Gaying The Story Up; or “Keep It Light, Keep It Bright, Keep It Gay.” by Jeff Baker
I’ve done it. At least I’ve tried it. Taking a story I’ve written and making it appealing to an LGBT market by inserting a gay theme or character or making a character gay. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
There was a riff on the superhero genre I wrote about ten years ago. Couldn’t sell it, and then I saw a market for an LGBT-themed anthology. So, I tweaked the story a little, made one of the characters in the very small cast gay and happily ensconced with a boyfriend/partner. And I felt a little guilty about it at first, but then I remembered an article I’d read years before about writing for theme anthologies and how occasionally a writer has to change an existing story for another market by (for example) adding a cat to a mystery story and making the cat integral to the plot. That may not be the same as suddenly giving a character a boyfriend and while we are dealing with imaginary characters, nonetheless I felt a little like I was co-opting the image of a minority group even though it happens to be a minority group to which I happen to belong. Yes, I felt a little guilty!
But changing a story or its characters either to fit a market or because it doesn’t “feel” right is nothing new for a writer. There was another unpublished (and in fact unfinished) story of mine that I decided to aim for an LGBT market once I started writing a lot of gay-themed fiction, all it needed was for one or more of the characters to be gay or bi. The results sucked. Sucked. They did not fit the story, they did not fit the characters, they did not feel right at all, not one bit. The original version of the story is still half-written in my files. The “gayed-up” version has been mercifully deleted.
And that’s the thing about writing; sometimes characters seem to have their own lives. The writer will write them one way but sometimes they will go another. For it all to work, it must fit the story. The actions and voice must be just right. When it works, the results can be golden. When it doesn’t, the characters will let you know.
Jeff Baker blogs about writing and reading Sci-Fi and Horror and other sundry matters around the thirteenth of each month. His fiction has most recently appeared in Queer Sci Fi’s “Flight,” and “Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine” # 21. He blogs and posts fiction at http://authorjeffbaker.com and wastes time on Facebook as Jeff Baker, Author. He lives in Wichita, Kansas with his husband Darryl.