1. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?

    Handling 'coming out' and self discovery

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by DK3654, Dec 31, 2018.

    I considered putting this in research, but I'll stick it here for now at least.
    In my urban fantasy WIP, one of the leading characters- Jade- is a lesbian. In relation to that, I have the idea of the character having some struggles fully coming to terms with her sexuality. I don't want this to be a big thing relatively for the character or the story, because I have other issues I'm more interested in focusing on, because other things make more sense in the plot, and because honestly this isn't something I feel very prepared to dive into. But it is an issue I like the idea of touching upon and fits nicely with the bigger picture of the character and story.

    This should be a familiar story to those who've been following my WIP, but, what I have in mind is that Jade has essentially spent most of her life being sort of cooped up in her comfort zone, not being entirely certain about what she wants to do. She figures out early enough that she isn't really straight, but spends some time not being sure exactly where she fits (as while she is ultimately gay, she is somewhat bi-curious in nature), up until the age of 24.
    Then shit goes sideways.
    Jade is selected for recruitment by a group of vampires (I know, I know, I promise it won't be a trashy teen thing or anything). Properly turning people is considered a sensitive and complex affair, not to be done by novices, so is entrusted to the upper echelon of vampires- the 'nobles'- in each group- or 'house'. One of these nobles follows and carefully enthralls Jade, before finally turning her. She dies, and is buried, before the house comes to retrieve her.
    Jade remains under their thrall after being turned, subliminally pushing her to be more inhuman and listen to her sire. She goes along with them and becomes a member of the house. She soon takes to her new position, and does a variety of morally questionable things for the house, and also herself. The noble who sired her remains around to train and command her, but he isn't just interested in her as a recruit. The man, Vitaly. has been searching for some time for a potential partner, and he believes Jade is a suitable match.
    He is never forceful or aggressive with his advances- actually rather restrained- but under his passive influence, Jade is drawn into a relationship.
    However, Vitaly's influence eventually wanes, and Jade realizes just what has happened to her. She is thrown into an identity crisis, unsure of the extent of her own free will in what she has done and what this says about her as a person. Vitaly notices too late, and Jade flees the house.
    Among various consequences, Jade is left further confused about her sexuality and goes into a state of sexual repression. She knows her relationship with Vitaly was at least partly based on his power over her, but she can't shake the sense that they did seem to have a genuine connection of some kind. She tries repeatedly to move on, but things prove difficult for her.
    As of the start of the story, Jade is still unsure of her sexuality, but defaults to bisexual when pressed. She is stuck in a rut of depression, isolation and repression, and looking for a more meaningful life. She finds it in helping one of her friends, the head MC of the story- Sarah, adapt to her own 'change in circumstance' and the work they begin together. Along the way, Jade starts to realize the extent of her growing affection for Sarah, and this gives her the confidence to finally settle on being gay.

    So, my question is how does this seem an appropriate, believable way of handling the issue of coming out and self discovery?
    Like, is it weird for Jade to be unsure like this up to the age of 24 without many complications?
    Does it make sense for Jade to sexually repress like this?
    How should I handle her coming out to people along the way? Things to avoid?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.
    Thanks for reading.
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    It seems appropriate enough to me, but I'm wondering if you really want her to "settle on being gay"? She thinks she might be bisexual, she has a somewhat coercive but also satisfying relationship with a man... can she not continue to identify as bisexual? Or to refuse to label herself?

    I mean, for some people I think the labels are really useful. I'm not the only one who feels this way, I'm not alone, etc.... but with so much other stuff going on with her, I feel like she probably is kinda unique? Like, if I were her and was looking for labels for myself, I think I'd probably focus on the "vampire" bit, and then maybe look at my morality and try to figure that out, and maybe, at some point, eventually, I'd get around to giving a name to my sexual orientation. But it really wouldn't be a priority!
     
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  3. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel Contributor

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    So, my question is how does this seem an appropriate, believable way of handling the issue of coming out and self discovery?

    It struck me as believable, yes.

    Like, is it weird for Jade to be unsure like this up to the age of 24 without many complications?

    Seems reasonable to me. There are many big life decisions that don't get handled until people are out on their own for awhile.

    Does it make sense for Jade to sexually repress like this?

    Even in our modern, somewhat more accepting society, yes, it does. I believe there will have to be a reason for the repression. Perhaps a religious upbringing that is opposed to her sexual feelings, perhaps a bad experience, or overbearing authority figures. You will need to show why there is repression for it to work.

    How should I handle her coming out to people along the way? Things to avoid?


    Coming out to different characters should flow naturally based on her and the other character's relationship and personality. There aren't any rules in fiction other than be entertaining, so as long as you can make it work with your characters, just about anything would fly.

    The big question I find myself asking is in regard to the main point of your story. Is it a reflective, introverted story of self-discovery set in an urban-fantasy world, or is the question of sexuality merely a facet of your MCs character. If the former, then the amount of thought you are putting into it is good and should be deepened. If not, then be careful how much you include in the story. You should, of course, have an intimate understanding of your MC, but you don't have to put all of it in there, especially if the extra information will detract from the story. I mean, if we're talking Vampires -vs- Cyborg Aliens, then the MCs sexuality probably should take a back seat. If it is more of a romance or coming of age type story (are there any Vampire coming of age stories?) then more focus on sexuality would be warranted.

    Hope this helps, and good luck.
     
    matwoolf, DK3654 and BayView like this.
  4. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    That's the thing- it wasn't really satisfying. She doesn't really have the same attraction to men, such that she wouldn't really be happy in a straight relationship. She is 'mostly gay' if you will.

    Don't worry- it isn't. Part of the whole repressing thing is she doesn't think about it.
     
  5. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    I already explained- it's her bad experience with Vitaly.

    More the later, but there is a plenty of introversion and self discovery. It's more of a drama than an action story. As I have said, this is not going to one of the main themes.
     
  6. EightyD

    EightyD Member

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    Acceptance of sexuality, for many, is a constant battle. It is okay for someone to take time to realize who they really are and to whom they are actually attracted to. If you want to get real specific you can, but that's not your priority.
    I don't think she needs to settle on anything. If she just wants to be identified as not straight and use a label, "queer" is a pretty good label to consider using for her
     
  7. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    Sure, she doesn't need to settle on anything. But the point is that she does. I'm not just slapping a label on it, the character is supposed to come to a conclusion here.
     
  8. LadyErica

    LadyErica Active Member

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    I don't usually share personal information online, and I have debated with myself if I should respond to this. But what the heck, it's for a good cause, or something. Accepting your sexuality can be very difficult. Most people don't want to stand out from the herd and be different, and many want to live up to other people's expectations. So for that reason, it makes perfect sense that Jade wants to be straight. I refuse to call it "normal", though. If something is "normal", it would mean everything that's different isn't normal, and that really doesn't work for me here.

    But anyway, I came out several years ago, and it was both the best and worst thing I've ever done. On the down side, all hell broke loose, so to say. My family hated me for a while, and some of my friends started avoiding me. People at work didn't want to sit down with me for lunch. And we're talking adults here. But I live in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and that makes it even more difficult to stand out from the crowd. It's different in a big city with millions of people. There will always be thousands of people just like you there. But when there are less than 10.000 people in the entire town...

    On the other hand, things did calm down after a little while, and my family accepted my choice. They might not like it, but what can they do. I'm still their daughter and sister, and that matters a heck of a lot more than who I date. Some of my friends left, but others stayed with me, and proved they are true friends. Those are the ones I want to keep anyway. But most important, it was a huge relief. It's hard to describe how it feels, though I guess the old saying "Carry the world on your shoulders" fits here. I've carried the world on my shoulder my whole life, and now I could finally let go. It's extremely liberating. Now I can finally breathe again.

    So coming out was a very difficult choice to make, and there were times afterwards I wondered if it had been a mistake. But once things calmed down, I knew it was the only thing I could possibly have done, and it felt amazing. Still does, years later.

    Returning to Jade, I wonder if she's actually bi? I hate the term "settle for gay", but it could be simply that she wants to be normal, and she's so desperate to be normal that she tells herself she's straight. Accepting that she isn't could be very difficult for her, and not something you should take lightly. It could, in worst case, ruin her entire life. Dunno if it will go that far, but it can easily change her life forever.
     
  9. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    Jade circumstances have generally been tolerant in this regard. She's never really felt like there's anything wrong with being gay, never had a lot of pressure on her about it. Not nothing there, but definitely nothing much. Her initial uncertainty is due mainly to her own conflicted feelings.
    After her experience with Vitaly, she sexually represses because she doesn't want to think about Vitaly, and because if she acknowledges that isn't very attracted to men then that just goes more toward how troubled her relationship with Vitaly was. It's been easier for her to deal by clinging on to the idea that it could have worked on a basic level, rather than coming to terms with the implications of the fact that it couldn't have. Especially because there is a deeply blurred line between Vitaly's manipulation of Jade and Jade's genuine feelings and decisions, related to this issue and others.
     
  10. LadyErica

    LadyErica Active Member

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    Just because she's fine with it, it doesn't mean everyone else is fine with it too, and that's the real issue. If she accept she's gay, her whole life will change. Some for the better, some for the worse.
     
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  11. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    That was my point. She lives in generally tolerant circumstances. Some of the subcultures she becomes involved in, in fact, are very tolerant of many different sexual preferences.
     

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