Writing Tips

100+ Unique Conflicts for Gay Characters

June 10, 2017

Conflicts for Gay Characters

Having trouble coming up with conflicts for gay characters in your story?

There is a depressing shortage of fiction about gay characters that is:

  • Well written
  • Well edited
  • Not homophobic
  • Not about coming out
  • To quote Tori Curtis, not “about getting hate crimed”

Many of these stories are actively harmful—not just to gay people, but to everyone who reads them.

The rest just aren’t very original. Yes, it’s fine to read about a gay kid coming out of the closet. But after the 100th coming-out story, it’d be cool to read about a gay kid fighting dragons or falling in love or doing literally anything else.

If you’re writing a story that includes a gay character, consider one of the conflicts below instead of having them struggle with self-hatred, hide their identity, commit suicide, or get murdered or disowned by their family.

Note: I’m using “gay” as shorthand here. It describes a character of any gender who is attracted to people of the same gender. However, these characters may self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or something else entirely.

Cultural Conflicts for Gay Characters

In Deaf communities, there is a difference between big-D Deaf and little-D deaf.

Little-D deaf people are just people who are physically deaf. They may communicate verbally, read lips, and spend most of their time around hearing people.

By contrast, Deaf people, with a capital D, are people who identify with the Deaf community. They often speak ASL and associate primarily with other Deaf people. And Deaf people may attend Deaf schools or events, and belong to Deaf organizations.

Similarly, there are many people who are gay but do not attend Pride events, go to gay bars, or identify with Gay culture.

Big-G Gay conflicts can involve conflicts within Gay culture, gay characters who want to participate in Gay events but cannot, gay characters who feel isolated by their lack of interest in Gay culture, and more.

For example:

1. The only gay bar in a small town must close due to lack of funds.

2. A character who is a recovering alcoholic chooses not to attend any local Pride events, which all take place at bars or serve alcohol.

3. Six months of bad hair days follow a character’s decision to grow out their undercut.

4. Gay beauty standards exclude most gay people.

5. Butch clothes are either very expensive or not comfortable for most body types.

6. Ripped from the headlines! 14% of LGBT people voted for Trump, even though most gay people are Dems.

7. A vampire has a crush on a tree-hugging vegan hippie.

8. A character desperately wants to get married, but their partner thinks that’s homonormative (or vice-versa).

9. A couple only has, like, two options for cute, gay rom-coms. They’ve seen them both a million times already.

10. There are no gay spaces within 400 miles of a rural character’s home.

Family Conflicts

11. A teenager’s parents have been body-snatched by aliens. No one believes them.

12. The character’s adult sibling moves in with them “just until they get back on their feet.”

13. The character has to move in with their adult sibling “just until they get back on their feet.”

14. A character’s parents need them to stay home and tend the farm on Mars, but they desperately want to go to flight school on Jupiter.

15. Lawmakers roll back domestic partnership benefits after marriage equality becomes the law.

16. A family’s ultra-powerful grimoire goes missing one week before they need it for the annual ritual to keep The Powers of Darkness at bay.

17. The family cat is actually a shape-shifting warlock.

18. When a parent falls into a coma without a living will, their children argue over what to do next.

19. One partner’s parents have strong opinions about what should happen at the partners’ wedding.

20. A character and their in-laws clash over the proper way to raise a werecat kitten.

21. A time-traveling couple cannot agree on the ideal time period in which to raise their child.

22. An orphan struggles to balance their day job with caring for their younger siblings.

23. Roommates can never agree whose turn it is to do the dishes.

24. An introvert inherits their aunt’s popular gay bar.

25. Everyone in the gay-straight alliance is dating everyone else.

26. A parent tries to convince their child to join them in the Pan-Galactic Army, but their child would rather be a sculptor.

27. One family struggles to keep the peace in the bomb shelter, where they must live alone together for ten years.

28. A grandchild inherits their grandparent’s curse.

29. A child struggles to assert their independence from their overprotective parent.

30. Three cousins are accused of murder, but only one is guilty.

31. Siblings find themselves on opposite sides of the battle between vampires and werewolves.

32. The character has been chosen to undertake an epic quest, but their parents forbid them to go.

33. A grandparent refuses to attend their grandchild’s wedding due to an ongoing feud with the grandchild’s parents.

34. The child of an ill-fated union between an angel and a demon must join one side of their family to defeat the other. Which side will they choose?

35. A character must come to terms with their sibling being the sole heir to their family’s arcane power.

Romantic Conflicts

36. A character breaks up with their partner days before the Indigo Girls concert. The tickets are in their ex’s name.

37. An evil witch turns the character’s partner into a teapot.

38. Two characters have the same first name. They fall in love anyway.

39. A character with three cats falls for someone who is allergic to cats.

40. A werewolf falls for someone who is allergic to dogs.

41. Due to a lack of comprehensive sex ed, a couple tries something in the bedroom that sends one or both of them to the ER.

42. Everyone mistakes a couple for siblings.

43. A couple has difficulty telling each other’s clothing apart until they wear it in public.

44. Two characters are competing for the same promotion.

45. A character is arranged to marry one person but loves someone else.

46. A rebellious character is embarrassed to admit they love the person they’re arranged to marry.

47. Exes rekindle their feelings at their child’s wedding.

48. Two witches don’t want to risk tearing their coven apart by dating (and possibly breaking up).

49. A character’s partner becomes a zombie.

50. After destroying the Earth will a spell gone wrong, a character believes they are unworthy of love.

51. The people of Mercury are forbidden to love the people of Pluto. One Mercurian falls for a Plutonian anyway.

52. An Intergalactic Senator develops feelings for their bodyguard.

53. A living character falls for a ghost no one else can see.

54. A psychic falls for a person they’ve only seen in visions and dreams.

55. An astronaut loves piloting spaceships almost as much as they love their partner, an ent who can’t leave the surface of the planet.

56. The president falls for an alien in Area 51.

57. Soldiers in a war for global domination can’t afford to be distracted by their feelings for each other.

58. A liberal and an anarchist struggle to overcome their political differences.

59. The character convinces their friend to pretend to be their partner for their sister’s wedding. It’s the first time the character’s parents have approved of one of their partners.

60. A cold mage falls for a fire mage.

61. An assassin gets orders to kill their new partner.

62. The character hides their demonic heritage from their ordinary-human partner.

Dystopian Conflicts

63. The leader of a fascist government outlaws music. A dancer rebels.

64. After the zombie apocalypse, there is an antibiotic shortage.

65. Antibiotic resistance renders all forms of surgery too risky to undertake.

66. Climate change submerges New York City under 20 feet of ocean.

67. An alien race threatens to destroy the Earth unless the character agrees to accompany them back to their home planet.

68. During a series of natural disasters that destroy the internet, librarians attempt to preserve humanity’s cumulative knowledge.

69. As the world grows hotter, most of the US population heads for the Canadian border to escape extreme heat and famine.

70. After humans cure death, we are prohibited from having children. The character longs to become a parent.

71. Humans cluster together in small cities and give most of the planet back to nature to reverse climate change. Crime runs rampant in the crowded streets.

72. Zombies eat the world’s professionals. The rest of the population must learn to survive without doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, teachers, etc.

73. The world as the character knows it is merely a computer simulation.

Fantasy/Sci-Fi Conflicts

74. It is impossible for the character to determine if their online partner is real or just a convincing chatbot.

75. A novelist’s writing retreat on an idyllic rural planet goes poorly.

76. The ability to speak to ghosts makes it hard for a character to live in the present.

77. As DNA manipulation advances, parents gain the ability to dictate their children’s personalities. The world is full of leaders, and it’s a problem.

78. An empath struggles with their first year at college because of all the emotions flying around in their dormitory.

79. A mermaid teams up with a small band of pirates to put an end to large cargo ships polluting the ocean.

80. A scientist invents a way for people to communicate with their pets, resulting in huge ethical quandaries.

81. Ghost sharks haunt an old fisher.

82. A starship full of thousands of humans crashes into a water planet. Can they survive without land?

83. An undergraduate research assistant makes contact with an alien civilization, but they’re the only one who can understand the aliens’ message.

84. After a thousand-year hibernation, a person wakes up and realizes they’re not even on the same planet where they fell asleep.

85. A Martian spy attempts to influence Earth politics, but human interactions are confusing.

86. The character accidentally journeys to a timeline in which they never met their spouse. Can they find a way home?

87. An astronaut discovers the moon landing was a hoax.

88. The other character running for class president is a literal witch.

89. An incubus/succubus isn’t attracted to women/men, respectively.

90. The heir to the Centaur Kingdom must prepare to lead the ongoing war against the Faun Kingdom.

91. A character’s time machine breaks down, trapping them in 2016.

92. The Earth is scheduled for demolition. The character doesn’t have time to get back across the galaxy to say goodbye to the planet where they were born.

93. Children discover the body of an alien in their backyard.

94. A character gets caught robbing a mansion to get the money they need to repair their mech.

95. A witch’s familiar goes missing.

96. After a flood, a herd of seals finds themselves trapped in downtown LA.

97. Groundhog Day, only the character must repeat November 8, 2016, and cannot change the outcome

98. A psychologist discovers the cure for sadness and must decide whether or not to share their friends.

99. A redcap scientist struggles to find an inorganic substitute for the human blood that must soak their cap to keep them alive.

100. The next president must reconsider their values when they find the government has been brainwashing the public to do inane tasks, like pay their taxes on time.

101. The monster under a child’s bed must find a new home after the child graduates high school.

102. A museum curator must choose between destroying a priceless artifact or living under the artifact’s curse.

100+ Unique Conflicts for Gay Characters

Add Your Ideas

Have a suggestion? Leave it in the comments. I’ll add my favorites to the official list.

Thank you to everyone who has already contributed: Rachel, Tori, and Andi.

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  • Reply DJ Sakata July 6, 2017 at 3:23 am

    Your post is very thought provoking – thank you!

  • Reply Caroline July 6, 2017 at 3:27 am

    These are some GREAT ideas!
    I had a blast reading through them.

  • Reply Cassie's Library July 6, 2017 at 4:24 am

    I love these, but as someone that had read a lot in this genre you forgot two cliches that happen a lot in gay fiction which is that LGBT books often about adults involved lots of sex and usually included some type of mystery element. Back when I thought I was gay, I am transgender, I seriously thought I was supposed to be a flippin Hardy Boy at solving crime based on what was being published, so thank you for publishing this list. If even one writer sees this and takes an idea from it you have done the world a huge favor.

  • Reply Emma Mitchell July 6, 2017 at 8:23 am

    Some wonderful ideas here! Great post :-)

  • Reply Katie July 6, 2017 at 11:54 am

    That is quite the list! There are a few ideas mentioned that I would definitely read!

  • Reply Joselyn Raquel Moreno Burke July 6, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    the ideas were pretty interesting and yes I will love to read something else with a gay character they’re just so sweet or in the case of my friends they are =)

  • Reply J. Hooligan @Platypire Reviews July 6, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Oh man. I need some of these in my life.

  • Leave a Reply to Joselyn Raquel Moreno Burke Cancel Reply