Tuesday evening I finished writing a short story in which the main character is a gay. Coincidentally, the next day Chuck Wendig published a post on his blog called DEAR GUY WHO IS MAD BECAUSE I WROTE A GAY CHARACTER IN A BOOK. I laughed out loud at his post, and while I haven’t read any of Wendig’s novels yet, I promptly bought one. The fact that he had an upset reader who inspired that post is sad, but I was very, very happy to see his post positively referenced on a number of different writing sites. There’s an awful lot of intolerance in the world, but it seems like there’s a little less than there used to be.
I came up with the idea for this short story a few months ago. I’d been corresponding with one of my older gay cousins, and was struck by how much easier it is to grow up homosexual today. Not that it’s without bumps, but there’s a level of openness and acceptance prevalent today that wasn’t as strong as when I was younger, and certainly wasn’t present for my older cousins who grew up in the 50s and 60s. I see how open my younger cousins are on Facebook, and how much love and support they get from their families. It’s wonderful to see. Then I contrast that with things that happened in the past with my older cousins. I think the world is improving, but it’s sad that it’s taking such a long time.
From contemplating the difference between then and now, I went to thinking about how much harder it must have been to be gay in the late 1800s. Not that it was extra difficult during that time period … I was working on two other short stories set in the Old West, so that’s just where my head was at. I did a little research, which was quite interesting. There are a number of stories about gay couples, people who everyone thought were one gender but they were really another, and so on. It was fascinating, and sad. (And a warning: it’s easy to find less, well … historically-oriented things if you do a web search, so if you feel inspired to look around for yourself you might not want to do it at work.)
The main character in my story is a young woman named Hattie. Hattie and her partner Laura have to keep their relationship a secret from their families. They’re both constantly pressured to get married and have children. They’ve come up with a plan to “date” men to make it appear that they’re heterosexual, but the plan complicates things even more.
My intent was to make this a sweet story showing the relationship between the two girls and the sadness and frustration that they had to endure because of the time and place in which they lived. I’ll get feedback from my critique group in a few days, so we’ll see how well I did.