There is no music in hell, for all good music belongs to heaven. ~Brigham Young
Question #80454 posted on 01/12/2015 10:32 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board (especially Haleakala if he's back and watches Korra or just wants to chip in on the second question anyway),

Legend of Korra spoilers below.

So apparently Korra and Asami are bisexual and Bryan Konietzko has confirmed that they develop romantic feelings for each other. How do you feel about this? What are your thoughts on portraying non-heterosexual relationships in media? I guess for me where I know that acting on feelings of same-sex attraction is a sin I don't see any reason to celebrate the portrayal of people acting on them like many other people do. But other LDS people seem really in favor of it.

Thanks,
behind a couple seasons and planning to not finish

A:

Dear Willow,

I feel a bit differently than how I suspect most Latter-day Saints feel on this issue. Because I was exposed to these scenarios in media at an early age, it's never really bothered me. At least, not more than the portrayal of heterosexual relationships outside of marriage bother me. I think ignoring the existence of either of those situations would create fiction that doesn't capture the reality of society.

-M.O.D.A.Q.

A:

Dear Captain Jack,

I was actually thinking about this in the shower the morning you asked this question, and I've come to the conclusion that it is very complicated.

On one hand, it could be possible that the reason that gay characters are so subtly gay is that that's often what it's like in real life. 

I also don't necessarily disagree with people acting on same-sex attraction. I mean, yes, I know that it's a sin, but that doesn't mean that they know that, and I can't hold it against them if they don't know it's wrong. In fictional stories, it's entirely possible that the universe has absolutely no moral code against same-sex relationships, which would make it perfectly fine for them to act on those feelings.

Overall, however, I think writers should stop trying to be so subtle that it requires the creator to come out and say something, but unless it's relevant to the story line, it really doesn't matter. And I'm not just saying that for those attracted to the same sex, because it also holds true for those attracted to the opposite sex. 

This brings up the unfortunate point that most of us default to thinking characters are straight, just like a majority of us default to thinking of a character as white. We think like that until the author mentions something different. However, many of us start out with defaults when we meet anyone. It's the easiest way to think about other people. We set up defaults for certain instances, and then change things as they come up. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, just how the world works.

People will take offense at what they will take offense at. If it's a truly good story, it won't really matter in the end.

-Tally M.

A:

Dear Mr. Behind,

I don't have anything against the portrayal of non-heterosexual relationships in media. If I don't want to see it, then I don't have to watch. I'll admit it makes me uncomfortable at times, but that's probably a good thing. It helps me become acquainted with the realities of living in a complex world where not everyone lives by my standards.

However, I am against shoehorning sexual orientation onto a character in order to seem "with the times" or to pander to the LGBT community. If it's a natural part of the characterization, fine, whatever. But if you just have your main character be homosexual because you don't want to be accused of being homophobic or something, I view that as a case of artistic dishonesty. In my mind, J.K. Rowling is the most prominent perpetrator of this kind of thing. I don't really mind that Dumbledore is gay—it doesn't affect my enjoyment of the Harry Potter books whatsoever—but her announcement of his sexual orientation felt more like a PR thing than a natural extension of her understanding of the character. That sort of thing is distasteful to me, coming from a creator. She's trying to have her cake and eat it too.

Anyway, I agree with Tally. If you have to come out and clarify that yes, you intended such-and-such a character to have such-and-such a sexual orientation, that means that it wasn't relevant enough to the storyline or characterization to make it obvious, which means that it is an irrelevant detail. Either make it important enough to matter to the story or leave your readers/watchers to infer for themselves. It's insulting to do otherwise.

-Inverse Insomniac