1. Feral Inferno
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    Feral Inferno Member

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    When to reveal a characters sexuality?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Feral Inferno, May 5, 2016.

    So, first off, I'm planning on writing an episodic series. The first episode mostly consists of you meeting the main characters for the rest of the series.

    One of them (or more, but it's not very important) is gay. Some context: the society he lives in has never looked down upon homosexuality, and him 'coming out' would insignificantly, if at all, affect how others feel about him.

    I have a nice short scene where he's talking with his ex ,who is still a good friend, where he is (subtley) revealed to be gay which would take place in the first episode.

    So, my question is: should I reveal his sexuality in the first episode so my readers to be will know right away that there will be homosexual relationships in this series.?

    Or, should I wait some amount of episodes so I could show this characters strengths and weaknesses and then reveal that he is gay.

    To be clear, his sexuality is unimportant to his character (though I will be weaving some realtionships throughout the series). And, the affect of his reveal would be minor in-story but might be pretty big to the reader.
     
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  2. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I don't think you need to wait much. But if you don't want it to be a big thing then maybe, maybe, it would be less of a thing if you just throw it out later. How soon would the "first episode" reveal be? First scene he's in? Second? Third? Sixth? That would influence things.
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's often a mistake to let the reader get the wrong idea about a character or setting, unless getting to the truth is something you want to unfold slowly.

    In your case, I would maybe make it obvious he's gay without belaboring the point. There isn't any reason to keep the reader in the dark, is there? A reader may assume he's not gay, just because of his gender. Discovering later on that he is gay will require a shakeup of perception, which takes the reader out of the story for a few moments. (Maybe even make them backtrack to see what pointers they may have 'missed.') Unless that shakeup is important, I'd just avoid it by making his sexual orientation obvious near the beginning.

    You wouldn't allow a reader to assume that your story is set in present-day Los Angeles when in fact it's set in 19th century London, would you? Unless there was some purpose to creating that mistake? I figure this is the same kind of thing.
     
  4. Feral Inferno
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    Feral Inferno Member

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    @Oscar Leigh
    That would be the second scene he's in. All that's revealed in his first is that he's optimistic and spry.

    @jannert
    Understood. His sexual orientation is not important to the story or his character. Might as well let the readers know early on.

    Thank you for your replies.
     
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  5. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    Totally agree with @jannert

    Just describe the character as the character is. There's nothing to gain by not doing that. You shouldn't worry about how the audience will react generally but especially in this case. If the audience is going to have a negative reaction then they will have that reaction whenever it happens. So just forget about that. Tell us who the character actually is. If he's a good character then that's all you need to do. Being gay is not something that demands pre-existing sympathy in the reader to accept; acting like it is is kinda uncool by itself.

    There are some things that need pre-existing sympathy. An audience will reject a child murderer if introduced directly as that but we might be willing to stick with a story about a mum with post partum depression; some things we have such a knee-jerk reaction to that a character who is that is something that needs to be treated with caution but in truth as long as the gut reaction isn't contempt then you can just kinda roll with it. The line really is that far out there. These days even introducing your character as a murderer isn't necessarily far enough. It takes something that genuinely disgusts the audience to lose them in one line. You might lose a few people because they just refuse to see an addict (say) as sympathetic but like 5% of people believe they have been abducted by aliens. You can't pander to everyone because some people care about really weird things. Don't worry about them.

    Trust your gut. You know when you need to build sympathy first; you know when characters are genuinely unpalatable. This isn't that. Just treat him like anyone else.
     
  6. Tobin
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    Tobin New Member

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    I would suggest you reveal it in the beggining. Otherwise you can risk some people complaining you "deceived" them into believing the show was "normal" only to have a "gay agenda" plastered at their faces. It's silly? Sure, but happened last year with people, especially MRAs, arguing Mad Max did that with feminism, and before that with Philip Pullman "His Dark Materials" of turning anti-religious in latter books, what was true in his case.

    Or you can go by the motto that "bad publicity is good publicity". Mad Max was the case. Anyway,

    Introducing it as early as possible is good because it lets your audience aware of what is up for the ride. When I saw the Supergirl pilot they let it pretty obvious they were probably going to take the feminism in a way I'm not particularly found of for being too pedantic, and I simply saw no more.

    By the way, just a suggestion, well, another but if you want to nail home th point of being a gay-friendly world, have you thought about one scene with the characters in a cafe or something? The MC after a day of work or even during lunch goes to a restaurant and in background, you have a lot of gay couples, maybe even a scene of him flirting with someone etc.

    Hope that helped and good lucky :)
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2016
  7. Shattered Shields
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    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    I say only to reveal it when it is relevant, such as one one character catching him with a lover, or mentioning it offhanded like. If it isn't a big deal (and honestly, it shouldn't be, unless it's pertinent to the main conflict) then try your best to not make it a big deal.

    Very silly indeed. This is a good point, but a writer should never hold themselves back for fear of people getting up in arms over nothing. People get offended over everything and anything nowadays.
     
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  8. Topaztock
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    Topaztock Member

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    I don't think it particularly matters, but if this guy is friends with his ex that's a very important thing to his character, right? I assume the readers/watchers will be able to assume his sexuality in that scene.

    Whatever you do will be the right choice, but I wouldn't suggest deliberately holding off on his sexuality.
     
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  9. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Do whatever suits the plot is probably the main thing. What situation which this comes up in is most likely to happen first, given the other circumstances? And what works best for your plot? Find the event and timing that makes the most sense in those two ways would be what I would probably do.
     
  10. Charlemagne Swift
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    Charlemagne Swift Member

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    I agree, if you need to tell the readers the sexuality then do so, and position it so fits into that scene without contrast from the actual plot
     
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  11. JD Anders
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    JD Anders Member

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    +1... Even though sexuality isn't necessarily crucial to a story, it can be crucial to a reader's view of a character (for better or for worse). When I read a story, I generally just assume all characters are straight unless noted otherwise. Unless the story has sexuality as one of its themes, I don't really expect to have my view of a character shaken up after a certain point in a story, and generally if it is shaken it's due to a plot twist or something similar. To have what could be a crucial element of a character just nonchalantly dumped on me well into the meat of a story would serve to take me out of the story and leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

    in summation, I agree: Unless his sexuality is a large part of your story, get it out of the way early. Since it isn't, don't save it for a point that could cause the reader to be thrown by it.
     
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