How to write good gay characters
Question: One of my supporting male characters is revealed to be gay more near the end of my story. Him being gay is an essential part of his motives for a lot of the story. Do you have any tips for making gay characters more real, natural, etc?
On the one hand, I feel rather underqualified to answer this question -- not being a great reader of gay literature. (Perhaps other readers would like to weigh in?)
However, the one suggestion I would give is that you think of the character as a unique person who happens to be gay, rather than a gay man. That will help you avoid stereotypes and focus on giving him an authentic personality.
To some extent, putting yourself into the shoes of this character is no different than putting yourself into the shoes of any other character. You can think of a character's traits and drives as the "given circumstances" of their situation. Imagine yourself as the character and follow your instincts as to how he will think, feel, and behave.
Of course, it helps if you know some gay men and have some familiarity with the issues and concerns they may share. You can use this information to build the character's "given circumstances." You might also look at articles written by gay men about their experiences coming of age and living in the world.