How-To Guide: Creating LGBTQ+ Characters

Hello. This thread is for anyone looking to create properly represented characters within the LGBTQ+ community. So without further ado, here are some tips and bits of information that I hope will be helpful. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

The acronym itself:
LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer (both have been used in the acronym, but keep in mind that queer has also been used as slur), and the plus is used encompass all other sexualities and gender identities, like non-binary and pansexual. The acronym can also be extended to include them.

Terminology:
Here are some terms you may come across:
Sexual Orientation - A person’s sexual identity in relation to the gender they are attracted to
Gender Identity - A person’s perspective of their gender, irregardless of what they were assigned at birth
AFAB - Assigned Female At Birth
AMAB - Assigned Male At Birth
Queerbaiting - Hinting at a same-sex relationship, but never depicting it.
Coming out [of the closet] - The process in which an LGBTQ+ individual discloses their sexual orientation/gender identity
Outing - Contrary to coming out, outing is when an individual’s sexuality or gender identity is disclosed without their consent
Homophobia/Transphobia/Biphobia - A prejudice against someone based off of their sexual orientation (homophobia/biphobia) or gender identity (transphobia)
Beard - When a gay man or woman dates a member of the opposite sex to conceal their sexuality

Stereotypes:
Here are some stereotypes that you may or may not have encountered before

  • The Gay Best Friend - This one can be funny when used properly, but is so overused, it’s everyone’s go to when they want to add LGBTQ+ representation
  • The Slutty Bi - Not as common, but can still be seen. The bisexual person who is non-commital and couldn’t keep a relationship to save their life. On the other end of this is the idea that bisexual people are attracted to every single person they come across.
  • The Confused Bi - When not depicted as promiscuous, bisexuals are often pictured as if they’re confused, not sure whether they’re gay or straight and are under the impression that they have to choose one, which becomes the main focus of their

Religion:
While some religions tend to frown upon being gay, trans, etc., it is still possible to belong to that religion and be LGBT. Some of us have a good relationship with the religion, and some don’t. It all depends on the person and their experiences.

Some things to keep in mind:
I don’t want to make this a ‘what not to do’ since some of these do apply to members of the community and can be used appropriately, I just want to bring attention to them.

  • Not all gay men are flamboyant and feminine
  • Same goes for lesbians, not all lesbians are butch
  • Not everyone knows exactly how they want to identify right off the bat
  • Non-binary people don’t all have to look like a mix of both genders. You can look like a guy and still be enby or look like a girl and still be enby
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This is a good thread.

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Awesome thread!

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Bookmarked, great thread! :heart::orange_heart::yellow_heart::green_heart::blue_heart::purple_heart:

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What’s an enby?

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This thread is really helpful! Thank you.

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It means non binary. (It’s basically a short form of non binary)

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Bookmarking the thread expect a couple additions later today (whenever I have time)

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Oh okies.

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Okay, as I said
I’m going to add some things

A bit on terminology:
The word queer
Whereas queer can be a label for people, please keep in mind that the word is still considered a slur by many. Just as with many other slurs, the community has been reclaiming it.
If I may serve as an example. I identify as a queer person, and I, like a couple others, use the word because there are many parts to our LGBT identities, so instead of explaining every term, it’s simpler to use queer.

Just like queer, there are other slurs. Please be aware of this, and keep in mind just how slurs are used, and who can use them.

- A small note: the use and reception of slurs varies depending on the language and culture.

an addition to the religion part:

  • Some Christian people interpret David and Jonathan’s relationship as homoerotic. I have not studied this enough, but i know that this topic has sparked debates. If anyone knows about this, i would love to know their opinion on the topic, since I am quite uninformed.
  • Also in Christianity, a verse that i’ve seen people quote in defence of love, there’s:
    Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
  • According to a friend who has studied the mahabharata:
    there's a transgender person in the mahabharata and nonbinary gods that are mentioned
    DISCLAIMER: i do not know enough about the mahabharata to confirm or deny this, and i haven’t gotten my hands on a copy to actually study it. If anyone knows about this, could you please tell me what you know? I’m curious.

Characterisation:

  • We are much more than our identities. Being queer is not a personality trait, and while some experiences that have to do with being queer may shape us, everyone is different and just like cishet people, we all have our identities independent from our gender and/or sexuality.
  • The token queer character. Drop it. We are not in the world to fill a quota, and it shouldn’t be treated as such in stories.
  • Please, I’m begging you. Don’t make us tragic just because we’re queer. Yes, we struggle, yes, we sometimes have problems because of our identities, but not being “the default” doesn’t automatically make us tragic.
  • Allow queer characters to be problematic. No person is an angel who makes no mistakes. Make your characters screw up, make them be wrong, make them real.

I will write more about this, specifically about the closet, coming out and relationships tomorrow, i’m tired as heck and i’m probable not making any sense, so look forward to when i edit this post.

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I would also like to add something. Although I’m not part of the community, I do like reading stories and romance with LGBTQ+ characters at times. What I get tired of is when people make their relationship so vague and they never use words like “girlfriend/boyfriend”, “partner”, “wife/husband/spouse”, “lover”, etc. to establish a relationship. Also waiting to the last minute to confirm it. (I mean at the ending) It gets annoying. If you’re struggling to introduce them having a relationship or starting one, don’t be afraid to use the words. Stop with the “they’re relationship is complicated”. If you don’t do it with Heterosexual relationships, don’t do it with them. It isn’t any different.

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I’m not sure about the Mahabharata, but there are whole communities of trans women and intersex people in India who are respected and revered. They’re known as the Hijra.The attitudes towards them are mixed. It used to be that they had an important function in society: carrying out blessings and dancing at weddings, but with westernisation, people are less likely to be welcoming and accepting of them. It’s a shame. There is an option to be the third gender legally on your passport, though

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It’s been some time since I read it but yes, there was a transgender person in Mahabharata during the war and also, there were homosexual relationships in many instances. (If you want, I could name specific parts!)

The India of Mahabharata was a lot more open than the modern day India.

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But then those people that you speak of are treated very badly too. Like I’d considered an honour to be blessed by them but they are a separate community.

They are respected, yes, but they are socially excluded too. They have to live together and they can’t live with their families and all, even if they wish to. It’s sad, really.

In most rural areas, those people are handed over to the community of kinnars when they’re born.

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This thread is wonderful!!! :hearts:

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Religion

Also adding to the religious part. One of my classmates told me that although same-sex relationships are illegal here, if you get approval from the Sheikh then you are allowed to change your gender. But this was a while ago so I cannot remember the specifics.
Islam is the main religion here but most of the citizens/locals are Sunni and only a few are Shi’a. The judicial system is derived from the civil law system + Sharia law.
There have been a few people to come out as being part of the LGBTQ+ community despite the laws and their religion. However, it is important to note that some of my friends were selective about who they came out to as they didn’t want their parents to know. Many of us will never open up to our parents about our sexuality out of fear but receiving support from each other is something that makes us feel more comfortable/accepting of who we are.

I also think some people are afraid to have these characters associated with a religion out of fear of offending someone. You can be religious and LGBTQ+, many people are. Your views may differ from other people (a few of my friends think the laws of Islam are outdated/too traditional but some do not); despite all the stereotypes about muslims, a lot of them in my school are supportive of the community. Some are not.

For example, an author I followed (I have to check) who wrote a muslim character in one of her stories and she is bisexual.

So if you’re writing an LGBTQ+ character to belongs to a religion, I’d say do your research but it is up to them (well you because you’re writing them) to decide how they interpret their religion. Maybe their views clash, maybe they don’t. Some of their friends may be supportive, some might not. Don’t be afraid to go for it.

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asexuality

I should probably come back in elaborate on this.

I don’t usually see asexual characters but when I do, they’re usually aro-ace, which is fine because I love seeing asexuals be represented. However, I’m not sure if many know that some asexuals can still experience romantic attraction so they can have love interests, they’re just probably not going to into doing certain things (depending on where they are are on the ace spectrum, something I should talk about.)

Also asexuals aren’t dead on the inside, if they are it’s got nothing to do with their sexuality. Many ace characters are depicted as cold and unloving, remember that they’re people and can be caring/soft.

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culture?

I just remembered that Taiwan became the first nation in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage which is huuuuge deal. There’s still a lot of people against this and many countries don’t view Taiwan as a country but it’s a step in the right direction.

This made me remember how cultural beliefs also influences people’s thoughts on the LGBTQ+ community as well as how likely it is that they will come out. I can’t really go into depth unless I generalise but many African countries still have laws that permit people to receive the death sentence if they are gay. Fortunately, my country isn’t one of them but that is still a real problem and fear for anyone from there who identifies as LGBTQ+

Do keep in mind that although some cultures do not support the community, people can still support them. Meaning your characters can have supportive parents if go want them to. Maybe it’s a close friend or another family member. Not everyone with strong cultural religious beliefs will be homophobic or transphobic, some might be LGBTQ+ themselves. HOWEVER, they might be afraid of what other people (especially those close/related to them) will say.

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Actually, the Muslim she wrote was Demisexual.

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And Toriah made a Pan/Bi (She couldn’t decide which one to claim her) Muslim character. Although I have my concerns on how she represented her as a Muslim, (making her dress up for Halloween was a huge turnoff) but still a good character.

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