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January 1, 2010 8:36 AM   Subscribe

On Writing Gay Characters : Megan Rose Gedris.at Squidoo talks about common mistakes and preceptions to avoid when writing LGBT characters.
posted by The Whelk (130 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
So why are there so few gay characters in regular TV shows? It seems that as soon as there are gay characters, the whole show gets branded as a "gay interest show", instead of.. well.. just a show that happens to have a gay character?

The only character I can think of Captain Jack Harkness of Torchwood/Doctor Who. It's probably a bit extravagant at times, but from a straight-guy perspectice, his relation with Ianto seemed quite well written.
posted by Harry at 8:49 AM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's the gay couple in Modern Family, but then again I don't watch that soooooo...
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 AM on January 1, 2010


The funny thing is, I have a couple friends and a former lover who, if they were characters in a novel or screenplay, would probably be written out or at least heavily edited for being "too stereotypically gay". Yet they are real, flesh-and-blood men. So if I wanted to write a story about them (and they have many stories to tell) I would have to tone down real life to suit fiction.

It's a conundrum.
posted by Avenger at 8:55 AM on January 1, 2010 [11 favorites]


I was reminded of Gore Vidal's noted essay "The Top Ten Best-Sellers According to the Sunday: New York Times as of January 7, 1973".

Mr. Trevanian has recourse to that staple of recent fiction the Fag Villain. Since kikes and niggers can no longer be shown as bad people, only commies (pre-Nixon) and fags are certain to arouse the loathing of all decent fiction addicts. I will say for Mr. Trevanian that his Fag Villain is pretty funny - an exquisite killed named Miles Mellough with a poodle named Faggot. ...

Incidentally, Mr. Wouk perpetuates the myth that the SS were all fags. This is now an article of faith with many uneducated Americans on the ground that to be a fag is the worst thing that could befall anyone next to falling into the hands of a fag sadist, particularly the SS guards who were "alike as chorus boys... with blond waved hair, white teeth, bronzed skin, and blue eyes." Actually, the SS guards in 1939 were not particularly pretty: they were also not fags. Hitler had eliminated that element.


So I guess "the straight woman's best friend" cliché is actually a step forward, God help us.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:06 AM on January 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Okay... where did the author of that article get all those book covers? It was a great article, and made excellent points, but man, I'd love to read some of those antiquated hypergay potboilers. The Devil Is Gay? Twilight Girls? Is there a whole genre out there I've been totally unaware of?
posted by MrVisible at 9:07 AM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


So why are there so few gay characters in regular TV shows?

September 2009: GLAAD: Gay TV characters at record high.

In related news: "ABC made history on Wednesday by airing the first-ever gay sex scene on daytime television." Watch.
posted by ericb at 9:07 AM on January 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


I like how people are always knocking their heads together in PG sex scenes. Apparently Soap characters transmit genes via the forehead.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oops... proper link for "Gay TV characters at record high."
posted by ericb at 9:10 AM on January 1, 2010


Is there a whole genre out there I've been totally unaware of?

Yep, they've been hanging around the internet for a while, do a search for gay pulps. The *must* have been on metafilter at some point.
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 AM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ridiculous. We already have all the advice on LGBT characters we need from John C. Wright.

Remember: if it ain't Wright, it's Wrong.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:11 AM on January 1, 2010


I'd love to read some of those antiquated hypergay potboilers. The Devil Is Gay? Twilight Girls?

When you're done with your copy, MrVisible, pass it along!
posted by _paegan_ at 9:21 AM on January 1, 2010




I think one important aspect of successfully writing gay characters is to write as if their being gay is no big deal. It's fine to write a character whose sexuality is a big deal to that character, I mean the writing has to make it seem like it's not a big deal to the writer.

And the hard part of that, for many people, is actually thinking that way in the first place. It takes some effort, at first, but it gets easier the more you try, and the more you are exposed to a similar frame of mind. Which is why it would be great if more writers would include gay characters as a matter of course. The sooner we all get to feeling rather "meh" about anyone's sexual orientation, the better, I think.
posted by FishBike at 9:43 AM on January 1, 2010


I don't know why we should be surprised that Hollywood screen and teleplay writers can't write gay characters. They can't write women characters, black characters, Hispanic characters, Middle Eastern characters, disabled characters, children, or dogs either.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:43 AM on January 1, 2010 [35 favorites]


A good character-who-just-happens-to-be-gay is badass secret agent "Doc" Levy/Scylla in William Goldman's Marathon Man. Roy Scheider played him in the movie. Doc and Peter Janeway (William Devane) are in a relationship in the book, but it's toned down in the movie.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:44 AM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


From ericb's link: Barrios singled out "Glee" for particular praise, citing last week's episode that showed a teenage boy struggling with his sexual orientation and discussing the matter with his father.

Has Glee gotten better? 'Cause the premiere pissed me off something fierce, and I haven't watched it since.

In rapid succession we had SuperQueen Fashionista Chicken, student-groping closet-case teacher, a possible bi/lesbian-for-shock-value punky asian girl (the way she auditioned with "I Kissed A Girl Today"), and coddling gay parents as the explanation for the genesis of the annoying princess's Annoying Princessness.

Made me want to shoot my TV Elvis-style.
posted by CKmtl at 9:56 AM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apparently Soap characters transmit genes via the forehead.

Me, I like the foreplay. There's always one character that has an almost pained look on their face, like they're trying to remember if the stove was left on in an attempt to avoid a JIMP incident.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:01 AM on January 1, 2010


Apparently Soap characters transmit genes via the forehead.

Me, I like the foreplay.


Did you just think you could get away with that?
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 AM on January 1, 2010


Long gone, but Mission Hill had a gay couple as a regular part of the cast...very well done.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:05 AM on January 1, 2010


CKmtl ... Glee is what it is. I find most of the main cast to be extremely annoying, but the supporting characters--now that they've had some time to be fleshed out somewhat--are really what keep the show going when there's no music going onscreen.

Curt, the gay kid, has a dad. The dad knows. He's handling it, but he's not handling it at the same time. But he's trying because he loves his son. Then Curt does something that's a sacrifice personally but he does it because he loves his dad more than "being a star." Curt even calls his dad out, admitting he knows his dad can't handle it. Dad silently acknowledges this.

All that's left is their love for one another after that. And that's a good example of how to write a gay character. The episode was called "Wheels" and it had a ton of moments like that for almost all the supporting characters and it's keeping my interest level up for the time being.

Whelk, no, not really
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:10 AM on January 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


Vaguely voyeuristic portrayals of lesbianism are still considered progressive, right?
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on January 1, 2010


There's the gay couple in Modern Family, but then again I don't watch that soooooo...

Those two characters are by far the best representation of a gay couple I've seen on television. They do fall somewhat into the usual archetypes, but they're dealt with in a really terrific way vis-a-vis the family dynamic. (In particular, the red-headed guy's internal struggles regarding the interaction of his partner and his father and himself could kick any "coming out" drama's ass. He's not just a 'normal' guy who happens to be gay--there's actually a surprising amount of depth there, especially considering it is, after all, a network sitcom.)

Of course, now that the season's half over, and most of the initial familial awkwardness has been ironed out, it'll be interesting to see where it all goes.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:24 AM on January 1, 2010


A word without books featuring promiscuous, cold-hearted, evil, bisexual serial killers is not a world I want to live in. Especially if what we get in return is books about bisexuals loving each other and looking for a good daycare for little Madison. Fuck that, bring on the icepick-wielding switch-hitter sluts. Megan Rose Gedris's advice would make the LGBTQs in books as boring as the straight people. 'Stay away from extremes' is never good advice. Any of that pulpy 'Killer Dyke' trash would be way more fun than a MR Gedris-approved snoozefest.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 10:28 AM on January 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


I always thought the Keith and David relationship in Six Feet Under was great because they seemed like just another couple who happened to be gay, yet they were compelling characters. Nor did that make SFU into a "gay interest" show, IMO.
posted by The Michael The at 10:50 AM on January 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


yet they were compelling characters

And so fucked up. That was one seriously co-dependent relationship.
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 AM on January 1, 2010


Literature is FULL of gay characters.It's just never mentioned in the story.
posted by HTuttle at 10:56 AM on January 1, 2010 [8 favorites]


Literature is FULL of gay characters.It's just never mentioned in the story.
So precisely what I wanted to say.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:05 AM on January 1, 2010


Yeah, the Glee episode where Curt and his dad hash things out was pretty good. Not because everything turned out roses, but because his Dad was clearly still not exactly pleased with him being gay, but his love for his son was the overriding factor in accepting him. Plus the dad wasn't exactly surprised by his son being gay, had figured it out and silently accepted it in a way.

Overall the show is great fluff for an hour
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:17 AM on January 1, 2010


She names Magic's Pawn as a book with an excellent gay character? I always felt like Vanyel was mostly gay to be exciting for the girlie readers.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:24 AM on January 1, 2010


Literature is FULL of gay characters.It's just never mentioned in the story.

DUMBLEDORE! Oh that sly J.K Rowling.
posted by litleozy at 11:46 AM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lots of people didn't like United States of Tara (perhaps due to the atrocious ads on the NYC subway) but I found they did a good job of depicting the gay son, Marshall. Maybe it's because I was friends with several quietly gay guys in high school, but the character's indie-nerd wardrobe, anti-flamboyance, and ability to outsmart the English teacher rang right on. No one in the family makes a big deal about the kid's sexuality, and it's only a Thing inasmuch as any teenage character's love life constitutes plot development.
posted by zoomorphic at 12:16 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


The article is good in some ways. The cliches listed are good ones to avoid, and the importance of research without being too insistent is well described. But there are some serious problems: referring to all GLBT people as "gay", then later even deciding trans people somehow don't count (and apparently aren't worth doing research on -- high-quality hypocrisy, that); and lots of typos.
posted by jiawen at 12:20 PM on January 1, 2010





I was reminded of Gore Vidal's noted essay "The Top Ten Best-Sellers According to the Sunday: New York Times as of January 7, 1973".

Mr. Trevanian has recourse to that staple of recent fiction the Fag Villain. Since kikes and niggers can no longer be shown as bad people, only commies (pre-Nixon) and fags are certain to arouse the loathing of all decent fiction addicts. I will say for Mr. Trevanian that his Fag Villain is pretty funny - an exquisite killed named Miles Mellough with a poodle named Faggot. ...

Incidentally, Mr. Wouk perpetuates the myth that the SS were all fags. This is now an article of faith with many uneducated Americans on the ground that to be a fag is the worst thing that could befall anyone next to falling into the hands of a fag sadist, particularly the SS guards who were "alike as chorus boys... with blond waved hair, white teeth, bronzed skin, and blue eyes." Actually, the SS guards in 1939 were not particularly pretty: they were also not fags. Hitler had eliminated that element.

So I guess "the straight woman's best friend" cliché is actually a step forward, God help us.



I should point out, that Vidal was late to the game in recognizing homosexuality in fiction's bad guys. Ross MacDonald's (of Lew Archer fame) first novel was called The Dark Tunnel and featured a homosexual, Nazi bad guy. It was originally published in 1944. The cliche has been around for a long time. And to be fair to MaDonald, he turned out to be one of the most liberal crime fiction authors around.
posted by dortmunder at 12:25 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


She names Magic's Pawn as a book with an excellent gay character? I always felt like Vanyel was mostly gay to be exciting for the girlie readers.
Mercedes Lackey got her start in (slash) fanfiction, and whoo boy does it show.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:28 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


The article is good in some ways. The cliches listed are good ones to avoid, and the importance of research without being too insistent is well described. But there are some serious problems: referring to all GLBT people as "gay", then later even deciding trans people somehow don't count (and apparently aren't worth doing research on -- high-quality hypocrisy, that); and lots of typos.

That's a pretty pessimistic interpretation of what the article says, I think. The author addresses the use of the term "gay" right at the beginning:
Before we get into things, I'd like to make a point about something. This lens is called "writing gay characters", but it would more accurately be called "writing non-straight characters". But since that take s a lot more typing, and frankly sounds clunky, I refer to it as "gay characters". I could say queer, but for me, that word has always meant "strange", and I have a hard time constantly referring to LGBT people as such.
Then right at the end we have this part:
Why don't you include trans people in this lens?

Because trans is not a sexuality. You can be trans and gay, trans and straight, trans and bi. Trans people have some similar issues, but enough differences to warrant Writing Trans Characters be its own lens.

There is also the fact that since I can't even speak for the whole community I am part of, it's even harder to speak for a community I am not part of.

When I do a similar lens for Writing Trans Characters, I will have some guest writers helping me along. But it's not something I can put together myself.
To me that says nothing like "trans people don't count", just that trans is a separate concept from gay/straight/bi, and that writing good trans characters is worth researching and writing about, and the author even intends to do so, with help from more qualified people.
posted by FishBike at 12:42 PM on January 1, 2010 [19 favorites]


the author even intends to do so, with help from more qualified people

This.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:55 PM on January 1, 2010


Any of that pulpy 'Killer Dyke' trash would be way more fun than a MR Gedris-approved snoozefest.

I think culture is just swinging, so to speak, from one extreme to the other. I'm sure we'll be back to some cliched variation of Basic Instinct in a decade, once people get tired of current cliches, perhaps with less focus on the central male character, for example.

In the meantime, it's been a good time for writers to explore other aspects of their gay characters, with much less fear of commercial reprisal. This is a perfect opportunity to do things that weren't possible before. I can put up with the odd, boring snoozefest here and there.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:05 PM on January 1, 2010


Still Blazecock, you have to admit, icepick-wielding switch-hitter sluts liven up any narrative. A few of them might have gotten me through Ulysses.
posted by The Whelk at 1:06 PM on January 1, 2010 [16 favorites]


So if I wanted to write a story about them (and they have many stories to tell) I would have to tone down real life to suit fiction.

Like most good writing a little goes a long way. I wulod just let my character have one small tell or hell they could even say it or you, the narrator, can say it, and then get back to treating themthe same as any other character and focussing on the nnarrative.

To over think it and over fuss it is a mistake. But I guess that might be a good way for the author to show he or she was gay.
posted by Skygazer at 1:09 PM on January 1, 2010


Still Blazecock, you have to admit, icepick-wielding switch-hitter sluts liven up any narrative.

I smell a roller derby script with a title that sells itself! I'll have my people call your people.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:12 PM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Since we're talking about booked me liked over at MetaChat, I liked the sly way the photographers in The Crimson Petal And The White are outed, so to speak.Quick mention of a shared bed upstairs and couple-y vocab when alone.
posted by The Whelk at 1:13 PM on January 1, 2010


books we liked, wow typing hard bad cry.
posted by The Whelk at 1:15 PM on January 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Still Blazecock, you have to admit, icepick-wielding switch-hitter sluts liven up any narrative. A few of them might have gotten me through Ulysses.

They're at the end. Duh.
posted by trip and a half at 1:56 PM on January 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


They're never mentioned explictely though. Bloom uses the expression Dykis Morto Picatum after he leaves the brothel and that refers to an alternative writing of Dante's inferno Canto XXIII, in which icepick welding lesbian sluts roller blade around the gorgon devil in the ninth rung of hell and stab the eyes out of the worst of all offenders to the human condition: Traitors who are homophobic.

Little known thing...
posted by Skygazer at 2:23 PM on January 1, 2010 [14 favorites]


That's a pretty pessimistic interpretation of what the article says, I think. The author addresses the use of the term "gay" right at the beginning:

I read that part. (I thought that was obvious, but I guess it wasn't.) She decides to refer to all GLBT people as "gay", which is problematic in itself. Then later, she talks specifically about lesbian and bi people, without ever addressing trans issues. Yet she uses "gay" in this generic, overarching way throughout the essay, such that it's hard to tell from a given instance whether she means "gay" (properly defined) or "GLBT" in a specific case. Subsuming all GLBT people under the label "gay" is, first off, sloppy writing; second, it also amounts to making non-gay GLBT people invisible. If she really wanted to write about GLBT people rather than gay people, she should've done so. If she really wanted to write about gay people rather than GLBT people as a whole, she should've said so.

Then right at the end we have this part:

I read that part, too. It's contradictory: she's writing about communities she's part of? Really? She's a gay man? It tells me that she's bothered to do enough research on GLB people to write an article that is (or at least pretends to be) about all of them, while not bothering to do enough research about trans people to write about us. And yet, at the same time, she's saying the article is about GLBT people. (Which, again, she mentions, then confusingly decides to call "gay". If she wanted to just write about non-straight characters, she should never have mentioned the term "LGBT", because that's not just about being non-straight.) In other words, she's telling other writers that they should do their research before acting like they know what they're writing about, but then in the same breath, she herself hasn't done her research and doesn't actually know what she purports to be writing about. That, to me, tastes like hypocrisy.

Is she actually going to write an article that's trans inclusive? Time will tell, I guess. It'll be good to see what she writes, when she writes it.
posted by jiawen at 2:23 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can anybody explain why hovering over the words "permanent marker" in the first writing sample opens a popup saying "Cure Your Bacterial Vaginosis"...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:25 PM on January 1, 2010


I can't stand when shows go out of the way to show gay characters as just normal characters who happen to be gay, but only because I never, ever want to see a normal character in the arts. Whenever I hear the word "normal" in a character description, I reach for my pillow, because I am going to collapse into a bored coma within three minutes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:27 PM on January 1, 2010 [5 favorites]



All that's left is their love for one another after that. And that's a good example of how to write a gay character. The episode was called "Wheels" and it had a ton of moments like that for almost all the supporting characters and it's keeping my interest level up for the time being.

That made me cry, actually. So did the episode where he came out; all that stuff, dad's not happy, and at the end of it all? It really is just about a kid who needs a hug from his dad. Possibly the single most honest 'gay moment' I've ever seen on TV.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:31 PM on January 1, 2010


In related news: "ABC made history on Wednesday by airing the first-ever gay sex scene on daytime television." Watch .
posted by ericb at 12:07 PM on January 1 [1 favorite +] [!]


Some 17 or 18 years ago, that same soap-opera (One Life to Live) featured a gay teen struggling to come out -- this is what helped me come out as bi. It's also where I learned about the AIDs quilt. It's been a progressive show for a long time.
posted by jb at 2:32 PM on January 1, 2010


Oh, and Mercedes Lacky? Fuck off and die. No, wait. Invent a time machine so I can go back in time and prevent her from ever writing that godawful drivel. We are not your pets, we are not some sort of glorious magical people who only ever fall in perfect love and are super fantastic all the time and gaaaaaaaaaaaaah I need to vomit.

We are frail and strong and flawed and beautiful just like everybody else. And her repellent writing of gay characters has infected far too many gay boys with some bizarre notion of who we should be. Even worse, it's infected legions of girls who treat us like we are some cute little accessory to have around. I honestly cannot express my disgust for Lackey and her fucking shit with enough vitriol.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:35 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whenever I hear the word "normal" in a character description, I reach for my pillow, because I am going to collapse into a bored coma within three minutes.

"A heartwarming story of a normal young jedi knight in training, whose life is suddenly turned around by the appearance on his planet of two droids bearing a plea for help from a beautiful princess..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:00 PM on January 1, 2010


Do you think sending this article to a few authors will get them to actually read and reflect on it? I'm really tempted...

Good gay characters in fantasy are so hard to come by.
In the new wave of fantasy lit that I've read they either just don't exist at all (at least I can't remember even a single one in Joe Abercrombie's First Law or R. Scott Bakker's Prince Of Nothing series... and was there one in R.R. Martins Songs Of Ice And Fire, or Patrick Rothfuss' The Name Of The Wind?), or if they appear as minor side characters in Steven Erikson's Malazan series they fall into the "evil gay" character trap and are killed off by the manly hetero hero. Alone by themselves these cases wouldn't bother me as much, but taken together it's starting to leave a sour taste in my mouth.

Gay slash fantasy unfortunatly offers no comfort, either they're painfully bad like Lackey's Magic's Pawn (I mean, look at this cover... or on preview: what dirtynumbangelboy said), or just plain dull like Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series... and I never got what on earth the hype over A Companion to Wolves was about. Creepy stuff.

I'm more interested where Richard Morgan is going with the followup to The Steel Remains. Although it was a deeply flawed book, I was still just glad that there finally was a gay hero. If Morgan could just improve on his one-dimensional, hamfisted characters...
posted by ts;dr at 3:05 PM on January 1, 2010


As a transwoman who's knee-deep in making a NSFW comic book starring a transwoman (she's not a Mary Sue, honest), maybe I can fill in the hole in this article about how to write transpeople:

Don't make a big deal about it. We have other struggles besides "how I hate my genitals" and "I'm having trouble passing".

If you want to explore those struggles, okay. But remember that we're just as complicated and strange as anyone else besides the gender stuff. And we would love to have more role models who are together, and awesome, and just happen to be trans. I mean, why can't that housewife who stumbles into a secret society of magical postmen in her town be a dickgirl? What's wrong with a dashing, suave James Bond-type superspy who happens to be a cuntboy?*

If you're not writing us in the middle of our transition… then just write us like you would any other man or woman, and drop a hint here or there.

* note that 'dickgirl' and 'cuntboy' and any other vulgar term used to describe a pre-op transperson by their genitals may be read as Offensive coming out of the mouth of a cisgendered character and/or author.
posted by egypturnash at 3:06 PM on January 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


And so fucked up. That was one seriously co-dependent relationship.

Huh? David and Keith seemed to have a pretty ordinary relationship to me. Not perfect, and under some strain given to outside issues such as David's being in the closet and his PTSD, but workable and functional enough. They did have a phase where they were being all talk-therapy with each other ("I feel diminished when you tell me how to cut the tomatoes for the stew,") which was kind of tedious, but they got through it.
posted by orange swan at 3:09 PM on January 1, 2010


"A heartwarming story of a normal young jedi knight in training, whose life is suddenly turned around by the appearance on his planet of two droids bearing a plea for help from a beautiful princess..."

There is nothing normal about being the secret son of the renegade Jedi who brought down a republic and supported an evil empire, and who has a crush on his sister, and who hangs out with a creepy old man, a pirate, and a 7-foot-tall dog.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:22 PM on January 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh, and for all the gay and/or trans Science Fiction fans in here (I've mentioned it before, but it is burried pretty deep down in the Avatar-thread): There's going to be an adaption of a short story by Iain M. Banks: "A Gift From The Culture"
The plot centres on a character called Wrobik, a member of the Culture in exile on another planet, who has undergone a female-to-male transformation but is still attracted to men. He is offered the chance to save his male lover from kid-nappers and pay off gambling debts by committing an act of terrorism.
posted by ts;dr at 3:23 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is nothing normal about being the secret son of the renegade Jedi who brought down a republic and supported an evil empire, and who has a crush on his sister, and who hangs out with a creepy old man, a pirate, and a 7-foot-tall dog.

Well, obviously not where you live.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:32 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm an Astro Zombie, dude.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:39 PM on January 1, 2010


In defense of the One Life to Live scene, it almost exactly paralleled the first 30 minutes of my New Year's celebration last night. Of course, the next 2-1/2 hours were rather less vanilla, but still, the scene seemed nicely realistic as far as it went.

I'm a big fan of the schmoopy, y'alls. It's awesome to see a tender gay sex scene on daytime network TV. Maybe in 20 more years, OLTL will show two guys getting really freaky. I can imagine those hyperventilating octagenarian viewers now...
posted by darkstar at 4:25 PM on January 1, 2010


As a transwoman who's knee-deep in making a NSFW comic book starring a transwoman

I knew who this post was by the moment I read this sentence. I wonder whether it says more about the uniqueness of this project or the circles that I lurk in. Or just the fact that all the cool people hang out on MeFi.
posted by NMcCoy at 4:30 PM on January 1, 2010


I write LGBT fiction. I agree with the author's sentiment, but I also agree with the sentiment echoed by a lot of people here: when you start saying never write this or that kind of character, and the emphasis seems to be make them normal-normal-normal, it starts to sound like precisely the kind of book I wouldn't want to read. I hate books about normal people because they're boring. I want characters to be a little odd and over the top, regardless of whether they're gay or straight. If you pussyfoot around with gay characters in a way you don't with straight characters, then gay people are left only with mundane characters to relate to while the straight characters have more freedom to be interesting. And, let's face it: murderers are interesting characters. Bad people are interesting characters.

What's worse is that some people actually fit stereotypes quite well. Some gay men -- just like straight men, or women of any persuasion -- really are unable to commit, and if my several gay friends' complaints about this are any indication, that's something that is a natural and common source of drama just as it is with other people; to instruct writers to ignore real situations rubs me the wrong way. I don't like that you can write all the straight stories you want about one of the partners being unable to commit, but do it with a gay guy and suddenly it's off limits. Some lesbians really do try to get pregnant, have butch/femme relationships, etc. For every shitty cliche version of those stories out there, there is a fantastic one. Just because it is possible to do something badly doesn't mean you should advise people simply not to do it, nor does it mean you should quit writing stories for the people that would identify with them just because it's done a lot.

I think the article would have been better if it were shorter; its heart is in the right place, but I would rather summarize it as: "Treat LGBT characters as human, the same way you'd treat a non-LGBT character. If you only have one LGBT character and you're worried they exhibit too many 'stereotypical' traits, then it can help to have other LGBT characters that don't exhibit those traits." For now, it kind of sucks that you have to go out of your way to make your writing seem [NOT HOMOPHOBIC] by balancing out with other characters and such, because adding in extra characters for that purpose alone can feel artificial. It's an imperfect solution, but I like it better than putting arbitrary rules on what kinds of gay characters are allowed, especially when those rules seem to say that gay people who exhibit stereotypical behavior are no longer worthy of being characters in stories. Plus, the more gay characters there are, the more there are for gay people to relate to. Growing up, it would kind of suck to read a book in which there was only one bisexual character and I couldn't relate to her aside from sexual orientation -- and more often than not, there simply weren't any bisexual females in a book.
posted by Nattie at 5:04 PM on January 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


I always thought the Keith and David relationship in Six Feet Under was great

It would've been great if they'd been played by David Keith and Keith David (no relation).
posted by kirkaracha at 5:30 PM on January 1, 2010


Huh? David and Keith seemed to have a pretty ordinary relationship to me. Not perfect, and under some strain given to outside issues such as David's being in the closet and his PTSD, but workable and functional enough. They did have a phase where they were being all talk-therapy with each other ("I feel diminished when you tell me how to cut the tomatoes for the stew,") which was kind of tedious, but they got through it.

I always thought there was a big unspoken weirdness about their relationship that the better writers pounced on and the lesser writers ignored. David is so fucking TERRIFIED of the outside world that he runs to Kieth to create this simulacra of his home life. David is unable to function outside the home and is so awkward it invites comment, he's got negative social skills. Keith is passively controlling and amazingly patronizing, and he always takes him back cause he so loves being Right. They're actually *perfect* for each other - two against the world but without a world to fight against-, in a fucked up co-dependent way. I liked the show a lot more when I realized this, that they're the most functional of the couples presents and they give me the fucking heebie jeebies.
posted by The Whelk at 5:33 PM on January 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


which is so say that the fact that the long-term loving relationship of a condescending control freak and a skittish anti-social agoraphobe is the most functional is awesome.
posted by The Whelk at 5:35 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


So if I wanted to write a story about them (and they have many stories to tell) I would have to tone down real life to suit fiction.

Yes.

This is something many people who aren't writers don't grasp. The reason "truth is stranger than fiction" is a proverb is because it is--fiction has to make sense, but truth doesn't.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:59 PM on January 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


From the article: The gay man could be really cheap and stingy. The lesbian could be quick to carry an irrational grudge. The bisexual could like Linkin Park. All of these are flaws, but not "You're going to the special Hell" flaws.

OK - I seriously can't believe that she's equating taste in music with personality flaws. I'm assuming that she's just being cute here, and maybe I'm reading too much into this. But, as a bisexual woman who loves rock and metal (and can tolerate Linkin Park), and who got a fair bit of crap for that from various avenues throughout the years, I am not amused.
posted by spinifex23 at 6:08 PM on January 1, 2010


Any of that pulpy 'Killer Dyke' trash would be way more fun than a MR Gedris-approved snoozefest.

Of course, we are talking about an artist who writes one webcomic about homicidal lesbian pirates, another webcomic that just revealed that a main character was a serial killer for a few centuries. Gedris's characters are fantastic enough on top of their sexual orientation.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:23 PM on January 1, 2010


Nattie: If you only have one LGBT character and you're worried they exhibit too many 'stereotypical' traits, then it can help to have other LGBT characters that don't exhibit those traits.

Or, if you really find those traits interesting, shift some of them onto non-LGBT characters.

The gay doctor doesn't always have to be the catty bitch; make it of the straight male docs instead. Let the gay doc hum show tunes during surgery.

If the boys in your fictional high school need to be pawed at, have some female teacher do it. Let the gay teacher be impeccably dressed, but jaded about the educational system.

Etc, etc.
posted by CKmtl at 6:34 PM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


The gayest guy I know is totally straight and something of a Lothario.
posted by The Whelk at 6:49 PM on January 1, 2010


KirkJobSluder: we are talking about an artist who writes one webcomic about homicidal lesbian pirates, another webcomic that just revealed that a main character was a serial killer for a few centuries

So, she thinks she has sufficient talent to do something interesting with killer dykes, but other hacks need to play it safe? I like her advice even less now.

Skygazer: icepick welding lesbian sluts roller blade around the gorgon devil

That's fucking beautiful. And you're saying that your homicidal lesbians can also weld? Talk about renaissance women! I hope one of them burns the face off a chauvinistic male cop with her oxyacetylene torch. That'd be a good scene, right there.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 6:52 PM on January 1, 2010


I think there's a problem with writing gay characters as if gay cultures don't exist.

There are cultural norms in the gay community that influence certain archetypes. There are also prejudices projected on to queers from both outside an inside the community that may be totally false, or may come from real themes within our communities. Obviously, no one fits an archetype perfectly - so just as there's no idealized straight man in real life - there is also no real idealized (or stereotypical, if you will) gay person. But I think a believable story that includes gay characters generally has to include some of the themes that come up specifically within our communities. Generally a writer who isn't homophobic and gets that all humans are three dimensional can show gay people who seem authenticly gay without seeming like walking stereotypes.

Also, I will be so fucking happy when I see a real butch on TV. Stereotype? How can it be even seen as such when we are utterly written out of all TV universes.
posted by serazin at 7:25 PM on January 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


The most offensive gay villain I’ve ever seen is in the Chow Yun Fat film Full Contact. “Masturbate in hell!"
posted by johngoren at 7:30 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, reading this again more closely, I really don't think presenting queens or pregnant dykes or what not is the problem. Obviously, if you're going to write a queer character it would be nice if you like, get that we're not all stamped out of the same prison matron or Bette Midler impressionist mold, but if the writing is good, who cares who the story is about? Is it a compelling story? A new story? A story where all the characters feel like real people (acknowledging that butch prison matrons and Bette Midler queens do make up some of the real people in the world)? I'm a butch and I've been pregnant, so I fit into two of her stereotypes and yet, I am actually a real-three-dimensional person! I have faith that I am an authentic, believable character despite these "stereotyped" traits.

To me the issue, beyond the need to present us as three-dimensional, is also the ideology of what's being written. I mean for years and years, so many movies about a queer ended in that queer dying. Basically the message was that you will be punished by death for your queerness. This is why I could never jump on the Brokeback Mountain train - it was so in sync with an ideology that Hollywood had been promoting since its beginnings - that if you are queer, you will die. Fuck that shit. Yeah, we get killed sometimes, but that story has been told so give us something else for once.

Hmm, I guess what it comes down to really is that there probably isn't a magical list of rules that will create believable gay characters. If you're a homophobe, or even someone well intentioned who doesn't actually know any gay people, or a gay person who doesn't write well, then you'll write shitty gay characters. These guidelines are basically sound I guess, but I'm not sure they're helpful. Maybe the most useful advice is to work on becoming a better writer overall, and examine your issues.
posted by serazin at 8:03 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always thought BEDROOMS AND HALLWAYS and BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE did a pretty good job, as movies go. Sure, there were stereotypes and cheap gags, but there also ... weren't.

I get the author's insistence on not rehashing stupid old shit, though. I think those rules are pretty sensible, to begin with. As the would-be writer improves his/her craft, then s/he might feel free to break them later.
posted by PsychoTherapist at 8:17 PM on January 1, 2010


Every writer who writes LGBT characters writes about them in their own way. And it's probably best for the writer not to overthink how they make their LGBT characters work any more than they think about how they make their non-LGBT characters work.

I am a bisexual male writer, but that's not my default lead. Admittedly, my default lead is a white male character but sexuality is often a decision I make during the writing process and not always consciously. In fact, in all the things I've ever written, I've only ever written one definitively bisexual male character.

I do try to challenge my default, though. Often when developing a story I think "what if this character was a woman instead" and then I wonder about the implications of that. Sometimes there are no implications at all; I wrote a gay male character whom I turned into a gay female character during the second draft purely because the cast seemed too male dominated. And that wasn't about quotas or covering a demographic, but feeling like I wanted more female voices in the piece I was working on.

As has been mentioned above, all writers want to avoid writing stereotypes - but there really are lesbians getting pregnant out there and effeminate queens who embody what used to be the only view of gay men we had in books, films and television. For me, I avoid writing those stock characters because I don't want my writing to be cliche - not so I don't upset people. (A valuable lesson I learned in a MeFi discussion about Bruno is that gay men have as much right to be effeminate queens as others do to get upset about all gay men being portrayed that way.)

I've been thinking about this topic a lot lately - not just related to LGBT characters, but to non-white characters (see: Avatar thread) as well. An early rule for most writers is to "write what you know" and most young writers think they have to write specifically about themselves. When you get to be a better writer, more mature and able to write about a wider world, it seems to mean "write what you feel" - and transfer it into people who aren't necessarily you. Write what you know, but think about other people as well. Write about yourself, but make the character a woman. Write about yourself, but make that character bisexual. Write about yourself, but imagine what it would be like to have a different cultural background.
posted by crossoverman at 9:49 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Useful as favorites are, they do not adequately convey my admiration for that special, glorious quality of the Mefi hivemind that allows you to wander casually into a thread about gay characters in fiction and discover a stunningly well-executed one-liner about the recurrence of Basic Instinct-style icepick-wielding bisexual roller-derby sluts in Joyce's Ulysses.

I mean, if there's a bad roller-derby gag linking James Joyce to Basic Instinct via unscrupulous bisexuals, I've never seen it and I don't think I want to.
posted by gompa at 12:42 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dear Megan Rose Gedris

Don't tell me what to do.

Thanks
posted by Summer at 2:57 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The article did not say never write an Evil Gay Villain.

The article pointed out that a lot of stories *only* portray gays as Evil Gay Villains, and that therefore if the only gay character in your story is an Evil Gay Villain, then *even if* your story is a special awesome story that deserves a special exemption for special awesomeness, then you are still feeding into a culture in which many stories only portray gays as Evil Gay Villains.

But that does not mean never write an Evil Gay Villain, and I find it irritating that so many people here are assuming that was the intent here. It means, if you have an Evil Gay Villain, maybe consider making some of your non-villain characters not-straight as well to give a bit of balance. Because that balance does not exist in the culture at large, and if you do not include it, you are therefore accidentally implying that gays are only Evil Gay Villains.

And making your characters "normal", in context, means making the characters normal *for your story*, since she was talking about Space Fleet personnel as characters and what have you. Essentially, the argument was to treat your gay characters the same as you treat straight characters, not to make all your gay characters boring perfect people. Sheesh.

("But I do treat all my characters the same! The evil gay person dies because ANY of my characters could be evil or die, and I won't make an exception just because that character is gay!" Hmm. Do any of your straight characters die? "... No. But they could." Is the villain the only gay character? Are there any straight villains? "... No. But they COULD be. See, YOU'RE the one who's being narrow-minded by insisting that I must treat my gay characters DIFFERENTLY, that they must be special and immune to bad things!" Really.)

Moving on ...

Speaking as a slushpile reader, the wannabe-pregnant-lesbians plot does, in fact, occur with surprising frequency and very often in ridiculous ways. I think my favorite was the one where a lesbian couple decided that one of them would marry a guy, get pregnant, and then they would kill him. This, apparently, was judged to be more convenient than using a two dollar turkey baster.
posted by kyrademon at 4:00 AM on January 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


No discussion of gay villains would be complete without a mention of Bennett, from the Schwarzenegger schlockbuster (and campest action movie of all time), Commando.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:32 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas: It's been ages since I've seen Commando, was Bennett actually meant to be gay? I mean, I see the photo, but the 80s are like some sort of high-potency jamming device for my gaydar.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:46 AM on January 2, 2010


Cultural sensitivity in this day and age are important. The politically correct term for "Evil Gay Villain" is "Republican Senator"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:44 AM on January 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


When I was a youngster and had not yet developed an understanding of such things, Clint Eastwood movies and James Bond movies were like crack to me.

In my late teens / early 20s my insight into the way gays were being portrayed as villains began to sink in as the pernicious influence it was. I saw the Miles Mellough villain in The Eiger Sanction as deeply offensive and it was the beginning of a long process of questioning the undiluted machismo of the Clint Eastwood culture.

And it was a significant coming of age moment for me when I finally saw Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, the two gay henchmen in Diamonds Are Forever, as the rank manifestation of homophobia that they were.
posted by darkstar at 8:08 AM on January 2, 2010


I was in grad school with a guy who edited a tribute to Mercedes Lackey, and in the fandom circles he ran in it was a given that Vanyel was based on a specific real live gay man, which somehow made it OK for Vanyel to be such a flaming stereotype. Later, as an adult woman, in a different circle, I ran into people who knew the guy who was supposedly the prototype for Vanyel, including a woman who'd slept with him. Hearing that Vanyel was really an outgrowth of Lackey's slash writing makes more sense and makes me wonder whether Lackey really said Vanyel was based on the guy or whether that was just fanlore.

College and grad school for me were well before I heard about slash in any but the most cursory ways, and I wouldn't describe myself in those days as progressive on gay issues, but even then reading Vanyel gave this straight girl the desire to write a book featuring a macho gay man called Bubba.
posted by immlass at 8:48 AM on January 2, 2010


Good gay characters in fantasy are so hard to come by.

A friend of mine has written a fantasy novel where two of the four principle characters (a king and his chancellor) are homosexual men involved in a long-term clandestine relationship. It's pretty good -- never hits you over the head with it, yet the relationship is crucial to the story. You can't swap a gender and have it still work. And she also does it without creating either a happy paradise for gay love or a living hell where every fact of these men's lives is driven by their gayness. (She said that's just how she always imagined those characters.)

Now if she'd only get off her butt and try to sell the damn thing.
posted by lodurr at 10:30 AM on January 2, 2010


It seems to me Megan Rose Gedris' distinction between 'gay characters' 'characters who happen to be gay' may be more accurately phrased as a distinction between 'gay stories' and 'stories with gay characters.' To me, if a character's sexuality is important to the story such that the story wouldn't be without it, it's such a story. It reminds me of another distinction. During one of the DVD commentaries for season two of the The Wire Dominic West asks Michael Williams about playing a gay character like Omar, and Williams immediately corrects West saying something very like: "There's nothing gay about Omar; he's a homo-thug."

I don't want to turn this into Wire-filter discussion of the role of Omar's sexuality in the Wire, but considering it, I think it's worth asking some different questions about the article. If, we follow Gedris' in that "There is no universal gay experience" what else do gay persons have in common (other than homosexuality)? If we follow William's distinction that suggests, to me anyway, that "gayness" is more like a persona suitable for particular environment. What is useful about it? What do authors need to know to understand that culture, the people who use those personae to get by? What does this article tell us about it?

Gedris' rule of thumb "treat gays like straights" seems more about fairness than characterization, which, as she puts it, is seems most relevant to writing a utopian fantasy. To whatever extant that understanding the world helps us make it better, and to whatever extant fiction can help us understand the world, gay characters can help us understand the costs and benefits of being homosexual and gay. For this, I'd say Gedris' best advice in this article was "talk to gay people" which I'd also rephrase, as "listen to gay people tell their stories."
posted by wobh at 11:48 AM on January 2, 2010


It's been ages since I've seen Commando, was Bennett actually meant to be gay?

I don't think he was meant to be explicitly gay as such; more that the entire movie was written with as much wink-wink double-entendre innuendo as a British seaside postcard.

For example, there is this exchange between Bennett & Arnie's character, John Matrix, at the climax of the movie:

Matrix: Stop screwing around
and let the girl go.
It's me you want.
I have one arm.
You can beat me.
Come on, Bennett, throw away
that chicken-shit gun.
You don't just want
to pull a trigger.
Put the knife in me
and look me in the eye...
and see what's going on
in there when you turn it.
That's what you
want to do, right?
I could kill you, John.
Let the girl go
It's between you and me.
Don't deprive yourself
of some pleasure.
Come on, Bennett.
Let's party.

Bennett: I can beat you.
I don't need the girl.
I don't need the girl!

(and what you can't see in that photo of Bennett earlier is that his outfit consists not only of that fetching chainmail vest, but it's also teamed up with some leather hotpants & a studded belt; about as stereotypically a bear as you could ever imagine)

posted by UbuRoivas at 12:10 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


David is so fucking TERRIFIED of the outside world that he runs to Kieth to create this simulacra of his home life. David is unable to function outside the home and is so awkward it invites comment, he's got negative social skills. Keith is passively controlling and amazingly patronizing, and he always takes him back cause he so loves being Right. They're actually *perfect* for each other - two against the world but without a world to fight against-, in a fucked up co-dependent way. I liked the show a lot more when I realized this, that they're the most functional of the couples presents and they give me the fucking heebie jeebies.

I don't know where you're getting all this. David is kind of awkward, but hardly terrified of the outside world. Keith is the dominant partner — but then he's a cop, and he had a very authoritarian jerk of a father, so he needed to learn better ways of communicating and coping. Those two were about as normal as you get. I sure see problems like theirs in most of the relationships I know of.
posted by orange swan at 5:52 PM on January 2, 2010


kyrademon:...if you have an Evil Gay Villain, maybe consider making some of your non-villain characters not-straight as well to give a bit of balance. Because that balance does not exist in the culture at large, and if you do not include it, you are therefore accidentally implying that gays are only Evil Gay Villains.

Why are authors responsible for redressing the balance of the culture at large? I think a writer's first responsibility is to the story he or she is telling. If it feels right for the book to have one gay character who is the villain, that's the book that should be written. The other characters should be given traits that fit the story, not assigned their sexualities (or races or genders or ages, etc.) according to a politically-derived formula. (What are the figures here, anyway? How many nice gays make up for one gay supervillian? If you could provide some sort of ready-reference chart featuring the number of fine upstanding homosexuals required to make up for each different category of gay baddie, it would be a boon to those who wish to write 'approved' fiction.)
posted by eatyourcellphone at 6:01 PM on January 2, 2010


I don't know where you're getting all this. David is kind of awkward, but hardly terrified of the outside world. Keith is the dominant partner — but then he's a cop, and he had a very authoritarian jerk of a father, so he needed to learn better ways of communicating and coping. Those two were about as normal as you get. I sure see problems like theirs in most of the relationships I know of.

Well, it's a few things. At several points when Kieth made me go "Wow, I haven't let anyone talk to me like that since the 6th grade." and "Wow, he's being a total jerk." and David would just roll over every time. Davis is so passive and the story mandate seemed to be "Keith And David Stay Together No Matter What" and it started to look depressing - espically since they kept punishing David for any attempts to broaden his horizons or meet new people - climaxing in that awful "Hey lets all smoke crack" episode where they have give David another round of PTSD to keep him in line. The lesson David keeps learning is "New things will hurt and confuse you" and the lesson Keith keeps getting is "David needs to be treated like a child and he'll always come back." I didn't say it wasn't realistic or natural, I said it creeped me the fuck out - but then everyone on Six Feet Under was kind of fundamentally loathsome, which was great to watch (although the final seasons did hinge too much on "What if everyone was awful to each other all the time for no reason.")
posted by The Whelk at 8:07 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's a lovely theory, eatyourcellphone.

It's also the excuse used by quite literally thousands of authors to have the Evil Gay Villain be the only gay character. The story calls for it!

Funny just how *often* the stories seem to call for it. So many, many stories that seem to call for just that. Perhaps we should chalk it up to an odd coincidence. I mean, it couldn't possibly be due some kind of internalized notion of what a villain is and what a hero is.

There is no "conversion" chart, because this is a call for authors to use their judgment and examine their own prejudices.

You know, your judgment about what your story needs? That very thing you were talking about?

Of course, most of these authors assure us they are fully and thoroughly self-aware of their own internal state of being and are absolutely convinced that they have written whatever they have written solely and completely for the purposes of the story.

Oddly, this often seems to result in the only gay character being the Evil Gay Villain. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over ...

So please excuse me for looking at that explanation with a bit of a gimlet eye.

We can argue about whether or not storytellers have any obligations to the culture at large. But they certainly do have obligations to their own story. You and I, apparently, have very different ideas about what that means.

I think it means, among other things, being aware when you are employing an overused and frankly rather offensive cliche.

And realizing that cliches actually exist because your story *doesn't* exist in a happy hypothetical vacuum. Cliches only exist in the context of other stories. So what's "best for your story" actually *has* to take into account what other people are writing. Unless you are don't mind when someone points out that, for example, your story about this midget thief who goes off with a bunch of dwarves to kill a dragon isn't, perhaps, as startlingly original and innovative as you might have thought.

Can you write a story about a dumb black guy who loves watermelon and fried chicken? How about a greedy Jew? An inscrutable Asian? Well, of course you can. But if you are unaware of the cultural context that has built up around such characters, and fail to provide balance, you may very well be writing an offensive cliche.

The same applies to the Evil Gay Villain character.

Now, you may *want* to write an offensive cliche. I can't argue with that. But if you *don't* want to write one, but you do anyway, your excuse that the story called for it doesn't mean shit. It's still an offensive cliche.

This isn't about "approved" stories or some ratio or examination of your goddamn story by the PC committee or anything like that. Please. It's a message to those authors who would actually like to avoid writing an offensive cliche. Who want the character that their story calls for, but are aware enough of the world outside their head that they know that certain kinds of characters are stereotypes and using one therefore calls for careful thought.

Write whatever story you want, eatyourcellphone. There is no approval process and no one is going to censor your words. But if the story you write contains a crappy offensive stereotype, well ... I really hope you did it on purpose, and not because you were being too defensive to listen when it was mentioned that a certain type of character is, in fact, an offensive stereotype.
posted by kyrademon at 8:29 PM on January 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Of course, most of these authors assure us they are fully and thoroughly self-aware of their own internal state of being and are absolutely convinced that they have written whatever they have written solely and completely for the purposes of the story.

Luckily, you and Megan Rose Gedris know better. I'm sure if you and she keep berating the worldwide community of fiction writers in the huffy tone you adopt above, they'll eventually see the error of their ways.

I think it means, among other things, being aware when you are employing an overused and frankly rather offensive cliche.

Offensive to whom? Megan Rose Gedris? Who made her the Queen of All Queers? I don't remember marking any ballot papers.

I like a nice, juicy GLBTQ villain, and so do many others. I like to think I'm a bit of a villainous bisexual myself, when I'm daydreaming. I'd certainly murder Michael Douglas with an icepick if I could get away with it. Villains get the most fun, the best lines and the nicest wardrobes. Yes, they usually die at the end, but villains, straight or gay, often do. I don't remember anyone calling the Wicked Witch of the West a dyke, but she still dies. She's not a very 'positive image' of our green-skinned brothers and sisters either, but she's still fabulous. Of course, you probably root for bland simps like that gingham-clad farmbitch, Dorothy.

Unless you are don't mind when someone points out that, for example, your story about this midget thief who goes off with a bunch of dwarves to kill a dragon isn't, perhaps, as startlingly original and innovative as you might have thought.

I am don't mind. Not everyone is so jaded that they seek startling originality and innovation every time they pick up a paperback. Some of us plebs like to read the same sort of story more than once. If they ever make another movie about bloodthirsty bi babes that's half as fabulous as 'Basic Instinct', I'll go and see it. Forgive me for being so unadvanced in my tastes.

Can you write a story about a dumb black guy who loves watermelon and fried chicken?
According to you, yes. As long as I also include a tokenistic parade of random black people who are in the book for no other reason than to remind the stupid reader, who derives his or her picture of the world entirely from the fiction he or she reads, that there are also watermelon-eschewing black people out there.

Write whatever story you want, eatyourcellphone. There is no approval process and no one is going to censor your words.

No, it will just be the usual tactic employed by women activists who are stuck in a 70s/80s mode of narrow, joyless, middle-class, overly-academic political thought: throwing a condescending, prissy, hectoring conniption fit and hoping that I'll be so mortified at having offended a LADY by ignoring her 'guidelines' that I'll immediately slash open my belly with the nearest sharp object and smear 'SORRY FOR BEING SUCH A PHALLOCRAT' on the wall in my own blood, before dying like the oppressor dog I am.

But sadly for you, now that I finally have your permission to express myself, I'll be unleashing a tidal-wave of politically retrograde fiction about baby-eating dykes, bleached-blond sadistic SS fags, and trannies who strangle fashion models with their own upmarket lingerie. Look out for all this and more on a slush pile near you!
posted by eatyourcellphone at 10:48 PM on January 2, 2010


I'd have a lot more of a problem with the "Predatory Gay Men" trope if I hadn't run into it repeatedly in real life.

Dear Creeps:

You do not proposition strangers in the street. Ever. If I did this with a woman I would expect to be punched.
You do not ever, EVER grab somebody else's crotch. Especially a stranger's. In public. Fuck You. Again, if this was done to a woman, violence would be acceptable, not a hate crime.

of course there are lots of normal gay people, but jesus christ those cruising creeps aren't doing anyone favors.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:36 PM on January 2, 2010


What fascinates me is the reaction that straight men have to gay men being aggressive like that, and the incredible blind spot they have to how they and many, many other straight men habitually treat women.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: straight men get uncomfortable when gay men hit on them because it makes you realise how you treat women; you are suddenly being looked at--or pawed--like a piece of meat, something that you should be doing to a girl, dammit, not being on the receiving end of.

That being said, I do agree that grabbing someone's crotch in public is unacceptable. But your reaction to it? Fascinating.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:58 PM on January 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh, and the 'there are normal gay people' bit? Ew. I mean really, really, ew. Take another look at your homophobia there. "Yeah, I don't mind the, y'know, normal--read: passing for straight, subscribing to your heteronormativity, not upsetting your little worldview--gays. It's those swishy ones that get to me." ARGH. I had better stop typing because the more times I read that snotty little statement from you, the more viciously angry I am getting.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:01 AM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd have a lot more of a problem with the "Penny-pinching Jew" trope if I hadn't run into it repeatedly in real life.

I'd have a lot more of a problem with the "Gangster Nigger" trope if I hadn't run into it repeatedly in real life.

I'd have a lot more of a problem with the "Man-hating Feminist" trope if I hadn't run into it repeatedly in real life.

I'd have a lot more of a problem with the "Lazy Spic" trope if I hadn't run into it repeatedly in real life.

Got the point yet, asshat?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:04 AM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tropes are tools. Tropes are not bad. Tropes are not good. Including these.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:50 AM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


> You're making the assumption that I'm unaware of how some straight men treat women, and insinuating that I, as well, treat women like that- which is pretty low.

you are suddenly being looked at--or pawed--like a piece of meat, something that you should be doing to a girl, dammit, not being on the receiving end of. Jesus Christ. Straight men who treat women like that aren't doing guys any favors either, I'll tell you that.

> No. Again with the assumptions- this is awful. There is a huge difference between being non-heteronormative and being a creep who grabs people.

> I don't think we should have an automatic ban on fictional depictions of things that do happen in real life, just because they're touchy subjects laden with oppression and privilege that get shouted about a lot by right-wing nutjobs. Now, if someone were to show me their work of fiction where all the villians were a cartel of gay black nazi drug-pushers and lazy, cheap, man-hating jewish latina feminist bankers, I would start to get awfully suspicious as to their reasons for writing it.

What I really have a problem with is not being able to say I've got a problem with being grabbed at on the street by creepy gay dudes, or having to put a hedge in at the end of my statement ("of fucking course i know not all gay people do this") out of fear of being labeled a homophobe. Just because some members of a group act poorly does not fucking mean that all members of that group act poorly or do so more often than members of another group, no matter how the stereotype may go.

Now, what if a member of a group (for example, a boss I had who happened to be Jewish) acts according to a stereotype (being cheap, in this case, doing things like selling rotten meat to customers). You don't dare say to other people that he's cheap, because they would just call you an anti-Semite, when in fact he might really be a horribly cheap bastard and his Jewishness has nothing to do with it.

Anyways, I don't take kindly to the unwarranted "asshat", and I think we should really go back to the discussion of writing realistic, well-fleshed-out LGBT characters. I think it's important to avoid over-done tropes, but it's unfair to have to avoid predatory gay men more than predatory straight men. Both of them happen, and when either character is just an empty shell then the author's using a cheap cop-out. And again, if all the baddies are gay then it's rather suspicious.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:16 AM on January 3, 2010


Why are authors responsible for redressing the balance of the culture at large?

Because everyone is responsible for everything they do, and if you, as an author, are feeding homophobia in the culture through your stories, then you are responsible for doing it.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:13 AM on January 3, 2010


I'd have a lot more of a problem with the "Predatory Gay Men" trope if I hadn't run into it repeatedly in real life.

When I was in my twenties, I hung out in a couple of gay bars. I was propositioned fairly regularly, but no one ever, ever grabbed my crotch.

Funny how homophobes are always getting their crotches grabbed.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:19 AM on January 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


Now, what if a member of a group (for example, a boss I had who happened to be Jewish) acts according to a stereotype (being cheap, in this case, doing things like selling rotten meat to customers). You don't dare say to other people that he's cheap, because they would just call you an anti-Semite, when in fact he might really be a horribly cheap bastard and his Jewishness has nothing to do with it.

You don't know why you shouldn't reduce a human being to one crude cultural stereotype? Really?

Here's why - because people aren't stereotypes. But you want to be able to reduce them to that stereotype because it's easy and it requires no critical thinking. Plus you think you should be allowed to say whatever you want but hate the fact it might get you called an anti-Semite in return. See the double-standard there?

The problem with using cheap cultural stereotypes in fiction is that it reinforces cheap cultural stereotypes outside of fiction. Fiction isn't necessarily the place where people learn those stereotypes, but like anything that is widely read or widely seen, it can reinforce popular simplistic beliefs.

but jesus christ those cruising creeps aren't doing anyone favors.

Yes, and rapists don't do men any favours. And Islamic extremists don't do Muslims any favours. And the Westboro Baptist Church don't do Christians any favours. But some critical thinking and a wider world view suggest those people are in the minority.
posted by crossoverman at 2:28 AM on January 3, 2010


I didn't find the one time I had my crotch grabbed especially funny.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:30 AM on January 3, 2010


dirtynumbangelboy: straight men get uncomfortable when gay men hit on them because it makes you realise how you treat women

No, I really really don't think so. 'Homophobia' is a much simpler explanation. Anyway, realizing how they treat women only comes later if at all.

duncadunc: I'd have a lot more of a problem with the "Predatory Gay Men" trope if I hadn't run into it repeatedly in real life...

They only predatory "gay" men that I've personally encountered were men who were not really "gay" in the cultural sense -- they weren't part of any real cultural expression, and were not out as far as I could tell. Once at a New Years party many years ago, I woke to being fellated by a Young Republican type. (He came to the party in a red tie with a blue pinstripe shirt, collar fastened by a gold pin, and regaled us with stories of his high-rolling new Wall Street job and the intensive MBA he'd just finished at some school in FL.) Fast forward years later and there was this couple I knew who were quite sexually omnivorous, and the guy, who presented himself as a het stud, was known to engage in some surprise behavior, shall we say. Very aggressive guy -- kind of guy who makes you suspect that sex is all about dominance for him. I hesitate in calling him 'bi' because almost all the other bi people I've met seemed in some sense almost apologetic about their sexual orientation.

So, I'm thinking, if there's gay creeps out there grabbing guys by the crotch, it's likely happening either in very sexually-charged and predominantly gay millieus, or they're guys who are way on the edges of society -- and they're no more representative than train-gropers are of straight men.
posted by lodurr at 5:45 AM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


You don't dare say to other people that he's cheap, because they would just call you an anti-Semite...

No, not so much, at least not in my middle-American experience. The usual formulation would be something like "I hate to call him a cheap Jew, but if the shoe fits, y'knowwhatimean?"
posted by lodurr at 5:47 AM on January 3, 2010


I was propositioned fairly regularly...

I think I must give off a het vibe. I've never been hit on (though I have a history of being really oblivious about that with women, so who knows), but I know* of at least two occasions where gay men tried to set me up with women for a vicarious thrill.

--
*was told about it post-facto by female friends of the guys.
posted by lodurr at 5:51 AM on January 3, 2010


Interesting that we go from:
Gedris: I cannot speak for the entire gay community when I say this, but as far as I am concerned, as long as you write with the best intentions, and truly seek to educate yourself and try writing gay characters well, then you're doing alright. Take constructive criticism into account, but ultimately know that you will never be able to please everyone (in any genre).
To:
eatyourcellularphone: No, it will just be the usual tactic employed by women activists who are stuck in a 70s/80s mode of narrow, joyless, middle-class, overly-academic political thought: throwing a condescending, prissy, hectoring conniption fit and hoping that I'll be so mortified at having offended a LADY by ignoring her 'guidelines' that I'll immediately slash open my belly with the nearest sharp object and smear 'SORRY FOR BEING SUCH A PHALLOCRAT' on the wall in my own blood, before dying like the oppressor dog I am.

But sadly for you, now that I finally have your permission to express myself, I'll be unleashing a tidal-wave of politically retrograde fiction about baby-eating dykes, bleached-blond sadistic SS fags, and trannies who strangle fashion models with their own upmarket lingerie. Look out for all this and more on a slush pile near you!
Overreact much?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:24 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Overreact much?

Hyperbole. Look it up. It's a valid literary technique.

Anyway, the words of mine that you quoted were not a reaction to Gedris. They were a reaction to kyrademon's haughty, schoolmarmish tut-tutting in this thread. You've either read carelessly or you're being deliberately dishonest. Of course, kyrademon is quite free to deploy an arch, bitchy persona if she chooses, but she can hardly cry foul if someone responds in kind. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. And it's fun to dip the class priss's braids in the inkwell sometimes. At any rate, kyrademon is presumably well able to defend herself and her ideas, without some testis-bearing hegemon coming to her aid on his trusty steed. She's not your damsel in distress, bucko.

And was getting my name wrong an attempt to annoy me, a hit at my slangy writing style, or what? I don't see what your purpose was there. It's 'cell phone', rather than the more formal 'cellular phone'. It's what the kid's are saying, yo.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 1:58 PM on January 3, 2010


Was complaining about getting your name wrong an attempt to be funny, bait for someone you seem to want to take down a peg for being overly-serious, or what? I don't see what your purpose was there. It's a long fucking name that normal human beings might insert a word-completion into. It's what the human brains are doing, yo.
posted by lodurr at 2:10 PM on January 3, 2010


Do kids in Queensland really use the awful Americanism "cellphone" instead of the prescriptivistically correct "mobile phone", oi?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:20 PM on January 3, 2010


Was complaining about getting your name wrong an attempt to be funny, bait for someone you seem to want to take down a peg for being overly-serious, or what? I don't see what your purpose was there. It's a long fucking name that normal human beings might insert a word-completion into. It's what the human brains are doing, yo.

God, that was fabulous, Mary. You can bitch with the best of them. You sure you're 100% straight? I've never seen a breederboy swish a set of claws with that much panache before. Top marks to Miss Lodurr!

But I have to ask - 'normal human beings' wherever you live are constantly having to correct their tendency to say 'cellular phone' instead of 'cell phone'? Do they also accidentally say things like 'motor omnibus' instead of 'bus' or 'manufactory' instead of 'factory'? It must be an interesting town. No wonder it brings forth razor-tongued wordninjas of your calibre.

Do kids in Queensland really use the awful Americanism "cellphone" instead of the prescriptivistically correct "mobile phone", oi?

No, but I always endeavor to Americanize my writing as much as possible on Metafilter. Foreign usages tend to make the Americans here go odd. They start pointing and laughing at the funny foreign words and things get sidetracked.

And speaking of sidetracks - let's get back to the actual issue. People are defending a piece of writing that contains this absurdity:

A good rule of thumb: Let the gay characters do it exactly the same amount as the straight characters.

This is absolutely stupid. If you live in a reasonably sized Western city, there's probably one or more gay saunas in your town. Some gay/bi/downlow/MSM guys - yes, a minority, but a not-insignificant one - will go there to suck strangers' penises through holes in the walls, or to have various other kinds of sex with strangers. If I wrote about one of these men, how do I 'balance' things by finding a straight person whose sex life matches up to this? The gay hero's lovely old granny just happens to suck twenty dicks in a row one night, on a whim? Yes, straight people have hook-ups and one night-stands, they troll for sex on Craigslist. But there's nothing directly comparable to the sauna/bathhouse/backroom experience. Because despite what Megan Rose Gedris thinks, sexuality is not just some interchangeable trait that can be taken on and off like a skirt or a pair of jeans. People with different sexualities do behave, think and interact with others differently.

And what's to say a promiscuous gay knows promiscuous heterosexuals? Not every 'slut' has slutty friends, and I shouldn't have to feel I can't write about a promiscuous Asian gay because my story has no room for a promiscuous white straight and a promiscuous black BDSM fan and a promiscuous Lebanese watersports-loving nun.

Megan Rose Gedris's screed also contains this piece of nonsense:

Having a story with all the straight people in happy couples, and the gay person alone, is a bit unfair, and readers will get frustrated.

Well, God forbid anything unfair should happen in a story. A lonely homosexual knowing a bunch of happy heteros is an entirely possible story, and a potentially interesting one. I'd gladly read that book, enter that individual's life. But Megan Rose Gedris would never write it, because she's more interested in gay characters as interchangeable vehicles for a political message, rather than individuals in individual situations.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 2:56 PM on January 3, 2010


Well, first I apologize for getting your name wrong, it was an unintentional misreading.

Hyperbole. Look it up. It's a valid literary technique.

Certainly. But it's a big gun to pull on something so trivial. To me, hyperbole communicates outrage and the high-school writing-workshop advice given just doesn't strike me as outrageous. Combined with the problem that your posts are stereotype-driven and cliche-ridden, you seem to be setting yourself up as the butt of your own joke.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:07 PM on January 3, 2010


But there's nothing directly comparable to the sauna/bathhouse/backroom experience. Because despite what Megan Rose Gedris thinks, sexuality is not just some interchangeable trait that can be taken on and off like a skirt or a pair of jeans. People with different sexualities do behave, think and interact with others differently.

Certainly, and Gedris takes into account the fact that some stories might center on gay communities and gay subcultures. I'd say that doing lit about teahouse and bathhouse experiences requires no small amount of footwork and research by her intended audience.

Your second comment eliminates some pretty important context:
Do I have to give my gay characters a girlfriend/boyfriend?

Not if you don't want to, and again, refer to the "as often as straight characters" rule of thumb. Having a story with all the straight people in happy couples, and the gay person alone, is a bit unfair, and readers will get frustrated. (emphasis added)
My problem with his particular essay is that it's chock full of such exceptions but really doesn't dive into some of the tradeoffs involved in them.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:41 PM on January 3, 2010


God, that was fabulous, Mary. You can bitch with the best of them. You sure you're 100% straight? I've never seen a breederboy swish a set of claws with that much panache before. Top marks to Miss Lodurr!

whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat.

valium. go get some. kthx.

And duncadunc, your seething homophobia is overmatched solely by your blindness to same. I'd pity you if you weren't so busy making me feel sick to my stomach that yet another theoretically intelligent person can be such a fucking dinosaur.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:20 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Certainly, and Gedris takes into account the fact that some stories might center on gay communities and gay subcultures. I'd say that doing lit about teahouse and bathhouse experiences requires no small amount of footwork and research by her intended audience.

Plus writing about a gay subculture is presumably part of the story or a legitimate part of the character. Not all gay men hang out in saunas. Not all gay men love nightclubbing. Not all gay men love musical theatre. So I'd say balancing out a gay character who hangs out in bathhouses a lot is a gay character who rarely frequents them - not finding the straight equivalent.
posted by crossoverman at 4:23 PM on January 3, 2010


God, that was fabulous, Mary. You can bitch with the best of them. You sure you're 100% straight? I've never seen a breederboy swish a set of claws with that much panache before. Top marks to Miss Lodurr!

Your meds are in your medicine cabinet, where you left them. Thanks for asking.
posted by lodurr at 7:21 PM on January 3, 2010


This reads like "don't make your gay characters gay in any way, shape or form". If you take a straight character and just change the sex of their partner, have you really written a gay character, or just some kind of abstract ideal of one?
posted by tehloki at 1:10 AM on January 4, 2010


If you take a straight character and just change the sex of their partner, have you really written a gay character

Yes. Well, as long as you change the straight character's sexuality ;-)

or just some kind of abstract ideal of one?

I'm not sure what this means. It seems to suggest that straight and gay people are fundamentally different, which they really aren't.

You could have two people who have similar appearance, similar temperaments, similiar interests and similar family lives. Why would you necessarily write them any differently if one is straight and one is gay? Is there anything inherent in their sexuality that must make them different in the writing?

Of course, culturally, there might be differences - the gay character will have come out at some point (to themselves, to their friends, to their families) and that's pretty much the only thing every gay person has in common and that's why coming out stories are pretty fundamental part of gay literature, films, television.

But apart from that, there's no one singular gay experience, no one universal thing that happens in every gay person's life. They are as likely to have common life experiences with straight people as they are with gay people.
posted by crossoverman at 1:39 AM on January 4, 2010


dirtynumbangelboy: And duncadunc, your seething homophobia is overmatched solely by your blindness to same. I'd pity you if you weren't so busy making me feel sick to my stomach that yet another theoretically intelligent person can be such a fucking dinosaur.

WTF. This is awful. My seething homophobia. Oh yes.
How dare I.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:25 AM on January 4, 2010


Paying lipservice to civil rights doesn't mean a whole lot when actually demonstrate the kind of bigotry you've shown in this thread. But you, as with most bigots--some of my best friends are Jews!--are utterly blind to it.

Sad.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:00 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hesitate in calling him 'bi' because almost all the other bi people I've met seemed in some sense almost apologetic about their sexual orientation.

Really? Most of the bi people I know are bemused/annoyed that most of the population has these weird hard-and-fast limits on who they'll sleep with/date, based purely on gender.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:03 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Which has always seemed to be a bizarre attitude to me. Everyone has some fairly hard-and-fast limits based purely on physical appearance.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:16 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which has always seemed to be a bizarre attitude to me. Everyone has some fairly hard-and-fast limits based purely on physical appearance.

For the most part I don't think that attitude is serious; they're well aware of the existence of gender-based sexual preference. It's just that for them, much as a gay man's disinterest in women and interest in men can seem inexplicable and weird to a straight guy, the fact that I, a straight man, have no interest in other men, strikes some of my bi-friends as... well, a bit of a waste.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:04 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


i've dated men. i've dated women.

mostly, i date nerds.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:20 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


>: Vaguely voyeuristic portrayals of lesbianism are still considered progressive, right?

It's porn for men who feel ooked out by seeing penises.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:25 PM on January 4, 2010


Those two were about as normal as you get. I sure see problems like theirs in most of the relationships I know of.

Wow, that's pretty bad! I agree with that assessment of David and Keith - they had some serious issues and a major lack of respect at times, particularly with Keith towards David. Unhealthy indeed, but interesting because there was nothing explicitly GAY about their relationship issues.
posted by agregoli at 4:21 PM on January 4, 2010


(And no, it's not normal to disrespect your partner on the level I saw in Six Feet Under...)
posted by agregoli at 4:30 PM on January 4, 2010


KirkJobSluder: your posts are stereotype-driven and cliche-ridden.

Shrieking 'stereotype' is only a trump card when you're arguing with liberals. I have no shame in treating certain people as merely examples of a type. Experience is a great teacher, and I've come across preachy busybodies like Megan Rose Gedris before. Megan Rose Gedris does nothing to make herself stand out from the pack of self-appointed moral arbiters, so I don't have any interest in trying to find out in what subtle ways she differs from the rest.

I don't share the modern obsession with originality, either. You people are so post-Renaissance in your insistence that the wheel be re-invented with every book that's published.

dnab: valium. go get some. kthx.

lodurr: Your meds are in your medicine cabinet, where you left them. Thanks for asking.

Oh, you girls are such cats! You know, people who don't share your politics are not necessarily insane. And to make light of the serious issue of mental illness damages your credibility as progressives. Shame on you both.

crossoverman: So I'd say balancing out a gay character who hangs out in bathhouses a lot is a gay character who rarely frequents them - not finding the straight equivalent.

You say that, but Megan Rose Gedris doesn't. She explicitly states that balance is achieved by having gay and straight characters having equal amounts of sex.

In the end, it comes down to live and let live. We plebs, after a hard day in the fields or down the mines, like to kick off our mud-caked boots, light up a corncob pipe, settle back in a favorite chair and amuse ourselves with a nice relaxing story about, say, bisexual glamorpusses who feed babies into industrial grinders. It takes us out of the workaday world. And we like the note of glamor that a non-mainstream sexuality gives a villain, even if we're in some way queer ourselves. We ask that Megan Rose Gedris not come down to our village, in her serge skirt and bustle and hatpins, and lecture us about the activities of her Gentlewomen's League for the Suppression of Vicious Literature. We leave her alone to write her no doubt harakiri-inducingly boring agitprop space operas about peaceful wymmynz concluding a 5000-page peace treaty with the Asparagus People of the Organic Tofu Nebula; she should leave us to enjoy our skull-smashing dykes and jugular-slashing queens.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 1:18 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


eatyourcellphone, there are a couple of things that it's wise to take account of before you go the flailing claws route:
  1. That old, you know, glass houses thing;
  2. ... and making sure you know whether your own house is glass.
Put another way: When you're trying to make someone else look small, it's best to do it in a way that doesn't leave you looking still smaller.
posted by lodurr at 5:12 AM on January 5, 2010


I hesitate in calling him 'bi' because almost all the other bi people I've met seemed in some sense almost apologetic about their sexual orientation.

My initial reaction was that you couldn't have met very many bisexuals; my secondary reaction is that you must not be bi and they know it. You could put this into perspective by writing it as "almost all the other hispanic women I've met seemed in some sense almost apologetic about their gender and ethnicity" - it's has to do with being a minority, especially one hidden among a larger minority. There's a lot of cruel behavior and beliefs I've found expressed via mono-sexuals, gay and straight.

I've only noticed I'm apologetic about it when I begin to feel like I've made a goof exposing it because now I'm going to catch hell for all kinds of ridiculous notions held about bisexuals, or I'm going to have to cope with accusations of promiscuity and cheating, or I'm going to have to fend off way too many attempts to hook me up with the only other bi known to my audience or discover a polite* means of avoiding an on-the-spot offered three-some. I've noticed most people only become seemingly apologetic about an aspect of themselves when they are made to feel like there is something WRONG with that aspect.

*Not because this situation requires politeness, but because I feel more comfortable being polite.
posted by _paegan_ at 9:33 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


lodurr:When you're trying to make someone else look small, it's best to do it in a way that doesn't leave you looking still smaller.

Who am I trying to make 'look small'? Why personalize this? It's such a typical liberal ploy -when you can't convince another to come round to your political views, act as if their adherence to their own values is done out of some sort of personal animosity, rather than genuine conviction. I'm sorry if your feelings have been hurt, but all I want is to be allowed to read the kind of literature I enjoy, without political activists attempting to dictate right and wrong to me. I am an adult, and sufficiently morally sophisticated to know right from wrong, real life from fantasy.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 6:11 AM on January 6, 2010


crossoverman: my point was that this piece seems to suggest that gay couples either cannot or at least shouldn't act differently from straight couples in any way. It seems like a bit of an extremist position to take.
posted by tehloki at 10:48 PM on January 9, 2010


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