I don’t care that you’re taking straight characters, characters who are assumed to be straight because of opposite sex relationships but it’s never stated, or just plain unknown characters and putting them in a same-sex or same-gender relationship. In fact, I generally like it. Fanfic is about putting your own interpretation on these characters, and I usually enjoy reading it (assuming it’s well-written).
That said, there’s this habit of authors where they totally ignoring any mention of sexual orientation in slash fic.(“Slash” here includes femslash, and there isn’t much of any other sexual orientation/gender identity group in fanfic at all.) Please, if you’re writing slash fic, don’t just ignore all previous relationships that a character has had that point to them not being exclusively homosexual. Don’t write one of those fics where it’s never even mentioned, even though one of the characters is totally surprised at falling for a character of the same gender. Don’t be write of those well-it’s-you-and-you’re-different-so-it’s-okay-but-this-doesn’t-make-me-not-straight fics. Don’t write a fic where a character suddenly turns gay after realizing the romance thing in order to suit your plot. The whole “never even suspected they weren’t straight until now” is quite frankly stupid and overdone. Don’t do it.
If you are going to write characters as queer, show consideration to the actual, real life people who are queer. Unless you are queer yourself, and sometimes even if you are, you’ve probably never noticed how many fics don’t even use the word “gay.” No character ever says, “I’m gay.” Even when it’s something that they should say, even when it’s something the author’s totally hinting at that.
Do you have any idea how frustrating that can be? This is something that is a huge part of a lot of people’s identities, and their struggles. This is something that we, as queer people, have to think about, because society doesn’t give us a choice. And do you have any idea how good and liberating and affirming it feels to be reading a fic and have a character actually come out and say who they are, that they’re not straight?
And another thing: there are sexual orientations besides homosexual. And a lot of the time, some other sexual orientation will fit what you’re doing with the character much better than calling them heterosexual OR homosexual. Try making your character bisexual, or pansexual, or asexual homoromantic! Because they exist. And don’t just think in your head that this character is gay or bi or heteroflexible, actually write it down. In dialogue or in internal musings, and you know what it’s a great way to add dimension and conflict to a character in your story!
Here’s another reason it bugs me: realizing and accepting your sexuality is hard, at least if you’re not straight. Having a character feel a type of desire that you go ahead and say they’ve never experienced before, but then not have them address those new feelings any further or try to figure themselves out, and just have them go along with it and be okay with the one person you’re slashing them with? Totally unrealistic. You want solid character development? Write out their struggle. Hell, mention their internal struggle, which is more than a lot of people bother to do. Or mention if it isn’t one, and why. Also a tip: yes, sexuality can change over time, and yes some people don’t discover their sexuality until well into adulthood. But one of the main characters thinking they are emphatically straight until their 30’s in every single fanfic? Stuff like what you’re writing happens in real life sometimes, it does. But frankly, I don’t give the vast majority of you enough credit to think that you’re trying to go for a genuine portrayal of a somewhat rare but real experience, partially because it never feels like a genuine portrayal, it feels like a token issue you felt you had to address before moving on to your gay porn. And if that happens in every single slash fic you ever right, you don’t get any benefit of the doubt. I’m just going to assume you’re ignorant, prejudiced, and don’t bother considering the thoughts and feelings of the queer community.
Because the fact is, gay people don’t exist so straight cis girls can get off on male gay sex. (And because undoubtably some of you don’t know what “cis” means, it means not transgender; your gender matches up with your biological sex.) And as for everyone else who isn’t heterosexual, they actually do exist, whether they’re bisexual, pansexual, asexual, queer, or anything else. So stop ignoring us because you don’t care, or you’re uncomfortable with it, or homosexuality is only okay in the context of pretend gay sex for you to masturbate to. Because most slash fic is written by straight, cis girls for other straight, cis girls, the same way that most lesbian porn is made by straight cis men, for straight cis men.
Now we’re back to the point of why you should address sexual orientation in your slash fic. And as I mentioned, it’s because seeing that affirmation, seeing a testimony that we do exist, is huge. And I know you’re showing it, but sometimes that’s not enough, especially when some authors seem to avoid having their characters actually identify as gay like the plague. The other day, I was reading a fic, and to my tremendous surprise, one of the characters actually took a paragraph to google bisexuality. It wasn’t this big thing, but he called himself bisexual and he actually did the research to learn more about himself, and later he comes out as bi to a couple people with those words, actually saying it, and that made such a big difference. And it probably took ten minutes of the author’s time.
It’s not hard, and acknowledging sexual orientation can make such a difference to people who are reading it. It helps affirm the experiences of queer people, and it helps educate heterosexual, cisgender people. It can even make your story better. This hurts no one (unless you’re a homophobe). So do it right. Acknowledge that we exist, and acknowledge that our struggles exist. Please mention sexual orientation, because it really shows when none of you ever do.