Lemme get real with y’all for a minute or two.
I tend to write fantasy, personally. And I also happen to be pretty liberal, so sexual equality and the whole LGBT (what a horrible looking acronym…) community are a pretty big deal to me. Thus, I’d really like to incorporate ideas of sexual equality and gayness into my fantasy novels, when I’m confronted with an odd problem.
Most of you all probably are aware of tropes (we mentioned it briefly in our video on zombies). In fantasy, one of those cliché, good ol’ tropes - a perfect plotline archetype - is “prince saves damsel in distress.” You’ve heard it a million times; we love it as readers because it’s just so dynamic and fun. All about the perfect man who loves his lover without waiver, and must fight all that stands in his way to save his true love, so they can be happily ever after. Think about the film The Princess Bride for further detail. It’s a plotline that’s been around since the middle-ages, and we’re going to see the plotline for the rest of our lives. And I think that’s a good thing, because it never gets old. I think the fact that there are so many Legend of Zelda games is testament to that.
Naturally, as a novelist, I want to incorporate my interests - including sexual equality - into my fantasy novels, including the ones that incorporate this archetype of story structure. Here’s the problem: I need diversity in protagonists.
The damsel-in-distress type of story isn’t nailed down to man-saves-woman. Of course, any prince could save his prince, and likewise for women. But suddenly, if you make your main protagonists gay, you’re faced with an opposing difficulty: now you have lost a male/female protagonist. You rob your story of diversity while making a distinct inclusion for a different type of diversity. As much as I love sexual diversity, I also love gender diversity. I like boys and girls in my story, and I like my central characters to be diverse as well. Thus, all my working novels have featured a mixed cast, and by extension, heterosexual protagonists.
I’m torn. I want to offer homosexual protagonists or at least bisexual relationships in fantasy - there are so few gay protagonists in fantasy - yet don’t wish to destroy the dynamic that the archetype offers of boys and girls. It’s a tough call for me. We here at Writers’ Bloc try to give straight answers and thorough explanations on fiction construction, but this is one of the places where we honestly have to shrug our shoulders. There are no right answers here.
So this begs the question, what do YOU - as a writer - like to do with hetero/homo/bi characters in your story? Is it a big deal for you? Or is it something you leave completely absent?