Don’t have to worry about diversity when everybody’s genderless, asexual, shapeless, and transparent.
This is going to be one of those awkward things, where I say a dozen things wrong. I apologize.
There’s a discussion over on Shakesville of how everyone is sick of white straight able-bodied male protagonists. And I’m in agreement, but…
Neill, the protagonist of the novel I’m revising, hits three of those (He’s asexual). So, I could make him black or Hispanic or something. He comments on the antagonist being mixed-race (for example: ‘The tip of his tongue moistened his bottom lip, very pink against his dark skin.’) and I don’t know if that would be weird coming from a POC. If not, yeah, he’s now Hispanic. (He probably will be) (And once he is, none of the main characters will be white. Which is groovy.)
But I kind of want to make him disabled as well. But he’s a doctor in a criminal mental institution and a major physical disability would put him more danger, so they wouldn’t allow that? I think? I do think I’m going to make him dyslexic. So, um, suggestions. He had meningitis as a kid, so I don’t know if that could cause something (besides cognitive disabilities. But he’s very smart. Maybe a problem with balance?)
There’s one other character, not for this story, that I want to give a disability to. He’s a guy in his twenties, very smart, and extroverted. He does tech support and that sort of thing. I’m open to suggestions.
(Content notice: discussion of gender essentialism, sexual harassment)
What I’m finding with this is, I’ll think, oh, do this. But then that means that event will be read as something completely different. Okay, so do this other thing, but now that other event reads as… And you’re all looking at me, going use your words, give us examples.
Okay, so I make Neill a woman. Cool, we’ve got this highly educated, very smart woman. Groovy. Exceeeept… at one point Ostanes kisses Neill, without consent. Now, it’s just a kiss, on the lips, no tongue, no groping. That still comes off as much scarier than a dude kissing a dude. Okay, make Ostanes a woman as well. Now people will interpret it as straight women kissing to get attention of guys (even though it happens in a gay bar). (I think – I might be overthinking that one).
But that raises another problem. Ostanes is a dandy. He likes really nice clothes, in bright colors, and he pulls it off. A woman doing the same is going to be read as, well, ‘women like clothes’. So I don’t want Ostanes to be a woman. And there are other problems with changing Neill to a woman, that come down to people thinking girls like girly things. It’s frustrating.
I do want to make things diverse, and I think even if I screw up it’s better than not trying. But sheesh. In story I can say, oh well the society doesn’t think like that, but that doesn’t actually fix anything.
Update July 16: So Thomas Neill is now Tomas Maurell. And he’s overweight and has a bunch of minor problems caused by the meningitis, including a balance disorder and chronic fatigue. I’m still working on editing those in. And the other character I mentioned, has something like Parkinsons (he’s young and in college, so I have to do some research.)