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For Writers: Creating Homophobic Characters

cartoon_homophobia

Today’s writer topic comes from QSFer Janet Gershen-Siegel:

Creating believable homophobic characters, the kinds that aren’t just one-note villains.

It’s a good question. Any time we create villains, it’s easy to make them all bad, a dark vs. light thing where the evildoer must be vanquished. I have to admit, I am especially guilty of this when the villain is homophobic. As a gay man, I don’t WANT to see anything redeeming in such people.

And yet… we are all complicated creatures. I just read the story of a woman who used to head an ex-Gay organization, who now officiates at same sex weddings. People change. And even those who don’t can have complex motives for their actions, evil or otherwise.

So our questions today – have you ever written homophobic characters in your stories? If so, were they one note characters, or more complex? How did you get inside their head? And did you think the character was successful?

Come join the chat

2 thoughts on “For Writers: Creating Homophobic Characters”

  1. I think it is all too easy to fall into this trap. Even with my own Angels of Mercy series, which deals with this very subject (the protag is severely beaten by the “villain” of the story at the climax of book 1 in the series), but I have a clear mind that the Beau Hopkins character has flaws that extend well beyond what my protag faces, and that it has to come from a certain truth for that character. While it all doesn’t make it to the page (because the story really isn’t about the homophobe insomuch as it is the catalyst for how my boys deal with the aftermath) I had to know and flesh out where Beau was coming from. It couldn’t just be malice – too one note. He had to be fully nuanced, he had to show some form of empathy for what’s important to him. Oddly enough, you don’t get that in the main series but in the back story book where my main protag’s boyfriend has a discussion about relationships and women in general that is quite revealing on where Beau is coming from. But that was written for a backstory novel and not he main arc of Angels proper. I also had to be careful because Beau is a black Baptist minister’s son. The proverbial bad boy preacher’s son. But in that there’s oppression woven into what Beau’s home life is like. He’s an angry teen who is trying to make sense of his world, as they all are in my stories. I am all about playing with perceptions. They inform (and, more often than not, misinform) our lives and make us do ridiculous things and yet very precious is ever written directly about them.

    Excellent post, Scott. Very worthy of a dialog on this. We should round up some authors and debate this on the show, sticking to villains and antagonists and their truthiness about them.

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