I’ve mentioned this before, but I write LGBTQ+ characters and I’m not going to stop. In fact, when someone tells me that my books are too gay or they take objection to my LGBTQ+ content, I want to make my writing even gayer.
Because I think there are too many people who “tone down” their work to “appeal to more people.” I think there are too many people who are afraid to take risks and represent the full spectrum of glorious human expression. I don’t believe that you have to respect everyone’s opinion, because if that opinion is bigotry and hatred and thinking that some people deserve to die just because of who they are, then your opinion is wrong. I’m not going to waste time on racists and homophobes and transphobes and all the other prejudiced people out there.
I told my family the other day, “I’m probably going to get at least one negative review for the scene that I just wrote.” And I’m fine with that. I had a queer character use the term “cishet” as a slur*, and I’ve had Beckys complain to me about this in online forums, so why not in my books?
*If you think “slur” is a catch-all term for any word that labels another human being, and not something that specifically targets a minority group by referencing the long systemic history of their oppression. Cisgender heterosexual people are not a minority group, and calling them what they are is not insulting, so “cishet” is not actually a slur.
In fact, why wait for the book to come out? I know there are some people who like to get outraged before a book even gets published. Here you go. It also has the word “dyke.”
The Scene with Cishet as a Slur
“She’s a total monster,” I sobbed into my carton of dairy-free ice cream. It was my favorite flavor, salted caramel, but it had mostly melted. I’d eaten more than half without realizing it, which was probably enough to make me sick. I shoved the whole sticky mess onto the nearby table and pulled my knees up to my chest.
Damian wrapped his arm around my shoulders. “It’s no surprise that the mean girl was mean to you,” he said. “We knew what she was like from day one. Don’t let it get to you.”
I wiped my face on my sleeve and tried to even out my breathing. “But she said she doesn’t want to see me at all. What am I supposed to do? Stay out of the room completely?”
“She can’t lock you out of the whole room. Your stuff is in there, too.” He rubbed my back. “Just give her some time to cool down.”
I glanced at my watch. “Curfew’s in less than an hour. Am I supposed to stay out the whole night?”
Damian’s roommate, the scrawny D&D nerd named Tyler, popped his head down from the bunk above us. “She can’t sleep here.”
Damian groaned. “Dude, you’re not part of this conversation.”
“I’m just saying,” Tyler said. His face was turning red from hanging upside-down. “We would get in so much trouble if we had a girl stay over.”
“Brie’s not a girl-girl.”
I sniffled. “What’s that supposed to mean? I’m not a real girl?”
Damian’s grip on me tightened. “I just meant you’re not doing anything wrong. Like, you’re not here to have sex with me.”
I clutched my stomach and mimed gagging. “Ugh! Just the thought of seeing you naked makes me want to throw up.”
“Hey!” He nudged me playfully.
Tyler nodded. “I’ve seen him. It’s like a war crime.”
“I keep it tight,” Damian said, flexing his arms. “Just because you are cursed to be a dyke and a cishet who can’t appreciate what I have to offer, that doesn’t mean I’m not a total snack.”
I giggled. “Yeah, like a free sample snack at the grocery store.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” He threw my own question back at me.
“It means you give it away too easily,” Tyler picked up the taunt.
Damian pushed off the bed and spun around, folding his arms and glaring at both of us. “I just came out to have a good time and I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now.”
Tyler snickered. “Way to defend yourself with an ancient meme.” He sat upright, making the bunk bed shake. “Whoa. I am so dizzy right now, I’m seeing stars.”
I laughed so hard at the both of them, I collapsed on the bed and lost control of my breathing again. At least it was a different kind of hysterics than what I’d had earlier when I couldn’t stop crying as I described the confrontation to Damian.