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Jeff Baker, Boogieman in Lavender; “For Identification Purposes.”

Jeff BakerHere’s the big question in writing LGBT fiction; what makes a story “gay?”

Gay characters? Gay themes? And how does an author identify a character as gay? This has, I realize, been talked about before.

Two obvious ways are number one, the “coming out” story, which as a literary device has been done to death and is somewhat out of fashion right now. Number two; simply have your main character make out/hop in the sack with a same sex character. This sometimes takes the whole thing into the realm of erotica, something I don’t write very well at all.

Then there is the more subtle method of identifying a character’s orientation; having your character show an attraction to someone of the same gender. (I was too subtle in one of my stories—the editor actually thought I was being homophobic when my main character had to kiss another guy at the end of the story!)

Having a character be part of a happily ensconced (or actually married) couple takes care of establishing the characters LGBT identities.

In a series I’m writing the stories start off in a gay bar even though the stories may have nothing to do with the character’s being gay. The stories just happen to people who, well, just happen to be in the LGBT spectrum. In a M/M or F/F romance, usually the character’s identity is obvious (or should be!) but in the standard sci-fi/fantasy story that might have appeared in the old “Unknown” magazine or in “Asimov’s,” where the character’s sexual identity is not the crux of the story if the character is gay does this make it an LGBT-themed story?

To my mind, yes. The people are the ones the story happens to, even if the story doesn’t involve aliens incognito at the Stonewall riot.

Of course, one “in-your-face” way of identifying your story as LGBT is to put it right out there in the title. In my files, I have a synopsis for a story called “Gay Love Zombies on the Moon.”


Jeff Baker blogs about reading and writing sci-fi and horror and other sundry matters around the thirteenth of each month. He has been published in QueerSF’s “Flight,” and SciFan Magazine, among other places, as well as posting a weekly story at He lives in Wichita, Kansas with his husband Darryl and wastes time on Facebook as Jeff Baker, Author.


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