How to write good gay characters

by Uchiha

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?

Answer: 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.

Comments for How to write good gay characters

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Jan 22, 2015
Re: How To Write Good Gay Characters
by: Todd Rogers

Hey there!

Being a gay man myself, I asked a similar question about sex as germane to a story arc or plot point, and I got a very good response from Glen.

I am glad that he deferred a portion of his answer to more "qualified" readers who might have something to offer in answer to your question.

In my story, which is a sci-fi epic spanning 3 generations, the main character is gay.

While I am writing a story taking place in a rather idealized version of today's society, I think your challenge to make your gay character real and convincing is going to need to be centered around what YOU perceive as normal human interaction within the universe that your story takes place.

In other words, depending on the genre, general plot of the story you're writing, you need to ask several questions, and then write the gay character believably based upon the laws, physics and reality of your story's universe.

In the real world, gays are portrayed as more a normal part of society now more than ever before.

In the past, gays were often the first or most gruesomely killed in the horror genre, or bulled and beaten up in high school or military stories, or seen as stereotypically feminine and campy (almost drag queenish) with quick one line zingers and witty retorts that gays are pretty well known for.

You need to set realistic boundaries and then write within those boundaries.

That being said, I think the core advice I want to impart to you can be summated thusly:

Don't be afraid to make your character anti-stereotype or normal as any straight person.

Just make sure that you portray the actions, decisions and "true color" motivations of your gay character as equally as you'd portray a straight character, unless the character's homosexuality is MEANT to be painted as being in opposition to the main character of your story, in which case, write to the differences between them.

Much luck and success to you!!!

Jan 22, 2015
by: Uchiha

Thank you for the advice :)

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