Writing #ownvoices Characters


Hello all,

I wanted to discuss writing genderfluid characters as a genderfluid author and what #ownvoices means to me, because the concept of #ownvoices has been around for a while now.

Recently, a young actor (Kit Connor; played Nick Nelson in Heartstoppers) was forced to come out as bisexual because people (I hesitate to call them fans!) were accusing him of queerbaiting! Now, I am happily out and proud as genderfluid and have been since I was 19, but not everyone is ready to come out, and some people may never feel safe enough to come out. Not to mention, it is impossible for a real life person to queerbait based on their own identity. The story itself was a gay love story, it doesn’t get more queer than that, and the author of the graphic novels herself said that the characters were all played by queer actors. It wasn’t enough for some people, and I feel that the people who harassed this actor felt entitled towards his identity.

This is, of course, the downfall of #ownvoices as a way to group authors. There are many reasons why someone might not want to out themselves, but more than that, no one owes anyone an explanation for their identity. Gatekeepers at Pride? You can get lost. It felt unreal reading the headline on Twitter that Kit Connor was forced to out himself in order to appease the masses. I cannot stress this enough: you are not entitled to anyone’s queer identity. I am furious about this issue, as you may be able to tell.

I honestly am not sure that #ownvoices is a necessary taxonomical grouping. Maybe some authors feel like this type of label helps with marketing, and all the power to them. But to readers out there, I must say, no one owes you an #ownvoices text or owes you the truth about their identity. You are doing harm by demanding this of people, and I must again say this – you are mostly harming closeted queer people or queer people who are still figuring out their identity.

So what if a straight person writes a queer book? It’s not worth the possible harm you may cause to possibly expose a non-queer writer writing queer novels.

Anyway, I write some characters after my own experiences which are technically #ownvoices in some ways (Me and my character from Weekend Girl are both genderfluid) but not in other ways (my character Ignius in Far Patrol is a dragon. I am obviously not a dragon). I just am tired of people gatekeeping the queer community and am so so angry that a young queer man felt no other recourse than to out himself.

Do better.

(To those of you who are on the same wavelength as me, I am not directing my rage at you)

Writing Again


Hello everyone!

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to write anything. I’ve been working on my PhD, but I also think that I had some amount of burnout from working as an English instructor while pursuing my studies. I have started writing again recently and felt much better about everything. I love writing and find it soothing to be able to put thoughts on the page.

So, what am I writing?

Before this, I was writing on Surfacing, which was a sci-fi romance set in the future after an unknown apocalypse had happened. Earth’s surface hadn’t been breached in thousands of years, and finally, human beings are returning. However, not everyone is happy with the return, and will stop at nothing to halt the progress of the Surfacers.

Since then, I haven’t had much inspiration for this story. It’s been put on the back burner, so to speak. However, what I have been working on is a yet untitled fantasy story about a young non-binary noble who falls for a prince. At first, I was calling this my “weird het romance” because at first, the main character was presenting as a woman. However, very quickly, Naranah decided she was not a woman at all, and her love interest Prince Menar became staunchly bisexual. Not to mention, Naranah’s gay bestie Teren was the one to bring all this identity crisis about when Naranah realizes Teren’s in love with another man.

This story, which I originally planned to be 50k words is now headed towards being 100k words or more. This is likely my longest novel to date. I have been chipping away at it, and the story is sitting at about 17000 words. That’s more words than I’ve written in months, so I am feeling rather pleased with my progress. I hope that this writing kick lasts a little longer, and am looking forward to getting more words on the page over the winter holidays.

Glad to see that there are still a few writers out there following this blog and I wish you a great holiday season.

Happy writing!