This is topic Do you read gay-friendly books? in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by Suneun (Member # 3247) on :
I was poking around tonight looking for Lackey's free book Lark and the Wren and discovered a small page about why people enjoy reading Lackey. The main points I liked were:
Misty's very good at making you care about the characters. They encourage tolerance. They demonstrate that people are people, and that it's who you are that matters, not what your sexuality or religion may be; that love is love, and the form doesn't matter.
I realized that I do feel that way about her books (well, I already knew I like her books because of the characters). I wanted to ask if anyone has read books that have made them change perspective. Maybe a little, maybe a lot.

And perhaps more specifically, for those of you who have read Lackey, do you see her writing as "tolerant" and "gay-friendly"? Do you like or hate that?

[ November 13, 2003, 01:28 AM: Message edited by: Suneun ]
Posted by Toretha (Member # 2233) on :
her characters do do that a lot-although I already felt that way, so it's possible I enjoy her books because they agree with what my worldview already is.
Posted by CalvinMaker (Member # 2032) on :
Interesting question. I'm reading Owl Flight right now, and just finished the short story "Jouster".

I do remember starting to read a series by her in which the main character came out at the beginning, and had a lover name Tyler(if I remember correctly.) I couldn't finish reading it because, while I have absolutely nothing against homosexuals, reading from the point of view of one just made me feel very uncomfortable. The book was very good and well written, I just wasn't ready to deal with the issues in it myself.

[ November 12, 2003, 08:38 AM: Message edited by: CalvinMaker ]
Posted by Suneun (Member # 3247) on :
Thanks for sharing that, CalvinMaker. Maybe one day you'll pick it back up again and like it.

She does have a lot of gay characters. Even when they're not the main characters, she refers to them a lot in passing. I've read almost all the books in the Valdemar world. I also already had similar opinions to her before I read her books, but I think she's made me gain even more empathy.
Posted by jeniwren (Member # 2002) on :
I like her work also, but largely because in her hands the fact that a character is gay just makes them more interesting. It adds a facet that is intrinsic to the story and character development. In other words, they aren't gratuitously gay simply for the sake of making the story appear more PC. I don't feel cheapened or insulted as a reader when she introduces a gay character.
Posted by Megachirops (Member # 4325) on :
What percentage of her characters (of known orientation) would you say are gay?
Posted by Toretha (Member # 2233) on :
Tylendel was his name. also, the main character hid it from everyone but a few people because he was afraid of his father for about half of the book. I enjoyed it-but Jane's mom, when she found it in jane's room was pretty annnoyed
Posted by Suneun (Member # 3247) on :
let see... it's certainly nowhere near as high as you'd think from reading our comments. Out of the 7 or so trilogies she's written in the Valdemar, only one of the trilogies has a gay main character (Last Herald-Mage) I think. But there's almost always a gay side character in her books. Like one of the teachers at the Herald school is a lesbian, whose partner is a travelling Herald. Or the guard of the city gate is gay, and is willing to be a little extra helpful because the women who are entering pretend to be lovers*. You know, sorta quick interspersed gay-friendly stuff. There are a lot of euphemisms... shield-mate, she'chorne (which is apparently romanian?).

*Okay, it sounds odd. Happens in the first Tarma and Kethry book... Oathbound? Oathbreakers? one of those.
Posted by Suneun (Member # 3247) on :
oh and cause I just thought of it...

there's a gay main (one of three) character in the Rose of the Prophet series by Weis and Hickman. He's an interesting one, because he doesn't know he's gay for the beginning part of the trilogy. And the other two main characters don't really accept him for a long time.
Posted by Zalmoxis (Member # 2327) on :
Not Romanian (the Romance language spoken by the majority of the resident of Romania), but Romany (variations of which are spoken by the Roma peoples of many European countries -- the Roma are also known as gypsies).

The confusion is easy to make because of the similarity in terms and because the largest population of Roma live in Romania -- although they are not "ethnic" Romanians (who are of Roman/Getae-Dacian descent with a bunch of other early European tribes mixed in).
Posted by Toretha (Member # 2233) on :
I know the curseword shaeka from those books is arabic, thanks to my mother, who speaks it...

as for the ratio, I'm sick and bored, so I went through the first herald mage book and made a list of characters whose names were familiar-so basically the main or semi-main characters, and there were two gay couples in the book, with a total of 7.5 heterosexual characters to every one homosexual character-and that was basically discarding most of the minor characters-who, as far as I know were all straight.
Posted by Koryu (Member # 5922) on :
I read all those books, and yeah it's in Oathbreaker that that happened. (just read it)

Another note on gay-friendly books, has anyone read the book of short stories Am I Blue? That was really good.

Posted by blacwolve (Member # 2972) on :
I don't mind the gay characters in her books, although it surprised me, because I'd never encountered writing about gay characters anywhere else when I read it.

However, I couldn't finish The Last Herald Mage series. I read part of the first book, and got to the part where all the bad stuff happened (you know what I mean) and just couldn't finish, it was too depressing.

I finally stopped reading Mercedes Lackey because of one series (I forget which one, the people lived in trees) in which there was more description of various sexual and pyscological tortures than I was comfortable with. I don't know if it would have bothered me as much if I'd been reading them now, I read them several years ago.
Posted by Xaposert (Member # 1612) on :
I would tend to think any book is gay-friendly, except for those that explicitly make fun or attack them (of which I know none.)
Posted by pooka (Member # 5003) on :
Call of Earth/Ships of Earth was probably about the gay-friendliest book I've ever read. But I'm not very well read.
Posted by Suneun (Member # 3247) on :
it's been years since I read Lovelock. Does anyone remember it well enough to comment on the gay-atmosphere? I think it was one of those 'be gay and live in your straight marriage' deals...
Posted by pooka (Member # 5003) on :

was not about staying in the marriage. The husband left, and I'm pretty sure Carol was glad he did. I was going to mention Lovelock but having gay characters is not the same as being gay friendly. In Lovelock the gay couple was depicted as deceptive, I think they were discovered as opposed to coming out. Also, there was the idea that gay people shouldn't go on the mission, whereas other "drones" (as the in laws past childbearing years were called) were there. So that didn't make a lot of sense. Though it didn't follow that because they were gay, they were immoral in other ways. The husband continued to be a responsible father in the closing scenes. But that's not quite enough to make it gay friendly.

On the other hand, in the Homecoming series Zdorab is depicted as a human being who happens to be gay.
Posted by Suneun (Member # 3247) on :
Yeah, I didn't remember it being gay-friendly. I just wasn't quite sure what the feeling was.

blacwolve: I know which books you're talking about. Definitely tough subjects. Lackey often deals with rape and abuse of power (emotional and physical). If I had a daughter, I don't know at what age I'd be comfortable with her reading those books. I guess she'd have to make the choice for herself at some point.
Posted by Caleb Varns (Member # 946) on :
Sorry to interrupt (I've not even heard of Lackey or her books), but from the sound of this conversation it sounds like I would enjoy her work and it sounds like you all would enjoy the following film:

But I'm A Cheerleader!

Just trading recommendations. [Smile]
Posted by Kayla (Member # 2403) on :
I can't imagine a straight guy not enjoying the movie Kissing Jessica Stein, but then again, I can't imagine a straight guy not being turned on by two women making out. Funny how men can be so into female bi-sexuality, but not male bi-sexuality. [Wink]

I always thought OSC's was "gay-friendly" until I came to Hatrack and it was explained to me that he was cool with homosexuality as long as they denied their sexuality and lived "straight." And, when looking back, I see it now, but was much happier with my delusion.
Posted by Laurenz0 (Member # 5336) on :
I always thought OSC's was "gay-friendly" until I came to Hatrack and it was explained to me that he was cool with homosexuality as long as they denied their sexuality and lived "straight."
yeah, I know what you mean. But, what can you expect him to think. He is a devout mormon, how could he possibly think homosexuality was cool?

[ November 14, 2003, 07:52 PM: Message edited by: Laurenz0 ]
Posted by Koryu (Member # 5922) on :
My best friend loves that movie, Caleb. But she's living with her parents, and can't force me to watch it. [Frown]
Posted by Suneun (Member # 3247) on :
Hey Caleb =) Glad you joined the thread. If you want to read Lackey's gay-protagonist books, then start with Magic's Pawn. If you want to just start where I started (heehee), then read Oathbound =).

Kissing Jessica Stein is such a not-lesbian movie. I didn't like it much at all the first time I saw it, but I like it a little better now.
Posted by Kayla (Member # 2403) on :
Suneun, I know! But guys love watching chicks make out. [Wink]
Posted by Dagonee (Member # 5818) on :
It's because we can root for both of them!
[The Wave]
Posted by Olivet (Member # 1104) on :
Some gals like watching guys make out, too. [Wink] (Sorry, I just saw Y Tu Mama Tambien last night, and boy-o-boy was that movie not what I thought it was. Not that I'm complaining, exactly, I'm just not sure why the critics were so ga-ga over it. It was basically all about life death and sexuality, and ended with some boy/boy smoochies. When the credits rolled, Ron said, "Mexicans are weird." Which I don't think was the reaction the filmmakers were after.)

I just started reading The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, by Michael Chabon (?), which Ron read first, and was a little squicked by the fact that one of our heroes found a woman to love and the other found a man. I just started, so they are both, like, ten years old and that hasn't really entered into it yet. It won the Pulitzer, I think, but despite that it's very engaging. The writer isn't gay, evidently.

I have not read Mercedes Lackey, though I have heard her praised often enough. Maybe I should.

Um, I'm writing a story that's sort of gay-friendly... though I think it reflects my belief that most humans are at least capable of sex with about anything, given the right circumstances. I tend to view sexuality as points along a continuum-- not so much black or white, either-or. Don't know if that's gay-friendly or not.
Posted by Theca (Member # 1629) on :
I admit that Magic's Pawn by Lackey was a huge eye-opener for me and made me rethink what I thought I knew about same sex relationships. I was only 18 when I read it. I personally did not know anyone who was gay, and my very religious mother (blind, sheltered, taught by nuns) had definite opinions that she regularly shared with the family as if it were fact. So I never really thought about what a long term gay relationship would or could be like. Furthermore in my junior high and high school I was routinely accused of being gay from the age of 12 until about 17. I got asked a lot of disconcerting questions. As a consequence I was extremely careful about my behavior and I had a strong feeling of pity for anyone unfortunate enough to actually BE gay and be treated the way I was treated, only worse.

That book deeply impressed me and I had a totally different understanding/feeling about what true love is, what it means, and where and how people find it. I even gave it to another girl to read when she made some anti-gay comments at work. She lost the book. Ah, well.

I can't read Lackey's other series anymore. She gets on my nerves with the dramatic way she presents things and her frequent use of italics really bugs me. Her characters' relationships often feel a little forced, to me. She seems to over-present them, make them almost too intense, somehow. I am including both the same sex and heterosexual ones in this. It's been years since I tried to read one, though. Maybe she's changed.

I don't think about "gay friendly" books anymore. I do take note when I see an anti-gay work of fiction and may quit reading it. I can think of one good book. Lois McMaster Bujold is an wonderful author, very witty and clever and fun to read. Her novel Ethan of Athos is about an obstetrician on a planet inhabited only by men. He has to leave the planet on a mission related to his work. It's a good book. Not her best, maybe, but it's a still a great read.
Posted by Toretha (Member # 2233) on :
Koryu-it was oathbound, in the very beginning, not oathbreakers

pooka-gay friendly? I was nice he admitted Zdorab was a person, but a lot of the stuff about Zdorab was showing how he overcame his handicap of gaiety in order to marry and have children. That denies that it can be just as good to be gay-all it wants is for gay people to act like they're straight even though they're not. I can't see how that is gay friendly
Posted by blacwolve (Member # 2972) on :
I love Ethan of Athos! [Smile]
Posted by porcelain girl (Member # 1080) on :
I can't see how that is gay friendly
it could be showing that while people should not be condemned for their impulses, they should be praised for gaining mastery over their instincts when circumstances or belief prescribes it.

so friendly in the fact that a gay man can be seen as a whole individual with control over his drives and impulses just the same as a straight man can. sometimes it's better for everyone or even just the individuals involved if a man doesn't have sex with a woman, just like maybe sometimes it's better that a man doesn't sleep with a man. i don't know. i just like the idea of people not being enslaved to physical impulse, regardless of orientation. :shrug:

not really making a political statement here, just sorta exploring the possibilities of other viewpoints on the subject.

(ah geez i think after four years at hatrack this is my first post concerning homosexuality. at least that i can remember.)

[ November 15, 2003, 03:29 AM: Message edited by: porcelain girl ]
Posted by prolixshore (Member # 4496) on :
I didn't see Lovelock as being all that gay biased. They were leaving on a ship to populate a new world, wouldn't you want people who were going to procreate to go on the ship in that situation?

And as I recall, they didnt let gay couples on or people out of their childbearing years. They just let Carol's in-laws on because she was so important. And even though that's why they were there, the resentment they got from the others on board the ship was a major cause of tension. So it actually did fall in place with the not allowing gay couples in.

Also, the book was written to show small town life. Yeah it was in space, but it was divided as a small town. So the fact that the two men had to keep their homosexuality secret made even more sense in that situation. The gossip-monsters would spread word around fairly quickly and everyone would be judging pretty soon after.

So I wouldn't say it was gay friendly and I wouldnt say it was anti-gay, it just set up a situation where staying in a heterosexual relationship despite your true feelings was the best way to go for many reasons.

Posted by sndrake (Member # 4941) on :
I'm a big fan of Jonathan Kellerman's mystery novels, featuring psychologist Alex Delaware. The main supporting character is a police detective, Milo Sturgis, described in the books as "the first openly gay cop in the Los Angeles Police Department," or words to that effect.

Sturgis' sexual orientation is just a part of the general background of his character - not something the plot revolves around, although that aspect of him has been more important in some books than others.

Milo is a great character - one the reader is supposed to like, and probably does. Well, I like Milo and I'm a reader. [Smile]

[ November 15, 2003, 02:46 PM: Message edited by: sndrake ]
Posted by pooka (Member # 5003) on :
More Lovelock SPOILERS
I think the heterosexual adultery in Lovelock was as much of a problem as the homosexual affair (never mind that both involved one person). I recall a family holiday ruined by an argument over which is worse. If there is a "worse", I think it would be the hetero affair because it could result in a child. Also, Carol's In laws came but not her own parents. Also, they had enough resources for the enhanced animals, who they had designed so that they shouldn't reproduce. So it seems a little strange to me that they would go on to exclude any gays.

But maybe I'm not recalling that it was closeted homosexuals that would be the problem. I think people should live their lives with integrity whatever their beliefs. And while I don't know OSC's full views, I think a person who believes they are gay should not just grit their teeth and get married/have children. What they do decide is up to them.

Zdorab is not the only character in Homecoming who would have arranged his personal affairs differently if it weren't for the situation they were in. His wife in particular probably never would have married or had children, but it wasn't that she was homosexual, it just wasn't in her plan.

As for Gossip Monsters, they don't exactly need anything truly juicy to go off about.

[ November 15, 2003, 03:07 PM: Message edited by: pooka ]
Posted by Tristan (Member # 1670) on :
Sorry to interrupt (I've not even heard of Lackey or her books), but from the sound of this conversation it sounds like I would enjoy her work and it sounds like you all would enjoy the following film:

But I'm A Cheerleader!

I've actually seen this one (I see a lot of movies...) and I thought it was horrible. Sure, it may have a gay-friendly message, but a movie this bad needs more redeeming qualities to be worth watching. Just my humble opinion, of course.

Another (fantasy) author that is known to have gay characters in her books is Melanie Rawn. I really enjoyed The Ruins of Ambrai and The Mageborn Traitor but since the third book in the triology (The Captal's Tower) is delayed indefinitely I feel vary of recommending the series to everyone. I'm not familiar with the rest of her work, but I've heard that she's also famous for killing off characters en masse.

[ November 15, 2003, 03:46 PM: Message edited by: Tristan ]
Posted by Storm Saxon (Member # 3101) on :
You all call yourself geeks and you haven't mentioned Samuel R. Delaney?

*shakes head*
Posted by Hi (Member # 5289) on :

I just started reading The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, by Michael Chabon (?), which Ron read first, and was a little squicked by the fact that one of our heroes found a woman to love and the other found a man. I just started, so they are both, like, ten years old and that hasn't really entered into it yet. It won the Pulitzer, I think, but despite that it's very engaging. The writer isn't gay, evidently.
This is exactly the book that I was thinking about when I clicked the link.

I just read it recently and really did *loved* it. It really was a great novel. Heh, the characters in the beginning of the book are not ten [Razz] . Sam is around sixteen or seventeen (although possibly older) and is younger than Joe who is around twenty. Later, it does have flashbacks of Joe's life and it's only then that he his ever depicted as younger.

The gay character in this novel was my favorite from the beginning and what kept me reading book (because of his personality- not because he's gay). I was not disturbed by the revelation at all. I was a bit surprised, yes, but only because you don't see a main gay character featured in everyday fiction [Smile] . Also, the shift was gradual. I thought everything he went through including his struggle with homosexuality, only added to the book. He was the most engaging character in the novel.

[ November 16, 2003, 10:52 AM: Message edited by: Hi ]
Posted by Olivet (Member # 1104) on :
Okay, yeah. But he was maybe ten in the part of it that I was reading at the time (a flashback) so, that's what I was thinking. I only just started it. And I misspelled the title. It's The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. [Blushing]

But it has been hard to put down, and I'm sure it's great. [Smile]
Posted by ladyday (Member # 1069) on :
Interesting. I started reading K&C, decided I didn't like it, and put it aside after about 200 pages with the intent of giving it another try later to see if I changed my mind.

Picked it up and finished it yesterday, then saw this thread [Smile] .

For some reason this thread reminds of the thread Icarus started on writing the opposite gender and getting it terribly wrong. In these stories by straight authors about gay men and women, did they get it right? Not so much the more intimate parts, but the romantic dates and first kisses and coming out to your mother and your friends and the looks on people's faces and the inner revelations. Sammy was just so believable, his whole character, but I wonder. Sort of like a man writing a female character that resonates with other men and leaves the women saying "huh? Is that what you think we're like?"

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