Do you want to write queer characters into your tv show, movie, novel, comic, or other piece of creative media? Are you worried about it feeling forced or like “token diversity”? Do you just want to write good characters and have any diversity happen naturally in the course of writing or casting or what have you? Are you very certain that diversity will just happen and that you will create queer (and other diverse) characters in your fictive world, just when it happens naturally?
If so, I have a bridge to sell you. I also do have advice (oh do I ever have advice, so you may want to get a snack and a drink and a comfy place to sit and read because this is not going to be a short post), but let me make it clear in case my article title and the above paragraph haven’t –
Even if you are totally, 100% genuine and earnest in your desire and intent to include or introduce queer characters into a piece of fiction you are involved with and not just trying to fob us off with excuses and smokescreens so we will (and/or so our good-intentioned non-queer fellow fans will) keep reading, watching, and otherwise consuming … that inclusion is NOT just going to happen on its own. Spoilers for everything else I’m going to say, but it’s not. And we know it or we learn it, because you’re not the first person with good intentions (or, again, blowing smoke to cover a lack of intentions) who ends up not including us at all, or who throws us one tiny trampled bone after the fact.
Speaking of tiny trampled bones after the fact, first up in this discussion is, you guessed it, Dumbledore. And Stargate Atlantis. And the general idea, through those illustrative examples, that you are doing some great favour by offering fans one (and, yes, part of it is that it tends to be just one) queer character after the fact, when all is said and done and printed on the page or out on the screen and in DVDs. If you even get that far and don’t just coyly hold back even that one character for going on seven years after your show ended and there is no chance of any extensions to the story being created.
There are a lot of interrelated ideas packed in there (including the problems with creating entire worlds where no queer people exist at all and in making your diverse character, emphasis on the singular, adjacent to the main cast), so click on the link to take you to a new window in your web browser and read “Dumbledon’t: When Inclusion Happens After the Fact (or not at all).”
Next up is that delightful phenomenon where queer people seem to dissolve in water or evaporate or turn into motes of dust dancing in the sun when certain occupations, situations, fields, media genres, and so on and so forth appear in the narrative someone is crafting (or when people are discussing those narratives and whether there could have been inclusion or not). Aka, intergalactic travel, space vampires, and an ancient lost city actually being an advanced spaceship/city are believable, but not a queer person having been in the US military (not even under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell because we don’t even know that exists in this version of the world). Or being interested in people of multiple genders. Or not being obviously clearly queer due to Special Signs of Queerness.
While I try to figure out what kind of relationship I’m supposed to have to painting, since it is a Sign of the Queer (I wish I was joking, but I’m not), click through the link and read “Kate Kane, Puddlejumper Pilot: AKA You Can’t Write Queer Characters In That!”
Relating to what kinds of narratives queer characters do or do not get to participate in, prepare for a story of thrilling daring adventure, the conflicts of honour, duty, and love, and triumph over both despair and dire enemies, and peace and love after long struggle. All this and more can belong to the queer characters you create if you’ll just actually create them! Don’t get caught up in a mental block where you can only think of queer characters having Great Queer Pain and Tragic Queer Fates! Ride now, ride now! Ride for – I mean, click now and read Eowyn, Eomund’s Daughter.
And that’s the show, folks. I hope you have enjoyed and learned and that you actually take what I have said to heart. And don’t stop there either. Thank you and goodnight (or good day, if that is what’s true at the time you read this), and if you can and want to, I would love a tip in the jar so I can keep on existing and can keep on writing this type of involved, long-form, free content.