Writing What You Know, Not Just What You Are: LGBTQ+ & POC Representation in 21st Century Literary Fiction



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This poster is the culmination of a project that sought to determine whether there exist approaches to writing literary fiction that make representations of LGBTQ+ POC characters that do not rely on harmful stereotypes possible. By analyzing works of literary fiction from the 21st century that heavily feature LGBTQ+ POC characters through the lenses of queer discomfort and melancholia, I identified the complexity of transpositional representation. Following these readings, I reviewed the conversation between writers and scholars about these representations to determine if any consensus exists regarding proper approaches to writing them. Though these efforts did not yield a concrete answer about any methods or approaches, they did reveal gaps in the conversation that have led to harmful depictions in popular literary fiction. One finding that arose from this research was the tendency for critics to focus on abolishing overtly harmful or violent representations of queer POC, such as the loud Black woman, rather than focusing on the subtle, yet oftentimes more substantial, harm that is done by representations whose reliance on stereotype is not immediately obviousï¾—such as a queer relationship driven by sexual attraction. Furthermore, I found that these stereotypes are less likely to be addressed when the writer shares an identity with their subject, despite the harm that is still done to the represented community. This research ultimately raised more questions than it answered about the state of representational writing, but it brought to light substantial facts about the process and the industry in which it operates.