Ooh! A Gay Protagonist

Warning: My protagonist is gay!

Fun (and serious) discussion of Kindle Boards, started by Hugh Howey. Whether you should warn readers that your protagonist is gay. I was glad to see that the consensus was whole heartedly NO. Which made me think about The Warden, which I still haven’t finished. Den is in a relationship with his ex-convict slave, but that’s not what the book is about. Categorizing it as male/male would certainly attract readers who like to read that genre. But most male/male novels are romances, which The Warden is decidedly not.

Both the hand slaves novels, particularly the first,  include romance, even if it’s not the type most readers are accustomed to. Since the relationship between Cor and Alcot is at the center of the novels, and Cor also has a relationship with his own male slave, labeling the books male/male makes sense. But I seem to be moving further away from that trope, and though I’d originally planned to identify The Warden as male/male, I won’t be doing that.

The Kindle Boards discussion considered whether some readers would be offended to find that there was a male protagonist, and one reply pretty much summed up where that could lead. Besides the usual (foul language, sex  . . .), he threw in: “Kissing between people of different races, Cordial interactions between Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and A character who leaves the toilet seat up.”

Seriously, any writer is going to come across readers who are offended by something. Should we try to pre-empt them by apologizing ahead of time? Where would it end?


6 thoughts on “Ooh! A Gay Protagonist

  1. You make a good point; from scanning reviews on Goodreads, I have learned that readers can be offended by all kinds of unpredictable things, including characters who don’t meet their standards of hygiene, decorum, or temperance. Of course a gay protagonist should not have to be warned or apologised for.

    Labelling can be tricky; the m/m tag would make your book visible to a large and voracious audience, but then it might not only not be what they were looking for and thus lead to a negative response but it might also deter readers in search of more ‘literary’ or challenging fare. On the other hand, I do think that the m/m is not universally formulaic and there is plenty of room for experimentation and dark tropes. There would be m/m readers who would enjoy the book.

    1. Yes, there’s a great deal of variety even in male/male novels. Figuring out which way to go is getting increasingly tricky, I think. More readers who are willing to venture into new territory, but the mass of readers still want what they’re familiar with. What that leads me to is that the description might be the most important part of finding the right audience. I spend a lot of time working out my descriptions, but for some books I’m going to have to try to do it in a way that helps the reader avoid misconceptions as well as convey the essence of the plot.

  2. Regardless of what you’ll end up labeling it, I wouldn’t do label it in order to warn potential readers or – worse – apologize. There’s no need for that.

    1. Absolutely, no apologies, ever. If you have to apologize for your work, you shouldn’t even bother to publish it. If the relationship fits naturally into my blurb, that’s all the warning anyone will get. I won’t be tagging it as gay or male/male, because that’s not what the book is about. Maybe someday it won’t even be an issue. Right! And someday pigs will fly.

      1. Haha, I’m sure one day somebody will manage to get a pig onboard an airplane. But yeah, amen to that. There will always be haters. So be it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s