Monday, February 2, 2015

Writing Gay Men of Color

Unfortunately the media is filled with stereotypes. How people perceive men of any color is a guy lacking emotion, rough, most of the time an alpha with a bad attitude. Then there’s the gay man who is sometimes portrayed as overly girly, weak, and more often than not, a sex addict. In the early 2000’s we were blessed with Queer as Folk, showing beautiful gay men of all types, embracing their sexuality, dealing with the same issues as straight couples trying to survive in the modern era. As brilliant as QAF was, it was missing a key element. In my opinion, a gay man of color who was also a main character would’ve added something to the show.

Some time later, Noah’s Arc came along and I believed it only lasted two seasons. From the couple of episodes I did see, it portrayed gay men of color in a positive light. Seemingly, this series might not have been interesting enough to keep running so it disappeared without a trace.

What about in fiction? These days we have a wealth of colorful gay characters in many books. The question is how do we write them? Do we draw on the stereotypes? Black and or Hispanic men who are angry and always intense; Asian men who seem timid and weak. Those are just a couple of examples. Do we need to add this to our books for them to seem real? In my estimation we don’t. I often wondered why authors, whether it be books, TV, and or movies can’t make a character, especially a gay male character of color, who doesn’t fit that mold. Sure, you can add to the setting to make it more “real”; a young black man from a poorer neighborhood. Perhaps his family hates that he’s gay and his friends don’t accept him. Yes that’s all the reality I need and let me say, not every black man comes from a background like that. But with his attitude? Must he be overly angry at the world and seething all the time? Well hell, he could be a goth boy. That would make BL happy. *grins* Or could he be an intelligent scholar, from a not so poor neighborhood. Perhaps he was the rich one and his white counterpart the middle class working man. My favorite with that kind of background was Bonnie Dee’s Undeniable Magnetism which I enjoyed thoroughly.

What’s my point here? When I write a gay man of color, I try to avoid the stereotypes unless it is a central part of the plot. I feel people should be written as people, without pulling from the so called mold.

Regardless of race or nationality or orientation, we’re all human with unique traits and attitudes that make us stand out from others. Characters should be treated in the same fashion.

* * * *

This was a repost to celebrate diversity during Black History month! Something About Jayden features one of my favorite black characters, Isaac Bridges!

You can never tell a book by its cover!

On the surface, Isaac Bridges has it all; wealth, a beautiful wife, and a successful career. But deep down, he desires Denton & Associates back under his family’s name and a male lover he can call his own.

Enter Jayden Demario, a handsome college student looking to make a career in advertising. Underneath the pretty exterior, Jayden is a very damaged young man. Thrown out on the streets by his stepfather at 15, Jayden’s only concern is to make something of himself to move his “madre” from the tough neighborhood.

Jayden has no time for love, especially not with a closeted married man who runs the company he interns at and Isaac can ill afford to out himself to the homophobic CEO at Denton.
Will the sparks between the two men cost them their livelihood?

This books Is free on Kindle just for today!

Read two chapters on Wattpad


Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Rawiya! People are people -three dimensional. Stereotypes are simply a bully's way of downing others so the bully can feel important.

Hopefully, we'll move on from that some day.

Congrats on your release - I LOVE the cover. :)

jean hart stewart said...

We've made some advances in my lifetime, but wow, do we have a way to go. Thanks for the offer for today...who can refuse that?

Kayelle Allen said...

Was happy to see this title in my stream today. I have a previous book about to come back out again that features a gay man of color. Always a welcome sight to see diverse books with characters in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Even alien ones! :)

Michelle Roth said...

I really enjoyed this post. I agree. People are vividly different and it sells both the story and reader short when we play into general stereotypes.

As writers, we should be developing our characters way beyond that. I don't mind reading a book where a certain type of person falls into stereotypical behavior as long as I understand why. If I don't get an explanation, typically I'll just assume that the writer was lazy.

That's just me though.