Sometimes I wonder if I'm not a bit too neurotic in showing the spectrum.
Recently labels have been getting a lot of attention. Whether you see labels as great or terrible isn't what I'm going to debate... (My personal feelings on labels since you're wondering... oh you're not? Well, skim on ahead then... Labels can be good or bad based on how they are applied and what they are used for. Good if it helps find a community & an identity and bad if used to pathologize or exclude).
Labels are HERE. People slap labels on people whether we want them or not. At times, accuracy doesn't seem to be a determining factor in their application. I want to direct your focus on the spectrum within labels themselves.
There's a spectrum to everything. Each and every label has a range. Take this tube labeled Carmine Red:
I studied Chinese Brush Stroke Watercolor in Suzhou for about five years. Carmine Red was the go-to-color. It produced the lightest shade of pink I'd ever seen to the boldest fire red I could have imagined and all that diversity came from the same tube labeled Carmine Red.
When I'm writing a character sexual orientation is an important building block to the character's development (along with a host of other things). I tend not to stop at the basic tick off rainbow boxes of LGBT. I dig deeper. How does the character express it? What's their relationship to their sexuality? Where are they on the spectrum of within that sexual label? Are there other things they identity with that shape and redefine how they see this label? What do others think of this label? Has this label evolved over time?
I tend to not assign only one character a specific notch on the given spectrum. I'm driven to show the variation within the spectrum. So usually two or more characters (within different books and across my series) will have similar labels attached to them. It's an easy way to explore the variations within any given label. (Psst, between you and me: when someone says well I'm X and this is how X is=it drives me insane... um, that's how X is for you and you might even be the average for X but I twitch a little because we can't invalidate other Xs who aren't exactly like how you are X. RIGHT?)
Josh (The Dark Angels: Tied Together) & Dusty (The Dark Angels: Finally Fallen): Both demi-sexual but Josh doesn't even think past his love interest to an orientation where Dusty's bi-sexual with strong preferences toward men.
Boon-nam & Lalana: (Illusions & Dreams): Both women are transgender. Boon-nam needed affirmation surgery to live an authentic life where as Lalana did not need to live and love.
Dare (The Dark Angels: With Wings) & Dusty (The Dark Angels: Finally Fallen): Bi-sexual and were in denial... Dare struggles to accept a new label (and after 4 books he's still not settled with it...) while Dusty shrugs and wears it almost immediately.
Justin (The Dark Angels: Finally Fallen) & Adirake (Illusions & Dreams): Both guys crossdress and neither are transgender. Justin uses gender bending his clothing as a way to deal with a horrible past and Adirake is a performer.
Robin (The Dark Angels: Tied Together) & Cutter (Club Zombie: Zombies Suck): Both are into BDSM. Cutter uses it as an escape... a break from life. Robin needs it as part of his life.
Jake (Illusions & Dreams) & Xander (Lock and Key coming out in July): are pansexual... Jake is very sexually expressive (he literally fucked a hole) where Xander is monogamous and shy.
Walker & Lafayette (Club Zombie: Zombies Suck): Both are Doms but their submissives need something very different so the expression of their dominant sides appears different.
Okay, let's circle back around to the bathroom issue & why I flip out when people use the "Do You Want Him In The Women's Room" argument. (To be clear if you haven't seen my rants on this topice you've been under a rock or avoiding me... I FULLY SUPPORT people using the bathroom matching their gender identity. I don't freaking care what's in your pants just hand me toilet paper if I need it, don't talk on your cell phone, and flush.) There's a wide spectrum of what someone who is transgender looks like for a host of reasons. I don't think any of us are in a position to police anyone else's gender identity. (Fuck me there's a wide range of what any of us look like!!!)
If I'm honest I think I buck the binary and worship the edges of any spectrum because that's where I usually find myself.
May we all appreciate spectrum and the variations within it. Invalidate no one...