LGBTQ vs Realism

No culture has ever had perfect civil rights, not now, not ever, the most you can do is pick the one closest to your ideals of living. Egypt was a big one if we’re talking exclusively about LGB(T) as well as free marriage and divorce. (I set aside the T because I honestly don’t know many historical cases to make a point). Mesopotamia, several indigenous nations from the Americas previous to the colonizations acknowledged and respect gay people (though not sure if it the latter would fit the 600BC requirement).

Some empires were better than others but from what I’ve gathered is that those who had polythetistic beliefs were more open-minded and tolerant of such matters, it wasn’t until the arrival of Christianity that homosexuality started being portraited in such a negative light and gender roles more static. Point is, historically, there were a few cultures that allowed you to lead a decent life as a gay or bi individual without much trouble but unless you go look for them you wouldn’t know.

Times are changing, schools really need to start including these topics in their programs and not just the run-of-the-mill stuff that nobody cares about or is even going to remember in 10 years. Hopefuly it will broaded minds and teach the kids that LGBT ins’t just a modern thing. With a little luck maybe they’ll even strive for some semblance of peace and tolerance just like our ancestors did.

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I believe it’s heavily dependent on the type of story. For some stories, realism is a main component (say, if someone were writing a story based off of a situation that happened to them, for example, and wanted to present it accurately).

However, “realism” as a topic seems to come up most often when criticizing the inclusion of minority characters in stories. In those cases, the criticism has no ground to stand on when the story’s setting and plot involve things that aren’t real, anyway.

It seems rather inconsequential in situations like this to take issues with minority characters. After all, it’s nonfiction anyway.

When it comes to the inclusion of bigotry, again, it depends on the story being written. If someone were to write a story about the struggles of a young interracial gay couple living in poverty, bigotry and related systems of oppression would be important to include.

Though I’ve found that many (usually straight cis) writers don’t know how to accurately portray homophobia and transphobia. Funnily enough, these are cases in which criticizing the realism of a story is appropriate–when what is written can misrepresent real situations and people and/or spread misinformation.

Inclusion of homophobic/transphobic bigotry is much different when it comes from LGBT+ writers. It is a way to express oneself and one’s struggle (sometimes to bring awareness to the issue), to vent, and/or to cope.

When it comes to straight cisgender writers including bigotry, it often has an air of emotional manipulation and using real life trauma as a source of drama for characters. Not to mention the potential to capitalize off the struggles of others. This isn’t to say straight cisgender people shouldn’t ever include homophobia/transphobia in their writing. But I rarely see said writers doing proper research (like interviewing LGBT+ people) in order to correctly represent these situations, despite the fact that “realism” is the defense used for including bigotry in the first place.

And while the inclusion of the struggles that LGBT+ folks face isn’t something inherently bad or wrong to include, in most cases, it’s not necessary. There’s nothing wrong with writing a story about gay space pirates that doesn’t include homophobia, or a story about a trans elf trying to save their village from a dragon with their orc friend that doesn’t include transphobia. These stories revolve around fictional characters and settings that already require readers to suspend their disbelief. LGBT+ characters shouldn’t break the immersion considering that the characters being LGBT+ is a more realistic aspect of the story. If they do, it’s likely because LGBT+ people make you uncomfortable, not because it’s “unrealistic.”

One piece of fiction that seems particularly relevant to this topic is Story of Steampunk. This was a game I really enjoyed, and I don’t think there was anything much wrong with the way that homophobia was included in the story, especially because it actually considers situations LGBT+ people found themselves in in the past while still allowing an enjoyable experience not overshadowed by said inclusion. There are pros and cons of how it was written, of course. Players who have experience with having to hide their sexuality and same gender relationships certainly have a case for skipping over this particular game, for example.

What matters to me is knowing that the author has also coauthored games that don’t have the same dynamic regarding same gender romance because it gives potential gay/bi/pan/poly players other options rather than leaving them empty-handed.

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I feel it’s important to note that nonbinary genders have existed and been accepted throughout history in various cultures. The enforcement of strict binary genders and subsequent roles is largely a product of colonization, as they have been and continue to be used as a tool to promote racism and white supremacy.

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Agreed, not to mention the historical record in most places had so many holes you can make a very compelling argument for including those characters, especially because as we learn more about history and the anthropological record we find the past was far less white washed and homophobic then colonialist historians would have had us believe.

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Yeah, it is definitely important to remember that the people who research and write about history (and anything, obviously) are impacted by their own cultural biases and are often of the belief that current white, western society is an accurate model to apply to any place and time throughout history.

Which is why these same people often end up surprised when a discovery is made showing that (what we conceptualize today as) LGBT+ people have existed as respected individuals in various cultures throughout history. Or anything that shows that other cultures had more respect for women and disabled people, for that matter.

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I guess I did kinda create a thread that was asking a similar question from the opposite angle :sweat_smile: which was more going into when and how one might tackle discrimination themes in an interactive fiction medium… This topic.

Ah, so if I were to distill my opinion very briefly, I don’t think there’s really one right way to do it. Depicting a setting without discrimination can be quite nice; when it is present, especially if it’s a real world thing, or something with analogues to real world things, then you’re going to need to be careful not to be bigoted about it.

One key, I think, is that it’s generally best to make sure you’re not really closing off options to a player character for being a member of a minority or a woman. That said, I do sometimes, depending on the setting, like a little acknowledgement when I’m playing a gay character (i.e. literally every single game except Choice of the Dragon) of things that might be a little different for that reason… it can make it feel like the option to be gay is less of an afterthought.
As far as examples… Hollywood Visionary was a game where I actually would’ve liked my storyline to feel a little different for being gay, due to taking place in the 1950s… not to the point of being stopped from doing anything, but just a bit more of an acknowledgement, and maybe fueling the paranoia a little more. (Especially when my male love interest talked about previously having been married to another man… that didn’t really feel like it’d been written with gay '50s characters in mind…) There’s actually a brief scene I really liked which never displays when playing, because it’s hidden under *comment, in which an unpleasant character makes a brief homophobic insult… and then another character steps in for some major comforting time… and that comforting time gave me really warm and happy feelings… so I liked having that.
6th Grade Detective is the classic example of a game which I really like (a lot), but which I felt made an unfortunate decision when it comes to playing a gay character… namely a bit of banter where a love interest’s uncle will tease the main character and that love interest about being a boyfriend/girlfriend… but you’ll only get this tease if they’re opposite genders. The teasing was cute. I don’t want to be deprived of cuteness due to playing as gay :unamused:
Moving from LGBTQ to gender, there’s Slammed!… if I recall correctly, if playing a woman (which I haven’t done, so I’m going on hearsay), there’s a bit of a plotline involving challenging sexism in wrestling, which I think sounded optional, one of the paths you can pick near the end, and not available for men. That sounds to me like a good way of handling this, since it’s giving more plot material, rather than depriving the player of plot material, and it’s targeted to showing the discrimination as wrong, and you can choose a different plot if you want to.

Now, in @Spyder’s WiP, The Oval Office, I did recently give some advice in terms of gay characters that maybe other people might disagree with. I mean, I was only giving the advice from the standpoint of what I, personally, might like to see. Basically I was just saying that, if I’m playing a gay president, I might like to see some mention of this… and I was saying this not from the standpoint of “please hurl challenges and abuse at me :smile:!” but from the standpoint of “becoming the first gay president would be a big achievement. I would like to be recognized for this.” There was already a similar question from a reporter for someone playing a female president, about how it feels to be the first woman president… anyway, wondering how others might feel about that bit of advice…

Also, when it comes to realism, I think one of the main problems is when people use “realism” as an excuse to bash other people for writing something inclusive… but I do also think people can write something with realism and inclusion, and can even write something that depicts a setting where discrimination exists but write a story that is still inclusive.
One of the big things is that people use use discriminatory settings as an excuse not to write characters from the group discriminated against… “this is a patriarchal and homophobic setting, so of course all my characters are straight men.” I strongly feel that, in such cases, it’s very important for such a story to really use characters from the disadvantaged groups… “this is a patriarchal setting, and therefore I shall write about women and GBTQ men.”

(I would like to see more settings without all this discrimination too… I just think there’s more than one viable approach here…)

Let’s see…[quote=“ParrotWatcher, post:1, topic:27311”]
Firstly, and I hope I don’t need to belabour this point, is it wrong to include LGBTQ minorities in a work, even when “realism” suggests that they wouldn’t be there? Of course not; representation is important, both for LGBTQ readers, and for non-LGBTQ readers.
[/quote]

I don’t even really think there’s going to be many situations where it’d be unrealistic for such characters to be present. In some historical settings, and settings based on those, it might be unrealistic for them to be open about that, true. But I think people tend to underestimate how present LGBTQ people have been in history, maybe because it often gets censored… and people tend to think that a lot of settings were way more intolerant than they actually were. The early middle ages, for example… not exactly a great time to be gay, but while the church considered it technically sinful, it wasn’t really considered a major sin, so even a 100% realistic depiction of the middle ages

Also, I would like to emphasize that this is not necessarily true. History is not just the history of Abrahamic religions, and even Abrahamic religions have not always been uniformly homophobic and transphobic. There have been other cultures with homophobic and transphobic attitudes, but not most of them. And it comes in different degrees too… there’ve been a lot of societies where it’s okay to have gay relationships but heterosexual marriage is expected… this still isn’t great, but it’s more complicated than just complete condemnation.

I think this might be where our opinions are diverging a little ( :’( )… but, ah, I certainly agree that the example you give is something that people should refrain from writing. I’d say that goes to the point of whether you’re actively discriminating against the player’s storyline for choosing a gay character… are you cutting out narrative options, and closing out a happy ending? Then yeah, that’s unfair. But you can still work with such a setting and provide sorta bonus material, without closing any doors… then that won’t be to everyone’s taste, sure, but I don’t think that’s wrong.

I do think I’ve seen too many stories, plays, movies, etc., where the gay couple gets a substantially worse ending than the hetero couple. Which always feels like it’s saying “gay people don’t get to have happy endings. Now, heterosexual people, go feel bad about that. But not too bad, or it will disrupt your happy ending.” Let’s try to avoid doing that.

I’m not familiar with that film… I googled a little, and I wonder if this might be something to do with the fact that the film sounds like it’s more focused on a formerly bigoted character, and not so much on the people dealing with the bigotry? :thinking:

Yeah, me too :slight_smile:

I feel like I, personally, have a strong emotional need to have both of these things in my stories. I really want to enjoy and have stories and games where being gay is not an issue, and there are other problems driving the story. I think that people using so-called “realism” (I say “so-called” because it usually isn’t :rolling_eyes:) to disparage those are deeply misguided. But I also occasionally like to wallow in something that’s more about gay issues… and I also really like sometimes a story about overcoming those, or at least trying to…

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If you’re actually making it take place during a historical time period I think the reason people avoid in general it’s going to be a lot harder to write.

If I was going to do a game Let’s same and the early period The American Republic. I wouldn’t bluntly give you the choice of sexuality. If they fall in love the man it’s going to be a slow burn they’re not going to realize it right away and no they’re deeply attracted and I never have to deal with it so be like um an evolution of a realization of this is who they actually are, coming to the realization is always been that I mean it could be a great suplot within itself.

When the most famous examples during this time period Well he’s more of turn of the Civil War. Was Buchanan known for being a lifelong bachelor that he may have been by bisexual or asexual we’re not quite sure. It’s clear he did love his former fiance before she died. Simultaneously it being romantic or platonic it’s up to debate. But many people think he may have been possibly bisexual or gay later in life. Is that he lived with William R. King the Washington boarding house for 10 years. They are always seen together in public. Washington Society view them as close friends but the personal correspondence between individuals shows rumors abound among the true nature of their relationship.

Again showing a trans man and woman would be hard during this period. Even more so when you get to the different tribes if you’re coming from that perspective. They definitely existed in some lived very successful lives others it’s quite tragic. It’s comes down to how well are they at hiding their biological gender. Unless they’re in New Orleans you can get away with being a little bit eccentric in New Orleans or very eccentric by the standards of the day.

The film is clearly anti-fascist, but neonazis have adopted some of its aesthetical elements.
A similar issue happens with the movie Cabaret and the song Tomorrow belongs to me, which might sound like an inspiring and beautiful song with the message of hope until you realize who is singing it. There is a point for this, since the musical wants to illustrate how easy it is to be seduced into a fascist mindset. The problem is that some white nationalists have adopted it as an anthem.

It is a paradox how depicting discrimination can sometimes lead to people feeling more comfortable with it. I still maintain that the portrayal of this issues is important and I mostly agree with you, but the point adressed by @ParrotWatcher shows that it’s important for authors to be concius about this.

I don’t know, I guess its about finding some balance and there might not be a right way to do it. I also would like to say: writers, if you are having doubts about how depicting discrimination in your works, please ask questions and have discussions in the forums, I’m sure your stories will benefit from it.

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I find these types of discussions incredibly useless. If the author wants to include it, he’ll include it. If he doesn’t, he won’t. There’s no need to try to coerce him to either side.

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It’s not about that. These types of discussions can help some people to think about problems or points of view that they might have not considered otherwise.

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Huh. Clearly, I lost my train of thought in the middle of a sentence…

I was just going to say that even a 100% realistic depiction of the middle ages could still include a happy gay romance.

As far as evidence goes, the big thing is church penitentials. We can see from the church’s documentation what penances they were assigning for different “sins,” including “sodomy.” And early in the medieval period, those were usually fairly slight… indicating that, while the church was trying to discourage it, they weren’t exactly launching a campaign to crush it, either. And there generally weren’t any laws against it until later in the period (allowing for some regional variation, naturally.)

Discrimination can come in different degrees, after all…

That could make sense in such a setting, sure. I mean, the term “homosexual” didn’t exist before 1880, and the identity was still gradually emerging around then… there were other early terms like “Uranian” and “invert,” as the identity was developing, although a lot of these terms tended to conflate what we’d consider homosexuality with what we’d consider transgender identities. So asking “are you gay?” wouldn’t make sense back then… but you could still just ask a character who they’re interested in… or just, when romance options come up, let the character be interested or not on a case-by-case basis.

And if the author wants to include it, but isn’t sure how, the discussion could help. And if the author is uncertain, persuadable, or just hasn’t ever thought about the issue, the discussion could change their mind. And if the author is a woman, she apparently doesn’t exist.

Useless to you doesn’t mean useless to everybody.

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@TSSL @Colonel_Yasar

Please, I understand this is a sensitive issue, but I believe we can all act mature about it. I wouldn’t like that the moderators have to close this thread.

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When I see people having a discussion of ammunition, or golf, or dog breeding, or any other subject that is neither interesting nor useful to me, personally, I don’t feel the need to jump in and tell them all that I find the discussion useless.

I love how a minor use of sarcasm is apparently equivalent to being “so easily offended.”

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Then there’s always the fact that wealthy and high class/status individuals usually have it significantly easier when it came to those sorts of things, their biggest threats being blackmail and exile as opposed to being drawn and quartered in the town square or being forced to do a life sentence of hard labour, with or without being shipped off the the colonies in later periods.

Not really seeing any immaturity here, just the same straight guy entitled bullcrap I used to see over at the Bioware forums a couple of years ago, back when I still frequented them and @TSSL crusading against it, which frankly considering what this place is shouldn’t have to be necessary over here.

Well ammunition and dog-breeding are always useful and now that I’m officially an evil, amoral bastard I really should look into golf more. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Why do I even bother?

@RETowers, please I think that the issue is getting out of hand here. Can you do something about it?

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Why that specific mod? I don’t think this even dignifies a response but if it does @Sashira @JimD or @Havenstone might be quicker.

Oh, I did not know. The only time I saw a mod intervening in a thread was with her.

Also a good point, yes. I’m just pointing out that a lot of the harsher penalties didn’t really kick in until the late middle ages, or even the renaissance… and sometimes later than that. I think it would help the realism issue for it to be broadcast a little more that being in a gay relationship in the middle ages didn’t necessarily mean going to the chopping block, but could still lead to just as fulfilling a life… maybe with a few villagers sniggering behind your back, but with your head still attached and your heart still beating :stuck_out_tongue:

And I would genuinely hope that you enjoy any and all discussions you have on these topics; I just won’t personally be barging in on them :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I’m particularly thinking of all the discussions of ammunition that happen on the Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven thread… not a topic that I know stuff about, not a topic that particularly interests me, not even something that I’m likely to notice much when playing the game, but I’m not going to stand around complaining that people are talking about it, because I think it still adds to the game. Nor does it detract from my experience in any way. It turns out that it’s completely possible for people to have different interests, and like talking about different things, and to respect those without intruding on each other.
Likewise for those who aren’t into LGBTQ discussions, and for whom it wouldn’t impact the game much… why rain on those for whom it would make a difference? Why do you care?

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You can actually call all mods with @ moderators (which I won’t do here, because I don’t really think we need intervention right now, as long as people keep it calm and friendly :slight_smile:).

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Well maybe you are right. The issue has been contained quicker than I thought.

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