I have always felt that when I write, I take a little corner of myself, no matter how invisible in my day to day life it is, and drip it on the page, leaving it to weave itself into something more complex and more elaborate. Because of this, try as I might, my writing will always represent who I am, one way or another—through a character, an idea or concept, or simply through the actions of said characters.
Obviously, that brought about the question of how and to which extent portray homosexuality through my stories. As a kid I read plenty of cloak and dagger books, none of which had the slightest hint of homosexuality, and the science-fiction and fantasy books that I moved onto in my teenage years, did not offer any more of an answer as to what was acceptable and what wasn’t.
But times have changed, and more modern fantasy books have proved that homosexuality is no longer something to shy away from. Whether it is as subtle as in Stephen Deas’s The King of the Crags in which it was but a fleeting mention, or as obvious as in the first two instalments of Mark Charan Newton’s Legends of the Red Run series, in which one of the main characters is gay, homosexuality is no longer something that I feel I need to shy away from in my own writing.
Years before all this however, when I was asked to write a dissertation for my Creative Writing BA that, at the request of my tutor, had to have transgressive elements in it, I created characters that were homosexual, or bisexual, and would allow me to write the kind of prose that was expected out of me.
They were but the first of many characters whose sexual orientation was important to me. Now, I don’t intend for all of my characters to be gay or bi, but I find it nigh-on impossible to think up a full cast where at least one of my POV characters isn’t like that. It would be unnatural for me, given the amount of people that I know and that are either gay or bi, to not represent them through my work.
My urban fantasy work in progress, The Vampire Council series, features both homosexual and bisexual characters heavily—mainly bisexual as a lot of my vampires are attracted to beauty, with gender being irrelevant. I don’t expect everybody to like it, but I expect some people will find it extremely relevant to them, just as I do every time I see homosexuality portrayed in books.
Vampires and urban fantasy seemed to be a very good medium for me to get that part of my person across, in bulk, as it were. This is the case for two reasons mainly: vampires are portrayed as gay or bisexual regularly—even in mainstream series and books like Tanya Huff’s Blood series—authors have been more liberal with the sexuality of their vampires, than they are with that of their human characters. Whether this happens because vampires allow us to explore the ‘dark’, ‘forbidden’ sides of sexuality—take the dark and forbidden loosely here, please—or just because with them not being human, it is more widely perceived as ‘okay’ for them to have a different sexuality, they have become my main arena to explore homosexuality.
So what does that mean? That I cram every page with blatant references to homosexuality and put in one too many gay sex scenes? No. What it means is that I want to portray homosexuality as something normal and accepted, through characters that are human-but-not. More than anything, I want my characters to be seen as people that the reader could pass in the street: I want them to feel real.
But that’s not to say that my portrayal of homosexuality stops with Urban Fantasy; it doesn’t. In a way, it can’t. Most things I write feature it, more or less prominently. It just happens that my vampires feel like the ones I can truly explore the topic.
So yes, I’m gay—hadn’t you guessed?—and homosexuality is just something I have to portray through my books. I just hope people don’t get put off them just because of that: they’d miss out on what I hope will be an amazing story.