100% Organic Natural Free-range Grassfed Queers, a Writing Guide

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.

Can you tell I'm going to talk about Dumbledore? Can you? And, yes, I know this is movie Gandalf not movie Dumbledore.

A wizard is never late, neither is he early, and neither is he revealed to be gay until the entire seven novel series and five out of eight film adaptations are released. And the wizard himself is dead.

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Éowyn, Eomund’s Daughter

     When they had all drunk, the king went down the hall to the doors. There the guards awaited him, and heralds stood, and all the lords and chiefs were gathered together that remained in Edoras or dwelt nearby.

‘Behold! I go forth, and it seems like to be my last riding,’ said Théoden. ‘I have no child. Théodred my son is slain. I name Éomer my sister-son to be my heir. If neither of us return, then choose a new lord as you will. But to some one I must now entrust my people that I leave behind, to rule them in my place. Which of you will stay?’

No man spoke.

‘Is there none whom you would name? In whom do my people trust?’

‘In the House of Eorl,’ answered Háma.

‘But Éomer I cannot spare, nor would he stay,’ said the king; ‘and he is the last of that House.’

‘I said not Éomer,’ answered Háma. ‘And he is not the last. There is Éowyn, daughter of Éomund, his sister. She is fearless and high-hearted. All love her. Let her be as lord to the Eorlingas, while we are gone.’

‘It shall be so,’ said Théoden. ‘Let the heralds announce to the folk that the Lady Éowyn shall lead them!’

Then the king sat upon a seat before his doors, and Éowyn knelt before him and received from him a sword and a fair corslet. ‘Farewell sister-daughter!’ he said. ‘Dark is the hour, yet maybe we shall return to the Golden Hall. But in Dunharrow the people may long defend themselves, and if the battle go ill, thither will come all who escape.’

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Kate Kane, Puddlejumper Pilot: AKA, You Can’t Write Queer Characters In That!

What does a queer person look like? How do we act? Do we all have laser eyes and love our mothers and listen to musicals while knitting? Do we weep while clutching skulls and enacting a gay version of the death of Hamlet? How do you, questioning, questing writer or other creator (or approver) of fictional media, actually end up including queer characters and how do you shape them so that they feel “real” to you and so that the queer people wanting representation do not fall upon you like a flock of laser-eyed, mother-loving, knitting-needle-clutching vampires of vengeance?

If I can manage to stop laughing and find a “read more” image, I will try to give you a place to start, because, oh gentle content creator with good, pure, genuine intent, I know you are tripping on, getting tangled in, and even, all unbeknownst to you, drowning in swamps full of mental blockades you may not even be aware are there.

Seriously. The comic this is from is really really queer. Maximum queers per inch of ship footage and all that. Also I just really love this panel.

And unlike the name for this ship full of queers, you are not really going to get answers writ large for you in the sky.

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Dumbledon’t: When Inclusion Happens After the Fact (or not at all)

Dumbledore? What does Dumbledore have to do writing (or not writing) queer characters into fictional worlds? Isn’t Dumbledore canonically gay? Why don’t you look particularly happy? Are you …. cry-laughing into your drink? Should you really be writing as an imaginary person you are talking to?

Those are all excellent questions (and not just because I came up with all of them) and short answer is, besides telling you all to head below the “read more” cut, that Dumbledore is a familiar, well-known, and thus easy to use example who also encapsulates a lot of the problems with leaving queer existence to after-the-fact author confirmation and the imaginations and creative outputs of fandom.

Seriously. I am not over people latching on to the fact that a character paints as a sign that that character is the queer one that the show heads and writers thought of as queer but never wrote as queer and still will not actually name.

Considering how relevant the things people latch on as Signs of Queerness are to actually being queer, I think I’m justified in throwing in some Rankin-Bass dwarves in bags here as the “read more” image.

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