J. Skylar at Comic Book Bin wrote an incredible article that can be used AS A STARTING POINT when writing LGBT characters or about LGBT issues. Follow the link, check it out, but remember: your most important job when you write about another culture of any type is to do your research and understand what the words you are using mean, not just from a dictionary but to those who will read them and be affected.
“Writing about topics you are not directly involved in can be a difficult task, particularly when it concerns cultural identities because you may inadvertently offend the very people you wish to write about. This is especially true when writing about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, because its terminology has changed and evolved considerably over the past century.”
So…apparently this is somehow up for debate. Read the site editor’s response. Please, let him know what you think…I did. http://www.comicbookbin.com/Challenging_LGBT_Classifications001.html
Skylar’s tips for writers included simple things like avoiding the word “homosexual” and using “transgender” as an adjective instead of a noun. Apparently this was too much for site editor Herve St-Louis, who writes:However, Skyler’s construct seemed to me too normative and too controlling. If you’ve read ComicBookBin for ten years or know about me personally, you’ll know that I like to poke fun at authority figures and normative stances. I can’t help it. I like to challenge dogma. Skyler introduced her classification method to writers of ComicBookBin because presumably she was annoyed at how we wrote and classified LGBT issues. I am the first one to admit to using the word homosexual to describe gay men in several articles. Before reading Skyler’s notes, I had no clue whatsoever that the word homosexual was even a problem. In fact, I always assumed that the term “gay” was more associated with a specific lifestyle that trapped many men into a specific cultural identity and that the word homosexual freed them of being classified under a cultural construct.
…I feel that Skyler’s classification unduly restricts the voice of other writers. Because it is motivated by a need to reverse a dominant discourse, it therefore manifests an objective that may not be shared with other writers at ComicBookBin. At ComicBookBin, we have had writers who were on the extreme left and some who definitely were right of centre. I welcome all of them. Personally, I find the rainbow of terms defined by LGBT too cumbersome and too elastic in its attempt to include everyone and make everybody happy. I will admit that I find placing lesbians before gays a trivial matter. It feels like overbearing political correctness and I don’t like it. ComicBookBin is not about political correctness. It’s about comics. That writers choose to classify terms as suggested by Skyler is something I will leave to each of them to decide. I will not adopt the full range of Skyler’s classification because it’s too heavy to use for me. Also, I am not convinced that terms such as “homosexual” are deemed as derogatory by many gays. It sounds as something that queer theorists debate among each other as opposed to a feeling shared by the gay population at large about the term homosexual being insulting to them. Skyler’s classification has certainly educated me, but I can choose my own classification construct just as Skyler does.
…One of my biggest criticisms of Skyler’s article is that it talks down on people instead of including them in the discourse. We have a lecturer lecturing readers about what is acceptable language and what is not. The rebel in me right away flared up with what I deem a patronizing language. Skyler’s classification did not include groups which were not part of the LGBT in the discussion. In a weird way they were excluded from the discourse and became the other which Skyler has tried to deflate.
…an individual helpfully lays out general guidelines for how to reflect or write about a marginalized community. The suggestions are rejected for bring too “heavy” or otherwise cumbersome—in other words, the writer’s convenience is prioritized over the needs of the marginalized community the writer is trying to represent. The tips for how to write sensitively are deemed “patronizing” and exclusionary towards straight people.