By: Jason Evans
We have returned for the second part of our conversation with queer authors Nonir Amicitia and Olivia Wylie. (Read Part-1 HERE).
Jason: When writing about the queer community, what are some things, you find, that the queer community worry about, fear, or have anxiety over? Can you give me some examples?
Nonir: Though there are some common fears that involve things like our rights being taken away, getting misgendered, being outed in a unsafe place by people who don’t know better or aren’t thinking. Basically, depending on where they are and what society looks like there, it’s varying shades of worrying about safety—which, again, can also apply to cishet folks as well.
Olivia: We’re not carrying any more diseases than you are. We’re not contagious. We’re not infectious. We’re not self-loathing by default. We do not have awful lives. Those are harmful tropes. Please dump them. If someone gets to know us and then talks about being under the rainbow themselves, it’s because we gave them the freedom and the language to describe themselves. Oh, and we’re not here to fix the straight main character. The magical negro is a trope that needs to be tossed, right? So is the Supporting Queer. Don’t make us sidekicks by default.
Jason: How, would you suggest, I incorporate that into my writing?
Olivia: Write characters who you could see living in your neighborhood. They will be embedded in a matrix of friends and family. They will have close ties to their community, their favorite hangouts, and the person they call when they’re down. Don’t tokenize your queer character by writing them like something exotic. They’re not a zebra. They’re a person FIRST.
Also, read more materials on the experiences of these communities. I’ve included a list of non-fiction resources below. For fiction, read these books with characters all over the rainbow. I tried to get something in from all sorts of genres.
- The Bird Bright Shadows Series– E.V. Grieg
- Psions of Spire– Alex Silver
- The Dalí Tamareia Series- E.M. Hamill
- The Nel Bentley Series– V.S. Holmes
- The San Andreas Shifters Series– G.L. Carriger
- Bone Dance-Emma Bull
- A Fall In Autumn– Michael Williams
- Waking the Dead-Jason Dias
- The Voyage of Cinrak the Dapper– A.J. Fitzwater
- The Out of Time Series– C.B. Lewis
- The Custard Protocol Series– Gail Carriger
- The Stars May Rise And Fall– Estella Miari
- Also take a look at this listing: 13 Nonbinary Writers and Comic Creators Changing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Jason: What are some HUGE misunderstandings people outside the queer community have about people inside the queer community? Do you address those issues in your writing? How?
Nonir: The most common ones that come to mind are: a) being queer doesn’t define your personality or who you are (unless you want it to); and b) not everyone in the queer community is supportive of everyone else. As much as I’d like to say we’re one big happy rainbow family, it’s not true in the slightest. Though we do tend to travel in packs if we have the opportunity.
Olivia: We’re not all sassy. We’re not all slutty. We are NOT BROKEN. You can’t ‘straighten us out’ by showing us good straight sex. Or by scaring us about who we love. There is nothing to fix. There is nothing wrong with us. And I repeat: We’re not carrying any more diseases than you are. We’re not contagious. We’re not infectious. We’re not self-loathing by default. We do not have awful lives. Those are harmful tropes. Please dump them.
Oh, and last thing: we’re not all in-your-face. We’re not all sensitive. We’re not all ANYTHING. We’re people. Please treat us that way.
Jason: Do you have any suggested readings that would help our understandings?
Nonir: Blogs and nonfiction books by a variety of queer folks, especially those in the subsection of the community you’re interested in writing about.
Olivia: Reading list below
Trevor Lifeline: If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. Or text START to 678678.
- Oh Joy Sex Toy: Oh Joy Sex Toy is the sexual education that everyone in the world needs. One of the most queer-friendly, colorful, and out-right positive webcomics out there. Got questions, go here:
- Susan’s Place Transgender Resources: a peer support website for transgender individuals. The site is intended to be a safe space where transgender people can assist one another, and it has the additional mission of educating the public.
- ACLU LGBT Rights: The ACLU works to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people can live openly without discrimination and enjoy equal rights, personal autonomy, and freedom of expression and association. If you are having legal or workplace issues, go to
- Transgender American Veterans Association: Founded in 2003, the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) is a 501 (c) 3 organization that acts proactively with other concerned gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) organizations to ensure that transgender veterans will receive appropriate care for their medical conditions in accordance with the Veterans Health Administration’s Customer Service Standards promise to “treat you with courtesy and dignity . . . as the first class citizen that you are.” Further, TAVA will help in educating the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) on issues regarding fair and equal treatment of transgender and transsexual individuals.
- Everyone Is Gay: This is a collection of voices lending advice and support to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA) youth, and also offers comprehensive lists of nationwide LGBTQIA resources.
- Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Realities: This book, written by Lee Harrington, is a solid and approachable manual on transgender issues with an entire chapter of resources. If you’re exploring, it’s a great read. Take a look on the Zon at
- Transcending Flesh: Gender and Body Diversity in Futuristic and Fantastical Settings, by Ana Mardoll: This guidebook contains a series of essays covering settings which feature fast, easy, and widely-accessible body alteration, including the futuristic BodyTron5000 (“step right in and we’ll jiffy up a uterus!”) and fantastical trips to the Gender Witch for magic potions. These settings have ripple effects on trans people both on and off the page, and writers must consider multiple angles of gender presentation and body diversity when creating new worlds. Grab it on the Zon at
Jason: What’s the one thing you want to leave the reader with?
Nonir: Writing queer characters doesn’t have to be hard, and shouldn’t be intimidating. Approach it respectfully and create interesting three-dimensional characters who are more than their sexuality or gender, and you’re off to a great start!
Olivia: Remember that you’re writing for people who are looking for characters they can see positive representation they can identify with. They’ve been denied it a very long time. It is a responsibility. But it is worth taking on.
Beyond that, just write people. We are people, with all the wonder, diversity, insecurity joy and pain that encompasses.
We are people. Just like you.
Read more about Nonir and Olivia’s hope-punk series at: www.aceshighjokerswild.com
As a followup, see these reports:
- Violence Against The LGBT Community
- Mental Health and the LGBT Community
- States where we can be fired for being LGBT
Jason Henry Evans says that life is funny. In 2004 he moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. He dedicated himself to public education and realized his heart was not in it. So he moved on. At the same time he stumbled into a creative world of art and literature he now calls home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.
You can catch up with Jason on his Facebook Author Page or on Twitter. You will also find up to date posts on his blog.