Gay Characters

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    Jun 15, 2007 11:10 PM GMT
    What are your opinions on gay fictional characters? Do you believe that they are accurately portrayed, and why or why not?

    What would you like to see a gay character do? What kind of gay characters are missing--superheroes, doctors, public officials?

    If you have any opinions on gay characters from books, I'd love to hear it, as I am a writer and am working on some works featuring gay characters separate from the sexual light I usually see them portrayed in.

    I've been working on a few things, and though I believe I have some great ideas, I wonder if making my main characters gay will seriously limit my market without including subplots of sexual tension, so I wanted to see some of your thoughts on these questions.
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    Jun 16, 2007 1:14 AM GMT
    I guess it depends on the medium. Gay characters on TV are really more caricatures than anything else (how much can you really get done in a half-hour or hourlong slot, minus the Subaru commercials?). And that sort of entertainment definitely has it's place.

    My favorite gay characters (Catherine in Hemingway's "The Garden of Eden," Binh in Monique Truong's "The Book of Salt," Russell Crowe in "The Sum of Us") are the ones who are simply trying to be. They're good people but in some way messed up, make horribly bad choices, sometimes live in the past, maybe let the need for sex or the want for attention take a little too much of a front seat from time to time, and every now and then get it right. I like it best when they get it right.
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    Jun 16, 2007 4:22 AM GMT
    I've been reading several "gay novels" lately, as a sort of research project. I have to agree with the above that they are starting to seem formulaic.

    I can't help thinking... if they were any good, wouldn't they just be "novels?"

    Unless you are writing about sexuality, why does a character's sexuality have to be a big deal?

    As a kind of parallel example, I was recently reading a fairly long work, and was probably .75 through the book before I realized that the protagonist was black. It just wasn't a central focus of the story. I think the author started dropping little hints about half way through, but never made it a big deal. I assume that was a deliberate effect.
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    Jun 16, 2007 6:46 AM GMT
    David Gerrold (writer of Star Trek episodes including The Trouble with Tribbles) argued unsuccessfully for gay crew members on Star Trek. He didn't want gay plots, just crew members doing their jobs and being accepted in the Star Trek era. See the blog at David Gerrold's web site.

    Gerrold practices what he preaches in his Science Fiction novels as did David Feintuch in his Science Fiction series.

    There are a bunch of mystery novels featuring gay detectives.

    My favorite gay character in a novel was Ralph Lanyon (a navy officer) in Mary Renault's WWII novel the Charioteer.

    Will & Grace seemed designed to prove gays were all total idiots and therefore harmless. Ugg.

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    Jun 16, 2007 6:52 AM GMT
    One word (well two haha):

    Michael Cunningham!!!

    He is best known for The Hours. But he also wrote A Home At the end of the world and a few others. AMAZING!! His gay characters are dense, complex, and anything but stereotypical. He really is my hero in terms of literature :)

    Try any book of his. They all have one or two gay characters or at least someone of sexual ambiguity. Warning: you may cry. OK I warned you

    If you like something more shocking but still not stereotypical, try Brett Easton Ellis.
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    Jun 16, 2007 2:08 PM GMT
    Does Capt Jack Sparrow from Pirates Of The Carribean count?. It was based on a book ?, or was that based on a ride at Disney?. Is he gay?. Haha. Greatest gay character I've ever seen. Funny as all hell. Laugh just thinking about him. He has some of my gay mate down to a T.
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    Jun 16, 2007 5:32 PM GMT
    Personally, I'm a big fan of David Leavitt (Family Dancing, The Lost Language of Cranes, While England Sleeps, and Arkansas). His characters are complex and the stories are not "typical". Arkansas is actually 3 novellas (The Term Paper Artist, The Wooden Anniversary, and Saturn Street). All 3 stories are told in the first person, which I really like. I particularly like The Term Paper Artist...it's funny, and doesn't go where you think it might.

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    Jun 16, 2007 5:52 PM GMT
    If you haven't seen the movie "Priest", I suggest checking it out. It's very moving, and while his sexuality is part of the story, it isn't everything. I don't want to say much as I think good films and books should be enjoyed with as few preconceptions as possible.
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    Jun 16, 2007 6:58 PM GMT
    Have you ever seen Bent? It's the story of these two gay guys in a concentration camp. I thought it was great.

    While some stories like these exist, that is, stories of our forefathers (so to speak) who seemingly go unrecognized, are the types of heroes I would like to see. Many know why the pink triangle exists, but not many are aware of the actual suffering these men went through.
  • GQjock

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    Jun 16, 2007 11:33 PM GMT
    I also do a lot of fiction writing and my rule of thumb concerning gay characters is they have to be every bit as true to themselves as my str8 characters
    it goes without saying that there can be no stereotypical behavior...I think this would be found more in a writer who is str8
    ...but gay writers can fall into the habit of making a gay character without any flaws or make his or her homosexuality stand out more than it should within a given story
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    Jun 17, 2007 5:32 PM GMT
    Brokeback Mountain. Jack and Ennis character are a realistic fictional characters about gay man living in the closet. Most of us are really move by the so realistic story line . No other movie have effect me so deeply and emotionally as this one. After watching it I was really depressed for week. The story kinda stay in my head and dont seem to go away.

    Maybe you should write this type of fictional characters, you know how difficult it is to be a gay man. The straight world need to know the hell we go thru.

    zak
  • Laurence

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    Jun 19, 2007 9:46 AM GMT
    Hi Skot

    I'm a big reader and love it when mainstream novels, things like historical stories, or serial killer books have Lesbian and Gay characters just for the sake of it, ie. it's not intergral to the plot that they're Gay - they just happen to be.

    Like some of the posters above, I have the school of thought that all Gays shouldn't be nice. Portraying them as real people with real issues is the best way I reckon.

    Have you read Edmund White's 'Boys own Story'? The main character in it is a nasty young Gay man and I really disliked him. But the book was all the more effective for it. In the follow up the character aged and mellowed and i felt that was how Gay men can be. Selfish young know-it-alls who use there beauty in a horrible way who become wise through life.

    Anyways just write real people, they don't have to be perfect and can be bastards if that's how you want them to be.

    Good luck

    Loz
  • NicoTheGreat

    Posts: 19

    Jun 21, 2007 1:57 AM GMT
    Well, I will be the unintelligent one (so to speak) because I'm not going to be quoting any titles or authors....that I can think of. Maybe later on.

    To me, I could care less if the character is gay or straight. Hell, I could care less if they are a human to be honest. I want to read something and know that I am getting a piece of the person's mind...I am feeling like I am experiencing what they are going through, in their thoughts, their environment, their life.

    A few people have responded that the only time it matters if a character is gay or not depends on if you are writing for erotica, and I completely agree.

    When I first moved to San Francisco, I started utilizing the library more because they have a better system. I got into reading the "Peter and Charlie series" which is a big cult classic in the gay community. I read it thinking I would "educate myself on gay life" and in all honesty, I ended up getting a hard on for the most part. Now, if this was a heterosexual couple, the same "sexual deviances" would have happened, but I wouldn't be thinking lustful thoughts of the characters.

    Bottom line...it shouldn't matter if the characters are gay or straight or whatever letter of the "Gay Community Alphabet" you go with...worry more on the story and on making the readers frantically wanting to flip to the next page...and don't worry so much if they prefer taking it in the ass.
  • fryblock

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    Jun 21, 2007 3:00 AM GMT
    completely uninsightful.....but i love xandir from Drawn Together
  • fryblock

    Posts: 387

    Jun 21, 2007 3:01 AM GMT
    ok more insightful, read christopher rice's books. gay characters, amazing plots, i love all his books.
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    Jun 21, 2007 3:33 AM GMT
    From sublime to ridiculous....I nominate Armistad Maupin's "Tales of the City".

    Honestly, it was serialized in the SF Chronicle in real time...and I (and every other person coming out at the time), could hardly wait to hear the adventures of Michael Tolliver and, what was her name, Mary Singleton...I forget...on Barbary Lane.

    It really did evoke the San Francisco of the time...and it really also was significant in the coming of age of gay people as a visible entity in San Francisco.
  • Laurence

    Posts: 942

    Jun 21, 2007 4:32 AM GMT
    I agree with fastproof that Tales of the city was fabulous...very ground breaking.

    Not sure if writing another installment in the series is a good idea for Maupin though (pictures dead horse being flogged).

    Loz
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    Jul 06, 2007 7:18 PM GMT
    I have to say Willow from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I thought that was all done rather tastefully without just been done to shock. The character of Lt. Hawk in Star Trek: First Contact was also gay, although that wasn't talked about in the film, it was saved for the books. His "widower" is one of the main characters in the new Star Trek: Titan novels, and cover his struggle to come to terms with the death of his partner and move on romantically. There's no difference in the way these characters or storylines are written in comparison to the other characters and their arcs. There is also a book about Leutenant Hawk in the Section 31 series of books.

    There have been quite a few gay characters on British TV over the years, ever since "Queer As Folk" hit our screens and subjected my mother to rimming within the first ten minutes (she couldn't bring herself to watch the rest - perhaps I should have watched it myself before recommending it to her to get her head round the whole gay thing lol). I am particularly enjoying a storyline on a show called Hollyoaks, which is a teen soap shown at 6.30 on weeknights. It's currently telling the tale of a 17 year old gay boy and his love for his best friend. There's been boy on boy action at 6.30 in the evening!

    www.channel4.com/hollyoaks

    That's how far this country had come, and I don't think anybody has bothered complaining. For some reason the british TV watching public loves anything gay. I think it's because it's in the face of everything religious, which we're not all that keen on anymore.
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    Jul 06, 2007 9:07 PM GMT
    I really find the Marc character in the TV series "Ugly Betty" annoying. The program is great, really, so maybe I am just being s bit sensitive.

    But Michael Urie's portrayal of Marc (well, maybe it is not Michael's fault, but the screenplay), is so annoyingly stereotypical "fem/flamboyant/queeny" that it just irks be all the time.
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    Jul 15, 2007 6:55 PM GMT
    lilchrisuk: You are spot on about Hollyoaks. John Paul's coming out story was one of the most affecting things i have seen in years - in part because we got to know the JP character for some time before hand.
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    Sep 15, 2011 3:44 AM GMT
    One character that stands out for me... and this is a bit of an oldie... is Steven Carrington from Dynasty. I can relate to him so much it's unbelievable... the man is so conflicted about his sexuality and he keeps running back and forth from his wife to his boyfriend... in the end he ultimately chooses the boyfriend.

    I loved this character because it was such a taboo to have a gay character on a prime time soap opera in 1985, especially in the mdist of the AIDS crisis. I think what was so groundbreaking about this character was that it showed society that not all gay man were as sexually promiscuous as was the popular belief at that time. A lot of men are in monogamous relationships. The Steven and Luke relationship was definitely the epitomy of breaking the cultural stereotypes of gay men in the 1980s.
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    Sep 15, 2011 3:56 AM GMT
    You know, we haven't really seen any gay characters in video games, definitely none as heroes or main characters. There might be some in Gay Tony, in that GTA expansion, but I think the owner is straight and just owns a club or something (haven't played it). Otherwise, we haven't really seen much of any LGBT spice in video games, and many of them tell such great stories.
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    Sep 15, 2011 3:57 AM GMT
    fryblock saidok more insightful, read christopher rice's books. gay characters, amazing plots, i love all his books.


    I am such a fan! I was pleasantly surprised by Chris Rice's work.
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    Sep 15, 2011 3:58 AM GMT
    Favorite gay character is Tom from the novel hero wonderful book and shows two great gay superheros who are not defined by their sexuality but by their character.
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    Sep 15, 2011 4:02 AM GMT
    The gay thing is over.