Personal · Personal Writing

Queer Creators and Creative Decisions

This is a mostly personal blog; I write about my life, my opinions, my experiences.  I sometimes use sweeping, expansive language – “you” and “we” – but in the end, I really only speak for myself.

I’m not the sole representative of my identities.  I can’t speak for.  

But I can speak as.

So I say this as a queer creator: stop calling queer creators “homophobic” for not creating or canonizing a queer relationship.

A lot of this comes down to nuance: I fully believe that media is something to be critiqued and analyzed.  And if a queer creator puts forth a particularly unflattering depiction of an LGBT character, then that is perfectly acceptable fodder for discussion and critique (is he well-rounded but unlikable?  Is he a villian whose “depravity” is accentuated by a “deviant” sexuality?  Is he a generally likable but “camp” and stereotypical gay character? How do such portrayals affect mainstream perception of queer lifestyles?  Can an unlikable but realistic queer character be a humanizing and positive thing?  All things worthy of analysis and criticism).

Also, if a queer creator has NEVER had a queer character or relationship represented in their work, that is also worthy of discussion – why might that be?  Internalized homophobia is a real thing, and heteronormativity is pervasive in our culture, which does impact and influence what even queer creators put forth.  Those influences and circumstances are likewise worth talking about, analyzing, and critiquing.

But here, I’m speaking of critiques of social trends, individual decisions, particular portrayals.  To lay a blanket statement over a person, and to affix them a label as hefty as “homophobe” – especially a queer person – based on a creative decision is invalidating an disrespectful to them, both as a queer person and as a creator.

I write a lot of queer characters.  Like, a lot of queer characters.  My first stories written with any dedication were transformative fiction based on the musical/book Les Miserables, and they played with the idea of Grantaire and Enjolras as gay characters.  Since then, most of my poetry is written in a queer voice, and about half of my prose fiction (more in the most recent years) have protagonists who are queer or trans.

But that does not mean I owe my readers solely queer characters into perpetuity.  That does not mean if a character comes to me, as they sometimes do, more or less fully concieved, that I am going to shoehorn in an LGBTQ identity solely in the name of representation.  Sometimes I will write a story, and the main character will be a cishet woman who falls in love with a cishet man.  This does not diminish my identity as a bisexual genderqueer person.  This does not devalue my previous contribution to queer literature (…in so much as any of my doggrel can be construed as “literature”).

Be critical of creative choices, that’s fine.  Be analytical regarding media portrayals of your identities, of how heteronormative culture affects the media we consume (and how the media we then consume feeds back into heteronormative culture).  Question why creators make the choices they make.  Even call the choices offensive, if they strike you that way.

But the choice of an LGBT author to not to include an LGBT character or relationship in a particular work is not by itself an act of homophobia, it is a creative choice.  We are entitled to those.  And you are entitled to be critical of them, of course.

But be careful when leveling accusations of homophobia at other queer creators.  That is not a critique of our work, that is a accusation leveled against our ethos and our identity, and that’s not a weight we carry lightly.

NB:  A queer person can certainly portray a queer identity poorly, especially one they do not share.  I have heard some nasty things from gay men abput lesbians, about bi folk from monosexual queer folk, about trans people from cis queer people, etc.  It’s not that queer folks can’t make choices that are, in some way, divisive or anti-queer.  Just that  the act of writing about not queer people isn’t itself “anti-queer.”

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One thought on “Queer Creators and Creative Decisions

  1. Somehow, in a lot of these things the **fact** of knowing the villain’s sexuality at all seems to diminish the crisis. The idea that you have the time and energy to say, “Here’s this person… they’re stockpiling nuclear weapons, they just massacred an Amish village, they’ve got sharks with frickin’ lasers on their heads… and by the way, they’re dating a really nice pastry chef…” just seems like a lack of priorities.

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