Thursday, February 19, 2009

Idle musings and rabid speculation

One man's term is another man's choice.One of the many new terms I assimilated as I ventured onto the web was “Gay Okay”. I have to admit this one puzzled me, as well as quite a few friends that happen to be GLBT.

While my understanding may be flawed I’ve since come with further research to accept that in this context it refers to a writer that has chosen to present their story in a world in which the characters are surrounded only by GBLT characters, and only by GBLT situations.

I have come across this comment being used in what is commonly a reproving manner. The underlying impression I’m left with is that presenting a story in a “Gay Okay” setting negates the struggles and/or real life experiences of those that have dealt, and continue to deal with the opposite.

I’ve thought about this in the framework of my own life experiences – those being most readily accessible to me, and I can only conclude that in real life, as in fiction - like seeks like.

As a young woman in my very early 20’s one major criterion when apartment shopping was that I wanted to live in an apartment complex filled with young singles of comparable age and attitude, rather than in one filled with families and small children.

This choice was made for purely selfish reasons as being awakened at 7:00AM on a Saturday morning by the sound of a big wheel being ridden back and forth across the small strip of sidewalk under my apartment window after a festive night out at the bar was not my idea of a good time. (Trust me; it only has to happen once.)

When I hang with those who happen to be GLBT I observe a similar pattern. I visit apartments and houses where the majority of their neighbors are GLBT. When we go out to eat we usually patronize cafes and restaurants owned by and catering to those in the GLBT community. We visit bookstores and shops owned and staffed by those that are GLBT.

It’s not that these individuals are living their real life in a fictional “Gay Okay” world; it’s simply that they have chosen to surround themselves with people and places that contribute in a positive manner to their comfort level and their daily life much as I did as a young woman and still do now.

So when I write a fictional episode in a GLBT character’s life and I pull from my interactions with friends and acquaintances I have to wonder. Am I committing the “Gay Okay” trespass? Am I contributing to and perpetuating a stereotype despaired of by those that coined the phrase to begin with?

I remind myself that this is where skill needs to come into play. I need to continually develop my skills as a writer so that I convey the impression that it’s not that character is living in a “Gay Okay” world, but that they are living in the real world filled with outcome of the choices they have made for their own comfort.

My constant goal is to write a believable and interesting piece. One in which the sexual preferences of the characters are always secondary to the events of the story.

Sometimes I might even succeed.

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