Q is for Queer
If I’m right, the title of this post raised hackles on the back of more than a few necks. And it should have! I don’t use it lightly, and yes, it bothered me more than a little to post this.
For me, this is one of a group of words that actually cause me to flinch when I hear. I could have posted other words from this group on N day, C day, or the upcoming R day, but I chose today because out of all these words this one is the least unpleasant (which isn’t saying much). I’m pretty certain that everybody has their own list that is personal to them. My words are technically not curse words and this is not a cussing versus non-cussing debate, but they stand apart because their offensive, derisive nature of hate-speech. I’m discussing them today because fiction writers deal with the possibility of using one or more of those tainted words in their stories all the time.
Our characters come alive in our writing and some of them take on persona’s that will almost certainly be contrary to how we act and believe. Depending on the genre you write, they may also use language or touch upon themes we are not comfortable with. I’m faced with that dilemma right now for my latest book. A character in my story is poised to use the word above, and I find myself hesitating. As a writer, I know its use perfectly fits this character and what he represents, but as a human being I wonder if I’m perpetuating the use of a word I would rather see fade out of existence. I find myself struggling between using a word I personally view as repugnant, and feeling that I’m letting this indecision handicap the truthfulness of the writing. Yes, I could choose a different word, a softer word that would convey a similar meaning, but wouldn’t I then be compromising what I know is right for this story?
In the end, I know I’ll use the word. I must. But what about you? Have you come up against this yet? If not, when the time comes and you’re faced with your own choice, will you be able to step outside the moral you and let the writer continue on?