To begin with: CW for discussions of queerphobia. I don’t plan to discuss anything incredibly specific, and if any slurs come up while writing I will appropriately tag those as well. Still, this could be a tough topic for my fellow LGBTQ+ folk to dive into and if so, please take care of yourself and go ahead and skip this reading.
Let’s address the elephant in the room, and the reason I decided to write this post: Twitter has been talking about queer stories and who writes them. And who is allowed to write them. Now, I don’t think that everybody is good at writing queer stories. I don’t think everybody should write queer stories. I prefer queer stories written by queer people because they tend to be more realistic, more interesting, and better written when it comes to the queer topics. That being said, it’s ridiculous to say only queer folks should write queer stories, and they should be prepared to be out as soon as they publish those stories.
Coming out is an incredibly personal experience, and one that only an individual has the right to. You should never expect an author to come out simply to validate your beliefs about the authenticity of their writing. That expectation is incredibly dangerous, and leads to the continued speculation and harassment of authors of queer fiction to discover if they’re really queer. Not only is this rude and hurtful and dangerous for those that are closeted and uncomfortable with the attention, this is also counter intuitive. We should want more queer stories in general; yes it’s important to support queer authors who are out and writing, because an authentic queer story will be good for queer readers to find. But the more people out there that include queer characters, romances, and stories in their writing the better! The normalization and spread of relatable stories will do so much good for queer readers of all ages!
The issues come to play when an author with queerphobic views, even internalized ones hitherto unknown, writes a queer story that’s just…bad. This is especially frustrating for queer folks who get excited for such a story, perhaps putting money into the promotion and obtaining of such a story, and then discover what it actually is. Authors that intentionally queerbait are also an issue, because they exploit a community that will rally around their own stories for personal gain. What is not an issue is every single non-queer (or not openly queer at least) author who writes a queer story or character putting those stories out there. It’s not queerbaiting if there’s actually a queer character there, you know?
What is unacceptable is scrutinizing every single creator who produces a queer character with a queer storyline. Trying to determine if that creator is queer based on interviews and pieces of writing is cruel, forcing them to come out is cruel, and boycotting them if they refuse to reveal their identity (or end up gently letting fans down that they’re straight) is unnecessary. If the storyline is good and well written and doesn’t perpetuate queerphobia, then there is nothing wrong with it being written by an author who is not queer or is not out. Save that energy for somebody who creates a queerphobic story and tries to defend it, because that author needs to understand why their storyline is harmful. This is hardly the same thing as being critical of corporations for putting on the rainbows for a month. These are authors who seek to connect with all sorts of readers, and ultimately are doing good by putting forth more good queer characters regardless of their personal identity.
I’d like to hear from my fellow queer readers, bloggers and writers. If you disagree with something I said, feel free to let me know and explain!