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When the Gay Guy is the Villain

Ursula

Today’s topic comes from QSFer Beth Brock: “Is there a place for gay antagonists in LGBT fiction?”

It’s a simple question on the face of it – of course there should be. Gays (and I’m using the term generically here for LGBTQI), like straights, like lesbians, like transgender and bisexual and asexual and intersex folks, come in all shapes and sizes and types in the real world.

There are white gays, black gays, asian gays, short gays, tall gays, happy gays, sad gays, good gays and evil gays.

But to simply say “yes, of course” would be to ignore the history here.

For to many years, gays (and lesbians etc) were relegated to first one role in fiction – the evil or misguided gay. Then we branched out a bit in the late seventies/early eighties to the gay sidekick (who was never allowed to have a relationship in the story).

So we’re necessarily sensitive to the issue of the “evil gay”.

Which brings us back to today. Have we now progressed enough to open that door again, a little? Is it time to allow our characters to be as widely written as the gays in real life? Are we ready for more evil gay antagonists?

3 thoughts on “When the Gay Guy is the Villain”

  1. Oh heck yes! The arc of identity literature is not finished until a trait-having character can take all the roles of a non-traited character. Leaving out the villains means leaving out the choices and that is not good for people. Free will is only real if you have the option to choose good or evil, constructive or destructive ways of pursuing your goals.

    I love when queer characters are presented as powerful, and villains can be very powerful indeed. I also favor complex villains. I’m not a fan of “being queer makes you evil” of course, and the orientation can even be incidental to the plot role.

    A favorite example from my own work is Backdraft and Green Man, first introduced in “Interchange.” Backdraft has Fire Powers and is comfortable with his homosexuality. He’s a terrorist who uses arson to discourage powerful organizations from picking on people. Green Man has a mess of ancestral and vegetative powers that have damaged his mind. He thinks of homosexuality as a youthful fling that he should have outgrown by now. He’s an environmental terrorist, mainly trying to quash the fossil fuel industry. Both of them use nefarious tactics to pursue laudable goals; they’re not evil just troublesome. They have a very complex relationship. They get in each other’s way sometimes, but other times manage to work together. Their interactions show a lot of unresolved sexual tension.

    The main thing that makes it work when I write queer villains is that I have a huge heap of queer characters, who span the moral spectrum. This undercuts the “All X are Y” fallacy. In fact I do this with most traits; it’s rare for me to write only one of anything. The two ways to avoid tokenism are plurality and significance: have several people sharing a trait, and give them something meaningful to do so they can have a real impact. Queer villains can help with both.

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  2. Why not? Sure, at one time in our GLBT history/herstory we had evil characters and as in life, evil exists. We have non-Queer serial killers and no one in the non-GLBT community screams that there shouldn’t be non-GLBT evil characters, so, why not have Queer evil characters. Nowadays, people should just accept the complexity of human nature, no matter what.

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