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* i'm not sure if this topic belongs here or in RP discussion, my apologies in advance if i placed it wrongly!

i was wondering what people general thoughts are about roleplaying minorities they're not a part of? this could be a white person roleplaying a black character, an abled person roleplaying a disabled character, a straight person roleplaying a lgbtq+ character, etc.

i think we can all agree that we're not our characters and for some, a roleplay doesn't have to be realistic or even mirror real life but i'm still curious to hear people's thoughts!
Two of the characters I RP identify themselves as First Nations/Aboriginal Canadians with some French mixed in to varying degrees. I'm not First Nations myself, but I've done a lot of research and spoken with RL friends who are. I try to approach it as respectfully and as realistically as possible when I RP these characters even if they are in fantasy or in horror genres.

I'm of mixed French-Canadian and Arabic descends myself and I don't much like seeing when people RP stereotypes of other races, genders, sexual orientations or characters with disabilities, probably because I can relate being part of two distinct minorities and yet not fully belonging to either. I think people should be able to role-play where their interests lie, but doing so in a respectful manner. It's just my point of view.
If everyone was only allowed to write characters that were the exact same as them, we'd have nothing but five trillion books about straight, white cis protagonists that have zero personality. And like three books from POC or LGBTQA+ authors.

The only people who get uppity about it are the hardcore virtue signaling folks on twitter. Nobody else cares - in fact, I think most people would view it as more offensive to go 'oh no, I can't write a gay character because they're special and I can't even begin to understand their culture~!' I know I for one appreciate the attempt to include diversity, as it demonstrates an attempt to understand and sympathize with that group. Obviously don't do stereotypes or offensive caricatures, but I think that goes without saying. The best way to go about it is don't focus on what your character's skin color is or what their orientation is; if they happen to be hispanic or pansexual, that shouldn't be their main characteristic. It's just another detail, the same as their height or their hair color or what they like to wear.

Don't let anyone tell you that you're not allowed to write minorities. I'm sure these are the same people who complain about seeing the same homogenous characters all over RP sites. We, the gays, give the straights full permission to write different orientations in their characters as long as they're respectful. Trust me, it isn't our only personality trait.
Gab

Honestly, to me... I don't really care. To me, they're just characters. I don't think too much of them being a minority unless it's important to their profile. Like, I have a character I have yet to post on here who was kicked out by her parents for being a lesbian. I have another character who is closeted out of fear of upsetting her parents. These were ideas I had when I first created the characters. However, there are also characters I've made where their minority status (mostly sexuality... I don't do much with skin tone, though I do have some dark skinned characters) came last. Like, I have a princess I made a long time ago and only recently made her bisexual in a recent update to her character (yes, I'm bisexual myself, but still figured I could bring this up)

All in all, I do try to be respectful and do research if needed when playing minority characters, but I don't usually go into making/playing characters by going "Okay, they're this type of minority." They're characters first and minorities second to me and I try my best not to stereotype.
Sunflower wrote:
i was wondering what people general thoughts are about roleplaying minorities they're not a part of? this could be a white person roleplaying a black character, an abled person roleplaying a disabled character, a straight person roleplaying a lgbtq+ character, etc.

I suppose you could add to your list ‘females writing males’ & vice-versa, LGBTIQ writing straight characters, etc. etc. basically the reversals of your list as well.

I personally write several characters who not only are of different heritage and sexuality than I am, but also I write some of them in historical settings with the norms of the time period which would not even be close to acceptable today. My Early 1800’s characters Issac Shannon and Koko Bloodmoon are an example. Their relationship is very much set in the norms of 1806. Part of the process is research and learning about the cultures and history and doing justice to them in the writing. Historical fiction writing comes to mind. I myself don’t consider it ‘cultural appropriation’, though I know some more extreme viewpoints do.

Also, I write a modern character who received a crippling war wound during an Afghan war RP and is now written as a disabled veteran back home though I myself am not disabled, nor have I been in battle in a war in my life.

This is a good topic! It probably would be well-located in the RP Discussion forum, but if the wider topic of cultural appropriation and political correctness are being considered, it is in the right place.
Time and time again, female characters written by male writers tend to fall flat for me. So while I stray away from those sorts of partners and fiction, I don't think there's anything wrong with them trying. Intentions aren't bad--but sometimes they're just not executed well.

So while I agree with other sentiments on this thread--anyone can write anything--it's important to examine your biases. They will show through your character if it's a character that isn't the "default" for you--AKA similar to you. Racism/sexism/ableism/etc in writing more often than not a result of Hanlon's razor, but some people will see it and be discouraged to engage with you.

That all said, diversity shouldn't be discouraged! But not everyone is exposed to it in their life...They don't really have experience with diversity--like, my hometown and high school was almost entirely white growing up. But I've also had the privilege to travel the world and live in other countries and see what the world is like outside of No-Where-Ville. So we need to be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them. If someone, especially someone who shares a sexuality or skin color or disability as your character, expresses that they are uncomfortable with that character, listen.
As long as you are not portraying a race/sexuality/gender/body type/disability in a harmful stereotypical way and have done some research or have some experience with interactions with these types of people I think it's okay.

I do have some very stereotypical white blonde femme female characters, two of them act the way they act because it's a cover for them being closeted and that's a common survival tactic, and one is the way she is because of childhood trauma. I am a white naturally blonde female who used to act rather stereotypically so I have experience with this, and being closeted and childhood trauma, so I write those characters confidently without having to do nearly as much research as someone else. Note that their being 'stereotypical' is a cover for something else, and they are deeper than the surface suggests, rather than harmful stereotyping of someone just thinking that is how people are and parodying it.

However I also have several Korean male characters. I had to learn about the specific privilege of being a man in South Korea, as well as the laws and social judgements of LGBTQ people in South Korea because my characters are bisexual. Not knowing that gay marriage is illegal in South Korea and being gay growing up in South Korea is very often traumatic, as well as not knowing that child abuse and abuse in general is very common in South Korea, would be bad, especially if my characters grew up there or still live there, because those things would effect them and their lives then and now.

If you're writing a black character, especially in the United States, there's a lot of important things to consider. Knowing about AAVE (African-American Vernacular English) and code switching, can be very important based on how, where and by whom your black character, or even just your bi-lingual was raised.

Basically, regardless of what type of character you're writing, research into the place they live, the culture and such, is a good idea. Especially if you want to make a well rounded and interesting character. Knowing about all that, even if you decide your character for example, doesn't use any AAVE at all, or doesn't celebrate the Holidays they did growing up, you know about those things, and can give some backstory into why your character doesn't, or does.

When it comes to disabled characters, researching their disability, life with it, and how it effects not just them but others around them, is important. For one of my characters I needed to research what types of surgeries he would have had throughout his life, the side effects, possible things that could go wrong now, what type of wheel chair would be best for him, what things he would need in his house to aid him in getting around and being as independent as possible.

While RP is meant for fun, for me I find it fun to research all this and be able to flesh my character and their life out as much as possible. Others might not find it as fun, but I personally believe at least doing some research into portraying a character of which you have no experience with their life, is a good idea.
Sunflower Topic Starter

Falyn wrote:
Three of the characters I RP identify themselves as First Nations/Aboriginal Canadians with some French mixed in to varying degrees. I'm not First Nations myself, but I've done a lot of research and spoken with RL friends who are. I try to approach it as respectfully and as realistically as possible when I RP these characters even if they are in fantasy or in horror genres.

I'm of mixed French-Canadian and Arabic descends myself and I don't much like seeing when people RP stereotypes of other races, genders, sexual orientations or characters with disabilities, probably because I can relate being part of two distinct minorities and yet not fully belonging to either. I think people should be able to role-play where their interests lie, but doing so in a respectful manner. It's just my point of view.

i agree that it’s perfectly logical to do research on whatever character you’re portraying and especially if they’re part of a minority, so one of would avoid those harmful stereotypes you mention!

@sacrilege: your point of view makes sense; i think i just wanted other people’s view on the topic because i agree that proper research should be done but also that a characters looks or what makes them not as ordinary (not being cishet and white) shouldn’t be the primary focus of roleplaying the character!

@Gab: i think that plays into how realistic you might want the roleplay to be and thus how you’d want to portray your minority character; if that’s the case :D

@rogue-scribe: i actually hadn’t paid any thought to historical roleplays! and even in different parts of the world though i struggle to see how that would be cultural appropriation if the characters and their surroundings are portrayed historically accurate without any stereotypes and such :0 but i specifically didn’t add men writing female characters and lgbtqia+ identifying people writing straight characters because then it wouldn’t be the minorities that would be written but the oppressor writing the oppressed character

@kidd: i can assure you that you’re not the only one who feels that way! i know that some cishet authors / players write female characters very well but some of them fall a little flat; to the point, where it to me, can seem as though they’re focusing on the sex of the character and not their personality at all. diversity is great! but i think you’re right, if a character is portrayed accurate in relation to a specific sexuality, race, disability, etc. and no other people who are these minorities seem to be uncomfortable with it, then i don’t think any harm has been done

@mercyinreach: i think you’re certainly on the right track with not having to do as much research if the writer has first hand experience with the issues that a character might face; i hope that makes sense. your experience with doing research sounds like a lot of work but it’s good if you enjoy it and i imagine that there’s a reason you’d even want to portray a character with (using your example with your disabled character). which i suppose falls into that it’s fine as long as proper research has been done :)
Sunflower wrote:
@rogue-scribe: i actually hadn’t paid any thought to historical roleplays! and even in different parts of the world though i struggle to see how that would be cultural appropriation if the characters and their surroundings are portrayed historically accurate without any stereotypes and such :0 but i specifically didn’t add men writing female characters and lgbtqia+ identifying people writing straight characters because then it wouldn’t be the minorities that would be written but the oppressor writing the oppressed character

So the specific lens of this subject is through a specific ‘oppressor/oppressed’ viewpoint. I answered with the question of ‘ i was wondering what people general thoughts are about roleplaying minorities they're not a part of?’ in mind though I mistakenly read ‘minorities’ as ‘writing characters who are different than you’.
Sunflower wrote:
@kidd: i can assure you that you’re not the only one who feels that way! i know that some cishet authors / players write female characters very well but some of them fall a little flat; to the point, where it to me, can seem as though they’re focusing on the sex of the character and not their personality at all. diversity is great! but i think you’re right, if a character is portrayed accurate in relation to a specific sexuality, race, disability, etc. and no other people who are these minorities seem to be uncomfortable with it, then i don’t think any harm has been done

Thank you for taking the time to reply to each of us! I agree with you a lot.
Thank-you, I think this has been and is a very good discussion all around by everyone involved and thank-you for bringing up the topic, Sunflower <3

I'm sure others can add to it as well.
I write as white-looking people all the time and I’m not white lol
Quote:
but i specifically didn’t add men writing female characters and lgbtqia+ identifying people writing straight characters because then it wouldn’t be the minorities that would be written but the oppressor writing the oppressed character
>automatically being the ‘oppressor’ because you aren’t a certain minority
(X) to doubt, but okay
Sanne Moderator

I too am fine with this as long as it's done respectfully and people put effort into trying to get it right.

I'm disabled and have chronic illnesses that are sometimes portrayed in writing. I've run into situations where people relied on stereotypes, but I also had the pleasure of engaging some people in talking about my illness to help them decide whether to factor it into RP or not. A friend of a friend once approached me to ask questions about diabetes (I have type 1 diabetes myself). Turns out they were operating under some common misconceptions that don't really apply to how diabetes develops, and they decided based on this information to not include it in their character's plot. I can only encourage and commend this type of approach. We're all subjected to biases and misconceptions, but we have the power to educate ourselves and ensure our portrayals are accurate enough to not cause harm. :)
I can 180 this and say that as a “minority”, I enjoy writing other races as well. I think its an important part of being a writer. The more realistically we all can portray other characters, the more likely we would be to have a diverse cast in anything we ever worked on for public consumption. I don’t write people to be like myself, but instead try to simulate that character’s life. I also can’t help but think of it as if writing a role for someone, as if my writing here is actually more of a film. It’s by this metric that I also sometimes RP female characters (but leave out certain types of romance for some reason).

I think its a good thing to do or to try to do of genuine in effort. Writing somebody of a different race doesn’t mean anyone is usurping anything or trying to be something... It’s stepping out of one’s own POV and trying to write somebody different..Well it can be, at least.. There’s also nothing wrong with wanting to put on someone else’s shoes on and just wonder what that person's life would be like.
Honestly as someone who is a gender minority, I generally don't trust cis people's portrayals of my identity lmao. ESPECIALLY if queerphobia is apart of the plot. I'm all for writing minority characters, but do the research and write them as people and be careful with how you're writing our suffering. I used to do stuff like that a lot myself and looking back on it it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Don't do something like this: I unfollowed a writer because they wrote black trans woman with straight blue hair who talked EXCLSUIVELY in this stereotypical southern aave and in a faq profile about her *explicitly* mentioned how she had never done drugs before. I don't know who that writer was behind the screen but I very much so doubted they were a trans black woman given all the previous context. The combination of poorly handled traits and reference to sterotypes was uncomfortable to watch.

Avoid stereotypes like fire, learn the difference between humanism and behaviorism, and don't try to reclaim things that aren't yours to reclaim.
And this goes the same for me, too. I write black characters, but the black experience isn't mine to write about; especially not in things that I intend to publish. This goes just the same for my autistic characters, disabled characters, differently ND characters, and differently LGBTQ+ people. It doesn't matter if I am a minority myself, I don't personally feel like I have right to right about pain that is better written by the people who've experienced it. I say this because I've seen a lot of people in minorities feel like that being of minority status themselves expunges them from doing things wrong and ~ n o ~

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