Queer Representation: Why Straight People Should Write LGBT Protagonists

To consider certain qualities like sexuality in a protagonist as being off limits just because you’re not in the community is a restrictive mindset but a very real reality for some creators. For instance, Toshimichi Mori, a video game creator, is just one example of someone who nearly placed a gay couple at the forefront of their work but changed their mind at the last second out of fear of backlash.

Allison Burnett is another example of this, but one where he wrote a gay protagonist, anyway: as a straight man, he was afraid to let anyone know about his heterosexuality out of fear of criticism because of his novel Christopher about a gay man. "Burnett’s editor was under the impression that he was working with an important, new gay writer from the get-go. Burnett was advised by his agency not to correct him. For the better part of a year, Burnett ‘hid in the straight closet’ and let audiences invent their own image of him in their minds." ((link) This hesitance is unfortunate in the sense that it promotes gatekeeping. You don’t need to be a part of a minority to spread awareness about it or represent it in a story.

As long as the straight writer is self-aware and respectful, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to write LGBT characters. Rainbow Rowell is a perfect example of a successful woman who’s written about gay men while also being married to a man.

  • Thank you all for the helpful feedback-- looking back, I wish I put more thought into it from the get-go but merely saw submitting a topic as a stepping stone to publishing my own article so I didn't think much of it. I changed the topic to be broader and written in the third person and with a stronger positon. – emmywrites98 2 years ago
  • Focusing on intersections creates layers within literature and hence boosts the story narrative. – Koshyamal 2 years ago
  • I think there is something else important to look at here. LGBTQ+ authors have only recently gained popularity for the sake of being LGBTQ+ and writing those stories. We are only just now beginning to be accepted. This means that not all publishing companies will be very willing to publish numerous LGBTQ+ stories. Once they've checked their diversity box, they don't need to do any more. So, as a result, if straight/cis authors write stories about an experience they do not understand, their stories could be pushed to the forefront while gay/trans writers, who do have a better ability to tell their story, will be left behind (once that box is filled). Write whatever you want- no one can stop you. Personally, though, as a queer woman, I don't want to read a story about a queer woman written by a straight person. It just won't resonate the right way. – emmalarking 2 years ago

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