Wednesday 11 September 2013

Q&A-Negative Portrayals

Hello! Today, we're discussing negative portrayals of the queer community, ie h
ow it has been shown badly, and  how some of it isn't shown at all.

Do you think any part of the LGBTQIA gets overlooked/subject to erasure?

Suzanne: Hm... Having not read all of the LGBTQIA books available, this is impossible to answer. I'm sure there are aspects that are not as well examined as others. Perhaps it's more about a lack of balance, where most stories tend to focus on the discovery of sexuality and the coming out process, especially in teen fiction.

James: I think trans characters are very overlooked. I wonder, at this stage, if writers feel any book with trans characters would have to be ABOUT being trans. I think authors worry both about getting it right and angry internet people.

Ria: Absolutely. Asexuals and agendered people get overlooked all the time. That's been slowly changing, and work is being done to legitimize those identities, but if a positive gay role model is rare in teen fiction, then a positive asexual or agendered role model is rarer still. I can think of only 1 single asexual character in teen fiction (at least none where their asexuality isn't explained away as being due to religion or trauma), and I can't think of any agendered characters.

Alfie: Yep. Our actual thought processes, not being accepted by everyone. It generally tends to be shoved to the side in favour of ""WOO LESBIAN SECKS And while I have no problem with sex in fiction, don't use an LGBTQIA character for the pure sexual aspect of it."

Zoƫ: My personal feeling is that transgender and genderfluid/genderqueer kids are getting a bum deal right now. For some reason gender binaries seem to have become a bit of a frontier in the portrayal of non-hetero characters. People who seem perfectly fine with a mainstream portrayal of gay and lesbian characters will get squirmy over the idea that gender in our culture is a largely artificial construct (there is no pink gene on the X-chromosome, dammit!). But I also think that bi/pansexual kids and asexual kids aren't seeing the representation they need, either. Like I said above, we still have a long way to go.

Rie: Intersex and Asexual, both seem to be completely ignored.

Sean: That depends on the whims of the editor.

Caitlin: I'd say LGBT gets a lot more coverage than the QIA side, maybe because people feel more comfortable writing about it? Maybe I just haven't been reading the right books? This is why I am very much looking forward to your event, Nina!

Megan: I think gay/lesbian/bisexual gets covered quite a lot.  Definitely more than before.  The others...  Not as much really.  That I know of, anyway.

Charlie : I cannot name a book that features an asexual character, except maybe Struck By Lightning by Chris Colfer (Carson Philips has an intellectual crush on Rachel Maddow, but is otherwise more interested in pursuing his career.)

Illjolras: Anything but gay, white, cismen or lesbian, white, cis women. Writers act like there's no such thing as bisexual, nonbinary, asexuals, pansexuals,trans*, more than one way to be lesbian etc.

Have you ever had issues with the way LGBTQIA characters (in general or in a particular book) have been presented?
Suzanne: Not really because I'm quite picky when it comes to what I read. I have been mildly annoyed by certain gay characters being presented as super emotional to the point of melodrama as this is borderline stereotyping. I'm also saddened by books where the futuristic world is shown as open and accepting, even encouraging, of same-sex couples and yet, the main character remains hetero and only ever engages in a hetero relationship despite almost every other character around her being bi or homosexual.
Me: I don’t like the fact that LGB peoples’ sexualities are, unless they’re the main character, often their defining feature.

Ria: Mostly in that books involving LGBTQIA characters often completely centre around the character's sexuality, giving the impression that that's all there really is to someone. I won't deny that seeking validation and acceptance is a big part of coming to grips with your own identity, especially when you've got bigots bellowing at you that you're wrong for being who you are. But that isn't the only thing that matters. And currently, most fiction doesn't express that well. A single issue has been focused on to the exclusion of so much else, and it does some people a disservice.

Alfie: I can't think of any specific books presently, but it's generally the points I outlined previously.

Rie: The Immortals series by Alyson Noel has one of the most stereotypical gay characters I have ever read.

Ashley: I do think there has been a lot of stereotyping, but from shows I've watched with gay characters, I think they've mostly always been presented well.


Caitlin: Not that I can think of off the top of my head no. Which, I guess, is a good thing?

Megan: "I feel sometimes guy-friends are made gay to support a plotline: like, their sexuality is just a convenient way of getting rid of a love triangle, rather than the boy feeling actually like they are real. 
Also there can be stereotypes, as mentioned earlier, and I hate this."

Charlie: Yes, I think sometimes writers have one viewpoint they are trying to put forward and they forget to look at the bigger picture. If characters are casual insulting other marginalised people in the LGBTQIA spectrum who might be reading the books, then that is counterproductive (unless their prejudices are part of the narrative intent.)

Illjolras:Yes, plenty of times. The gay best friend trope is so over used and so easily ruined.

Harriet: no, not at all.

So...a wide range of answers for the second question, a smaller one for the first. What are your opinions on these topics? 


  1. To those who say authors over look the subject:
    Authors write what they feel, and what is right for their novels, so LGBT.. may not even appear.
    PLUS, you've never read Cassandra Clare's THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series, have you???

  2. I kind of look at it similar to the controversy in television and movies over their lack of diversity. I understand the previous commenter's thoughts to a point. Authors definitely write what they know, but should they include characters from diverse backgrounds, I think they should. It offers them an opportunity to grow and educate themselves and their readers. Then, in their next book, they're writing what they know. I wish that it could be the norm, instead of the exception (i.e. The Mortal Instruments, and for full-disclosure I haven't read it, or I am J).


Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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