Hi all! Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, and a whole bunch of us are celebrating with the rainbow umbrella because it includes all of us in the rainbow community. Not just the G, L, B and T. Originally, I was going to write about bi-phobia, since that affects me directly, but the umbrella image changed my mind.
This is about writing what you are not.
I've been involved in and listened to a lot of conversations in writers' groups lately where writers are afraid to write parts of the rainbow they feel they don't "know." Backlash from parts of the community lately fuel this, of course. A fear that the writer will get it wrong, and in the best intended scenarios, a fear that the writer will hurt someone with their ill-conceived words.
I get that. Writers want to write the stories living in their heads, but they don't set out, in the vast majority of cases, to cause harm. Harm can come from a lack of information, or bad information, or making assumptions about a group of people. This is all true. From these fears comes the fear of writing the "other," writing a character who is not like the author. It can be daunting. It can make writers afraid.
There's a big however here. Most people writing queer romance these days are women. Most of the women writing are not gay men. Yet they don't hesitate in that case to write about a group of people that doesn't match who they are. They're already doing it. Sometimes quite well and sometimes not so well, but that's true of any genre.
But, you say, I don't know enough about trans* people. I don't understand what genderqueer means. I don't want to write a bi protagonist, since how do you do that without a threesome? I'll get it wrong! I can't do it!
So writers hesitate and do nothing. Here's the thing. We have a resurgence of all kinds of gay literature and we have so many more men now writing gay romance because women were brave and did it, and were successful doing it. It worked because people who were not gay men wrote gay romance. The volume of stories made them VISIBLE. Following me?
If only transgender people write trans stories, if only bi people write bi stories, if only ace people write asexual stories, these parts of the rainbow don't receive the visibility they need. These readers don't get the stories they need. They don't get the chance for people to understand, to clear up the myths and misconceptions through narrative. They don't get the chance to see themselves represented in their stories.
So, how do you do this without fear?
(I do have a present for one lucky comment-leaver - a copy of Kellen's Awakening (epub or pdf) So tell me what you think. :) )
Make sure to visit all the lovely folks participating in the hop this week!
Hop for Visibility and Equality Blogs!
Angel writes (mostly) Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head, she has one husband, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.