216 posts in this topic

The gay male protagonist. Bane of mainstream literature. But things are better now™. *sigh* LGBT literature is still very much- actually hold that thought. The existence of that term alone shows the problem: that LGBT literature is a separate thing from straight literature. We rarely have fantasy, mystery or sci-fi whose main character happens to be gay, we have gay fiction which happens to have a fantasy, mystery or sci-fi setting, rarely. Mostly it's just romance. Written by women. *sigh* It's mostly erotica, basically not even aimed at the same gender. 

There are gay authors: Adam Silvera, TJ Klune, Will Walton, Benjamin Alire Sáenz,... well-known LGBT authors. Special thanks to Richard Morgan who finally wrote a non-romance with a gay male character as the main protagonist. Also Robin Hobb.

Gay characters are almost never the main protagonist in the mainstream literature. Gay literature is still a niche genre and generally not taken to be a part of mainstream literature.

When gay characters do appear in the mainstream and they're not badly written, they're usually secondary characters or at most, the deuteragonist. These authors are then treated like the bastion of LGBT literature and everyone else would remember their example for the next ten years as completion of the required dosage of gayness they can handle on their reading list. They will then cite these books everytime some poor sod mentions we need more representation, "wasn't that one book from 5 years ago with that one gay character (who probably dies later on)  enough?" And these authors too, even after all this time, are in the minority compared to those who simply ignore that gay people exist. These are the books most likely to have a lot of romantic subplots. Love triangles, ahoy! "But we need romance in our books!"

"Why do we need to have a gay character?" "what does it add to the character?"

Female gay characters are, of course, fine. I mean there's also less gay female characters because it's not as daring and "female lead" is still something that can be used to sort books but at least people aren't directly opposed to them. Gay male characters on the other hand are an insult and a threat to masculinity everywhere *long exhale*

So we have Ranette and Drehy filling the quota of gay characters in the Cosmere and they're tertiary characters. So far, we have maybe-promises from the author regarding gay characters in the future.

On a completely unrelated note, how many love triangles have we had in the Cosmere so far again?

 

This post is my anger and this post is my logic:

Also check out this comment by @The Awakened Salad which addresses the question of why a character would "need" to be gay:

 

Edited by Honorless
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46 minutes ago, Honorless said:

So we have Ranette and Drehy filling the quota of gay characters in the Cosmere and they're tertiary characters. So far, we have maybe-promises from the author regarding gay characters in the future.

Also (in my personal opinion) Renarin and to be fair Brandon says he is trying to avoid writing the "gay male lead."

Edited by Karger
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6 minutes ago, Karger said:

 to be fair Brandon says he is trying to avoid writing the "gay male lead."

Not the correct situation to use that turn of phrase, Karg

7 minutes ago, Karger said:

Brandon says he is trying to avoid writing the "gay male lead."

Because writing a gay male lead is how you loose readership?

Also, source? 

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I bet Brandon will have a bit more LGBT people within his books, I can almost guarantee that. 

On of the small things that tick me off is when authors or directors have strong female characters, black actors, or very prominent LGBT characters for the sole perpose of being inclusive, making it not fit at all with the plot. I feel that it makes the author look like they want to add it just for more attention or so that their wotk can be called “inclusive”. I really hope Brandon doesn’t do that, but  I have complete faith that he will make it work and not have it in there just because he feels that he has to.

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1 hour ago, Honorless said:

Not the correct situation to use that turn of phrase, Karg

Because writing a gay male lead is how you loose readership?

Also, source? 

Quote
17th Shard Forum Q&A (Sept. 28, 2012)
#9 Sept. 28, 2012 Share Copy
 
 

XFER

Are you planning to include a gay character in the second book of The Stormlight Archive? I know there is that bridge guy, but I mean a character with some weight on the book. Would be cool.

Brandon Sanderson

I've tried to be more GLBT aware in recent years, but I want to be careful. Doing it poorly could be more insulting than doing it not at all. Having Ryan, the real world Drehy from Bridge Four, as a friend does at least give me access to someone who can give early feedback and tell me where I might be going wrong. So let's just say maybe.

 

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A cynical way of interpreting that, Karg. I've noticed Brandon has been pretty vague about this issue

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12 minutes ago, Honorless said:

A cynical way of interpreting that, Karg. I've noticed Brandon has been pretty vague about this issue

I personally would prefer that the cosmere not have any character who I will then remember as "the gay one."  Inclusion is important but I do not think that it should be done while at the same time reinforcing stereotypes.

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How do you remember Drehy? 

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16 minutes ago, Honorless said:

How do you remember Drehy? 

That is a fair point but I also remember him as the nice one, the handsome one, and the rebel and he is only a minor character.  Imagine a main character who had the same amount of work done on them.

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1 minute ago, Karger said:

That is a fair point but I also remember him as the nice one, the handsome one, and the rebel and he is only a minor character.  Imagine a main character who had the same amount of work done on them.

That's exactly the point. I'm trying and I'm so tired of every author who's put us through "not yet", "I'm not homophobic but..." to downright "this is against my religious beliefs"

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21 minutes ago, Honorless said:

How do you remember Drehy? 

I remember Drehy as a relatively quiet, but enthusiastic character that really loved becoming a radiant, with being gay on the side. I like that, because it’s showing that being gay is not a big thing that has to have attention drawn to it, which is how it should be. Same with Ranette. I have full confidence Brandon will do more, but it might be a tad tough to make a gay protagonist without messing some things up, making people unhappy.

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11 minutes ago, Honorless said:

That's exactly the point. I'm trying and I'm so tired of every author who's put us through "not yet", "I'm not homophobic but..." to downright "this is against my religious beliefs"

I can recommend you some authors who write some good SF and fantasy about well developed LGBTQ characters but as a person who did not know that trans people existed until high school(thanks for that American educational system) I do see your point.

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Just now, Karger said:

I can recommend you some authors who write some good SF and fantasy about well developed LGBTQ characters but as a person who did not know that trans people existed until high school(thanks for that American educational system) I do see your point.

Please do

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4 minutes ago, Honorless said:

Please do

The Black Tides of Heaven is good although it has some aspects I found a bit odd for lack of a better word.

The entire Wayfarer series is awesome and has a great audible version if you like those.  The first one is a long way to a small angry planet.

Empress of Forever.  Good overall I thought some of the plot was a bit heavy handed. 

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9 minutes ago, Karger said:

The Black Tides of Heaven is good although it has some aspects I found a bit odd for lack of a better word.

The entire Wayfarer series is awesome and has a great audible version if you like those.  The first one is a long way to a small angry planet.

Empress of Forever.  Good overall I thought some of the plot was a bit heavy handed. 

I'm rather surprised, none of these titles are familiar to me. Thank you, I'll check them out. I've read Gladstone's work before, it wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. The dude once said that he's very proud to have never written a straight white male character. I'll check out Wayfarer first, I think. Though I will note that I'm looking for gay male protagonists here.

Edited by Honorless
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34 minutes ago, Honorless said:

Though I will note that I'm looking for gay male protagonists here.

Oh.  None of the above center around gay men.  I was just posting LGBQ centered books generally.

Edited by Karger
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@Honorless here it is bluntly and recently.

Quote

Questioner

Are you going to put a gay character in your book as a major character?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes! Someday I will, I want to... I'm easing my way into it because my specific culture and biases, I think would lead me to do it poorly, until I've... until I kind of ease my way in. There will be main characters who are LGBTQ in the future. I'm getting there, be patient with me.

ICon 2019 (Oct. 15, 2019)

 

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1 minute ago, Elsecaller_17.5 said:

@Honorless here it is bluntly and recently.

Quote

Questioner

Are you going to put a gay character in your book as a major character?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes! Someday I will, I want to... I'm easing my way into it because my specific culture and biases, I think would lead me to do it poorly, until I've... until I kind of ease my way in. There will be main characters who are LGBTQ in the future. I'm getting there, be patient with me.

ICon 2019 (Oct. 15, 2019)

 

Thank you, that helps me feel a lot better

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9 minutes ago, Honorless said:

Thank you, that helps me feel a lot better

Happy to help

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6 hours ago, Honorless said:

The gay male protagonist. Bane of mainstream literature. But things are better now™. *sigh* LGBT literature is still very much- actually hold that thought. The existence of that term alone shows the problem: that LGBT literature is a separate thing from straight literature. We rarely have fantasy, mystery or sci-fi whose main character happens to be gay, we have gay fiction which happens to have a fantasy, mystery or sci-fi setting, rarely. Mostly it's just romance. Written by women. *sigh* It's mostly erotica, basically not even aimed at the same gender. 

There are gay authors: Adam Silvera, TJ Klune, Will Walton, Benjamin Alire Sáenz,... well-known LGBT authors. Special thanks to Richard Morgan who finally wrote a non-romance with a gay male character as the main protagonist. Also Robin Hobb.

Gay characters are almost never the main protagonist in the mainstream literature. Gay literature is still a niche genre and generally not taken to be a part of mainstream literature.

So we have Ranette and Drehy filling the quota of gay characters in the Cosmere and they're tertiary characters. So far, we have maybe-promises from the author regarding gay characters in the future.

brandon has specifically said that he avoids doing  a gay main character because he is unsure he would write it well. and people who are angry at the lack of gay main characters will be much angrier at a poorly-written charicature of a gay main character. even if it was actually the author's best attempt. it makes sense.

on the other hand, i would expect that there would be a few gay authors, and i expect they would be more likely to write a gay main character. if they don't, I have no idea why.

it's actually an unintended consequence of all the heat that was brought on the "inclusion" theme in the latest years; it's such a hot topic, people avoid it for fear of doing something wrong.

i also may point out that while similar problems can arise when writing a woman, 50% of your alpha readers are women, and they can give you good advice and fix mistakes. on the other hand, you are unlikely to have more than one or two gays alpha readers. them being a numerical minority makes it harder to get good feedback.

I don't think it's a problem of masculinity. perhaps those gay authors can write some gay protagonists and pave the way for others? I'm sure if the literature included some well-written gay protagonists, someone like brandon could have some good example on how to do it.

of course, i come from a social context that has no beef against homosexuality. I don't know the realities where prejudices are still radicated, and perhaps i am underestimating them.

 

5 hours ago, Koloss17 said:

I bet Brandon will have a bit more LGBT people within his books, I can almost guarantee that. 

On of the small things that tick me off is when authors or directors have strong female characters, black actors, or very prominent LGBT characters for the sole perpose of being inclusive, making it not fit at all with the plot. I feel that it makes the author look like they want to add it just for more attention or so that their wotk can be called “inclusive”. I really hope Brandon doesn’t do that, but  I have complete faith that he will make it work and not have it in there just because he feels that he has to.

+1 on that.

I hate reading phrases like "strong female lead" or "inclusive cast"; I read them as meaning "the protagonist is a woman/minority/LGBT solely because it's fashionable nowadays, and we are trying to use this point to sell this book/movie to feminists/minorities/LGBT". NO! equality means that your sex/gendr/ethnicity is not important. Promoting equality by getting all hang-up about sex/gendr/ethnicity is a contradiction. at best it can be a quick band-aid to temporarily cover the open wound. at worst, it goes in the wrong direction, it actually reinforces people's belief that those things actually matter - and they also make them annoyed with minorities.

 

Quote

on a completely unrelated note, how many love triangles have we had in the Cosmere so far again?

depends on how strictly you define a love triangle. I can only think of vin and shallan, and none of them has the amount of unnecessary drama I associate with the concept. thy were just two young women who had to make clarity about who they were, and that's it.

may i also point out that all love triangles i can think of involve a woman choosing between two men? i guess it's "empowering" to have the woman do the choosing between two men who just obediently take her crap, while showing a men able to pick a woman of his choice is considered demeaning.

no, wait, i'm now remembering that geralt of rivia had triss merigold also flinging herself at him, although it's not a real triangle because geralt's choice was never in doubt and he never tried to press for advantage. compare how yennefer behaves with geralt and istredd (in the books, not the tv show, where she's much less of a jerk): if a male character did the same, the author would be burned at the stake by a mob of angry feminists. (NOTE: I hope i do not come across as inflamatory; I am just pointing out that there are many double standards going both ways)

Edited by king of nowhere
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No, this doesn't come from overzealous progressiveness. Gay rights are very recent and people are still getting killed for being gay, including quite recently in your country, assuming you are American.

I do agree with the men's rights and extremist feminism is something people very much talk about. All the way from Judith Butler Avital Ronnell controversy, to the New Zealander congresswoman who told a male congressman to stop "mansplaining", to the controversy regarding an incident of a bar shooting where some men jumped in front of their girlfriends and were shot dead being called "real men", and conscription is horrible. I wholeheartedly support men's rights and that double standards exist which prevent men from accessing a lot of support structures and resources as well as put an ungodly amount social pressure on them. Me being gay doesn't automatically pit me against straight men, though many straight men disagree.

Do note that this is meant to sound wry, not inflammatory

Edited by R J
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I don’t disagree with what you guys are saying, but I don’t like the idea of authors changing their main characters simply to check a box. They should write them how they imagined them, whether that be gay, trans, straight or what ever else.

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4 hours ago, Honorless said:

Please do

Mercedes Lackey,  The Last Herald Mage (Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, Magic's Price). Warning, though, it's pretty dark.

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16 minutes ago, RShara said:

Mercedes Lackey,  The Last Herald Mage (Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, Magic's Price). Warning, though, it's pretty dark.

Already ticked those off my list but thanks

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22 minutes ago, SwordNimiForPresident said:

I don’t disagree with what you guys are saying, but I don’t like the idea of authors changing their main characters simply to check a box. They should write them how they imagined them, whether that be gay, trans, straight or what ever else.

I agree that you shouldn't simply make a character LGBT just to check a box. However, you can always look for opportunities where such a character would better fit the story or add more to it than a straight\cisgender one. And I'm not talking about stories where the entire plot revolves around LGBT themes. I'm talking about much subtler ways that an LGBT protagonist could lend themself to the plot. To make a comparison, Vin in her original form was male. When Brandon began writing what we now know as Mistborn, he realized that a female protagonist would be a much better match than a male one. 

Quote

Brandon Sanderson

Since I have a little room here, let me mention something I've been wanting to talk about for a while. Vin's name. I realize that a lot of people read this name and think of a man—it is, after all, the name of a current action hero.

I didn't even make the connection. When I was developing this character, I wanted something that was quick and simple. I'm not sure why, but I felt a single syllable name was important for this hero. It indicated her somewhat base, street-wise nature, I think. Simple, straightforward, but not weak.

Vin was, however, originally a boy. The hero of Final Empire Prime was a young boy named Vin. When I pulled some of those character concepts over to this novel, I realized that making the hero female worked so much better. Some of the original Vin's conflicts hadn't ever felt right—the abandonment issues, the blunt attitude. They just all worked better with Vin being female. I knew I'd written an entire book with the hero being the wrong gender the moment I tried writing my first sample chapter of Mistborn with Vin as a girl.

Mistborn: The Final Empire Annotations (March 2, 2007)

 

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