Why Does it Matter if a Character is Gay?

Jonah Bergan Why does it matter if a character is gay?

It’s a fair question, I suppose. It’s a fair question for those who feel that their own sexuality is somehow unimportant or is some manner disconnected from their identity. It’s a fair question for those who feel that anyone’s sexuality is an aberration or distraction from their true being. I for one don’t feel that is the case, but in this age where the mere mention of a difference between us is held up as an example of someone’s political agenda, I understand how it could seem to be a part of that and how, in order to protest the many agendas that may or may not exist, it might seem appropriate to label sexuality irrelevant and just move on.

It’s no one’s business after all, no one needs to know what you do in the bedroom, alone in the dark or with a partner, unless of course you socialize or somehow interact with other people—say at your workplace, where someone might ask you what you did over the weekend. A heterosexual woman might reply that she went to a winery with her husband. She might go on to share that he drank too much and she had to drive home. This sort of sharing is a part of normal human interaction. We use pronouns sometimes. She might not have meant to declare her sexuality, but she did—just as certainly if a man had said the same words.

Captain Kirk’s sexuality was pretty clear… [Read More]

4 thoughts on “Why Does it Matter if a Character is Gay?

  1. I missed this discussion on QSF while I was on vacation. I agree with your points…but I’d like to see more fiction where characters weren’t necessarily defined by their sexuality. Where their preferences are not a part of the story. There is a tendency in male/male romance to qualify a character’s preferences. That doesn’t happen in m/f romance stories. It’s just a given that the hero and the heroine are straight. Instead, they quantify their preferences. How much, how often, etc.

    Arguably, one of the draws of m/m romance is to read about the experience of difference. To see the characters overcome prejudices, from without and within. I enjoy those stories. There’s something to be said for love stories that include a triumph over self, or the prejudices of others.

    But what I really like reading is gay fiction where the characters are simply gay (or lesbian, or something else) and it’s a given. It’s not “different”, it’s not even discussed. It’s simply fact. Because I don’t think a character’s sexual preference should matter in a lot of stories. It’s just another facet of their personality and if it makes sense in that world, then it will by context.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Kelly,

      I agree with you. Generally speaking, I think the quantification of preference tends to happen less in m/f fiction because of the assumption of heterosexuality. That assumption, in some cases, makes a certain degree of exposition on the subject necessary in order to accurately define the character. I also agree that every story need not be about the character’s sexuality, or perhaps better put, there’s no need for every story involving gay characters to be *about* being a gay character. Of course, in a romance novel, that’s bound to be a part of the story, but in another genre, say action/adventure, the character’s sexuality isn’t the focus of the story, but it is still a part of the story and that’s the point I’d most like to drive home in this article.

      You did a good job with that in “Chaos Station,” and I can’t wait to read “Lonely Shore” to find out what those Aliens were up to, meeting in space like they were. 🙂

      -Jonah

      Liked by 1 person

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