A queer thing about characters

As a gay reader, I find that there are disappointingly few examples of surprise gay characters in the fiction I’ve read. What I mean is that I’d love to read about a secondary character who just so happens to fancy the same sex. The story doesn’t revolve around it, but it’s there.

Naturally, I feel like I can write differently. But I want it to be as subtle and as insignificant to the plot as that character’s eye color; a detail and not a defining feature. Not a woman who is introduced as a lover of women, but one we get to know for her other quirks and charms before learning, “Oh, by the way…” Because I want readers to see the person, not the sexuality.

I feel this way about all other aspects of a person that people find sorry excuses to discriminate against: gender, race, socioeconomic background, etc. If one of my characters is disliked, let it be because he’s an asshole, or she beats children. Not because he likes men or she’s a woman.

There are a few characters in my current story who do not identify as heterosexual. It hasn’t come up in the narrative, though I’ve left subtle hints here and there. I may not end up explicitly stating it, but they’re there. As long as it’s not relevant to the plot, there’s no real reason to come out and say it.

As in anything else, I reserve the right to change my mind. It would be fun to write a coming out scene where a character makes a heartfelt declaration and those closest to him respond with, “We know, dear.” I have one in mind who would fit perfectly into such a moment.

To summarize, I want more gay folk in fiction and I’m doing my part to make that happen. These characters will be realistic, well-rounded and flawed. They will be everything a good character should be, plus fabulous.