Representation isn’t a topic that needs introduction. If you’ve been on the internet, you’ve seen some sort of talk about representation and how powerful it is. Simply put, these affirming characters inspire us. As another Pride month comes to an end, it’s important to remember that being LGBTQ+ isn’t just a thirty-day trend. Here are a few reasons why LGBTQ+ characters in books matter, too.
Different people bring different ideas to the table
In a workplace, you need different mindsets. It’s helpful for any project to have multiple people with different areas of expertise coming together to create something, and ideally, with more people involved, you can cover all your bases. So if we can agree that this works better for projects, why is it any different in literature?
Having different characters with different sexualities reminds readers that there are unique people with unique mindsets. Every person will have their individual history and experience, all of which make a character worth listening to. But it’s also worth mentioning that if a book isn’t in the romance genre, a character’s sexuality doesn't necessarily have to be a major plot point.
The very existence of LGBTQ+ people matters. To censor LGBTQ+ characters is to censor the existence of the exact people who have continually been marginalized throughout history. The HIV/AIDS pandemic killed one in 15 gay men at it’s worst. The results of this detrimental disease meant that nearly an entire generation of LGBTQ+ people were wiped out. It’s not a coincidence that gen z is most comfortable identifying as LGBTQ+: they’re the first generation that’s been allowed to live long enough to publicly come out. And I won’t deny it: I’ve been fortunate enough to have people all around me who are either outspoken allies or are LGBTQ+ themselves. Same-sex marriage here in Canada has been legal since 2005, and my high school district has a huge float in Pride every year. I’m well aware of how lucky I am, and I want to use my privilege to uplift others. Outwardly supporting LGBTQ+ people shows them that their life is valuable and precious. It’s important to see these people healthy and alive: it’s a punch in the face towards systemic homophobia around the world by saying “our existence matters and we deserve to be seen.”
Every time I hear someone say they’ve never met an LGBTQ+ person, I feel like they’re admitting to me that no one has felt comfortable coming out to them yet. Which is fine, no one is under any need to come out, especially if they feel unsafe. Reading stories with LGBTQ+ characters is important because it tells us that these characters are people with authentic experiences just like us. Even in the fantasy genre where we can be a little more creative with our stories, we still want our characters to feel authentic. Affirming to your reader that a character is LGBTQ+ can give the reader that boost of self-confidence to imagine themselves as the protagonist, too.
is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto. When she isn't writing, she's reading and working on her bullet journal. You can read more of her work at ashaswann.com