Writing LGBT+ characters

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There is terrible lack of diversity and even when there is diversity it is often not done well. Just having a LGBT+ character for the sake of having a LGBT+ character can sometimes be worse than not having any at all. Being gay is not a personality trait! Being gay can something that defines a character but it should not be the only thing that defines a character. Sexuality defines you as a person because society defines you by your sexuality. When you are writing a LGBT+ character you need to be aware of how their society thinks of or treats LGBT+ people. Especially if your character is in a contemporary story the climate they live will shape their behavior.

A few things to think about when writing about LGBT+ characters.

  1. How does the society in your story treat or think of LGBT+ character? Do they treat lesbians and gay men differently? Do they treat trans men and trans women differently? What does your society think about queer people, non-binary, pansexual, polysexual, asexual etc.
  2. Everyone is a little bias and close-minded. Even if your main character (queer or not) will have their own biases. No one is perfect because most biases are unconscious and are ingrained in us. Your character working through their own hang ups can be part of their journey. There are gay men who are sexist, trans people who are racist and bisexuals who are homophobic. Be aware of your own biases because they do translate into your story.
  3. Is your character openly LGBT+ and to who? A character can be open about their gender and sexuality to their friends but not to their work, family, school etc.
  4. How are they treated because of their gender/sexuality?
  5. Avoid stereotypes. This can be difficult to avoid because there are people who behave like the stereotype and their are people who do not. Sometimes I feel that writers will have stereo-typically gay character but have them only as sidekicks and or background characters.
  6. Sometimes you just cannot relate. If you are heterosexual and cis gender you just cannot relate to LGBT+ characters. You do not know how they feel or how they behave. LGBT+ people have to think a lot more about things straight do not have to bother with.
  7. Not having LGBT+ characters does not make your story homophobic/transphobic. Having LGBT+ character does not make your story not homophobic/transphobic.

Do

  1. Do research. Talk to LGBT+ people about your character or simply about their experiences.
  2. Do add LGBT+ characters if you want to, even  if you are not LGBT+ yourself.
  3. Do add different LGBT+ characters. Not just gay, lesbians and bisexuals. Add trans people, queer people, asexual people, poly-sexual people, demisexual, intersex, non-binary, gender fluid etc.

Do not

  1. Do not make your character stereotype but do not pretend they do not exist.
  2. Do not make their gender/sexuality their entire personality.
  3. Do not add LGBT+ characters simply to add diversity.
  4. Do add LGBT+ characters to simply kill them off (or try not to). It is a morbid cliche at this point.
  5. Do not make them magic because of their gender/sexuality. Sometimes writers can try too hard and make their LGBT+ character so amazing they are not realistic and are basically magic.

Adding LGBT+ characters are great! Their is a severe lack of them and many people are starving for them. Although I think sometimes people tend to like character who are not that great simply because they are desperate for any LGBT+ character (me included). I think people tend to forget how important media can be in influencing your perception of LGBT+ people as well as to come to term with their own sexuality/gender.

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