When Human Nature Forces A Deerstalker On You, It’s Time To Find The Elusive Deer

Sidney Paget cemented this stupid hat in the popular memory when recalling yer man Holmes. It got into the groundwater of the consciousness via Rathbone and Brett and Cook and, well, it’s obligatory now. You aren’t allowed to deduce without one. TV producers won’t stand for it.

Hidden truths require detectives – or historians, who get rather less kudos, although they’re about the only people on TV more often than various iterations of the Great Mouse Detective – because magicians are out of vogue and get rather more gnomic results. Which is not to say that results are not largely interpretive regardless. They are, and therein lies the problem.

As a friend rather elegantly reiterated in their undergraduate thesis, sometimes things become invisible because people refuse to see them. It’s a common enough problem in Western History, where the achievements of women and people of colour (and quite often the role of white, well-off men in suppressing or stealing those achievements) are routinely wiped away by generations reshaping the historical record to look like the modern power structure they favour. History and propaganda are spelled in the same type. There has been a rather successful film recently, in fact, precisely celebrating the 20th Century victims of such revisionism which includes the word “Hidden” in the title.

In denying that women, people of colour, and women of colour in the West in particular, have ever done anything, and in denying any worth in “traditionally female” work, revisionist history still can’t actually wipe all evidence of these people off the record [NB: I am aware there are people who refer to actually finding evidence of the achievements and presence of these demographics who have been deliberately overlooked as “revisionist” but the original decision to ignore them was a revision of reality in the first place]. Those babies came from somewhere; a lot of documents and photos went missing all the same. Hegemony is however forced to acknowledge someone’s presence even when it’s booting them in the face, sometimes.

As I write, people who don’t exist are disappearing from the streets; and are ceasing to officially exist on the spreadsheets. And the funny thing is: I was planning to write about not existing anyway.

The Human Need to see yourself reflected. To not be alone. To know that you are possible. For much of recent history there have been aggressive attempts to tell the hideable to be hidden until they cease to be; every generation of homosexuals is told they’re some kind of modern malaise, a manifestation of failing social standards and also ouroborous-like and paradoxically their cause – a self-generating Sodom, buggering its own face. Wilde’s Uranian Love Movement (well, it belonged rather more to Carpentor and Addington Symmonds and rather interestingly links back to something later on) looked backward to Ancient Greece for validation of worth but also the existence of their sexuality (and Wilde is to later generations as Alexander was to him), and very slowly the love that dare not speak its name got tired of being muttered about in code and learned how to spell its own name: loudly, and in a full spectrum of colour.

Image result for london pride parade (C) Pride

In Catherine Arnold’s City of Sin, a young Victorian gay man describes the emotional impact of his first ever gay experience: like a curtain being drawn aside to show what he had hoped for without being able to even know what it was he was hoping for, unable to name what had felt so wrong all this time, but articulating his relief in language that resonates still: “I am not alone.”

[Sexual acts for any sexual person can have the property of confirming the actor’s reality and their value, however temporary and conditional, to another, but it’s the queer who finds themselves made possible by it; before the internet, depictions or mentions of such things were like hen’s teeth. And you had to know what it was you were looking for].

If learning of your own invisible possibility from the past as a lover of the same sex is rare in a canon determined to push any explanation barring the obvious rather than deviate from the straitjacket of compulsory heteroseuxality – from the default assumption that we must all be straight until proven, often with laughably complex criteria betraying the prejudices of the self-appointed jury, to be otherwise – then GOOD FUCKING LUCK finding hide or hair of yourself in the annuls of the past as a trans person.

We are definitively a ‘a modern malaise’. Yes, non-Western cultures have had non-cis/non-binary social roles in perpetuity but gosh darn it the West is different (I can smell your cultural imperialism from over here and it stinks). Cis historians will take therefore London’s first transgender celebrity, the magnificent, romantic, sword-fighting French Chevalier d’Eon, who in her own lifetime very publicly switched pronouns and presentation (along with a suitably brilliant cover story), and was accepted – nay, applauded! Vindicated! – as a woman – and they will look at the post-mortem showing her to have a penis and testicles, and start describing her with male pronouns. I read this with my own two wildly disappointed eyes.

They will take Dr James Miranda Barry (current Wikipedia description, just to affix it in time: “Depending on historic interpretation, Barry might be considered either the first medically qualified British woman or the first medically qualified British transgender person.” Either way: Barry practiced medicine), army surgeon and anti-corruption campaigner, performer of the first successful recorded Caesarian section on the African continent, pugnacious and irascible, beloathed of Florence Nightingale, and despite his lifelong use of male pronouns, despite a death certificate describing him as male, and the continue testimony of his friends and acquaintances post-mortem that he was indeed a man… they will look at the circumstances of his life and rumour of childbearing, and drift into using “she”. Regardless of the content of Dr Barry’s abdomen, his was a life lived under the banner of maleness; and yet even his biographers grapple with phrases like “woman disguising [herself] as a man” just as they will trot out “man in a dress” for the poor Chevalier (what does a historical trans person have to do to be allowed their correct gender in death?). Unless these historians also “disguise” themselves when they get up and put on their togs of a morning, it seems an odd way to describe getting dressed.

Finding trans men in history whose identity will satisfy the same prejudicial jury as before is further complicated by historical misogyny, as evidenced above; there are always questions to be asked as to whether someone is taking their ovaries to town in a suit and tie because they want a degree in the days before educational equality and their uterus has mysteriously denied them the right to access this learning (thanks, The Patricharhy), or whether it’s simply that Abraham’s vag doesn’t mean he is a woman. Our trans sisters, bearing the violence of misogyny on coming out, are easier to identify in this regard at least – why else would someone who has at least nominal access to The Good Life And The Privilege choose to “live as a woman” unless they were one? It takes a special level of additional obtuseness, therefore, to misgender d’Eon.

This leads clumsily into the third problem. Gender identity and sexuality are bound together in many, many cultures throughout history – for some reason one is defined by who one wants to fuck; more explicitly, one’s gender is frequently supposed to be determined by whether wants to penetrate or be penetrated. Hence a great deal of confusion around the following subjects:

  • Butch/macho cis gay men – indeed male homosexuality in many minds was exclusively the province of those being penetrated and therefore automatically obligated to be feminine if adult (or constrained to “pre-manhood”); rendering muscular, macho bottoms in gay culture stemming from Men’s Health-style magazines and Tom of Finland’s historically extremely valuable art wildly problematic for straight culture and explaining somewhat hypermasculinity fetishism which currently disgusts and annoys the generations of gay men after mine…
  • Feminine cis lesbians, particularly those who date other femme lesbians… “which of you is the man”. Neither, my dear fellow, that’s the whole point.

It becomes even more impossible for the genderandsexualityequaleachother mind, choking on biological essentialism, to grasp:

  • Trans lesbians
  • Trans gay men

[I’m leaving out bisexuals here because that, too, seems to be a hobby for historical record and heterosexual historians, and separating the tussles of historical characters with the weight and requirement of Compulsory Heterosexuality – aka “reproduce OR ELSE” from genuine bisexual interest is a job for someone more invested and patient than me].

It’s perhaps not surprising that any earlier confirmed record of trans men revolves around straight trans men (and predominantly in the 19th or 20th century) [Joseph Lobdell, Dr Alan L Hart, Reed Erickson, Billy Tipton, Robert Eads, Willmer Broadnax] or trans men whose sexuality was not known [Jack Bee Garland, Laurence Michael Dillon]; many had marriages and children.

“After all,” as one infuriatingly contemporary cis man proclaimed, “if you want to have sex with men, why not just stay a girl?” [Alright, Phil, if you want to have sex with all those cute straight men why don’t you ‘become’ a woman? You don’t want to? Gosh, it’s almost like your gender identity matters to you…] And anyway, it’s never that simple. Trust me.

In fact, the first person I can really find acknowledged as a gay trans man is Lou Sullivan. Sainted, wonderful Lou Sullivan, who died too young and made my existence possible: “largely responsible for the modern understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity as distinct, unrelated concepts.” He was, however, kind of recent.

There is a glimmering of hope for the close reader however. Dr Barry’s love life, or at least rumoured love life – such as it was, as his Newtonian character didn’t lend itself terribly well to romance any more than Sir Isaac’s – revolves exclusively (as hinted by biographer Rachel Holmes) around men, or Barry’s “close relationship” with Governor Somerset while in Cape Town.

[It is also worth noting that as Dr McKinnon’s discussion of his late patient with an interested party involved his assertion that he understood Barry to be a “hermaphrodite”, the possibility exists that he was an intersex man rather than a trans man, and I would be loath to deny this representation even under a rather insulting name; times past may have muddied the water by using the term on occasion to refer to those whose “brain and body didn’t match up” or even homosexuals. Without being able to consult Dr Barry himself – who I cannot imagine would take kindly to the intrusion – it’s unlikely I’ll ever get a solid answer].

Wiped from history, covered up by misplaced propriety, nudged to and off the margins, many of the world’s people are denied the opportunity to look ourselves in the eye, to have the experience of reaching back into the dark for a similar hand without first digging up and reassembling the puzzle in codes we are told do not exist. For the sake of all those coming after us, who have to deal with this bullshit, it’s actually important that we do just that: and live our own lives as loudly and honestly as we can, to give them someone to look back at, if necessary.

I know it would have done me a lot of good.


When not grumpily ferreting around history’s dustbins in search of marginal representation, I also write books, some of which are set in the past

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New Book Cover: The Breaking of M

I enjoyed making the cover for Saint Grimbald’s Men so much that I decided to take another of Ms Reilly’s photographs and make a similar one for The Breaking of MAs the latter is also an eBook only, it’s easier to change covers on a whim. Do you think this one is better? Or was the old one more suitable to the story?

new breaking of m cover

No change to the actual book itself, although I took the opportunity to make the listing on Amazon a little clearer about the book’s content (because I do read my reviews, and when people are commenting that they got a different book to the one they expected, even when they downloaded it on one of the free offer days, I listen).

How To Have Better Sex

A quick warning before I begin: if you have come to this blog looking for tips and tricks to make you into a studmuffin, sex princess, or shagdolphin or whatever the cool kids are calling it now (judging by this site and my own exploration of OKCupid it’s the ability to make women “squart” which I’m assuming is like squirting but with more farts?) when they mean “I want to level up at some sort of mythical, generic, catch-all sex that is supposed to satisfy everyone”… you are on the wrong blog. This is more in the vein of How To Date Without Being A Douchebag and How To Write Gay Characters: a collection of ludicrously obvious common-sense advice that for some reason gets overlooked in favour of complicating matters.

This is kind of a checklist to go over before more involved explanations are sought.

  1. Work out what sexual orientation you actually are. This is the level of advice I’m offering. It may seem enormously logic but given the heavy societal default towards heterosexuality there are lot of people labouring under the belief that they are or ought to be straight or are or ought to be gay etc when they’re neither, and while some people are certain from a very early age of who they’re attracted to, other people aren’t, and it’s always worth checking with yourself to see who actually yanks your crank. It’s also possible that you’re just not into sex at all, which is perfectly okay and a lot more common than advertising would have you believe. Do not think that because you’ve picked an identity based on your attraction that you can’t change your mind. Not everyone’s sexual identity is concrete and finished in their lifetime: you may start out attracted to dudes with penises, become more attracted to dudes who don’t have penises, and later decide that you’re not attracted to anyone any more. Ultimately it’s important to pay attention to your desires rather than making assumptions based on what other people tell you that you want.
  2. Determine your sexual preferences. This is different to your sexual orientation: orientation tells you what the genitals and gender identity of the people you are attracted to are (or that you’re not attracted to anyone sexually), preferences tell you about your type and role in sex. Some people don’t have any physical preferences of type and are only attracted to people whose personality stimulates them, some people have a very broad range of people they are attracted to, and some people have a very specific set of criteria that they find attractive. All of these are okay. Again, it may sound ridiculous that people don’t know what they like, but remember we live in a society where one standard of attractiveness is held up as objectively attractive and what everyone wants: while it’s entirely possible this is what you’re into (and there is nothing wrong with finding popular depictions of beauty or handsomeness attractive), if you feel there is something missing then it’s worth checking if you’re actually attracted to the people you go on dates with or if you go on dates with them because conventional wisdom tells you they’re “a catch”. For example, you might spend years of your life wondering why sex that makes your friends envious isn’t really doing it for you, only to work out that you aren’t actually so much attracted to Kristanna Loken as to Meera Syal, or not so much to Chris Evans as to Mo FarahThere is no such thing as a “wrong type” of adult to be attracted to. 
  3. Your preferences don’t just cover your “type”. Your preferences can also cover the role you take in sex. Again, there are standard ideas about who should do what in sexual circumstances, often culturally-dictated, and sometimes they don’t line up with what people actually enjoy the most. It’s worth checking with yourself to see if maybe, perhaps, the idea that you have about “who you are” is eclipsing “what you want”, and to remind yourself that the one doesn’t negate the other: you can still be a kind, nurturing, compassionate person and get pleasure out of hitting someone with a belt, for example. Or to go less extreme on it, maybe you’ve always believed that “gay sex” means anal sex, but you would actually be a lot happier with oral sex. Again, as long as your partner is also happy, there isn’t really a “wrong” sexual preference. 
  4. Talk to each other. This is the standard advice everyone gives and with good reason: people are not mind-readers. No one is going to know that you want your toes sucked unless you tell them, and you’re never going to realise that they actually really want a mouthful of foot unless they say so. Strive for non-judgemental conversations about stuff, and you’ll find it’s a lot easier to talk about potentially embarrassing desires/fears rather than allowing the thought “if you would only go a little to the bloody left” to fester. That means not making a ridiculous scene, pulling a face, or baulking if someone brings up something unexpected or undesirable, and it means not throwing a hissyfit if your “best moves” don’t meet with a rapturous reception: what works for one partner you’ve had won’t necessarily work for others. Communication is key.
  5. Get to know yourself. Fairly self-explanatory: you can hardly communicate to someone else what it is you need or want from them if you don’t know yourself what you need or want. Have a fiddle. At worst you’ll find out you don’t like fiddling.
  6. Don’t obsess over orgasms. Greta Christina has some insights on this (if you can bloody find them), but it’s worth reiterating that “better sex” doesn’t necessarily mean “endless pornographic orgasms”. Not everyone orgasms with another person around: not everyone orgasms at all. That doesn’t mean that you can’t generally schlub about with each other and have a good time anyway. This is another area where getting to know yourself and what you want can be useful, as you can warn the other person in your sex to either not expect you to come or to expect you to be a giant fountain of fluids, or whatever is most natural to you. As above: there isn’t a wrong way to be. Not orgasming is only a problem if you feel like you want to but can’t for some medical reason.
  7. Relax. Don’t make me quote Frankie Goes To Hollywood here, it’ll embarrass us all. Being uptight about what’s happening and worrying about how you look or what kind of impression you’re making on each other makes it harder for you to enjoy yourselves. The difficulties adults (particularly British adults, apparently) have in relaxing about sex may account for why “most heterosexual people in this country, and around the world, meet each other, and get together with one another when they’re totally, totally drunk.” [Dylan Moran]. It does help, however, if you don’t sail wildly past “relaxed-drunk” into “amnesia-drunk”, and therefore forget that you’ve had sex at all. You may well scoff, but that was a large part of my sex life for years.
  8. Eradicate shame as best you can. Feeling terrible about yourself and the things you enjoy unsurprisingly diminishes the amount you enjoy those things. Sex, along with food, is probably the most shame-filled of enjoyable things in Western society, meaning that everyone continues to indulge (because abstaining – as opposed to being simply uninterested – places a strain on one and leads one into obsession and greater temptation than simply “do as thy will dictates” does, as anyone who has ever been on a diet will tell you), and then to self-flagellate and doubt afterwards. Advice columns are filled with worried anonymouses anxiously asking am I normal, when the answer they want is to the unasked question: am I okayFuck normal. People have been into all sorts since consciousness and sexuality coexisted in the same bodies. It’s not easy to slough off a lifetime of conditioning to the contrary, but not haranguing oneself for one’s desires – however “strange” or “boring” they might seem to anyone else – is a recipe for instant improvement in sex.

New Book Release: The Breaking Of M – A Kindle Exclusive

The Breaking of M
A 16th century romance

Matimeo Calvisia, spy and rake, finds himself in 16th-century Venice and faced with an apparently insurmountable challenge: the widely-read but narrowly-lived Padre Vito Bonifatigo is calling his credentials into question. The prickings of Matimeo’s pride lead him through a moral maze and dog him all the way across the Atlantic, but sooner or later something has to give…

Available from the Amazon Kindle Store only, this ridiculous tale of swash, buckle, and a lot of kissing should keep you entertained for a good many commutes. It has intrigue! Romance! And men wearing dresses! Bandits! Pirates! Spies! And someone who is hilarious inept at riding a horse!

This no doubt staggering work of literature can be on your Kindle/Kindle-app-supporting-device for the princely sum of $1.99 USD, which Amazon informs me is currently about £1.30, a price at which most Londoners would be hard-pressed to find much else, including a cup of tea.

You may notice that the author name on this book is “Melissa Snowdon” rather than “Delilah Des Anges”; it’s still me, I’m just engaging in what I’m informed is called brand management. Basically, since The Breaking of M is a rather different tone and genre to the rest of my books, it’s sensible to have it under a nom-de-plume and not confuse strangers too much with the sudden change in tempo.

That aside: please buy my book! Read my book! Recommend it to your friends! If you want to, obviously.

An Education In Your Own History

As previously mentioned, in my late teens I became quite fixated on queer history and in particular in the erratic contents of a specific book. There were several films mentioned, with stills included, and for a while I made it my mission to hunt them down and watch them: this was a mission in which I was repeatedly thwarted, and in fact most of the queer cinema I encountered I stumbled across wholly by accident: the best example of this was Martin Sherman’s heartrending and stagey Bent, which I encountered because of insomnia and Channel 4’s insomniac-friendly schedules in the very early days of the 21st Century.

Recently I’ve been catching up on those films whose stills I poured over ten or so years ago, and finally managed to watch both Maurice (1987, Hugh Grant, James Wilby, and Rupert Graves) and Another Country (1984, Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Cary Elwes). Both films are set in the prelude to a World War, although as Maurice belongs in the run-up to the First it is technically more relevant to me as my giant emo obsessiveness about the First World War and associated Sad Gay Soldiers (according to my boyfriend this is a cinematic and literary genre to which I am wedded without exception). Then again, Another Country is a very lightly fictionalised account of the younger days of Guy Burgess (they changed his surname to Bennett, that’s about it) and ever since Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy came out I’ve had a soft spot for spies. The films even have an attractive Rupert apiece: Graves for Maurice, Everett for Another Country (the latter does boast a second, back-up Rupert in the form of Rupert Wainwright, not to be confused with Rufus Wainwright).

The sex scenes in Maurice are slightly more abundant, and I could very probably talk at disturbing length about Rupert Graves’ penis, which makes an appearance – but I did promise myself this wasn’t going to be that kind of a blog even though it is a jolly nice penis. Instead, though: the comparison of time period, the comparison of idealised England, and the comparison of relationship.

For all that Judd, in Another Country, invokes cynicism and dissatisfaction and talks about the pointlessness of the war that preceded his school days, he is wrapped in the very serious and passionate belief in the ideals of Marx, and of Communism. Meanwhile the protagonists of Maurice are all of them without ideals: they adhere to a sense of propriety, of place in the order of things (and good grief but Clive Durham is a pompous, self-important ass at Cambridge), but without any real ideology to hold onto: they are older, and if not wiser then a good deal less convinced of the importance of clearly-delineated concepts.

Both films involve the notion of sacrifices made for love, which rather neatly explains my interest in them beyond the acknowledged passion for queer history; although in each case the sacrifice is rather central to the denouement of the plot, and therefore should be left for the viewer to discover themselves.

Maurice is the softer of the two. It dwells in a gentler time, before the last remnants of a specific social order were torn apart by years of mechanised war and the wholesale slaughter of a generation: in Another Country Judd mocks this and Bennett disdains it, each unimpressed with the boy soldiers lined up to commemorate the dead that have yet to fall in the narrative of Maurice.

There is almost a sense of continuity between the two, but if there is it’s a sad one: the line, “England has always been disinclined to accept human nature,” from Maurice still holds true some fifteen, twenty years later in Another Country: there is a disinclination in the upper classes of English society, still, to allow schoolboy romance or its adult incarnation, and an angry, humiliated Guy Bennett spells it out: “Because in your heart of hearts, like Barclay and Delahay and Fowler and Menzies, you still believe, in spite of your talk of equality and fraternity, you still believe some people are better than others because of the way they make love.”

After all that I’m rather in need of some happier viewing, so I’d welcome suggestions of gay and lesbian films (preferably historical in genre) with happy endings: and be aware, I’ve already seen But I’m A Cheerleader so many times that I can quote it line-for-line!

February Links Post

Things my friends have done

Things I have done

Things strangers have done

  • Begun the process of reconstructing sounds from brainwaves, apparently. I cannot work out if this is cool, terrifying, or both.
  • Compiled a gorgeous selection of photographs of the most beautiful and innovative bookshops in the world. I am sad about the lack of representation of Hay-on-Wye, but deeply envious of some of the ones that are on the list. Portugal especially have apparently nailed “awesome bookshop”.
  • Interesting fellow on OKCupid showed me his music (this is not a euphemism), so naturally I am going to share it with the internet: Add Gray Fun. The two tracks I’ve listened to are sort of sparse and build tunes out of discord, which I’m very fond of as a feature in electronica. Professionally speaking I think they definitely need mixing & mastering – some work on the levels – and would personally have an annoying faff with reverb in places but overall I rather like it.
  • This fuzzy-haired scientist has an apparently supportable theory that cats make us bonkers. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.” Well, that’s not terrifying at all.
  • This Tumblr user is using police photo-fit software to try to recreate the faces of famous literary characters as described by their authors. What a fantastic concept!
  • Josie Long takes on UniLadMag and does so wonderfully.
  • When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite. Fascinating to me, and I do have a copy of a book with a title along the lines of “Same Sex Unions in Medieval Europe” waiting for me to finish reading the thousands of other books I’ve acquired and get around to it.
  • Written about The Invention of Heterosexuality, which examines how other areas of social change during the birth of psychiatry as a profession led to the creation of sexual identities connected to biological urges, and the value judgements that come with them.
  • People Like Me, a very depressing list of unfair treatment you can expect to receive if you’re viewed as being “unacceptably” fat.
  • A handy little interactive graph for women to use to determine which clothing size their measurements make them at any given clothing shop.
  • An Eight-Step Guide To Self-Editing Your Manuscript. On, completely unrelated, a very pretty blog.
  • Via that link, a useful website for determining how often you use particular words. I am cringing just imagining what would come up on mine.
  • And an io9 article about what the problem is with adverbs
  • As a confirmed over-emotional weenie about the city I live in who buys maps and cries every time she lands back at Heathrow and owns an embarrassing number of books of London photography, this post about London set to music is rather moving.
  • This fascinating blog over at Tiger Beatdown about how reality television and blogging have destroyed the ability of readers and viewers to appreciate the difference between performance and reality.
  • A very funny review of what sounds like a very awful movie (Splice).
  • In a rather timely coincidence, not long after I whined that I’d be more inclined to eat healthily if healthy food were more convenient, a friend of mine discovered COOK, who have made that leap for me.

How To write Gay Characters In Your Mainstream Fiction: A Guide For A Friend

Having got into a dispute with a straight chap friend of mine who writes for a
living in a field which is … resistent … to progress at times, about his lack of gay or just generally queer characters in a recent story [full disclosure: everyone involved in this conversation was significantly drunk], I came to realise by the end of the conversation that he was having difficulty with the idea of what “writing gay characters” would actually involve. So I have devised a handy guide.

How To Write Gay Characters In Action Fiction:

Like straight characters, but with a love interest who is the same sex as them
instead of the opposite sex.

… That’s about it really.

Important Storylines You Absolutely Have To Include When Writing Queer Characters

Absolutely fucking none. Part of my friend’s issue with the idea of including any gay characters in his story was “I don’t have time to do a coming-out storyline”, which as myself and my co-conspirator at the time pointed out, was unnecessary anyway. Don’t make the mistake of assuming there needs to be a massive coming-out story attached to every non-straight character, any more than every bloody 1980s gay character had to have a mandatory bloody AIDS storyline; only throw in some background canoodles between two characters of the same sex and you barely need to mention it at all.

Do people really think that a big Coming Out Plot Arc is necessary for every single gay character in fiction? Because that would get remarkably tedious very quickly. In Real Life people are quite frequently – especially as adults – already out to their friends and family; they hardly need to come out to the reader as well.

Sir Ian McKellen long ago made a point of not playing in “gay suicide stories” (another epidemic that seems to afflict queer characters in fiction throughout history is their tendency to commit suicide and thus save the author or the  reader the trouble of dealing with the possibility of them having a happy ending), and I think it’s relevant that while higher levels of suicide in gay youth are an issue, and AIDS continues to be a very real issue, and coming out is a source of conflict and emotional trauma for many young men and women – that need not be the issue faced by any gay characters you choose to write.

In fact, “social issue” fiction that is self-consciously that is boring, plodding, and makes everyone feel like they’re being lectured by some well-meaning social worker with all the charisma of a moldy ham sandwich. There are as many options for conflict, storylines, and characterisation with gay or bisexual characters in fiction as there are with straight characters, for fairly obvious reasons. And especially if you’re writing enlightened, god-like beings there’s absolutely no reason why “there are some characters in this who aren’t straight” needs to be “a coming-out plot for everyone”.

Of course coming to maturity as someone who isn’t straight has an effect on your personality, but to suggest that the personality it produces isn’t going to be suitable fodder for a story without a giant flashing AND LO HE WAS A GAY sign in narrative form is just bloody silly.