Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Making a main character gay

My brother-in-law visited us Saturday evening. While we were chatting, he mentioned that the local lesbian bar would be an awesome place to launch Harvest Moon, my upcoming novelette, because it has a bisexual character in it. I said that it’s an e-book so, sadly, no traditional book launch for me.

However, his comment got me thinking. I’ve wanted to write a lesbian main character for a while. Not to preach, but to have her sexuality as just another part of her and not the defining factor. There aren’t a lot of non-erotica gay main characters out there and lesser still ones that aren’t about being gay or coming out.

I think we still struggle as a society to move past thinking about the “sex” part of homosexuality. When someone says that they are getting married or starting dating someone, generally our minds don’t flash to the sex part (generally; there are always exceptions). When someone says that they are gay or in a same-sex relationship, sex comes up in the conversation a lot faster. I confess that even mine sometimes still does, though I can’t explain why it happens.

I don’t know why our society struggles to see gays and lesbians as everyday people doing mundane things, like putting on their socks and getting bad gas after eating fried chicken. I’ve decided not to wait to write a book with a lesbian lead. I’ve made my lead of my science fiction story, Road to Hell, a lesbian estranged from her wife. The lesbianism is about as important to the progression of the story as the fact that her hair is brown. And that’s on purpose. If I want the world to stop making a fuss about sexual orientation, I decided that I first should look at myself.

And lesbian or straight, she’s still made of steel. Just how I like all my female leads.


To learn more about Krista, visit her website at www.kristadball.com


Arlene said...

You come up with some interesting thoughts, Krista. Maybe in genres other than romance, the reason there isn’t a lot of MC that are gay is the fact the reader doesn’t know or care sexual orientation because it’s not the issues the plot revolves around.
I love a flawed lead, male or female, that redeems themselves in any genre. It’s a great hook though, to start with a woman kissing her partner bye then going off to save the world without any more to do about whether she likes to drive stick or not.

Cate Masters said...

Lesbians have to be heroines every day to fight against the stereotypes imposed on them, and the poor treatment by most. Great idea.

Dawn Embers said...

I agree with you completely. Most of my novels involve gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender main characters. I still have the occasional coming out aspect because right now it's a common part of our lives. But for most of them, it's just a part of who they are. Sometimes I wonder if it will hinder the publication process a bit but I'm going to still write them no matter what.

The big difference is in things like their love interest. The sci-fi/fantasy novel I just finished, the main character is a male and part of the climax is going to save his boyfriend who was taken by the villain.

I would definitely read a book about a lesbian that doesn't focus on sex. And I'm all for strong female main characters.

rebecca said...

Wonderful post. Great thoughts. and Bravo on your new lead! I'm with you!!

Lisa Lane said...

Congrats on your new release.

I agree that creating characters with different sexual orientations is a good thing. By treating it as any other normal attribute, you can empower a great many people.

I have a bisexual character in my erotic sci-fi romance series, and one of the last things she defines herself by is her sexual orientation.


Krista D. Ball said...

I teased my brother in law that he just wants to have a family member to be black sheeped so that he wouldn't be alone in the corner ;)

I'm curious to see the reaction to her. Some people still struggle with having women in strong leads in speculative fiction. It might be too much for them to read a strong, lesbian woman :) There might be brain-explosions.

Cheryl said...

You're funny, Krista. Chris Hoare has a strong female lead in his Iskander series, which is spec fic. I'm going to be reading the latest release in that one soon.

What Arlene said, "Maybe in genres other than romance, the reason there isn’t a lot of MC that are gay is the fact the reader doesn’t know or care sexual orientation because it’s not the issues the plot revolves around." seems very plausible. I don't tend to think much about the sexual orientation of my characters unless there is a romance involved.

Good luck with this new story idea.