Andi (of Outer Limits — a most fun blog), has an excellent post: lesbian fiction, or does this book make me look gay? (Who doesn’t get sucked into reading with a title like that?!)
Her discussion (similar to this round-table: Labeling Lesbian Fiction Debate) centers on the issue of whether or not it is a service, a disservice, or a meaningless point, to label works of fiction as “lesbian.”
I’m straight (but not narrow), so maybe my opinion doesn’t really count — but I’m not afraid of books or movies or TV shows or whatever with lesbians or gay or trans folk. If people want to play Guess The Reader’s Orientation By Her Book Purchases (Or Reading Habits), that’s their little game & I don’t care. Besides, they’d be puzzled anyway.
I think separating books by “character orientation” is as silly as categorizing them by marital status. So if we have “Gay Mysteries”, “Bisexual Westerns, “Trans Literature” and “Lesbian Sci-Fi” then why not have “Celibate Sci-Fi” (maybe that’s redundant? lol), “Old Maid Romance” (err, that fits some people who confuse fantasy fiction with real life expectations for relationships) and “Heterosexual Monogamous Adventures” (if strictly read in the missionary position, it’s surely an oxymoron)… Though “Married & Not Getting Any Mysteries” might actually be found in self-help. Heh.
I joke, but I’m serious about segregating books based on character orientation. What’s next, stories with African American characters can only sit on shelves at the back of the store? Because that’s what these categories feel like to me; just another way to label and limit.
A good detective story, adventure, or love story, is a good read no matter what labels the publisher or Barnes & Nobel clerk assigns the book in the shelving process. Fictional characters & their stories are no more limited to their orientation — or gender, race, marital status, religious beliefs, political party or any other label — then real people are. When you categorize, label, and therefore limit the fictional people, you are inches away from limiting the real people.
Which brings us to dating.
While it’s good to know yourself and know the characteristics you’re looking for & even require in a mate, it’s ridiculous to categorize, label and limit potential dates — you’re only limiting yourself.
OK, so maybe being totally, inflexibly straight &/or Republican means you may have limit yourself in a category or two. But it doesn’t mean you need to ignore a million other people by the labels they have or the labels you think they have. Meeting other people means you’ll be exposed to more characters, more stories.
So go ahead, run your fingers along a few spines outside your typical categories; see what new characters you find and what new stories you’ll have to tell.