A Guide to writing a Closeted Character
Hello. Hi. Hey. Hola. That last one is Spanish for hello. I am back again with another guide. Someone asked Q earlier about how to write a closeted character. Now, I am a lesbian, so I will be pulling from personal experience. Just to be clear, nothing I put in this guide is the only way this can be done. Don’t be a dick, okay? I know that. But if someone wants help with this, I am okay with trying my best. Now, if you are interested in this guide, please click. Or don’t. I mean, it doesn’t matter.
Let’s get something out the way. There does not ever need to be a guide on how to play a gay character. Do you want to know why? Because gay people are just like straight people. They just like the same parts on their partner. There’s no faulty wiring. Nothing is different upstairs. If you are inclined to believe that you have to play a gay character a certain way because of their sexual orientation, then you probably shouldn’t be playing a gay character. It is going to end badly for you. You are probably going to be grossly offensive about it and it’s better not to get involved in that whole mess.
If you are able to see a gay person as an everyday, run of the mill, normal human being, we can proceed.
1. First things first, every single gay person’s coming out/being closeted experience is unique to them.
Does this make sense? No two experiences are exactly alike. It’s not because gay people in general are like snowflakes, it’s that there are so many different stimuli and things you cannot account for when you come out or decide to stay in the closet. For example, I figured out I was a lesbian for sure, my first fall semester of college. I was 19. I saw a girl and I was like “yup, I could sleep with her and love her” and I knew. When I went home for Christmas break, I came out to my parents. Now, that was a personal choice. I figured out who I was. I had been so miserable living with this secret. I felt that I couldn’t be me if I wasn’t out. My parents did NOT take it well, but that is neither here nor there. This is just my own experience. It doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t make it better. It doesn’t make it universal.
2. There are a lot of reasons why a person might stay in the closet.
A main reason is they are not comfortable. I am not sure how it is for everyone who comes out, but I remember telling the first person face to face that I was gay. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. It took me almost an hour to say the words out loud. I want to stress this again, just because it was hard for me, doesn’t at all mean it is hard for everyone. But, sometimes saying the words “I’m gay.” can change how people look at you in one instant. It’s not fair. It’s not right, but it can and does happen. If your character wants to stay in the closet because they aren’t comfortable with being out, that is totally okay.
Sometimes, coming out is not a good idea because you may be financially cut off. I am not saying kids who don’t come out because they want their parents to take care of them are selfish, they aren’t at all. But at 19 and 20, we still need financial support from them. If coming out can get you kicked out or homeless or beaten, it is better to stay in the closet.
And the final point in this section, fear of violence. Matthew Shepard. I hope that name rings a bell with you. If coming out for your character means they might be harmed physically or emotionally, they might stay in the closet. It’s very hard to be yourself if you are terrified of being harmed. It is a big thing that is still present to this day.
3. Coming out is a highly personal experience.
For me personally, I couldn’t stay in the closet. I wanted and had to come out. It was the right decision for me. Whatever reason your character has to stay in the closet, no matter what it is, it is a valid reason. No one else in the entire world has the right to out another human being. Personally, I love being out. I love being proud. But that was and always has been my decision. If your character is not comfortable, that is okay. No other character has the right to pressure them into coming out. No other character has the right to hint at it. No other character has the right to out your character. I want you to go back and reread what you just read. This is very important. No matter why or how or when your character is in the closet, that is their right and no one should be allowed to take that from them.
4. Why is your character in the closet?
There is a reason for everything, whether you want to believe it or not. Are they in the closet because they aren’t entirely sure? Are they in the closet because they are scared? Are they in the closet because harm might come to them? Are they in the closet simply because it’s nobodies fucking business? Make sure you have this figured out. It is the motivation and the turning point for your character. Mostly if you want them to ever come out of the closet. Although, it is perfectly fine for them to stay there.
5. How does a person act when they are in the closet?
Entirely the fucking same. Maybe they are a little more cautious around the same sex. Maybe they throw themselves at the opposite sex to fit in. But all those things depends on your character’s personality. A gay person is a gay person is a gay person. They are no different. Maybe they are out of sorts. Maybe they are falling into depression. Maybe they are unhappy because they can’t be themselves. But like I said before, there is no right or wrong answer here. It’s whatever feels right. Every experience is unique.