I’m writing a book about LGBTQA+, a cast 90% of the characters are also POC. The thing is..I hate reading books about how hard gay kids hav it. I want a book about queer kids, LIKE ME, doing regular adventure novel things. Just like the millions of straight white males in fantasy, but with gay people and POC. I don’t want to write racism or homophobia. It stresses me out too much and I just want the kids in my book to be treated normally. Would that be bad? Do I HAVE to write about oppression?
It’s alright to not write about racism and homophobia in a fantasy setting as long as it makes sense within the setting. You’ll have to build your world so these types of oppression don’t exist.
Stories about queer people shouldn’t all be about how horrible it is to be queer. I definitely agree with that. Not every book about queer people or POC or QPOC needs to center on our struggles. It’s awesome to find yourself in stories where you can be the hero and your identity ISNT a detriment or a problem to be solved.
I think writing a safe space in your books for QPOC is awesome. Not because you want to ignore the reality QPOC face but because you want to make a place where they can be themselves without worrying about “Is this gonna be a book where I feel triggered or sad about my identity?“
FWIW, it doesn’t even have to be that often, like micro-aggressions every now and then. But I do remember a story that had Chinese people living in the American South in the 1920s and I was like, ‘these people are basically white folks with Chinese faces.’ –Jess
The internet is full of LGBTQ+ folks begging for representation in which we’re not doomed to tragedy. There are entire literary magazines (like readvitality) that were created expressly for the purpose of publishing stories where queer characters get to participate in non-oppression-centered plots. Of course it’s okay.
The prevalence of the tragedy narrative in anything with queer characters really hurt me as a child. It’s a little telling that the first questions out of my mouth when someone, especially a straight person, recommends queer lit/movies to me is "does it end happily? Does it contain homophobic violence?” And Black people have said time and time again, “Why do we always have to be slaves?” (Not to mention Jewish readers wanting to read something about themselves that isn’t Holocaust lit!)
In fact, in my own books, I’ve created Jewish characters who get to live a life completely free of anti-semitism (because they live in a fairy-tale world) and it gives me and my readers a safe place to get away from things like the fact that Tumblr’s Jewish community has recently been beset by neo-nazi trolls sending graphic pictures of dead bodies to people’s inboxes.
However, the reason Writing With Color often delves into the subject of oppression is not because every story about marginalized people has to center on oppression. It’s because in order to write diverse characters convincingly and fairly, the writer has to understand what it’s like to be in the group. It’s also because much of fiction is oppressive, by perpetuating harmful tropes that teach people on the outside lies about people in the group–lies that affect how they treat those people in real life–and make people in the group feel shitty when they consume the media themselves. Our goal is to help people unpeel those oppressive tropes from their writing.
In other words, you don’t have to write about oppression, but you should be making an effort to make sure your writing itself isn't oppressive. You can’t ignore what a people has endured and what they’ve been through when writing about them, because authenticity and respect may mean alluding to oppression in some way, even if only for a moment.
Micro-aggressions can be a useful way to add authenticity to your marginalized characters’ experiences without having to focus your whole plot on oppression. For example, my bi lady Aviva never faces any homophobia or biphobia throughout the entire book A Harvest of Ripe Figs, but there’s a paragraph where she’s reading a book while waiting for her partner to come home and she’s a little bit cross that all she can ever find is straight romance to read, never any same-sex romance. To me, that’s enough to make bi and gay readers go “…yeah! That’s like my life” without ruining the rest of our day.
I am a broken brown boy bound together with Ace bandages: I am the confusion of my lopsided face in the mirror as I tug one eye closed: Why are my eyes so crooked? Why is my jaw so round? My chest is flat in my favorite picture. I fold my arms across my stomach and turn my cheek, so no one can tell the difference between me and my
father says I am his first daughter, but I know I am his second son. So my only inheritance is his thick lips and anger outbreaks, and as I write this my right hand types slower, three knuckles splintered apart and scabbing from where I buried them in the wall.
My story does not end in testosterone. My story does not end in phalloplasty. My story does not end with my fingers stitching golden half-moons across my chest. No: My story chugs on in sports bras and muscle shirts, and in Jersey dresses and curly weaves, because if I could just be pretty enough, yes, if I just looked like all of the girls I wanted to sleep with, instead of like their boyfriends…
The last time I slept with a girl, she called me Daddy. I was Champange Papi for breakfast and Sugar for dinner, but I know she never felt full. My muscles did not look like her father’s muscles. I spent my bank account on clothes for her, jewelry for her, red wine for her, and, for me, a hookah pen that filled my mouth with glass and ink. As she pulled glass out of my gums, she said I didn’t need to write anymore.
They say artists speak the truth, but I don’t have any: I can’t write the bible on masculinity or the manifesto of femininity or offer any pointed Platonian platitudes for merging the two; and although Plato pondered whether a female body could contain a male soul my tongue can’t fathom that sticky word. Soul.
I am the awkward masculinity festering at the bottom of a wine glass. One day a man will scrape me out, tie me into a white dress and call me the beautiful mother of his children. And when the Ace bandages fall like ribbons to my blistered feet, I’ll run a hand over my crooked ribs and cringe. And I’ll say to myself when I say to my girlfriends: Don’t you look so beautiful, baby girl? Don’t you just look so beautiful?
im being highlighted as a graduating student for my uni’s diversity dept (lol) and i had to do this ~interview~ thing today and my answers were like….
“im a working class first generation queer student of color and it took me forever to get here but im grateful i had the opportunity to study under so many amazing queer professors of color bc that is not an opportunity every queer student of color has–much less a student of color generally”
“i studied anthropology bc it shows us that the world doesnt have to be fucked up and that its fucked up intentionally to privilege particular groups of ppl and oppress others. looking at how various societies, modernly and historically, are structured can give us insights into how to combat and even dismantle these systems”
“the university is a hostile space for queer students, students of color, disabled students, fat students, trans students, and esp those living at multiple intersections of these so pls take care of eachother when u find others”