Over the last few months, I've been berating myself about representation of queer characters in my world. Last year, I made a list on Twitter about some of the queers that I've already introduced. Those haven't changed but I realized that I'm had not made any of those characters obvious that they were queer despite the fact they are and have been from the beginning. In a more crass view, it pretty much comes off as:
J.K. Rowling Confirms Some Characters in Her Books and Movies Are Gay Everywhere Except in the Books or the Movies — Snider D. Eric
Now, some of it is because I write unreliable narrators from a single point-of-view character. That means if someone is not presenting their queer nature, the reader won't see it either. So Kanéko wouldn't ever know that her father had been bi for a short period of his life just as Rutejìmo wouldn't ever have the opportunity to find out that Hyonèku was ace (asexual). Even Lily didn't realize that all three of her lovers were bi until it came up in the story.
A good example of me being too subtle:
Desòchu's face purpled. “Kiríshi isn't your wife!”
Gemènyo turned to Kiríshi with mock surprise on his face. “You aren't!?”
“No, I'm not.” Kiríshi rolled her eyes and smirked. Under her words, there was a hardness that Rutejìmo had never heard before.
“Want to be?”
“With your pipe?” Kiríshi made a disgusted look. “I'd rather sleep in the garbage. I still don't know how Ríhyo can stand you.”
Has another meaning if you know that Kiríshi still has sex with Gemènyo when she needs intimacy because Hyonèku has almost no desire for sex, only companionship. Their effort to keep that from the public view relates to the way she responds to Gemènyo.
I have a good idea of why my characters are private however having everyone hiding it would violate one of the reasons I'm writing Fedran which is to show a variety of different personalities and beliefs that matches my observation of our own world.
Now that I see the problem, I want to fix it. Going forward, I want to show characters more “out” than I have in the past.
Pride Month seems like a good time to do that. To push myself, I'm planning on writing four short stories over this month. They will focus on queer characters being out in the open.
If anything, it would help me break this shell of having everyone quiet about their sexuality. It will also give me a break I need from Raging Alone which my local writing group appears to despise and I've gotten very discouraged writing it. (Raging Alone is also my challenge to write a character who holds a grudge and is angry, two things I also struggle with.)
The first two stories I have planned are:
- Let His Memory Go: This is a story I talked about in 2015 about Mikáryo knowing that Rutejìmo was about to experience in Sand and Ash.
- Her First Dance: Spinning off Second-Hand Dresses, I wanted to write about a trans girl who wants to go to a Tarsan party but is scared to because everyone sees her as a boy. I mean, Lily is poly and bi on the page but she's still cis in society.
For the other two, I haven't really decided what I want to write. Ideally they would be “post” stories that establish new cultures or locations as opposed to branching from an existing novel.