm interested in dating them, what difference does it make?

    I'm not sure it's "people" who would be uncomfortable with you writing this -- it would only be you. I'm glad you decided to write it, JJ. It sounds like it could be very interesting.
     
  13. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I know my sexual orientation. I am a straight man. My wife knows I am a straight man, even if she wonders sometimes. (Purely in jest.)

    Even though I'm straight, I enjoy musicals, acting, interior decorating and I like female musical artists. It's who I am. I also like fast cars, football, cop shows and spiders.

    Everyone is different and no person should be thought odd for their tastes.

    A straight man can be very feminine and a gay man can be very masculine.
     
  14. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    You are right. The level of violence and outrage that some people feel toward those who are transgendered is shocking. It's as if they feel personally threatened. A child who is my son's age (8) revealed she was transgendered a few years ago. I had suspected this child was transgendered for several years prior, because even though he was a "boy" he was always supremely interested only in things that most little girls were interested in. He dressed as Ariel and the various princesses for Halloween, he had princess themed birthday cakes, was all over the princess stuff at Disney World, loved the Barbie DVD movies, etc. He now lives as a girl, but his mother is ever vigilant for problems on the horizon. A transgendered person was recently murdered in their town. I can't imagine how scary it must be.
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    JJ, you are an educated and thoughtful man. Alas, others are not.
     
  16. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    It's wonderful that that she has a family who supports her and lets her be herself. But it's still such a scary world we live in for people who don't fit the gender binary. I wish her all the luck in the world.
     
  17. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is purely subjective, so don't take it as fact, but it has been my observation that most "QUILTBAG people" are quite supportive of straight/white people portrying QUILTBAG characters and themes in their works as long as the characters are well done (i.e. not just shallow stereotypes). The most resistance I've encountered has come from straight, white, well-educated (really?) people, who often have knee-jerk reactions when someone even mentions anything related to the subject; to them, it's taboo. According to some of them, you should only write about characters like yourself (e.g. I should only write straight, white men. Talk about limiting!).

    Needless to say, I think the notion is bullshit. I hope I'm not opening a can of worms, but... ah, to hell with it: I've written gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered characeters of various ethnicities, nationalities, and religious beliefs (and treated them with due respect). To me, the idea that I should ensure every "QUILTBAG person" feels separate from the rest of humanity, draw attention to their "otherness" is... well, discrimination instead of something positive. Instead, I think we should treat everyone as human beings, be they white/straight or not. Does this make me sound like a hippie?
     
  18. Mckk
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    Regarding your point above, my theory is that it's because being "masculine" is viewed as a positive thing. Many very positive qualities are attributed to being masculine. I was speaking to my student on Monday, and my student is the director of an IT company that's got an IT college attached to it, and she runs both. She's energetic and thrives on the fast pace and the stress of her work - every time I see her, she's saying how much work there is and clearly moving and thinking about ten times faster than the average person, yet her face is glowing, she's grinning and she's clearly happy. So I told her, she's a bit of a career woman I think. And her reply? "Yes, I think I am quite masculine." Now, whatever made her say that? Because we attribute these qualities to being a man - it's false, but we all still do it.

    On the other hand, being "feminine" is usually viewed as a negative thing. If she's a woman, it means she's bound to be irrational, overly emotional, easily influenced, soft - all negative attributes. Again they're not true, and certainly within my marriage, I'm the rational one while my husband is the sensitive and emotional one.

    Either way, these stereotypes of what is masculine and feminine probably plays a large role in why a girl who's a tomboy is accepted or acceptable, whereas a man who is effeminate is not. The tomboy is strong because she has "male" attributes (read "positive" attributes), while the effeminate man is weak, because he has female, or bad, attributes.

    Or another way of showing this - think of the phrase, "Be a man about it!" Now reverse it and say, "Be a woman about it!"

    Anyway, as for the OP - it's definitely social stigma. Do you know how your wife feels about LGBT people? It might explain her awkwardness around the subject.
     
  19. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    QUILTBAG - had to google that... hmmmm... oh well whatever... each to their own.

    I think if I wrote from the viewpoint of a straight man even curious about homosexuality my wife would be looking at me and I wouldn't blame her!

    You're a brave man JJ... and by the way, musicals, acting, decorating, football, drinking and boxing - me too!
     
  20. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    BUT, it probably wouldn't be any different if you wrote from the viewpoint of a man who worked with a beautiful woman, and decided to have a romantic relationship with her, despite him being happily married.
     
  21. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    thats a damn good question, one that I cant answer right now! I know exactly what you mean though - I think she'd just rib me to bits if I wrote the part of a bi-curious man. Whatever the consequence I don't think I'd ever even attemp it. As you know I'm having a hard enough time writing male/female romance :)
     
  22. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    My suspicion was that my husband would be *more* interested in a story I wrote if it were a lesbian romance. I just asked him, though, and his answer was "If it gets you published, I'd be all for it."

    So, for whatever that's worth.
     
  23. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    More? As in '1' being 'more' than '0'? :)
     
  24. Suffering-is-Beauty
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    Minus the spider bit I completely agree and sympathise with you. While I don't think i could ever write a gay role, I often take a females perspective in my stories either as a co-mc or currently as the focus of my entire novel. I'm very much straight, but it's a style I really enjoy.

    On that note I have gotten some strange looks from people when I tell them I'm writing about a girl. The funniest of which was my father trying to ask if I was in fact gay after reading a novel. After messing with him a bit I told him you don't have to be gay to understand the perspective. You just have to be a writer.
     
  25. chicagoliz
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    Pretty much.
     

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