Wednesday, 4 May 2016
Writing Gay Men of Color
Unfortunately, the media is filled with stereotypes. How people perceive men of any color is a guy lacking emotion, rough, most of the time an alpha with a bad attitude. Then there’s the gay man who is sometimes portrayed as overly girly, weak, and more often than not, a sex addict. In the early 2000’s we were blessed with Queer as Folk, showing beautiful gay men of all types, embracing their sexuality, dealing with the same issues as straight couples trying to survive in the modern era. As brilliant as QAF was, it was missing a key element. In my opinion, a gay man of color who was also a main character would’ve added something to the show.
Some time later, Noah’s Arc came along and I believed it only lasted two seasons. From the couple of episodes I did see, it portrayed gay men of color in a positive light. Seemingly, this series might not have been interesting enough to keep running so it disappeared without a trace.
What about in fiction? These days we have a wealth of colorful gay characters in many books. The question is how do we write them? Do we draw on the stereotypes? Black and or Hispanic men who are angry and always intense; Asian men who seem timid and weak. Those are just a couple of examples. Do we need to add this to our books for them to seem real? In my estimation we don’t. I often wondered why authors, whether it be books, TV, and or movies can’t make a character, especially a gay male character of color, who doesn’t fit that mold. Sure, you can add to the setting to make it more “real”; a young black man from a poorer neighborhood. Perhaps his family hates that he’s gay and his friends don’t accept him. Yes, that’s all the reality I need and let me say, not every black man comes from a background like that. But with his attitude? Must he be overly angry at the world and seething all the time? Well hell, he could be a goth boy or an intelligent scholar, from a not so poor neighborhood. Perhaps he was the rich one and his white counterpart the middle class working man.
What’s my point here? When I write a gay man of color, I try to avoid the stereotypes unless it is a central part of the plot. I feel people should be written as people, without pulling from the so called mold.
Regardless of race or nationality or orientation, we’re all human with unique traits and attitudes that make us stand out from others. Characters should be treated in the same fashion.