1. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Too controversial? Especially for YA Novel?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Youniquee, Aug 7, 2012.

    Yay another character development thread from me! (not)

    Anyway, I have this character and he's gay. That's not really as controversial as much as the next part. I have no problem writing about a gay person. But the thing is, he's also Muslim. I don't outright state it but it's implied that he is. Is this too controversial? I'm concerned about getting a backlash from it (if it's ever published). I don't really want to mix the two together but it's apart of his character. Do you think I should just shrug my shoulders and write on anyway?

    Please post your views on this n_n

    Thank you!~
     
  2. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    I would say write it. The way that the industry is going these days in ANYTHING, from television to music to literature, people are learning to put up with these big twists. I think you'd get a much more accepting audience in YA than in any other audience. Go for it.
     
  3. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Would you have the same reticence if the character was Christian?

    I say write it.
     
  4. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Google has 100 million hits for gay muslim so it isn't a new topic. Do some reading to judge how your work might be viewed, and whether you want to make yourself a target for some inevitable reaction.
     
  5. s33point1
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    s33point1 Member

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    Write it. The only way we as a society wont have to ask questions like "Is it okay to have a gay Muslim character?" is if more and more people write and talk about it like its no big deal, because it isn't a big deal anymore.
     
  6. ThievingSix
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    ThievingSix Member

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    The question is, what is your intention by mixing the two?, are you trying to make a political statement?. The idea if published will be controversial, is that what your aiming for?

    Ultimately there's nothing wrong with the idea, it just depends on what you want to say about it in your story. Do you understand Islamic culture enough to write about it? or will it be a stereotypical "muslim". To effectively pull it off your going to have to have a solid understanding of both homosexual and Islamic cultures. Why must the two be mixed? You'll find that none of the major religions in the world support homosexuality, thus you'll need to incorporate this, if he was living in a Saudi Arabia for example, he would be killed or imprisoned if it was found out. Context is everything.
     
  7. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Not really political (I kind of wanna stay away from that but it can't be avoided now lol) he's not the main character but in his arc, what I'm pretty much trying to say is that Homosexuality doesn't change someone, the struggles of being religious and being homosexual and the present generation's (teenagers) attitude to homosexuality and how it's changing. I wouldn't want an uproar but I'm expecting people not to agree with me.

    Yep, I think I do. I don't go indepth into it though (Since he's not even the viewpoint character anyway) what's a stereotypical muslim? Yeah, he's religious and all but he's not a 100% serious muslim. (Most teenagers aren't, me thinks) that phrase is kinda confusing.

    Add more conflict to it. Religion also plays a huge part on why people don't support it. Take this as his 'conflict' really.

    Haha, well that's an obvious one xD If they did, we'd have gay marriage by now. He's living in Britain, London, so he's not going to put to death.
     
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Just curious - why did you feel the need to ask?
     
  9. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    But I have to ask: why does a non-major character need to have conflict if it's not something that we're really going to be following? I mean, you say yourself that you're not going to get "in depth" about it. I think the question was really meant to be:

    Is this a necessary plot device? Or is this just filler to try and make things seem juicier, despite the fact that the information isn't really needed?

    A homosexual Muslim would be EXTREMELY controversial. There would be backlash. There would be people calling it blasphemous or saying you're trying to poison the minds of children. You will receive mail in which mothers or religious groups will outwardly slam you for what you wrote. The question THEN becomes:

    Are you willing to take the backlash for something that is a minor plot device, that is not in depth and that you don't really do much with except sort of toss it out there to BE controversial?
     
  10. ThievingSix
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    ThievingSix Member

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    Now that you cleared it up it makes more sense. If I'm understanding it correctly you're trying to play on the fact that homosexuality is becoming accepted in society but within his own religion he increasingly realises that its not adaptive to modern ethics and as a result he feels torn between the two. I think if you can pull it off well it would make an interesting story.

    By stereotypical Muslim I'm referring to the post 9/11 Americanised version. The freedom hating, oppressive, controlling and radical Islamic sect Muslim that's become very prevalent and stereotypical in the media. In reality Islam is a very peaceful faith more so than others. That's not to say it does not impose strict guidelines on living, but "laws" such as stoning people for sodomy don't exist in the Quran, and are purely man made. It's important to consider that you don't portray his family as radical Muslims because that's a good way to end up in hot water particularly if you decide to publish.

    If its not the centre of your story, i'd avoid the idea. Its too controversial unless your actually willing to explore the idea, because in the end you will leave many questions unanswered and everyone will question your stance as a writer.
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think the first thing you should ask yourself is - what do you believe about Islam? That is going to greatly affect how you write this. Do some thorough research, speak to some real Muslims - don't make any easy assumptions that "Oh he's gay so his community will sooo shun him!" Yeh they might, they might not. If you portray an accurate image of the religion, you shouldn't get too much backlash.

    For example, if say, you were writing about a gay Christian, I'd be pretty peeved if you didn't research properly and figured out how a real Christian would deal with homosexuality (by Christian, I mean one who follows Jesus and lives by unconditional love, serving others and always expressing grace and forgiveness in the way they interact with others). But if you managed to portray the situation accurately, it could be insightful.

    And if you didn't want to delve into religious controversies, then steer clear of including religion or making it too obvious - because if religion is integral to the character, then the reaction of the religious community around him is bound to play a large role, as well as whether he feels he belongs or feels rejected and alone etc.

    In short, research research research - check out all the Qu'ran verses that talks about homosexuality and love and marriage and masculinity, and if possible, talk to Muslims. It's only disrespectful if you write about something you have no understanding of.
     
  12. MeganHeld
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    MeganHeld Senior Member

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    Think about society and how so many people tend to be forced to stay quiet. If you write this, more people may become open about it. Gay is not a curse, no matter what religions say. Write it. I would love to hear the discussions about your novel afterwards. Anything eye opening I 100% support.
     
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  13. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I'm going to write it anyway but hey, I just wanted to see other people's views.

    He's a major character! The reader will be following it...because it's first person view. The view point character finds out this character is gay and my MC's reaction to it is explored, the view points of other characters about it and the conflicting feelings that the gay character has. I think I forgot mention he also has a...boyfriend and that's explored too. (This sounds even more controversial lol).

    In my story, I've set it out in arcs. In each one, one is centred round one of the new people he meets and he learns about who they are. This arc also develops my main character as realises this character isn't any different from when he met him, gay or not (Although, he still finds it weird). He becomes closer to the other characters this way too. I also think sexuality isn't explored enough in YA. Where I've set the story, most people are religious in some way as well.

    I guess that's just something I'll have to deal with ~_~. Children won't be reading my book anyway. Mostly teenagers. They're old enough to have their own viewpoints but hey, this arc kinda makes them think deeper about their viewpoints on this matter.
    It's not a plot device. This is apart of the plot.




    Yeah :D exactly what I'm doing. Thanks. I hope I can pull it off well.

    I have no idea how Muslims in America are so yeah. I don't anyway, since he never comes out to his parents in the novel. (I was going to do this before, but I thought that's a huge step for a 16 year old to take!) I do explore the idea but it's not directly through his eyes, it's from another character's eyes. Also, It's quite a huge part of my story at one point, although it's continued throughout the story even when the focus isn't on this gay character.


    I have close Muslim friends so I have an idea already. The Muslims here (From what I heard and observed) would probably shun him, to be honest. Some might be allowing, some might not. But that doesn't matter, seeing as he never comes out to any other muslims in this story.

    That just depends on the person. As before, some Christians accept it and some don't.

    Yeah and I have spoken to Muslims and researched. But I don't think I need to go in depth since this is all witnessed from a different character (The POV is first person and my main character is Agnostic/slightly Catholic. He's not going to know a lot about Islam.)


    Yeah, that's kind of my aim. I'm going to write it anyway. :D Thank you!
     
  14. Luna13
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    Luna13 Active Member

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    I agree. There is nothing wrong with writing about a gay Muslim, just make sure you know enough about both things to make it both convincing and non-stereotyped.
     
  15. Bell City Fires
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    Bell City Fires Member

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    I think not as long as you do not include a portrait of their prophet Mohammed, you will not draw too much ire.
     
  16. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    One thing to keep in mind, that no one's probably saying, but, if published, the radical arm of Islam isn't going to take lightly to a gay Muslim. And before people bash me, there's Salmon Rushdie, an artist in I think Norway in hiding, a comic who poked fun at them was killed in canada last week. I would really reconsider having that published or if you want to do something like that I'd make the religion hinted at-not open.
     
  17. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Well, that person was *poking fun* at them...
    I'm in no way poking fun at them. I'm making this serious and realistic. Even if I did hint what religion it might be, it's still obvious he's Muslim.

    I don't know if anyone knows this, But EastEnders (a popular tv show in Britain) made a move like this and no one was killed or harmed...>_>
     
  18. Shanatos
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    Shanatos New Member

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    Controversy is good for YA novels. Tip off the right sources, and you'll get tons of attention.
     
  19. Tristan Ste-Mort
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    Tristan Ste-Mort New Member

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    Gay Muslims exist. Whether it's a controversial subject or not should not keep someone from writing the truth of their existence and experience. I agree that you should take care not to stereotype either Muslims or gay teens. In addition to speaking with Muslims, you could also read other books featuring gay Muslim protagonists. There aren't many, but they're out there, and as far as I'm aware the authors are still alive and no fatawa have been issued. There are also documentaries on the lives of gay Muslims, such as A Jihad for Love, that you might be interested in watching.

    Also consider his ethnicity and family background: Is he Pakistani, Iranian, or maybe Turkish? Is he Sunni or Shi'a? Has his family just immigrated to London or have they lived there for a few generations? Even if he's only culturally Muslim, growing up in a religious family will have an influence on him as much as growing up in a Christian family would.

    At any rate, it sounds like a very interesting character! Best of luck, Youniquee!
     
  20. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Thank you for the idea that I should watch a documentary about it. Found one about Gay Muslims in Britain (which is perfect) and now I'm dead set on writing this plot after watching it.

    Thanks for the food for thought as well, other posters n_n
     
  21. wafflebunny
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    wafflebunny New Member

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    But this is all apart of being a writer--unfortunately. :( No matter what you write, some one out there is going to find something about your story that is worth debating or complaining about. You could write about bunnies and people would find something about it to debate about. So to the OP, I say go ahead and write it. But whatever backlash you think you may get, you will just have to prepare yourself for it and know how to approach it. Just make sure you do good research, talk to people who are Muslim or gay, do research about the Islamic faith, gay culture, etc.

    It doesn't matter what you write. Some of the most famous books have been banned before. ;)
     
  22. Wolfy Snackrib
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    Wolfy Snackrib Member

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    Why should any writer have to ask "Is this too controversial?"
    If you ask me, a better question for a writer to ask, "Is this controversial enough?"
     
  23. W. E. Burrough
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    W. E. Burrough Member

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    Controversy is a part of YA. I say go for it.
     
  24. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    You might want to have a look at Bali Rai's young adult book "Killing Honour". It's about a youth whose sister has been the victim of a honour killing. I haven't read the book, but found out a bit more about the author after he visited my son's school. I'm wondering if reading this book, even if it's on a different topic, would give you a bit of a role model to inform your own writing. Bali Rai has won a number of awards, been shortlisted for many more, is published by a big publishing company, and has published a number of books. And he shows how controversial topics can be covered in YA novels.

    A then-teenage friend of a family member was thrown out of her home as a teenager because she is lesbian. Her family is conservative Muslim. This does happen, and I think it's a strong topic to write about. As you mentioned, there are online resources on this topic.
     
  25. Kinch
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    Kinch Member

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    I would write it - it's a contradiction that isn't quite unexpected, but could be part of a poignant premise.

    It could be controversial - I mean, look at what happened to Salman Rushdie with the Satanic Verses. However, I think a gay Muslim (which I've never met, but know there are/must be) would be a symbol for undermining dogma, not religion. I do not wish to sound insensitive, prejudiced, or anything else in that vein.

    This is something that should be written. And it likely has already been written somewhere, but hey, we've been writing about the same contradictions as long as we've been writing.
     

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