Lesbian Fiction and struggles with diversity

This started out as a review of Tactical Pursuit by Lynette Mae but somehow devolved into an internal discussion about diversity and lesbian fiction so in the end I just gave up on the review and focused on the thought.

It started because one of the things I find weird about Lynette Mae’s books is that just about every female character is a lesbian. It doesn’t put me off – this is the second of her books I’ve read and I’ve enjoyed them both – but it does strike an off note. To me, these books are designed to be realistic in their setting and characterisation. She’s obviously done a lot of research about Police procedure and call signs etc. Portraying everyone as lesbian isn’t realistic, unless I’ve been missing something my entire life, and it’s the single jarring divergence from reality.

Please note that this is not a criticism. It’s a point of interest. We pride ourselves at the blog on being open to reading diverse fiction, but that doesn’t mean we get sent a lot of it to read and it strikes me that perhaps that’s where the issue lies here. Are there accepted tropes in lesfic as there are in many other kinds of fiction? Is a disproportionately high percentage of homosexual characters an accepted industry standard in lesfic? Are we just noticing it because we don’t read enough lesfic to know that this is normal?

It just strikes me that this is perhaps one of the issues that diverse books and diverse book categories are struggling with. One of the things that was stated again and again during our month of diversity was that readers wanted books to be a more accurate reflection of society, including ethnic, sexual and religious variety. So what happens when those books aren’t an accurate reflection of society in themselves?

If these are category or genre standard tropes, how does a reader learn them all so that they no longer stand out and disrupt the reading experience?

I look forward to anyone’s thoughts and experience in this subject 🙂

3 thoughts on “Lesbian Fiction and struggles with diversity

  1. This is typical nowadays. People tend to go to the extreme, and if the writer feels that lesbians are underrepresented in the mainstream, she’s going overboard to overrepresent them. You see this on television too and not with any one group, but it seems that all groups tend to do this. It would only make sense if these characters have isolated themselves to only living and working amongst other lesbians. But if they are supposed to be integrated in normal society, obviously, it just isn’t realistic, as you point out.

    • I see exactly what you mean. And if that’s what people want to read, then by all means that’s what they should read. It just feels almost like reverse segregation. We’re all about the diverse books movement because we’re tired of all the characters being one type of person (usually white, skinny, middle class) but it’s the same issue at the polar end of the spectrum, so where do we meet in the middle?
      I think sexuality is an interesting one as well. As a loose (and very sweeping) generalisation, people of the same religion or ethnicity do have social groups wherein they can live, work and socialise. There are whole city districts that are inhabited by one community or another – Chinatown being the ubiquitous example. To that extent you could understand everyone in the story being black or muslim or Chinese or whatever. Sexuality isn’t like that, as far as I’m aware. There aren’t big communities or districts where homosexuality is the cultural majority and where it would make sense for everyone encountered in the plot to be that way.
      Just brings it home again why it’s important to have this discussion.

      • Right, we go from one extreme to the other. Pay attention to society- it always works that way. Once we’ve gone too far to one extreme, we start going in the opposite direction. It must be human nature.

        The Chinatown example was one I was thinking of mentioning, so I’m glad you did. In this case, it’s probably more of a political statement, or she’s just trying to appeal to one demographic. And I say this without having read the book.

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