I'm going to touch on something that is extremely sensitive to a lot of people, so here's my warning - I'm talking today about sexual orientation and representation in literature. Or at least the concept thereof. I'm not part of the LGBT community, so this is all coming from a place of utter confusion and weirdness, please excuse my ignorance and if my questions are rude, forgive me.
If this isn't something you want to deal with right now, feel free to skip this post entirely and instead go listen to a fast-talking miracle of personhood review an entire city in under 10 minutes here.
Stupid controversial nonsense starts here
So here's a question that's been bugging me for a while now: Why are people so worked up about this?
I mean, I'm definitely no paragon of tolerance and I get extremely uncomfortable when a book opens with two women in bed together. (Though in my defense I'd get just as uncomfortable if it was a man and a woman, two men, or two teens of indeterminate gender.) The point is that there are people on both sides of this (can we call it a debate? I'm not actually sure it qualifies as anything more than a semi-cohesive media food fight?) that make a huge fuss, either if there's no representation of... non-white, non-heterosexual peoples of diverse genders, or if there is.
I asked a group once if it was really necessary to be blatantly obvious about sexuality, even when the plot has nothing to do with romance, and the answer was a resounding and nearly unanimous YES, which honestly baffles me right down to my little confrontation-avoiding heart.
On one side, you have a bunch of people saying "this has to be everywhere all the time always, and if it's not SUPER OBVIOUS you're doing it wrong." On the other side, I'm assuming there are people who say LGBT characters shouldn't be in literature? I actually don't hear much of them outside of... I dunno... maybe casual comments during face-to-face conversations with very specific people? Maybe I'm not in the right circles to hear that kinda talk. But there's a really obvious feeling from the LGBT community of an "Us vs Them" mentality. I guess I'm just not sure who the "them" is in this case, since they don't seem to be represented very much online that I've seen. I'm probably wrong and just looking in the wrong places.
So, because I'm an author and worldbuilder, and exploring topics through writing is what I do, I started to poke around to see why it isn't more common to see a character whose skin color or ethnic background or sexuality or gender identity isn't just... part of who they are. Instead of being a sandwich board slapped on their shoulders or a costume they put on for certain scenes or an obnoxious tee shirt worn every day until it's smelly and detestable...
I mean, don't get me wrong. These things are huge, and shape our realities and our identities in ways that very little else will. I understand this is important stuff.
But why's it got to be in my face all the time?
I appreciate that you're attracted to women, female protag, but can you maybe... focus on something else for a little while?
I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find books that don't make uncomfortable at one point or another concerning this topic. Not that this is a bad thing, I think - I need to challenge those boundaries I've set up and determine if they are where I actually want them to be, or if I just react that way because that's how I've always reacted.
So my question for you, Inklings, is two-fold. First: How would you feel about a character that was representative of a sexuality you're not familiar with, but that didn't make a big deal out of it? Second: How do you deal with these kinds of questions?
That's all for today. Thanks for sticking with me. I feel better now that I've processed some of this.