I’ve gotten a few negative comments about having written LGBT characters into my books. If I’m honest I guess I wasn’t surprised.
Without spoiling too much, the main character, Kayleigh, has a diverse group of friends, including a gay male and a trans female. She also has a Jewish friend and a Chinese friend, and she herself is half Hispanic. The book I’m currently writing has a Muslim girl.
Why do I write a diverse cast of characters?
I write a colorful group of friends because I grew up and live in the planned community and culturally diverse area of Columbia, Maryland. I enjoy speaking to people of different races and cultures on a daily basis. Sometimes I forget that not everyone can hang out with their neighbors and have seven languages represented. On my cul de sac alone we can speak Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Korean, English, Hindi, and Farsi.
I also see LGBT+ individuals on a daily basis, and I am happy to live harmoniously with them. There is a gorgeous African-American trans woman who works in the Columbia Mall, an elderly trans man who shops in the Target (I LOVE Target), several trans males who work the Long Gate Shopping Center in Ellicott City, and too many gay and lesbians to list. To me, they are as typical a part of life as any Cisgender heterosexual.
Our small rainbow melting pot.
I don’t know the story of all my diverse neighbors, and I’m sure many of them have experienced discrimination. I hope that my neighbors from other countries, my friends of all races and religions, my husband from Venezuela, and all the LGBT community feel welcome and safe. Sadly I know that might not be true.
Let’s make a promise.
There are several websites that are offering diversity challenges, such as this one on Platypire. The idea is you sign up and list the books with diverse characters that you read. Or find #DiverseReads2016 here.
I promise that I will continue to write diverse characters, and I challenge all of you to read more books with diverse characters!