One of my short stories, Prey for Change, has a gay protagonist. I'm not quite sure how it evolved, except that when I realized all the changelings were male, it made sense that any longterm relationships would be between males. No worries, the story sold, and only a few people have asked me why I wrote a gay protagonist. This, however, is a theme I explore a lot to different degrees--not just gay relationships, but relationships between men that push the "standard" boundaries. Sometimes I make my characters uncomfortable with one anotherby playing the "gay" card. In Hinterland, Jaim and Sean share a bed by necessity, and Jaim makes it clear he'd fool around if Sean wants. Sean doesn't want.
In The True Ternion, Aidan's cousin Marc even brings it up. The situation is that Aidan has put a magical protection over his cousin Alexia, without quite knowing what it's about or what's required to seal the deal.
"...you mean you want me to have sex with Alexia Oman?” Aidan shook his head and held up his hands. “No way, Marc. Shit, even if I were interested in her that way... I mean, her dad would kill me.”
“She’s inducted and autonomous. He can’t do anything about it. And if he knows about the Aegis then he knows you’ll likely seal your protection over her like that. It’s common with the opposite sex to do it that way.”
Aidan absorbed this and leaned back against the door. “Then, how do you do it with the same sex?” he asked. “I mean, there’s got to be an alternative, right?”
Marc shrugged. “Depends. Sometimes... ” he stopped when Aidan’s eyes widened. “Don’t look so shocked. It’s only sex, mate. But, the alternative is the Covenant if you don’t want the other.”
“Well, she can just...” But Aidan didn’t want Alexia’s Covenant. Having his cousins’ was bad enough. He couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else dying for him.
Now as fate would have it, Aidan does have to face this situation with a guy later in the book, but as the guy is an enemy, he refuses to save him.
Even in the earliest drafts of Sentinel, Aidan's cousins were "too" affectionate. This is because they veiw Aidan almost as their own child, not out of any sexual feeling at all, but Aidan, being a typical red-blooded American male, assumes they're attracted to him. Even when he knows it's different, he doesn't like their touching him all the time. It's made for fun little roadblocks and opportunities for growth for my characters. But now, I've come up with something different.
I'm considering a gay protag for a new novel. I'd like to play with the idea of a very repressed character: a good church goer, maybe a preacher's son who never went wild like they reportedly do. Or maybe he went wild as a kid and had it immediately punished. I like exploring the idea that he is the misunderstood son who represses his differences for the sake of acceptance. I think he'll be in the sorcerer-hunting family business--though he finds it all very distasteful, he joins for lack of alternatives. After all, what else is a guy with a talent for seeing sorcerers going to do? When his parents retire, or when he is old enough to let their approval go (when is that, btw? 40? 5o? never?) the world starts changing around him. He starts seeing these different elements that have always been there--the beauty in the sorcery he'd been raised to hate. I like the idea of the sorcerers representing the underclass--the rejects from society at large who, in accepting their lot and their "self," find magic and greatness.
In the end of course it will be a sorcerer who undoes him. They fall in love. I'd also like a mystery in there somewhere, because either I'm not a good enough writer to let self-discovery drive the plot, or maybe it's because I have this affliction with inserting mystery into every book. Probably a little of both. I should just become a mystery writer and have done with it.
My question about this extremely rough idea is "can the world face a gay protag?" Of course there've got to be some around (if you know any good ones for me to read, let me know). I have some personal reasons for addressing the gay issue, but also because it's such an easy dig at Christianity--hell, most organized religions.
Right now I like the idea of a slipstream/urban fantasy setting, but would it be easier to readers to take in a completely fantastical world with stand in mores and social classes? I'm just not sure.
Any thoughts of direction for me?