Friday, October 21, 2016

Iron and Silk: Writing Manwe and Cleon's LGBTQ relationship

Love is hard, often drawing from people the best and worst aspects of themselves, and nothing is as hard as properly reflecting love in the most human fashion within fiction. I have written previously about Romance and Agency, but with this post I wanted to look at the challenges of writing a gay relationship between two of my favorite characters, Manwe the Panther and Cleon the Yellow, the mischievous/beguiling/ephemeral sorcerer that captures his heart within the pages of Thief of Secrets, the second installment in The Saga of the Panther.

Now, let me clear: I'm not gay. I've been in a very successful heterosexual relationship with the most wonderful woman in the world for almost 10 years, so when I set out to write my first gay relationship between two main characters there were a lot of concerns I had about accurately depicting the special dynamics that take place between two men when they are in love.

And to my surprise, I discovered that it was exactly like writing a relationship between a heterosexual couple. LGTBQ relationships come in a variety of forms, but the roles, behaviors, and customs found in these relationships are as ubiquitous to anything you will find between a man and a woman.

And there is the secret I think writers and readers should take away: to quote Lin-Manuel Miranda (and obviously others), Love is Love. I think this is especially important in light of National Coming Out Day this month, where we let our friends and family in the LGBTQ community know they have allies and are safe to be who they are. These people seek support, solace, and confidence in the people they choose to spend their lives with, which Manwe is given by Cleon the Yellow in his darkest moment.

So if you ever set out to write a relationship between two people of same sex or different gender identities, please make sure to remember it doesn't matter who or what someone decides for themselves to be--they love like everyone else does. They go through times of darkness and light, and often the presence of someone that is the other half of their soul is the salve to the spiritual wound we all carry when destiny splits us from a person we're supposed to be with (or someone we're not supposed to be around.) That salve is created when they come back together.

My only hope is that I did well by the thief and his sorcerer, the sorcerer and his thief.


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