Gay characters in children's books

by Lydia

Two Moms...or Not?

Two Moms...or Not?

Should I have gay characters just for the sake of having them?

Okay. I am a lesbian in a committed relationship. I started writing a children's book featuring a character with adoptive lesbian parents. (My partner and I are planning to adopt some day.)

Well, as I started getting more and more into the story, it became more and more about the child's story, and less and less about her parents and their sexuality...as of course it should be! My book didn't want to be a statement; it wanted to be a story.

So here's the problem: my partner, who isn't a writer, is upset. I've changed the gay parents to heterosexual birth parents. Why? Because that's what most parents are, and those are the types of families most children are born into, and I want my book to SELL. My partner thinks I've simply sold out.

I don't know if I'm looking for answers as much as I'm looking for sympathy. Anyone?

Comments for Gay characters in children's books

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gay vs. straight
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

OK, Lydia, you have my sympathy, but as a man I'm constitutionally unable not to offer an opinion/idea:

Parents seem to be fading into the background in your story, which is what the story wants. Surely, they still exist though. Can I suggest that you find an opportunity to name one of them, and that you name her after your partner? Maybe that'll make her feel better. And maybe you can also get away with not mentioning a dad, so that the story parents aren't clearly not lesbians.

What's your intention?
by: Julius

Hello, and thanks for sharing. I read your post three times to make sure I was not missing something.

The title of the story is I assume "Two Moms or Not." The title leads me to believe the topic is related to two moms.

As I continue to read your dilemma I notice that you say the story as you were writing turned out to be more situational and relevant to the child, and that the context did not pertain to the title, or, shall I say, to two gay parents. Hence you changed the parents to male-female!

If you are changing the characters to better tell the story, that makes sense. If you are merely changing them with the notion it will sell more books, then yeah, I would say, "sellout."

Write from your heart and let the story be. What is the point you are trying to relate with the story? That is where I would begin and end!

Just my humble opinion.

Thanks
Julius

My mistake
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Julius, just to clarify: it was me who added the picture, along with the caption, "Two Moms...or Not." So Lydia didn't have any intention of giving the book that title. That was just me misleading you (unintentionally), I'm afraid!

What is the message?
by: Anonymous

If the story is not about a kid relationship with gay parents and how that affects his life then maybe you should stay with the heterosexual parents. But if the story is about helping others understanding others, keep the book with the gay characters.

Think about the final message.

Clarity
by: Julius

I see!

Well then I apologize for any unintended confusion. It was not my intention to assume anything, and I only had the post to go by. My Point was only to focus on the the story line or message wished to be conveyed.

Thank you for the clarity!

You think you've got spouse problems?
by: Glenda

:-)

Webmaster's note: I think Glenda is referring to her own post.

A Slave with Too Many Masters
by: Anonymous

Hmmm...I read 3 things from your comment:

1. You want to adopt
2. You have a serious partner
3. You want your book to sell
4. You want to make a statement about lesbians
5. You want your main character to have her own voice (this voice may or may not 'speak' to the above objectives) because that voice belongs to herself.

Go back to your character and really listen to what she is telling you and what she needs from you...

As for the publishers - research books that have lesbian parents...they are out there.

Write another book just for your partner next.

If you haven't read, Writing Down The Bones, I think you would enjoy it. It has lots of inspiration in it for saying it like it is...good luck to you!

cutting edge
by: noah

What a great way for the tri-gender community to show their connection to family values. To express themselves as loving people who came from loving parents who supported their choice of life.

This can help parents who have tri-gender children explain the family as a circle of love that cannot be broken.

Keep the lesbian parents!
by: Anonymous

Sorry, no idea how old this post is - but I am trawling the net for a GREAT and FUN kids book which does simply have lesbian characters (particularly mammas) in the background. I really would prefer the sexuality to be incidental, and the book to be enjoyable in and of itself. No moralising or deep 'message'. Have you had a look at Julia Donaldsen's Tabby McTat?

Look at the pics. It's a great example. :)

Could gay characters be a marketing positive?
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

I just ran across this post again and had a different reaction.

The publishing industry is largely staffed by some pretty liberal-minded people living, largely, in a pretty liberal-minded city. (New York.)

12 states now have gay marriage.

I suspect that there are publishers who might be more drawn to a manuscript with gay characters. I suspect some might even see lesbian parents as a way to garner more publicity for the book, especially since you yourself are in a committed lesbian relationship.

Authors are marketed, just as their books are. And frankly, a lesbian author writing about hetero parents might be less appealing to media outlets. You might be criticized...as your partner is criticizing you!

We wouldn't expect black authors to write about white characters just because there are more white people.

I think I'm leaning more towards "write what you know." I think the time has come. Thankfully.

Sorry, but I disagree
by: Anonymous

Should you have gay characters in your story, simply for the sake of having them? While I sympathize as a fellow gay guy, my answer is no. If you have characters in your story who are gay, then the conflict of the story should be centered on THEM. If it isn't integral, then it shouldn't be worth mentioning. I recently read a series of YA spy novels (which won't be named here) in which one boy was gay, but his orientation wasn't made into an issue until the fifth/sixth book.

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