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  1. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    How do I create a gay character without being disrespectful?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by cutecat22, Oct 8, 2017.

    Hi - I have a male character called Chase, he works in a night club and looks after all the dancers (all the dancers are female)

    He sorts their costumes, music, keeps them happy but also gets on great with all the other staff, including the young club owner. Chase won't see any sex action in the book, he's a secondary character who we only see while he's working. And the book is not about m/m or f/f or trans relationships.

    How do I make Chase into a gay character without saying he's gay, and without being disrespectful to the gay/LGBT community?

    Thanks x
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Mention a boyfriend, or have him recounting a tale of a hot date using "he"? Have one of the women say something about it being a relief to hang out with a guy who doesn't want to get in her pants?

    Lots of ways. Just figure out what fits into your scenario.
     
  3. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Love those ideas - thank you x
     
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  4. Sir Robin

    Sir Robin Member

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    I guess it depends if he's a bit flamboyant or more of a run of the mill type guy. I've known both types. I don't know how you would write it, but most gay men I've known tend to speak in a softer manner, not unmasculine, just softer.

    They also seem to be more sensitive to the feelings of women so maybe you can work that angle. A woman won't feel threatened by him because, as Bayview said, he isn't going to be out for conquest.
     
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  5. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I don't want to go too flamboyant with him, I can't really see him flouncing around in a pink tutu kinda thing (I know that's not what you mean). So far he's shaken someone's hand with a 'feminine grip'. I like the idea of it coming up in conversation between the girls "great to work with someone who's not trying to get into my knickers," "what do you mean?" "Chase is gay, don't tell me you didn't know??" kinda thing.

    I just don't want him to be a cliche, but I also don't want to disrespect gay people. I do have a gay friend, although I haven't seen him since school (I'm now 44), and I have a very good friend whose daughter transitioned to male over the past few years, but obviously that's different to being a gay male.
     
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  6. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Creating a gay character is exactly like creating a straight character - except that he's gay, that said if its not about relationships and hes not having sex is his sexuality even relevant ?
     
  7. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    It may be - I'm in the early stages of this new book so his story may become more important as I write.
     
  8. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Since you just got some very good advice on the first part, the big thing I'd have to say about the second part is that people are not stereotypes, only patterns are stereotypes. If you have more than one LGBT character in the same story, and if they're both distinct in some way, then you won't run into the problem of it looking like "every LGBT+ person does this."

    For the same reason it would be important for a straight character ;)

    Can you think of a lot of stories where it never comes up that any of the main characters have had hetero relations (or contact with people who have)?
     
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  9. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I'd be careful about over-telegraphing it... you can let it be known without making it a big deal, if that makes sense?
     
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  10. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Good point thank you.
     
  11. Sclavus

    Sclavus Active Member

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    I wrote a gay character for a short story, but no one mentions his sexuality until halfway through, and then only as a side note. Until then, most people would probably see him as a straight guy. I've known a lot of gay men who defy the stereotypes you'd find in a movie like The Birdcage. You just have to write a character. Don't drop hints or blatantly mention his sexuality unless it's relevant to the story. Gay people are people, so you'll find all types.
     
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  12. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Provided he's openly gay. I've worked with a colleague of mine for years and she never talks about her partner or anything related to dating or her sexuality in a work setting. Of course, a strip club might be a more suitable environment than an office, but perhaps something to consider? I mean, we like to think we're oh-so-progressive and open minded, but it still takes courage to be as open as a straight person about your family, preferences or dating life when you're gay. I'm not sure if when you're not in the character's head the "write him like a straight person" works in a heteronormative society. Straight people just tend to be more open about their relationships, families and preferences (like when you're around semi-strangers such as colleagues). In my experience anyway.

    To the OP: You can show how disinterested Chase is in the women, and if he's openly gay, I'd go with BayView's suggestions above. Or your POV character could try to chat him up but he politely declines, maybe explains he's just not into women. Maybe he has a picture of his boyfriend in his wallet or as a screensaver in his phone, or he's having a phone call and his volume is high so your MC hears a male voice, but they talk to each other like they're dating, or like husband + husband. She could see him flirt with a punter (despite being an all female strip club, who knows, maybe some soon-to-be-groom has a gay bestman who happens to be there). Just some ideas.
     
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  13. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    You're right, of course, that not everyone is "out and proud", but I think it's going to be pretty hard to portray a closeted gay man from any perspective other than his own without making his sexuality more of a feature than it sounds like the OP intends? If he's just incidentally gay, but he's also in the closet, I don't really see a way for that to come up in casual narration.
     
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  14. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Unless there are things the MC observes by accident, like overhears a phone call or sees him hop into a car when his BF has come to pick him up and they kiss (which might be contrived, I don't know, probably depends on how it's written). Then there's always the middle ground: a type that doesn't draw a whole lot of attention to his private life (like many straight people), but after accepting your friend request on FB, you notice his engaged to a guy. Come to think of it, social media can be one "giveaway" if the individual doesn't talk about their private life at work. I don't think I would've ever found out my high school friend is gay if she hadn't made it known to her FB friends.

    To the OP, I'd advise against stereotypes (flamboyant and overly feminine behavior) as people tend to find them offensive in fiction. I'm not saying the type doesn't exist. My friend does pole-dancing and there's one gay guy in her class who's apparently the most stereotypical, open gay man with the lisp and limp wrists to boot, but for me it feels like the kind of thing maybe only a gay writer can "get away with"...
     
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  15. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Thanks for that, lots to consider.

    As a side note, technically, it's not a strip club, it's a nightclub with dancers who will not be touched by the clients. It's kind of a themed club set around Hell (if you can have a nice part of Hell) as the owner named it after his father who just happens to be called Dante.

    I have notice lately how (and I hate to use this word) normal being LGBT has become in today's society, especially in social media, for example, I was recently chatting online to a female friend of a friend about editors (other people were involved in the conversation) and we digressed onto another topic where person A said she'd done something, then I said I'd done the same, and person B came in and said that before she'd moved in, her wife had done something similar.

    And at first, I thought, Oh, I wasn't expecting that! My second thought was, OK, no problem, and then I carried on chatting.

    There is a lot to be said for being my age (mid 40's). I've grown up in a world that's gone from being anti-anything but hetro, to a world where there are 58 gender choices on the Facebook sign-up form and having a woman mention "her wife" in a conversation causes no eyelids to be batted.

    There are gender problems in the world, there will always be gender problems but I think we've come a long way.
     
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  16. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I don't think there would be any point in having him in the closet.

    My main concern is not making him a cliche and not portraying him in a light that would anger people.
     
  17. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I can think of a lot of stories where its barely mentioned ... however my point was that gay people are no more defined by their sexuality than straight people are so instead of writing a gay character or a straight character just write a character
     
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  18. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I think @BayView has said just about everything I would on the matter. Keep it light and casual, and don't try to force into the story. If you recognize where it can fit in organically (there have been several examples above) you should be fine.
     
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  19. Clementine_Danger

    Clementine_Danger Active Member

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    You know what popped into my head as a very realistic way to telegraph this? Have the women there fawn over him as their cute gay buddy and him absolutely loathing it. Trust me when I say, from experience, that there is a form of sexuality-based exclusion that revolves entirely around this sort of thing. (I refuse to use the term "fag hag" I will not) It's hard to explain if you've never seen it, but basically there's two ways to dehumanize someone: tear them down, or put them on a pedestal.

    Gay men are often expected to behave a certain way by people who don't know any better. Young women wanting a gay accessory are actually really common. I can totally imagine this dude working the job he does and being expected to be "one of the girls" by overly enthusiastic female colleagues, based entirely on his sexuality and not his personality. I promise you, there is not a gay man in the western hemisphere alive today who doesn't at least have second-hand experience with this.
     
  20. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    There are plenty of people I work and talk with and I have no idea what their sexuality is. Why don't you just let your character be himself, instead of having to be defined by his orientation?
     
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  21. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    G.B.F was a great movie around this phenomenon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G.B.F._(film)

    In fact, OP, speaking of entertainment, since you don't have a lot of personal interactions with gay men, you could do worse than to check out the Showtimes series Queer as Folk. It's kind of dated now and certainly had its problems (the bi erasure of Lindsay still sticks in my craw to this day), but it did a great job of showing gay men (and a few women) from every walk of life.
     
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  22. The Broken Soul Project

    The Broken Soul Project Active Member

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    I mean, as long as the character isn't nothing but gay, your character should be fine. The problem people have when writing these characters is in fact making the character a token gay character just to please a demographic. Have it serve some purpose to the narrative. I myself am struggling with this same aspect as I'm writing a transgender character who dies near the end of the book, and while his gender identity matters(there are definitely scenes that are dedicated to it) , it's not the only thing he brings to the table. He is the lighthearted innocent teenager of the story, someone who has dreams that will never be able to live them out because of the war that's going on. He understands the main character better than the main character understands himself. He feels weak for being so young, and when he does pass you feel that innocence die as well as the prejudice against him for his identity. Something that affects the main character in several ways.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
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  23. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Does anybody ever say this about straight characters?

    Lucky.

    I spent my teenage years looking desperately for stories that didn't "cram heterosexuality where it didn't need to be" (I had issues.)
     
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  24. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    That's kind of what I want to do, in the sense that I want my readers to know he's gay, without me saying 'Chase is gay' like something out of a Janet and John book.
    thanks for that x
     
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  25. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    On the other hand, at my job we talk about our personal lives all the time. I know who's married, dating, divorced, widowed, has kids or doesn't, etc. We're a close-knit, friendly, and open team. One of my co-workers was a gay man (he's since quit) and he openly chatted to me about his boyfriend, the gay cruise they went on, and his preference for certain contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race.

    It really depends on the culture of the workplace. I've worked at other places where I didn't know anything non-work related about my co-workers, but I find those places are not a great fit for my personality.
     
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