Authors have words. Their livelihood is literally combining words to create images in the reader’s minds. The images can be any variety of things, from the informative to the fantastic. They can build worlds, they can tear them down. An author is not limited to books; there are authors in every kind of media. Yes, that favorite totally unscripted, completely true reality show you love has a screenwriter, just like that obviously scripted movie with the talking hamsters you have watched a million times.
That cute little story about your bowels on the back of your box of bran flakes has an author. Someone, somewhere, has dedicated their life to writing user manuals for cars. Obviously, some authors are more famous than others. The more famous authors have an additional kind of media to use words to share their passion. Social media, such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, can be used by authors to show the world what they believe in. They can share with their fans exciting new developments with their work or great deals to add to the infamous tbr. They can share their dogs, cats, or children in various states of adorableness. Unfortunately, they can also use their platform to spew hate and create animosity. Recently, a best-selling author has chosen to do the latter, unapologetically using hate language to demean an entire group of people. This author has chosen to use words as a weapon, cutting down an already marginalized group.
In celebration of pride month, let’s explore some ways authors can use their words to uplift others and foster empathy for the LBGTQ+ community!
Idea 1: Normalizing preferred pronouns. A character asking another character their preferred pronouns is not something I have read, apart from stories about someone who is transgendered. Why?! Asking someone their preferred pronouns is an easy way to be an ally. Asking and then actually USING their preferred pronouns consistently is telling that person you have listened to them, understand what they are asking you to do and you agree to do it because you value them and want them to feel comfortable. Practice makes perfect. Normalizing the concept of preferred pronouns and the use of gender-neutral pronouns in books of all genres is a way authors can help de-stigmatize non-conventional pronouns.
Idea 2: Writing queer characters where their queerness is not the main conflict or plot of the story. Normalizing queer characters in books of every genre will help diversify literature, which is sorely needed. There are very few stories I can think of where an LBGTQ+ character written by a straight author is not just a bunch of stereotypes stuffed into a stereotypical costume. Normalizing queer characters is essential and should not be the sole responsibility of LBGTQ+ authors!
Idea 3: Authors can use their social media platforms for good. There are many ways an author can achieve this. Celebrating Pride is a great start, but it is easy to kick it up a notch. Highlighting LBGTQ+ authors, stories, artists, documentaries and music is a way authors can support others. There are so many queer-owned businesses, it is easy to shout out a favorite coffee shop, book shop, dog groomer, antique store, bodega…. you get the picture. It literally takes the same amount of time to hate tweet as it does to write a supportive tweet!
Allyship doesn’t always have to be a down and dirty political fight. Being a good ally to the LBGTQ+ community is simply about year-round support, financially and socially. By including queer characters in their fictional works and striving to celebrate the LBGTQ+ community that is a part of their daily lives, authors can use their most valuable assets (words) to uplift others.