How gay should it be?

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How gay should it be?

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1aulsmith
abr. 16, 2009, 8:54pm

This is a perennial topic at Gaylaxicons. How much glbt "stuff" does a book have to have to be glbt spec fic? GLBT main characters? Any glbt characters? A glbt sensiblity?

What do you think?

2gregstevenstx
Editat: ag. 31, 2009, 12:18am

When I was in college I took a course in the English department called "Alien Sex" (the full actual title was "A literature review of non-normative sexual practices in mythology, folklore, fantasy and science fiction throughout the ages".... but everyone called the course "Alien Sex").

There was very little in the course that was specifically "gay" per se... but there was a lot of stuff that played with notions of sexuality and gender. And I wonder how much off of that class's reading list would qualify here.

The myth of narcissus, in Greek mythology?

The erotic nature of the relationship between Lestat and Louis in Interview with a Vampire?

The Star Trek (TNG) episode where a female being temporarily took over Captain William Riker's body, and has an affair with (female) Dr. Crusher.... who is quite surprised to later find out that the being is female when in its natural form. (And yes, we actually watched a couple of star trek episodes as part of this course.)

Is it enough for there to be a "gay best friend" character who hooks up with a male robot? (Silver Metal Lover)? (Oh, and in this future world, it's not called "gay" it's called being "mirror biased".... which personally I think is fantastic. LOL)

Of course, in Norse Mythology, you've got the incident where Loki turns himself to a female horse in order to lure away the steeds of the Jotun during their battle with Asgard. Even better is the fact that Loki gets knocked up as part of his ploy, giving birth to an 8-legged horse that he then gifts to Odin was a way of saying, "Sorry" LOL

I even remember a short story called "Omnisexual" that was a fantastic bit of science fiction....

But I don't know.... do these count as "LGBT", or not?

3aulsmith
set. 7, 2009, 2:39pm

One of the questions is: now that we have real out-and-proud gay people in sf, (Melissa Scott's Trouble and Her Friends, Don Sakers's The Dance of the Ivory Madonna, Vernor Vinge's Rainbow's End to name a very few), do we really need/care about these books with tangential references or hints of gayness. I still think they're fun, but I've heard many people say it's not enough anymore.

4gregstevenstx
set. 11, 2009, 3:06am

#3: Well, the argument on the other side is that (some people would say) you get more acceptance and exposure through mainstreaming than ghettoization. As long as you're writing all-gay fiction targeted at an all-gay audience, you're perpetuating a kind of "outsider" mentality that's unlikely to have any effect on mainstream fiction. On the other hand, by embracing mainstream fiction that regularly has gay characters or themes, you're saying "this isn't it's own weird sub-class... this is a normal part of normal every-day life." And isn't that what we want?

5aulsmith
set. 12, 2009, 11:39am

Um, Vinge's (who is straight, but put lesbian characters in his book) is very mainstream and Scott was published by a mainstream publisher and not intended for a niche market. And Don's book, although it's mostly reached a niche market because he self-published, certainly was intended to be a regular sf book.

So do we still have to get by with the slashy elements in Anne Rice or half-measures in Star Trek? Or are you saying they're enjoyable for what they are, even though we can read about actual glbt characters in mainstream books now?

6gregstevenstx
set. 12, 2009, 2:01pm

I wouldn't recommend anyone "get by" with anything. But I think all have a place.

7trdsf
set. 25, 2009, 7:31pm

I prefer the universes where it's just not even noticed, that no one cares whether you're gay, straight or bi. Where a male character's boyfriend is mentioned with the same aplomb as if he had had a girlfriend instead, for example. Few things take me out of the story faster than a subtextual sign over a character's head going "Look! I'm writing a character! See?"

I'll grant that the hard part from a literary standpoint is to play it as completely unexceptional while living in a real world where it is anything but unexceptional to many. However, it can be done, and done well. Joe Straczynski managed it in Babylon 5, that's the single best example that comes to mind right now.

Do I like seeing strong gay characters? Sure, but I greatly prefer seeing strong characters who happen to be gay. It's a subtle difference, but an important one.