Thursday, January 21, 2010

They All Turn Gay...

Try as I may, the male characters I write often end up sounding gay. This homosexual tendency in my writing is something I actively combat. I think the problem stems from a couple different facets of my life:

1. Being part of the competitive figure skating world for 18 years exposes you to a lot of happy men. I'm not saying all male figure skaters are gay. I have some male friends that are phenomenal ice skaters and are very vocal about their sexual attraction to women.

2. Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) believes that I have a broken gay-dar. If someone tells me they play for Yankees, then I'm going to believe that they play for the Yankees. I am very trusting of my friends, so I would never feel the need to suspect that they play for the Red Sox.

3. A close friend that I've known for over a decade, and have always viewed as a model heterosexual male (despite the fact that he likes Twilight and pedicures...stupid broken gay-dar), recently said that he now plays for the Red Sox. I support his decision completely and now see that he never really played for the Yankees. But it totally shattered the image I had painted in my mind of a model straight male. 

4. When I wrote my first novel, Vicky Covington used to help me edit and brainstorm my work. And she ALWAYS wanted me to make the male characters gay in Waggledance. A few years back she gave me an autographed copy of her first published book, Gathering Home. I've been busy and so I just started reading it a week ago. One of the characters in Gathering Home is named Aaron and he's gay. One of the characters in Waggledance is named Aaron....and perhaps due to the similarity in names she felt that he needed to be gay?

5. My Daddy (yes I still call him Daddy. laugh if you want. it doesn't bother me) is a pretty quite guy. Not really into sports, hunting, or home improvement- he offsets it with a passion for action movies. But Daddy really isn't a manly man.

So since my life experiences are working against me when it comes to the creation of straight male characters. I've had to come up with a list of Do's and Don't**:
1. Straight guys don't say fabulous
2. Straight guys don't vocalize if they're on Team Edward or Team Jacob.
3. When straight guys talk in YA lit it's usually direct and to the point. Less words are always better.
Mom: "How was dinner Tom?"
Straight Version of Tom: "Good."
Metro or Gay Version of Tom: "The potatoes looked a bit peaky but the chicken was fabulous."
4. Straight guys don't go shoe shopping to get over a bad break up.
5. Straight guys don't usually instigate drama.
6. The tempo of straight guy speech tends to be a bit slower than gay guy speech.
7. Straight guys don't usually like watching What Not To Wear
8. Gay men are typically vainer than straight men

Do you guys have any suggestions to add to the list?

* The list is not concrete and is no way an attempt to stereotype straight or gay men. It's just a checklist for myself to use when I'm writing a male character and his path starts to get a little crooked.
* I love gay and straight men equally.


  1. Anita,

    I have two solutions...

    1. Write about a man who likes the ladies very much, but is the pure definition of metro!

    Or watch a Sopranos marathon. All that machismo will break you, although your new manly men may curse A LOT and kill slews of people!

    Either way...problem solved! Yay!

    Ha, ha!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  2. This is so funny, Anita. No, it's...


    Ha ha! actually, I'm often thought to be gay myself, so I might not be the best to give you advice. I'm a bit uncomfortable around other men (zero interest in cars, sport, guns, etc.) but I'd probably get on well with your male characters by the sounds of it.

    Anyway, If I think of something, I'll come back and post it:)

    Do straight me use smilies?

    Ah, here's one:

    straight men don't keep diaries not since Pepys, anyway), and probably don't blog either, unless they really have to. Oh well...

  3. Aha! Straight men don't care about typos.

  4. Ok, Sopranos. I can do that.

    And Straight Men do care about typos! My boyfriend is compulsive when it comes to proper spelling. And I can most definitely vouch that he is straight. =)

    And, I think straight men do use smilies. All though boyfriend never does....hmmmm....

  5. Perhaps the biggest straight/gay difference I see in men is the way they express themselves.

    I don't mean artistic expression -- there are some very talented artists, writers, musicians, dancers, and actors on both sides of the spectrum -- but I am thinking about vocal expression.

    A man who uses "fabulous," "cute," or "divine" in conversation is typically gay.* Similarly, gay men have much quicker and circuitous speech patterns than straight men do (kind of like you said above). They also use OMG outside of the realm of internet speak (I mean the younger set, of course).

    *Or works in retail selling clothing/hangs out with girls too often (at least for "cute").

  6. Hey Anita, You're calling the Boston Red Sox gay! I'm from Boston. That's just not done!!!:)

    On a lighter note...loved the list of Do's and Don't's. The peaky potatoes.

    Here's a few:

    Straight men never notice when a woman is wearing something new. Gay men always notice and comment on it, for better or for worse. Same for hair cuts and color. I could dye my hair neon green and my husband probably wouldn't notice. No one would ever confuse my husband for gay.

    Straight men grunt more.

    Straight men are rarely fastidious about their appearance. No mousse in their hair, thank you very much. On weekends, the slob look is their choice, if you can call that a "look."

    Straight men hate it when women cry. Gay men encourage a good cry.

  7. I don't hate when women cry, Terry, I just don't know what the hell to do :)... Great post, Anita -- had me smiling the entire way.

  8. I realize that BOA. I should have clarified:)

  9. Let's see, I am gay, and I am not trying to prove you wrong here, but here's how much of your list applies to me:
    1. I never use fabulous, my sister does and I make fun of her.
    2. I'm Team Bella, I like my friends single.
    3. I am a long-winded person, must be the gayness. Well, my dad talks way more than I do about the oddest details, but he's a Marine...that must be it.
    4. I go shoe shopping to look for the best pair to throw at the ex, so I do do #4.
    5. I am a fabulous drama instigator! Look at this comment thread -
    6. I can't help talking like a straight guy, I just do.
    7. I love What Not to Wear, this is one of the gayest things about me.
    8. I am super vain, although I did just get my first haircut in six months because I was too lazy and liked drinking beer at home to much to go out when my writing wasn't going well.

    Please avoid The Saprano type, for sure. Reference books, like Shiver, Swim the Fly, and The Hunger Games for guys that are guys without being Staten Island machofreaks.

    *I love gay men more.

  10. Terry- I don't know a thing about baseball. When I came up with Red Sox for the analogy I actually had to stop and think if there was a team called the Red Sox. I knew there was a Sox something or another- so nothing against your Boston Sluggers.

    *And Jonathan we may have to battle this one out. Because I really truly love my gay friends. :)

  11. Anita - That's funny, you didn't even know the teams:) So that's OK, then. Forgiven.

    Murphy is cute though,huh? But, then all our guys are cute.

  12. Anita,
    I know the worst advice is unsolicited advice, but I'm going to take a chance here.

    Most of my characters are compilations of people I know. Key word being "know". Many industry experts recommend that authors write about what they are comfortable with. If gay men are common in your world, then perhaps that is what you should write about. FWIW, don't force your characters to be something they aren't. What you may find by following your instincts, is that you have come up with a story that is unique and fun. Read Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. I think you may see where I'm coming from. Just my curbside.

    Happy writing

  13. Anita,
    I think you have to trust your character. For every stereotypical line item there are guys on both side that break the tiny box you are creating. I know some of it was probably written in humor, but I think Robert Pattinson could call something "fabulous" in a deep brooding tone, while staring deep in your eyes and no one would question his sexuality. What matters more is that your readers believe that the guy is interested in a woman. And unless your theme deals with questions of sexuality then that's all you need. Also, if you look at YA male heroes they are not stereotypically manly. They have boyish qualities that in some circles could be read as gay or effeminate. If you force your characters into a box because you are worried about them coming across as gay then you'll most likely end up writing the same character over and over again. And not a very interesting one. My 2 cents :)

  14. Optional,
    Thank you for dropping by.I can't agree with your comments more. Since I wrote that post, I've learned that I needn't shy away from giving characters certain traits or qualities because I fear people may perceive them as homosexual solely based on said traits. I agree with you that as long as I can show that the male character likes women, then I've done my job. Happy Writing!