Representation is great! Serving your readers well-rounded characters in a variety of ages, races, genders, levels of ability, sexual orientations, etc etc etc is amazing. It’s the right thing to do, and that reflects in the readers who choose to read diversely.
However, it’s important to be diverse in your diversity. What does this mean? It means not “tokenizing” your nonwhite, noncis, nonstraight, nonmale characters. It means having various people of color, not just one Black dude. It means showing all kinds of women doing all kinds of things. It means having disabled characters beyond one who uses a wheelchair. And for our purposes here in June, it means writing characters on the queer spectrum.
It’s cool to write gay characters. We love a little mlm / wlw energy. Write gay people! Hell yeah! We support you! However, if you just write the one gay couple, it may come across like you don’t know what the BTQIA+ stands for. It may come across a bit tokeny.
The thing with The Gays™ is they travel in packs. Queer friends have queer friends. Just like how a volleyball player is probably friends with other volleyball players because they share perspective and interests, queer people tend to hang out. So it’s actually pretty unrealistic to write one gay person or couple out in the world by themselves.
So what do you do? Add more of The Gays™? No! It’s time to explore the BTQIA+. Why keep returning to the LG when there are five-plus (omg the plus is actually a plus) other letters to worry about? It’s crucially important to include not only “a queer character” in your book, but to incorporate the queer spectrum. *rainbow jazz hands*
You are not required nor expected to write your book to include One Lesbian Character, One Gay Character, One Bisexual Character, One Transgender Character, One Intersex Character, One Asexual Character, and One (oh, let’s sayyyyyyyyyy) Polyamorous Character. This isn’t Gay Lord of the Rings. But if your goal is to include queer characters and you don’t explore all the flags, then you’re falling short.
written by Christina Kann
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