Monday, 15 February 2016

Stereotypical or Not: Guest Blog from Julie Burns

Today my guest blogger is Julie Burns, whose new novel The Purse has been released this month. Born in Marshalltown, Iowa, Julie has a love of mountains and dedicates her life to working with mentally challenged and/or mentally ill adults. In this post, she shares her perspective on sexuality in novels and challenges the reader to think differently.

Stereotypical or Not
Stereotypes are everywhere. The reason they exist is because there is some element of truth in them. The LGBT community knows this fact well. After all, it is often how we find each other and how others seek us out. This is never more true than in the literary world.

I have read many books geared toward an LGBT audience and there were a few that I really enjoyed. I realize now more than ever, that sex sells and it always will. Many lesbian-centered stories play the stereotypical “butch” versus “femme” setup. The “butch” girl wears flannel and works on cars and has a hot temper. The “femme” girl wears makeup, does her nails, and passes as straight in society. Some of these stories are sexual and the reader takes it for what it is: sex. Being a Midwestern gay woman who doesn’t go “clubbing”, I find it hard to relate. Many of these stereotypes are classified as a “male” and “female” role. This is why gays and lesbians always get asked, “Who’s the man and who’s the woman?” In writing, we have an opportunity to not always adhere to the stereotype but, quite possibly, to celebrate the uniqueness and forge a new path with different characters who aren’t so predictable.

Another idea prevalent in these books is the coming-out story. While coming-out stories are indeed fascinating, I think there is more to people than their sexual identity. When a story focuses on self-acceptance only, there are so many questions that don’t get answered. These include what now? It’s nice to get past the shock of being different and forging ahead to real situations (well, as real as fiction can be) and good solid characters. I really like stories where being gay is just a given and we don’t have to go through all that.

As an author, I have discovered that it is difficult to get publishers interested in a story where someone who is LGBT is a main character and not some evil villain who must meet impending death and doom. Fortunately, it’s becoming more mainstream now, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In all of life, there is some sense of secrecy about something—someone knows something and doesn’t want someone else to find out. That is the basic of any mystery. So, being an LGBT book sets the stage for that because no one announces they are straight. There’s no mystery there. In my book, The Purse, I did not want another coming-out story, but instead a main character who understood who she was and, even though she thought others didn’t know, she still carried along with her life, and being gay was just a small part of her identity. I think it’s important to showcase these stories because they encompass all of us. There is beauty in everyone, but there is also the struggle. The struggle isn’t always being gay or straight, or black or white. That just scratches the surface of who we really are.

Find Julie on Facebook , Twitter and Smashwords

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog Julie, as a straight woman with lots of friends in same sex relationships even I roll my eyes at the old adage 'so who's the man?'. Society as a whole seems to be moving past this now, but then again the younger generation are more open about their thoughts, feelings and sex in general, not so much a taboo subject now.

    I wish you every success on The Purse and look forward to reading my own copy it's already loaded up on my kindle :)