What if people think I have an agenda?

Recently, a reader wrote me with a question about a comic they wanted to make:

I’m afraid of people thinking I have an agenda if I make my comic, and it’s always stopped me. Some would argue bisexuals have it easy, but I get scared. Do you have any advice? Such as, a bisexual female ending up with a male character and fallout, like in Buffy?

I thought it might be useful to post my response here as well:

I hear you about being concerned about what other people think. I actually wrote a little post about that:

http://alexwoolfson.tumblr.com/post/112161511833/the-man-in-the-arena

But for what it’s worth, I think that what you want to write sounds important and I hope you won’t let what other people might or might not think stop you. Yep, people have opinions about bisexuals. People have silly opinions about a lot of things. And maybe some of those folks might argue that bisexuals have it “easy”, but that hasn’t been what I’ve witnessed with my bisexual friends. If anything, I’ve seen them have to face discrimination from both the mainstream and the queer communities. And, in particular, I’ve seen them face invisibility and annihilation. Because many gay folks (including myself) chose to label themselves as bisexual at some point in their coming out (because at least that’s “half normal”), there can be the false belief that real bisexuals don’t exist or are kidding themselves. And I’ve seen good people be very hurt by that belief.

That’s why I think it’s especially important for you to tell the stories you want to tell. Sure, if your bi female character wound up with a male character, some readers might express disappointment. And if she wound up with another woman, there might be others who would be disappointed by that. The simple truth is: you can never please everybody. And trying to create fiction that does try to do that, leads to work that *no one* can feel passionate about, IMHO.

So, no matter what, there will be fallout. It’s what you do with it that matters. If you are concerned that readers might raise objections to certain plot points, it can be helpful to have non-defensive answers prepared in advance. For example, I knew that it would be a controversial choice to have an older supervillain pressuring a young superhero into a kiss in a back alley. I also knew why I made that choice and could give a non-defensive answer when the inevitable concerns were raised.

In your case, there’s a big difference between your bi woman winding up with a man because it’s healthier/normal/God’s plan vs. her winding up with a man because she’s truly following her heart. I think that difference will come out in your writing. And if not, and you feel you can respond in a non-defensive way, you can share your intentions with a questioning reader.

Or you can choose not to respond at all. Part of the path of being a successful creator is cultivating an audience who appreciates your vision and what you are trying to do. And it’s much more in your interest to engage with those readers than to try to convert a hater who really just wants to be reading a different writer. The best use of your time is spent in creating awesome stuff and anything that takes away from that needs to be carefully vetted for cost/benefit.

So, you asked my advice and here it is: make some awesome stuff, don’t sweat the haters and let it find its audience. I tell my stories to show people they can be heroes, people who are often told they could never be heroes. It sounds like you might want to do the same thing. That’s not an agenda, that’s a vision. And my advice is that you accept that, sure, there will always be haters, but that there will also be people who really need to see themselves in the stories only you can tell, and that you owe it to them and yourself to push through the fear.

Go make awesome stuff. The world needs more kick-ass stories with diverse heroes. 🙂

Share

Leave a Reply