In One Ear…

"And we all say, I will change tomorrow."-Voice of the Beehive

Writing Minorities: How to Approach Gay Characters

This is still a part of the “Advice” series. Last time we touched on how to get the attention of the elusive female reader, and we addressed how to write and draw women. This time, I am going to approach the sensitive topic of “Homosexual Characters In Super Hero Comic Books”.

The gays are everywhere these days. Even the comic book industry and fandom. So, that is an audience to tap. The problem is, writing for Marvel and DC entails approaching Gay Characters in slightly different fashions.

Writing Gay Characters For Marvel:
1.Avoid making it obvious. Don’t let them have significant others. Unless the significant other is an alien shape shifter. This way, if angry conservative or specifically religious leaders complain, you have an out. It’s not really a “gay” relationship-one of them is an alien! See? Bullet Dodged.

2.If you decide to throw caution to the wind, ignoring # 1, and have your lead hero be gay, keep a few things in mind. Their significant other should be tragic. Give them AIDs or something. You are better off to simply never show the hero with a significant other. In fact, maybe avoid giving them any actual outlets that might show they are gay. Like dates. Your gay super hero should have a name that really tells you he is gay. And maybe make sound a little kinky (but safe for publishing). After a few issues, you are going to want to kill him or her off. Make it really horrible and gruesome. The gay audience identifies with such major tragedy. You know what drama queens they can be!

3.If you “out” an established character? Make it abrupt and flashy. Don’t have a scene where said costumed do gooder quitely comes out to a team mate in their secret base. Have them come out to a villain, in the middle of a big fight!

4.The easiest approach is to have a supporting cast member be gay. That way, you can show a diverse cast, yet not have to deal with any uncomfortable subjects regularly, plus if you have a dramtic “gay related” issue you want to address-you have a character ready and waiting.

5.Play your gay character for laughs.  Everybody finds a campy gay character endearing.  It also makes them seem less threatening.

Writing Gay Characters For DC:
1.DC is more open than Marvel. If you are working for Vertigo. But face it, we are talking about comics people actually read. For your Super Heroes, you have a wide range of Options. Hot Lesbian and lesbian. If you move into the Wildstorm Universe, then you are allowed to have male on male Super people action. But in the DC universe(where comics are for kids and remember, comics are not for sex education), you’re male super heroes are firmly hetero. If anyone questions it? Make sure you write a story where they have sex with a girl. At least once, then you can put those rumors to rest.

2. If you really don’t want to restrict yourself to Hot Lesbians or General Lesbians, you can always go the route of approach is to have a supporting cast member be gay. That way, you can show a diverse cast, yet not have to deal with any uncomfortable subjects on a regular basis, plus if you have a dramatic “gay related” issue you want to address-you have a character ready and waiting. You can deal with that AIDs story in a timely way. And plus, it’s comic books, you can either wait for someone to retcon the AIDs away, or you can use magic to cure them. Or maybe you want to tell a story about gay bashing-you alerady have a gay cast member to get beat up! Or how about gay marriage? Sure, you could simply treat them as another member of the cast, but when you have the opportunity to use them to make a statment-why would you make any other choice?!

Of course, every now and then, adhering to these simple rules will garner some criticisms. If people complain about this kind of treatment, just accuse them of being homophobic. Now you ask, what if the person complaining is gay? Isn’t that a problem? No, the solution is deceptively easy! Simply accuse them of being a self loathing gay person!

Listen, if you want to write intelligent, thoughtful portrayals of gay people? Be my guest and be an “indie” creator(or at least write for Vertigo). Don’t come crying to me when all you are left with is being recognized for your work and given awards by GLAAD.

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24 Comments»

  Ami Angelwings wrote @

XD

Sadly I know which examples you mean for each point. :|

Hot lipstick lesbians are like entertainment’s greatest way to feel liberal and yet keep the horny male fanbase at hte same time! XD I’m kinda tired of it :\

I like girls. And yet I’m not getting the awesome smex everybody thinks that a bi girl gets :|

[...] Thom Wade explains how to write gay characters for Marvel and DC Comics. [...]

[...] Writing Minorities: How to Approach Gay Characters – Thom Wade from In One Ear… once again makes the MUST READS. I think the reason why is because Thom has a way of making very poignant comments, but in a humorous way. As he did last week with his satiric advice about women characters, Thom tackles the subject of gay characters. Tom is always a lot of fun! [...]

  Doop wrote @

Assuming you’re talking about the Wiccan/Hulking pairing, with the whole ‘shapeshifting’ bit.

The writer, Allan Heinberg, is gay. While Hulking is a shapeshifter, he has never considered himself to be genderless, and his default form is a guy. Actually, according to Tom Brevoort, “Originally, Allan pitched Hulkling as a female character using her shape-changing abilities to pose as a man. I suspect this was as close as Allan felt he could get to depicting an openly gay relationship in a Marvel comic. But as we got underway… he started to have second thoughts and approached me about maintaining Hulkling and Wiccan as two involved male characters.”

Assuming you’re talking about Runaways; Brian K. Vaughan has always been gay-friendly. First of all, in Ultimate X-Men he introduced the ultimate version of Northstar and outed Colossus (though earlier writers had hinted that he was gay). He’s also dealt with homosexuality a lot in Y the Last Man, such as with the character Dr. Allison Mann.

And concerning Runaways; somewhere else, a poster stated how “It should also be noted that the Skrull relationship in Runaways wasn’t exactly by choice – it was an arranged one by the two alien empires. As noted, Vaughn is acknowledging the issue and, I think, using it to deal with gender confusion and identity. Though the male form is his “default” form, he does take on female forms for his lover. The most recent issue had him questioning who he was.” And in the preview for #25, a character specifically refers to their relationship as being homosexual (see http://www.whedon.info/IMG/jpg/joss-whedon-runaways-25-comic-book-pages-preview-mq-04.jpg).

Furthermore, I doubt anyone morally opposed to homosexuality would be ok with the relationship because they happen to aliens, even if that excuse was used by Marvel.

  thomwade wrote @

Certainly. And let it be known, that in these “How Too” posts, I am not saying none of this stuff is ever handled interestingly. Most of the people I know who find the alien thing a bit frustrating love Runaways. It’s meant to have a tongue and cheek flavor.

I am a die-hard fan of BKV. I buy pretty much everything the man writes. I also enjoyed Young Avengers. And yeah, I am aware that Allan is gay. It still was one of those rather funny coincidences that two popular comics approaching the issue of gay teens dealt with it in a similair fashion (both with skrulls no less!).

That said, I like both Hulkling and Xavin. I am not arguing they were badly written characters or storylines. I think Allan and Brian have handled them with thoughtful style.

[...] At In One Ear, there is a hilarious post: Advice for Artists and Writers: Getting the Elusive Female Audience. (There’s also a follow-up: Writing Minorities: How to Approach Gay Characters.) [...]

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  J.L. Odom wrote @

lol, silly mainstream comics and their silly Homophobia. My question is, say you are trying to be open and liberal with your writing and you have several characters in a somewhat small group that have potential to be well written homosexual characters, well how many should be gay? It seems there’s a potential to do the reverse of Homophobia and make yourself look like your pushing the whole homosexual thing. How many homosexuals is too many homosexuals?

  Kaitlyn wrote @

I don’t agree with ANYTHING you wrote here. I am a lesbian, and I enjoy writing bisexual characters (I use them fro forum-role playing more often than personal storylines and bisexual females give me a lot more flexibility with the romantic part of the story). But PLEASE do not give the gay man’s boyfriend AIDS because its not original. This is not how you make your gay characters realistic at ALL. Here’s how you make a gay character: Write a straight character, and have one of their quirks be that they’re NOT straight. Not all lesbians are butches and not all gay guys are Kurt Hummels (Glee’s gay kid…disclaimer: Nothing against Kurt. He’s my favorite character on TV…). If you WANT to make him/her obviously gay, ask someone who is like that. But DON’T make your character flat, because there’s the thing: gay characters are just like straight characters! I’m going to use the Glee example just because I do love the character. He’s really obvious and the show has made him being gay a major part of his storyline. He’s in love with the football quarterback, he came out of the closet, and he protected his dad from angry homophobic phone calls. But there’s more to him than that. He likes to go into his parents’ room and open the drawers because the smell reminds him of his dead mother, he’s an amazing kicker and joins the football team, and he knows how to fix cars. He acts like he’s better than everyone else, but he’s really just as insecure about himself as any other high schooler is. He sabotages Rachel’s chances with the quarterback because he’s in love with the same guy. He is a character with reasons behind everything he does and, in my opinion, the most detailed character on the show.

But I’ll warn you that if you want to write a character like Kurt, keep in mind that Glee’s writer is gay. So, he’s going to understand a gay character better than most straight guys would. If you insist on writing a believable flamboyant character, try to break the stereotype from time to time. And I’m not saying I’m an expert at gay characters, I’m just giving my advice as a lesbian and a writter

  thomwade wrote @

This was part of a series of satirical looks at comics book treatments toward minorities. I don’t truly recommend these things, they make for atrocious story telling. Writers have relied heavily on stereotypes when it comes to characters outside the white heterosexual male community.

I most definitely agree with you…people should not follow any of these rules. :)

  gurmoubrinigo wrote @

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Империя а также льгота изучаются а также различными юридическими науками. При этом учебные дисциплины, как будто положение, соответствуют одноименным отраслям правовых наук. В юридических высших учебных заведениях гражданско-правовая учение излагается в курсе гражданского права, уголовно-правовая в курсе уголовного права а также т.п. Однако практические задачи подготовки специалистов порождают потребности в преподавании учебных дисциплин, какие далеко не совпадают вместе с который-или наукой или соединяют отдельные элементы разных наук. К числу таких учебных дисциплин относится курс «Основы права», какой рассчитан на студентов, обучающихся согласно специальности «Государственное управление а также экономика». Подобные курсы преподаются в неюридических вузах, готовящих специалистов, какие имеете право обладать определенными познаниями в области государства а также права. Однако настоящий учебный курс ровно по структуре а также согласно содержанию существенно отличается от схожих учебных дисциплин, какие изучаются в иных учебных заведениях а также содержат не менее или не более детальное изложение основных отраслей права. Структура курса «Основы права» а также отбор включаемого в него материала построены вместе с учетом того, что именно студенты, обучающиеся в Академии управления при Президенте Республики Беларусь ровно по специальности «Государственное управление а также экономика», изучают отдельные отрасли права в качестве самостоятельных учебных дисциплин (конституционное, административное, гражданское, трудовое льгота а также др.). В соответствии вместе с этим определяются цели а также сущность курса основ права.
Цель преподавания основ права – подготовить студентов к изучению отраслевых юридических наук. Ради сего они имеете право обладать определенными минимальными знаниями в области государства а также права. Ради того дабы вместе с пониманием дела усваивать конкретный юридический материал, нужно быть вооруженным общими понятиями О государстве а также праве. Необходимо ведать, что сейчас такое империя, каковы его знаки, формы, функции, местечко а также роль в государственном управлении, однако похоже, что именно такое льгота, а также который смысл вкладывается в понятие юридической нормы, формы права, правоотношение, правонарушение а также другие. Нужно быть неплохо осведомленным об государственном устройстве Республики Беларусь, особенностях организации его государственной начальник, ведать какую роль белорусское империя а также льгота играют в государственном управлении.

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  Bart wrote @

I am really interested to know if there are any books for screenwriting gay characters? I know of “The heroine’s journay” by M. Murdock any many more books on writing woman characters, but I know of no book helping to write a gay characters. Are there any?

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