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  1. Stormy (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    As an author, I feel a responsibility to portray the world as it is...and it's not entirely populated by cishet white dudes.

    For full disclosure, I'm a white, cis bi girl. I'm also not neurotypical.

    My cast is headed up by an asexual woman with a raft of mental issues. She's incredibly important to some of my readers - people seeing a main character going through depressive/self-harm episodes, dealing with suicidal ideation, and generally feeling like a worthless shit...are things they can identify with, and they can latch onto her and go "I know that feel, bro". (I've even had someone PM me and tell me that they were going to get treatment, because they saw her starting to get help with her own issues. Words I put on the internet changed someone's life. That's incredible, and incredibly humbling).

    For QUILTBAG, the rest of the cast, minus one token straight guy. I'm like, not even kidding. I've got a little lesbian, a bag of bisexuals, a pot of pansexuals, a generous helping of genderfluid, genderqueer, or gay characters, and just a touch of trans representation. And asexuality seems to run in the main character's family, as her dad is also on that spectrum. (Need to work on my intersex representation - I have a character in the works for that).

    I was having a discussion the other about my genderfluid character - someone in the main cast (basically the head of IT), and a reader was saying that it was refreshing (and also safe) that this character wasn't overly sexualised, wasn't just there to be a "fancy" addition to a harem, or to be dehumanised, their gender is a part of their character, but it isn't the only part.

    For neuroatypical representation: aside from the main character, one of the other main characters suffers pretty severe PTSD (flashbacks, triggers, failing to function on occasion); and a number of the others also come with their own issues.

    I'm lacking in my racial representation - and I admit this as a fault - I don't have any POC in the main cast (though I have one secondary character who is working his way up there) - but I also try to give these characters room to breathe - to be themselves, and to have their background - as well as their current circumstances - influence them.

    That secondary character I mentioned? I've written two novellas about him - he's Chinese-Australian, and there are just small mentions in there throughout - things like his sister is more "white passing", so she tends to get more exoticised, but he gets more racist remarks; references to the music collection he inherited from his parents, etc.

    It's simple: if you are any of the following: white/cis/straight/able bodied/neurotypical, you are going to make mistakes when you write characters outside of that - doing research is a good first step to avoiding it, but when you are called out, be gracious, accept it, and vow to do better in the future. You did it for grammar and spelling, do it with representation. It matters.

  2. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    You know, Stormy brings up a good point about mental disorders as well. That's certainly something I wanted to be careful with.

    My own understanding of mental illness has changed quite a bit over the years, and I've become increasingly aware of hitting on that particular nerve. It's definitely something of an issue to watch out for, especially with the word "Psycho" right in the name. It's actually short for Psychopomp, though the name's understood a bit differently both in-story and out. And I have made sure he isn't, as I understand tends to happen with regards to Malkavians, just the "fun" kind of crazy that doesn't seem to have a real downside. With guys like Deadpool, the Joker, and Harley Quinn running around, people can get the wrong idea about that kind of stuff. I didn't want to be disrespectful to people actually facing those sorts of problems, nor to imply that anything like that automatically makes them all dangerous.

    I mean, I've probably pulled that off anyway, but I've tried to be more careful about it than people might expect at first.


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