Where are the LGBT+ Characters?

How many protagonists can you count off the top of your head that can be labeled as canonly gay, asexual, bisexual, transgender, etc.? It’s hard, isn’t it?

As an avid reader in high school, I found the library’s stock of novels that showcased an LGBT+ protagonist to be almost nonexistent. There were a few books scattered here and there that hinted at it, sure—a non-focus character comes out at the very end, or maybe someone mentions the subject once in the 400 pages of the story. As a closeted gay kid who didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, or who I thought was cute—boys or girls?—it was sometimes hard to find works of fiction that I could completely delve into when all of the main characters were typically straight people. There’s nothing wrong with having straight protagonists; I absolutely adore the protagonists I grew up reading: Harry and Ginny? Love them. Tris and Four? Hell yeah. Katniss and Peeta? Of course! Those characters and their relationships are great, but we are seriously lacking in portraying the spectrum of relationships. The boy gets the girl—but why can’t the boy get the boy, or why does the boy have to get anyone? These romance arcs in stories have become so cookie cutter, copy and paste, that I can’t find joy in reading them anymore.

The sexual orientation of a main character can have a much larger impact on readers than you might think. Take me for example: when I was a young reader, I didn’t know that a relationship could be anything but a boy and a girl. There wasn’t anything else for me to base relationships off of, and I wasn’t exposed to all of the possibilities that are out there. It’s hard to accept and validate your own feelings when every book you read is about one straight couple after another. There’s no message telling kids that it’s okay to be gay, or to not feel comfortable with their born gender, or to just not be into anyone at all.

As a writer and as a member of the LGBT+ community, I want to contribute to filling the gap in diverse relationships found in literature. Because it’s such a niche topic, there are a million and two original stories waiting to be sculpted. I get it, writing these characters can even be hard for people within the LGBT+ community. As a lesbian, I’m afraid of getting it wrong when it comes to asexual or transgender characters. No one wants to misrepresent a culture that is not theirs, so it’s a writer’s responsibility to research these complex topics before putting them on paper. I hope that soon, more and more of these accurate representations will be introduced in the novels to come so that young readers can find characters they are comfortable identifying with.

Why You Should Listen to Music When Writing

Music, in general, helps you focus. Is the dog barking annoyingly in the backyard? Your significant other playing video games too loud? No problem! Put in some earbuds and tune into your favorite playlist as you tune out all of the distractions of daily life. Music will take you away from this world and give you your own little writing bubble. Listening to music with no lyrics, like movie scores, classical, and EDM, are actually proven to maximize your focus and memory, as it activates both your right and left parts of the brain at the same time (Godkin). So, whether you are writing a Comp II research paper or working on your first draft of a novel, choose what music works best for you.

Listening to music while you write will also get those inspiration gears going. When writing, there is something so satisfying about listening to music that pairs with the genre of your work like the way a wine pairs with cheese. For instance, say you’re writing a short story about an elf prince on his journey to secure a precious treasure while listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. It’s going to feel so much more alive, right? Or listening to techno music while writing about someone who lives on a spaceship. Even listen to rock music while you build a character who’s a total punk! Different genres of music will seep into your creativity and you will see clear results on the page.

So, moral of the story? Listen to music while you write. It helps you focus, it helps the creative process, and, frankly, it’s fun.

Reference: “Can Music Help You Study and Focus?” Northcentral University, 2 Jan. 2018. Web.