Global Guest Blogging at its Best

The Role of Strong LGBTQPA Characters in Urban Fantasy

In Guest Blogger, LGBTQPA on July 15, 2012 at 12:01 am

I am pleased to welcome this week’s Guest Blogger, Hannah Clark, aka author A.G.Bellamy. Hannah offers up a very different sort of piece discussing the lack of exploration of gender identities in teen fictional characters.

I was sixteen when I realised that, for half of the film, Mulan had managed to convince General Li Shang that he was gay. “Mulan” is one of my favourite Disney films, one of a collection now known as “old Disney.” The title character must dress in drag in order to fight in the army, and by the end of the film comes to win the respect of the entire army based on her ability to combine both femininity and masculinity in order to defeat the Huns.

The role of LGBT characters has been an important factor for me in most of my reading and writing endeavours. Hannah Clark - Guest Blogger on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche"I always wondered why most teen romances were about “boy meets girl” rather than “boy meets boy” or “girl meets girl.” It then occurred that in most storylines, the gay characters are just there to be the sassy gay guy-friend or the tough lesbian gal-pal. In Michael Grant’s Gone series, the character Dekka outs herself as a lesbian and is shown to develop around this part of her identity, although it is not often mentioned. Dekka is a strong character who keeps to herself, much like most of the non-lesbians I know in real life. Then again, I hang around with fairly nerdy/sporty crowd. Being panromantic myself, I break my back trying to find stories which include strong LGBTQPA characters like Dekka which aren’t classed as ‘gaylit’ or ‘homoromance.’ I find it shameful that the Western world concentrates so much on the idea of “the hero/heroine must find love with the opposite sex to be happy!” when it comes to literature. This ignores the many other gender identities in the many different cultures that inhabit this planet, and as such I believe that it is an author’s duty to explore as many identities as possible. There is a name for this duty: character development.

Runes Shalt Thou Dream” is told from the perspective of an LGBTQPA youth named Matthew. His love interest, Ryan, has had no previous experience in relationships with either gender and does not have any interest in pursuing a relationship. In the few books I have read which introduce LGBTQPA characters (only five or so, I’m counting the Gone series as one), the LGBTQPA characters have had the most interesting personalities but are left unexplored and often ignored. In fact, the only LGBTQPA character who has been explored is Dekka. In “Runes Shalt Thou Dream” Matthew is explored in a psychological sense – his dreams slowly become reality and he struggles to find the line between them. The fact that he is gay is rarely if ever mentioned. Being a child born into the Norse faith, Ásatrú, Matthew has no religious obligation to feel ashamed about his homosexuality – the Vikings, in fact, celebrated homosexual sex as it was a display of dominance over the weaker men. Ásatrú has no literature condemning particular identities to an eternal doom, so all Matthew has to worry about is his father’s personal reaction to the news.

The continuing debate on marriage equality would be greatly helped by the inclusion and exploration of LGBTQPA characters in modern teen fiction; exploration is the best friend of the author, and if the author can help such a worthy cause it would be a great boon to Western philosophy.

Runes Shalt Thou Dream is now available on Amazon

Runes Shalt Thou Dream - an eBook by A.G.Bellamy

  1. “the hero/heroine must find love with the opposite sex to be happy!”

    I don’t think books promote the message that the hero/heroine must find love with the opposite sex to be happy. I just think most books feature heterosexual characters.

    That means if it’s a love story then the focus of their love is therefore going to be the opposite sex. It’s not a case of gay characters being told they should suppress their homosexuality and live a heterosexual lifestyle in order to be happy. It’s just a case of most books featuring heterosexual characters who therefore are interested in the opposite sex. Although admittedly I don’t read many teen romance books, so feel free to correct me on this if there are examples of teen romance books which promote a message of suppression.

    But in the overall book market I think authors just write about what they know. For example one of my favourite authors is Stephen Fry and he features gay characters, both happy and unhappy, prominently in all of his novels. Another author I really like is John Grisham and most of the characters in his books, again both happy and unhappy, are heterosexual (or their sexuality isn’t mentioned as it often isn’t relevant to the story). But neither author is saying this is the path you have to take to to be happy. They’re just writing about what they know.

    Admittedly though, as I say I don’t read many romance novels so my comments are referring to the wider book market.

  2. I feel the same way myself, Amelia, which is why the lead characters in my Just One Bite series are lesbians. They’re two women who fell in love, raise a child together, and overcome lots of obstacles. It’s a paranormal series, so most of those obstacles are vampirism, but a lot of it is self-doubt and lack of communication. I think it’s important to write about them, not just focus on their identity. It’s about love, not the fact that it’s two women in love.

  3. I think it is important that LGBTQPA characters are included in all genres of writing as we are a part of society and it would be nice to be represented in fiction as part of the mainstream rather then on the fringe.

  4. Have you read Libby Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy? It has non-hetero female characters in it.

  5. I really admire that character development can broaden and enhance acceptance. I was surprised when a review in THE WINDY CITY TIMES wrote of my work, not a gay theme or gay author….it really made me think how a cohesive and strong LGBTQPA is helping all of us understand and accept everyone in society.
    As the mother of a teen-ager I try to emphasize that moral values are in respecting and accepting EVERYONE! Bravo for doing this through literature!

  6. Welcome to my blog, Hannah and thank you for such an interesting post 🙂

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