If you’ve been following my blog recently you know I just released my latest novel, The Sword and the Sorcerer. Last week I blogged about how it took me 30 years to write and how there were a lot of changes to the characters and story along the way.
One of those changes deserves a separate discussion. In this final version of the novel, I changed the main character’s sexual orientation from straight to gay. I wanted him to be in a long-term romantic relationship with the solider who accompanies him on his adventure. Rather than change the solider from male to female, I decided to change Calibot from straight to gay. It’s an extremely important shift in the novel’s makeup, and I want to blog about why I did it and what it means.
The Power of Love
There is a lot of magic running through The Sword and the Sorcerer. The plot concerns the assassination of the world’s most powerful wizard. Against all understanding, his spells live on after his death. And he uses that magic to manipulate his son into fulfilling a destiny he wants for him, rather than one Calibot chooses for himself.
But there is a more powerful magic than the sorcery of Gothemus Draco — love. I personally believe love is the most powerful magic of all. It can accomplish almost anything, and this idea is reflected in the novel. It is Devon’s love for Calibot that buoys Calibot along. It is Devon’s love that helps guide Calibot out of darkness. There are a lot of themes in The Sword and the Sorcerer, and the power of love is a big one.
And that’s one of the reasons it was important for me to have my protagonist be homosexual. I have known a lot of gay and lesbian people. Many of them are friends.
And the only thing I’ve noticed that makes them any different from me is whom they’re attracted to sexually.
They love with the same passion I do. They are good people or bad people based on the values with which they were raised. Some of them work harder than me. Some work less hard. But they are all regular, everyday people trying to get on with the business of life. Just like me.
It’s just that they happen to be attracted to people of the same sex instead of the opposite.
So, as I sat down to write The Sword and the Sorcerer, I thought that it would be extremely powerful to demonstrate a committed, loving couple in a long-term relationship that is different from “standard loving couples” in only one way — they’re both men. And given the vast number of committed, loving couples in same-sex, long-term relationships, Calibot and Devon are about as “standard” as they come.
And that’s the point. Love is the most powerful magic of all. And homosexual couples feel it no less and no differently than their heterosexual counterparts.
One of the reasons I write fantasy literature is I like to imagine worlds where opportunity for heroism, career, and intelligence is equal. In the Wolf Dasher series, May Honeyflower is one of the strongest characters. She is Captain of the Elite Guard, she is an accomplished soldier, and it is often she who rescues the main character — a man. She is not held down by the gender biases of a male-dominated culture that for hundreds, if not thousands, of years viewed women as property.
Likewise, I wanted to write a world wherein bigoted superstitions do not hold sway over a sizable enough chunk of the population that legislators feel comfortable writing discrimination into state constitutions. Calibot and Devon are not reviled for being gay. They are completely accepted. No one thinks twice about their being involved.
All of the machinations aimed at Calibot have everything to do with the novel’s villains trying to accomplish their own ends. They want Calibot out of the way, because he can keep them from getting what they want, not because he’s gay.
Indeed, one of the novel’s main themes is Calibot’s estrangement from his father. He left home five years before the story’s events and hasn’t spoken to him since. With Gothemus’s murder, one of the things Calibot has to deal with is the thought that he’ll never get to reconcile with his father. In a key scene late in the novel. Devon and Calibot are discussing the source of Calibot’s estrangement.
“He didn’t know me,” Calibot said. “He didn’t care to. He let me walk away and was glad to see me go. He rejected me because of who I was.”
“Because you’re gay?” Devon said, confused. He’d never heard Calibot mention this before.
“Because I’m a poet!” Calibot shouted. “He didn’t care if I was gay or straight. . . . It only mattered that I wasn’t a sorcerer — that I didn’t want to be one. “
Like everyone else, Gothemus was unconcerned with Calibot’s sexuality. He only cared that Calibot was following a career path he didn’t approve of.
Another of the reasons I wanted to write a novel with loving, gay characters is that I’m straight. I’m married, and the novel is dedicated to my wife.
I intend for that to send a powerful message to readers. One hears constantly from anti-gay conservatives that, if homosexuals are allowed to marry, it will destroy the very foundation of the marriage institution. But I’m straight, and my marriage is neither threatened nor harmed by the same-sex couples who have married in the states that allow gay marriage or the long-term, committed, same-sex couples who stay together in the states where they cannot wed.
As members of society, we all have an obligation to stand up for justice. It doesn’t matter that more than 30 states are not discriminating against me personally or anyone in my immediate family. They are discriminating against other Americans, and as long as that is permitted, we deny justice to people who have a right to it.
Thus, in the small way I’m able as an author of fantasy literature, I’m attempting to battle hatred and bigotry. I know I will not be able to change every mind, nor can I stop those with hate in their hearts from trying to spread it. But hopefully, I can change the minds of reasonable people, who might be on the fence. Hopefully, I can encourage readers to open their hearts and minds to the magic of love, so that those who wish to spread their bigotry will be ignored.
That’s why Calibot is gay. I want him to serve as a beacon of hope — an inspiration to those who fight for justice and a reminder to all that love — not hatred — is the most powerful magic there is.
The Sword and the Sorcerer is available now from Amazon.com and Smashwords.com for just $4.99. Click the links to purchase it. One dollar from each sale benefits Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide.