How to Add More LGBTQ characters to your fiction – a guest post by frank fleming

This Parrot is so gay Disney would melt.

I think the biggest complaints people get about their fiction these days is, “Why aren’t there more LGBTQ characters in it?”

And you’re probably trying your best. Maybe you’ve made every main character and every secondary character LGBTQ and the only straight character left is the villain (who is closeted gay), but it still just doesn’t feel inclusive enough.

Well, I’m here to help with tips to cram even more LGBTQ characters into your story. I mean, the last thing you want to hear is some reader say, “There are only eight gay people in this story? What is this? Victorian England?” before chucking your book into the fire. But you won’t have to worry about that if you follow my advice.


Fill any empty space. The easiest way to add more LGBTQ characters to your story is to simply add more characters. You might say, “But my story can’t really use any more characters.” Well, if you’re putting your story above inclusivity, you’re part of the problem.

For instance, maybe you have the protagonist being chased through an empty warehouse by the killer. Sorry, but that’s just not going to do; that’s a wasted opportunity. Instead, fill that warehouse full of people who are all LGBTQ. That will change the mood of the scene a bit, but it’s what’s needed.

Now, the challenge is quickly establishing all the people in the background are LGBTQ. If you just write, “He ran through a crowd of people in the warehouse,” for all your readers know, those could be straight people. No one wants that. So you’re going to have to go through and describe each person and make it quickly clear they’re LGBTQ. And you’re going to have to be careful here not to rely on stereotypes. And you probably can’t just have everyone making out; maybe some could be wearing various flag shirts to make it clear what they are. Also, a character or two could shout something out like, “I love being a bisexual!” (this was similar to the method used in the 1990 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to make it clear the main characters were turtles).

Other things than people can be LGBTQ. So you’ve got every scene in your story chock full of LGBTQ people, but it still feels you can do better. Well, what about any animals mentioned in the story? Can’t they be LGBTQ as well? Like if you mentioned a squirrel running through a park or fly buzzing by — you can make them LGBTQ as well. It’s a bit harder to quickly establish an animal is LGBTQ, though, since they can’t shout out, “I love being bisexual!” — except for parrots. Actually, that’s probably the best solution there: Have lots of talking parrots flying around.

And what if you have a chapter where you describe a tree, can the tree be trans? I’m not sure how that would work, but it’s worth considering. There are usually lots of plants around everywhere, and if it can all be LGBTQ, the better.

And what about inanimate objects? Can buildings, rocks, and fire hydrants be LGBTQ? I’m not sure how, but if you can crack that you’ll have great fiction.

Make your words LGBTQ. Okay, so now you’ve made absolutely everything mentioned in your story LGBTQ. It starts with a dark and stormy night, and you made it clear the dark is a lesbian, the night is bisexual, and the storm is non-binary. Still, it feels you can do more. Well, how about making the words you write be LGBTQ.

This is trickier. You could just say, “Well, could I use a gayer word than this one?” — though I won’t go into specifics there. But here’s another option: When I was a kid, we often used the word “bad” to actually mean “good.” That’s basically a trans-word — a negative word identifying as a positive word. Use lots of words like that; it might make your prose confusing, but again, think of what you gain in inclusivity.

And there you have it. Follow all that advice, and your story will be so inclusive that people’s eyes will melt and progressives will cancel themselves in shame compared to your glory. You might have to jettison some plot and coherency for all this, but that isn’t what today’s audiences want anyway.

Sarah here: You guys might want to check out Frank’s Superego Betrayal, now in audio!

Superego: Betrayal

Terrorists. A ruthless criminal syndicate. A warmongering dictatorship. And those are just Rico’s allies.

With the civilized universe conquered, it’s up to the uncivilized to fight back. Rico prefers working alone, but this time, he’s leading an army against his two greatest enemies, who both have one thing in common: Rico’s own DNA.

Fighting a personal battle on a galactic scale, Rico enlists thieves, murderers, and malcontents (plus one space princess) to help him save the universe from tyranny.

And considering Rico’s new associates, it’s not a question of whether he’ll be betrayed, but when, and by whom.

STILL SARAH SPEAKING: Also, I want to thank Frank for finally making me understand why the left hated my book A Few Good Men (the title is a nod to the world building. Never mind) and kept claiming it wasn’t gay. Before I reissue it, I shall add lots of gay parrots. Will need to be lots of them, because Nat Remy will shoot them down as soon as they open beak. you know it, and I know it.

144 thoughts on “How to Add More LGBTQ characters to your fiction – a guest post by frank fleming

    1. Are you kidding? That’s when you find out who is really, seriously committed to Diversity, Inclusion and Equity above all other considerations!

      …and then boot ’em out so they can D.I.E. on their own without dragging everybody else down with them.
      Natural selection — making the world a better place, one idiot at a time.

    2. People in survival situations care about sex a lot, they just don’t care about gender or gender assignment.

        1. Ah. I think Curmudgeon is a male. This is one of those things men and women can’t understand about each other. Get a man very very ill (but still able to) and everything turns him on. Give a woman the sniffles, and she ain’t home for luvering.
          Makes sense if you think about it. He’s going “one last change for kids” She’s going “I”m very ill, and a pregnancy will make it worse.”

          1. Taking your word for it. I was looking at it from the perspective of, “if there’s a zombie horde trying to break in, do I want to be engaged in awkward activities that are very distracting? I do not.”

  1. A lot of the current Gay activist seem to think they are running a Revolution centered around Drag shows instead of Committees of Correspondence.. that might actually make a decent plot for one of the Dinosaur Porn books…

      1. If the Don’t Say Gay bill doesn’t have to say Gay in any way shape or form, then A Few Fabulous Men doesn’t either in order qualify as being all about gays.

        Not our rules but if those are the ones they want…

        1. I think they were upset the two gay main characters are yes good guys, but one of them is out of patience and prefers to kill things that annoy him, and the other is profoundly broken.

          1. I haven’t even gotten around to reading the book yet, but I rather suspect it is more that the gay characters are not entirely enthused about the idea of a ‘benevolent central authority’ running everyone’s lives until the end of days…

              1. People keep changing their minds about whether C.S. Friedman is the bestest gay romance writer ever, or a horrible throwback.

                I’m glad I’m not on the left. So exhausting to whiplash your opinions like that.

                  1. Well, she has that Coldfire trilogy, where the guy is hanging out with the sf vampire-like/necromancer-like guy, and I don’t recall that they ever actually have sex, per se. But there’s a lot of bonding that isn’t the way heterosexual guys bond. So….

                    Basically, if it were a fanfic, you’d probably find it listed under slash or smarm or pre-slash.

                    (I have the Coldfire/Black Sun Rising trilogy, and I read the whole thing, but I honestly don’t remember much of it. I mean, that was more than twenty years ago. But some people really really love it.)

                    1. Friedman is basically an sf Gothic romance writer, in the Seventies sense. She loves to create terrible horrible characters with horrific backstories, living in harsh environments, and then force them to hang out with each other and be attracted to each other, and see their drastically opposing points of view as having some sense to them.

                      Pretty sure that in a Jane Eyre vs. Wuthering Heights argument, she’d be the kind who likes Wuthering Heights.

        2. Gay bill, hum.

          Made me think maybe it’s time for Donald’s nephew, Huey’s, Dewey’s and Louie’s other brother, Clark Gaybill, to come out of the closet. brother

  2. Only in America can [at most] 3% of the population dictate how the TOTAL society must see itself. Only in America can the fatuous claim that men can birth children be the accepted truth, lest the trans community feel ‘hurt’ or ‘threatened’. The solution is for them to grow a pair. But they already have, and that’s their problem.
    Our problem is we put up with this crap.

  3. Well! Look at the damn TV, people! We KNOW that every renowned artist, scientist, or statescreature was homosexual or “closeted”! We also KNOW that there are no same skin color couples; and that all non-homosexual males are crude and dumb, outsmarted by, in order of increasing intelligence, womyn, kids, and pets. Sheesh! Like Joe Bob Briggs, I am surprised I have to tell you this!

  4. Leads me to ask the important question, “Is spell-check white privilege?” I think someone should start a campaign.

  5. “before chucking your book into the fire.”

    So long as they’ve already paid for the book, I really don’t mind. Heck, they can buy fifty copies of my book, and burn every last one! I’m happy to oblige.

    Except that since my novel is only available in e-book format, chucking it into the fire might create toxic fumes and kill them as their e-reader (one of fifty) melts and burns. But then again, they’ve already paid for my book. So who am I to judge?

  6. I Few Good Men is still my favorite romance, and now I have to read it again. Darn you.

  7. I thought about adding some gay characters to my book just to help get past the Woke publishers/literary agents screening process to promote such views. I had a potential plot twist that would have worked for such a purpose, but decided against it, because that was not the “Values” I wanted to promote in my novel.

    1. Meh. I don’t actually have much control over CHARACTERS. They tend to be their own thing. But then I’m not trying to be, you know…. didactic.

  8. Question from the back bench:
    Can we use this same technique to add minority ethnic characters? I mean, we certainly need to realize that Ainu, Kiowa, Maya, Samoyed, Sami, etc. readers really benefit from seeing themselves in fiction.

    1. What? And commit acts of Cultural Appropriation and Literary Genocide since if you aren’t any of those you can’t write them authentically!!??

    2. My first book has a Comanche war chief who is also a Colonel in the Republic of Texas Army. He later gets promoted to Brigadier General, and have plans for him in book two.

        1. Thank you, Bob. I hope you enjoy it. Please leave a review on Amazon if you do.

  9. Off topic (a rarity in this site’s comments section I know): I anyone else not able to access their notifications?

    I know I have a few likes from Sara (squeee!/fanboi) from e-mail, and the little bell in the upper right corner has a red dot indication unread comments, but for the past week or so, when I click on the icon to see them, it just clocks.

    I’ve left the browser open for up to an hour and it was still clocking when I closed it.

    1. I was running into that, until I turned off the various blockers in my browser…
      I’m too lazy to go one-by-one through the various blocked items to figure out which was the problem child.

      1. Thanks
        All the blockers are turned off and it doesn’t matter what browser: Brave, Opera, or Chrome, PC or Android.No Joy

  10. What if I don’t want to write any sympathetic gay characters at all? Does that make me a Virtuous Contrarian, or a Deplorable whose work should be burned in the fire as homophobic hate speech before it is written? No, don’t answer, I already know. Or, put another way, should I quiver in terror at the thought of being preemptively shunned by our Supreme Work Overlords of the Literary Establishment, or should I emit rude sound and gestures in their general direction and write something that might remotely possibly appeal to a few of the Teeming Masses Yearning to be Free of them?

    1. You could really be edgy and write a character who is gay, but does not act on the same-sex attraction because of his/her religious practices–preferably non-Christian. That ought to get some vitriol flowing!

      1. Or, since I’m trying to do a historical fantasy, I might write about a Greek catamite slave boy running away from his mentor sometime in the 2nd century. Something to encourage the Elevated Erudites to engage in anatomical impossibilities without using language my late mother would be ashamed to see coming from my fingers.

        1. He wishes a wall would fall on him, because that would simplify things. But the universe is not so cooperative. Dagnabit, I wasn’t ready to write that one yet. Now I have to at least outline it before the idea gets away.

  11. I’ve already gone down this road. In my latest, Escape From the Future and Other Stories, one of my main characters, Grandpa, wears dresses. So far… five 5-star reviews on Amazon… but at some point people are going to start talking about this. At least I hope so, talking, but not showing up outside my house with torches and black helmets.

    Now, as to how to do this sort of thing tastefully… You can show instead of tell. Show your readers that your characters are gay or tranz, don’t tell them. . For instance, when Pat and Fran go for their early evening walk, you can describe the beadwork on the leash Pat holds that goes to the embroidered collar around Fran’s neck. Or you can describe how pretty Hans Chowder’s dress is, but respectfully note that he/she/it is a little flat-chested and some padding in that area would be nice.

    By the way, a thing I’m noticing… and it’s concerning. Microsoft Editor has tapped me on the shoulder a couple of times about certain words or terms I’ve used. “Are you sure you want to use that term?” it said. “Some of your readers may find it offensive. !!!! Clayton’s PREDICTION !!!! In the near future Microsoft Word will NOT ask you to rethink using that word. It will FORBID you to use that word. It will not ALLOW you to use that word. This is where we are.

    1. You can turn that “sensitivity” checker thing off. Go into File/Options/Proofing/When checking grammar… /Writing Style/Settings. Look for “Inclusive language” and uncheck boxes.

      1. I’ve found that the best course (for me, anyway) is to turn off grammar checking completely.

    2. I write my first drafts with Jarte in rtf format, and only transfer them to word doc for editing.

      It has a spell checker, which only runs when you hit F7. I’ve also discovered not having spell check constantly jostling my elbow helps me stay writing instead of editing.

      Also, LibreOffice should support the main editor functions that Word does.

    3. For some years I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a story set in the 1960s South– not about the Civil Rights era, but with that in the background– just to use as many historically-accurate “naughty words” as I can get away with (of course, whether a character refers to Americans of Sub-Saharan descent as “Coloreds,” or another word that mispronounces a Spanish color, would make a simple shorthand to tell readers whether the speaker is One Of The Good Guys….), including discussion of GLTs with the Brit term for smokes.

  12. I think I have a gay guy in my WIP. It gets him kicked out of the military – which works out really well for the plot. And yes, he’s a good guy. But no romance or pairing. Traditional values — that even he believes in. So if anything, it would make my story less acceptable. I’m really afraid of keeping him the way I actually see him, even though it’s just fanfic.

  13. Hey, don’t be hating on the 1990 TMNT movie, it’s the best one they ever made.

  14. Ah, so. But is Lorem Ipsum LGBTQ+, or Evil White Supremacy?

    “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.”

  15. “And what about inanimate objects?“

    Okay, so… “my computer identifies as non-binary” would be a good thing?

    NO, it would not. Binary is good, go forth and calculate.

    1. Well, some of the ICs in there would be tri-state, though that would be 54 too few for the woke crowd.

      (Nudges TTL databook behind the table.)

      1. Well, there’s always threshold logic. And if that fails (which it usually did), go back to analog… 🙂

  16. Frank, Frank, Frank.
    Most trees are bi. Why are you erasing their lived reality by making them trans?!

    1. Wouldn’t hermaphrodite be the more accurate term for trees (and plants in general)? Though botany isn’t one of my strong areas.

      1. The proper gardening term is “indeterminate” – which many but not all plants are. What is called Dioecious in trees is called “normal” in humans.


            Anyone who ran a Bayonet course knows where that came from….

          2. My defensive line coach insisted it was blood….

            “Kill! Kill! Blood makes the grass grow!”

      1. If they are colonizing an area inhabited by native plants and gentrifying the place, they lose their place in the trans stack though, don’t they?

    2. That is merely their sex, determined by chromosomes. Bi is their orientation, much more important. If not so important as their gender.

  17. Even classic ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ in its prime could not top the group-idiocy of LGBTQQIP2SAA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit, asexual, and ally).

    1. Ages ago (mid-80s) when I went to the pride parade in San Francisco, one of the booths was selling buttons that said “Straight, but not narrow.” a number of people commented on how cool was that. I didn’t get one because I saw no need to advertise my sexuality one way or the other. I mean, if you are at a gay pride parade and have to announce that you’re straight, that just shows you’re slumming for the social credit points.

  18. Past the first five letters, the recipe for that alphabet soup morphs so often I can’t be bothered to keep track. It’s vile no matter how you spell it.

        1. Some years ago, I decided that 4+ letters was overkill and just feeding the narcisism. So in informal writing, I gladly reference the “minority orientation” activist class as GLTs. They’ll usually recognize what they mean by those letters, even without a B or Q or whatnot. And I don’t have to translate “Guano-Locos Totales” if I choose not to.

        2. I’ve heard that putting the G first really annoys the Ls.
          GBLT is easier to remember anyway. Toss “WTFBBQ” on the end to include all the rest.

        1. I have gone Far Too Low to dig THIS up, but here it is:

          Q – Queer/Questioning
          U – Unidentified
          I – Intersex
          L – Lesbian
          T – Transgender/Transexual
          B – Bisexual
          A – Asexual
          G – Gay/Genderqueer

          1. I think my favorite comment on this line is that the Long Beach airport (LGB) is not Trans friendly.

          2. I will never understand how the “people aren’t interested in erotic activity at all” ever got included in the “people who are enthusiastic about any erotic activity, configuration, and participant combination that might shock church ladies.”

      1. Eh, being asexual can allow you to dedicate your time to a worthy cause like freedom, and not worry about your family.

  19. Granted I’m so old I remember like DAW paperbacks; but if I pick up a story that feels the need to preach about anything—and it’s not specifically a book on how to match the latest Baptist Faith and Message with “Calvin’s TULIP” or something from The Navigators—I put it down and add that author to my list of people to read after the theological place of eternal punishment supports their own ice hockey league.

    Yeah, I’ll try to proselytize now and again in comments and whatnot on the interwebs; but I don’t do it where people have to pay money to read it. If that’s of any consolation. (Y’all get to read my ramblin’s fer free.)

    I’m never certain these days how tongue-in-cheek these messages are, since even some formerly “conservative” folks have gone off the left end of the pier; but I hope this one was. I like Mr. Fleming’s stuff… And Sarah needs to start churning out more novels…

    1. Hell’s Hockey League Founded!

      It has been recently announced that the various domains in Hell are forming hockey teams to participate in the new league. As everyone knows most of Hell is ice-free (except for the bottom most level), all hockey players will be using roller blades rather than ice skates. Least anyone think that his Infernalness is treating players with any form of favoritism; please remember that all hockey rinks in Hell are strewn with copious amounts of burning hot sand and gravel, and no medical treatment for festering wounds and injuries. Finally, all games will be refereed by members of the Demonic Horde. We’re all looking forward to their enforcement of rules, and what kinds of inventive penalties they’ll impose.

  20. I could see an Awaken with JP video of him gluing male pine cones on to the trees and using tiny scissors to cut the stamens off flowers. Then end with his wife come out and ask “What are you doing?”

    “I’m helping the trans plants.”

    “No, I wanted you to help with the transplants”

    And pan over to a bunch of seedlings in trays.

  21. Actually, a pansexual parrot named Lord Fifth is a major side character in the fairly long cultivation fu series, I Shall Seal the Heavens.

    He claims to be attracted to anything with fur and/or feathers, and tends to be rather unconcerned with explicit consent by any of these newly discovered “beloved concubines,” which may or may not be intelligent magical creatures.

    He also trains low-level humans to sing his own compositions, praising him, while doing dances that create magical arrays that enable both attacks and shields.

    Oh, and of course he has a mysterious past and a richly embarrassing backstory.

  22. And now for something completely different…

    The Babylon Bee interviews John Cleese. He’s looking old.

    1. I had the good fortune to see Mr. Cleese performing live a couple of years ago. He was, indeed, looking old. But not yet pining for the fjords, so that’s something.

      1. Just checked in to make sure someone mentioned pining for the fjords in the comments section to this article. Glad to see the Republic is safe!

  23. I wrote a short story once about a woman walking home after midnight and fears she’s being stalked. She ducks into a gay bar for safety. IO didn’t tell anyone it was a gay bar. What U dud was say that there were couples dancing, people looked up as she cane un but immedately lost interest. The stalker follows her in and gets accosted by one of the regulars. He invites him to the bathhouse next door. The stalker, militantly hetero, turns and punched him in the stomach. The guy is 6’5″ and all muscle, sp he decks the stalker. The bouncer then throws him out. I asked the readers in a class when they figred out it was a gay bar. The idea cane ti me based on something a friend whe drove cab heard form a faare. She said if a woman tought she as being stalked, nip into a gay bar. She’d be all right, but the stalker waould be mobbed if he followed heer in.

  24. As I went back through my Martian lawyer unpublished bits and pieces . . .

    “So, what do you do, when you’re not being Hondo’s co-pilot?”
    Steve glanced over his shoulder at her. “Well, I teach Yoga, meditation and martial arts, part time.”
    “And the rest of the time?”
    “I help people understand the feng shui of their homes, and how to improve the energy flow.”
    “Keep you very busy?”
    “No. That’s why I work for the florist.”
    “Flower arranging?” Vera scowled. “Are you gay?”
    “Yes. Is that a problem?”
    “I’m stranded on an alien planet thirty-five million years in the past, and the handsome man stranded with me is gay? Yeah, I’d call that a problem.”
    Steve sniffed, cleared his throat, looked away. Snorted. Lost control and started laughing. Howling. Sat down on the floor and laughed until he cried. He finally got his breath back. “In college I majored in interpretive dance.”
    Vera looked up at the rock roof. Closed her eyes. “Just kill me now. There’s no point in dragging this out.”

    1. Pam, I don’t know if you ever read Eric Flint / David Drake Raj Whitehall books, but that scene recalls one from there, where two of the main secondary characters are gay, but they were functional with women (and needed to be for dynastic considerations)”

      “For him, sex with women was like eating plain boiled rice, possible but…. Still, he was a soldier: if plain boiled rice was what was available, that was what you ate.”

      1. That’s much too serious for Martian Lawyer.

        FYI, by the time they leave they’ve accidentally started a new religion with the Martians, involving plant arrangement, interpretive dance Kung fu, Chinese fortune cookies, and taught them to read english. Of course the Martians steal all the books they can find, as their new religious tracts. “Famous Quotes” “Yogi Berra’s Greatest” and “Government and the Law”

  25. …the cast of my first novel series is every color on the rainbow.

    And so completely uninterested in playing the language games, because they are stupid and worse than useless.
    And, they’re well-armed enough that they can vaporize most colleges in a single salvo.

  26. Mr. Fleming’s idea about trans fire hydrants is a good one. It’s easy to make clear that they are sexual deviants who favor beastiality and golden showers.👹👍

  27. How could you forget the pronouns? Everyone should be declaring their pronouns in the 1st chapter so that by the 3rd chapter it is completely unreadable.

  28. If you aren’t LGBTFJB+ yourself, wouldn’t that be cultural appropriation?

    1. Well, if you consider LGBTQ+ to be a subculture, and in places I believe it would, then the truly American thing to do would be to evaluate it, decide which parts had value and which did not, and appropriate the good ones.

      Only morons, or enemies, object to cultural appropriation. And only those cultures which appropriate good pieces from others evolve, grow, and improve themselves.

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