In honor of LBBTQ Pride month, this edition of Prompts offers a series of ideas for LGBTQ characters and settings for LGBTQ stories. Some of these may be similar to characters you have read, or people you know, but none of them are based on any other character or real person. The idea is to take the vague description and use it as a jumping point for your own unique character or setting for a novel, poem, play, film, song, or short story.
Character Idea: A gay man who is considered elderly by the time the gay rights movement begins.
The modern gay rights movement began fifty years ago this month, in late June 1969, with the Stonewall Rebellion. This marked the first time the LGBTQ stood up against police brutality in large numbers. A group of patrons at the Stonewall Inn in NYC responded to a police raid by fighting back. This kicked off days of demonstrations. Create your character by imagining a gay man in a frail state watching these events unfold from his home.
Character Idea: An asexual character.
Some people consider the “Q” for the word “queer” to encompass anyone who is not heterosexual, but does not fall into the categories of “gay,” “lesbian,” or “bisexual,” either. There are indeed people who are none of the above. There are those who do not feel any type of sexual attraction or romantic love for anyone. Imagine what it would be like to be an asexual person today, or in a decade in the recent past.
Setting Idea: Make your own gay bar or club.
Gay bars are gathering places that cater to the LGBTQ community, or a portion of it. That’s pretty much all it takes to be a “gay” bar. Create your own for a setting. Try breaking stereotype with it. We all expect disco or club music, neon lights, and revealing club attire. Create a gay bar that’s a sports bar frequented by married gay men. Make the place an upscale lounge. Design an entire casino in Las Vegas with an LGBTQ theme. Place your gay bar in small town Arkansas or Idaho instead of San Francisco or New York City. Shift the time period around.
Character Idea: A transgender person living long before the world noticed they exist.
Transgender people are those whose souls, and the very beginnings of their brains, were created one gender by God, but whose bodies have developed into the other gender as they continued to form in the womb. Many of us think transgender people are somehow new simply because we see them being open about who they are today, but there are reports of transgender people existing as early as the 1800s, and many cultures had terms for transgender individuals dating back much further than that. Try creating a transgender character who lived during the Civil War, or the 1950’s, or in Victorian England.
Character Idea: A straight, cisgender person who has been raised to hate those in the LGBTQ community, but slowly realizes the person they have known professionally for decades is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer.
I don’t have to tell anyone in the LGBTQ community that prejudice against them still exists in the world. And my fellow straight, cisgender people should know that things are not perfect just because there have been great strides in LGBTQ rights and acceptance over the years. But I also shouldn’t have to remind anyone that people can grow and change. Create a character who slowly changes as he or she comes to realize that someone important in their life is in the LGBTQ community.
Setting/Plot Idea: Choose a recent issue for the LGBTQ community and build your story around it.
We all remember the “transgender bathroom issue.” Many rights that members of the LGBTQ community only recently gained, such as the right to legally marry, may be threatened in the near future. There are still businesses that refuse service to gay people. Choose one of those issues. Create a story about a group of people who become caught up in it.
Did any of these give you an idea? Please feel free to introduce us to your character in the comments below. Artist Cafe Utica would like to reaffirm our commitment to LGBTQ rights and to wish all of our readers from the LGBTQ community a safe and happy Pride Month 2020.