World Building with Diversity: Crafting LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Realms

Guiding Creators Through Authentic LGBTQIA+ Inclusion in Fiction: Characters, Cultures, Storytelling, and Community Engagement


Kat Sanders

8/13/20239 min read

World building is an art form that breathes life into fictional universes, crafting intricate landscapes, cultures, and characters that captivate readers and players alike. From the sprawling realms of fantasy literature to the immersive worlds of tabletop games, world building is the backbone of imaginative storytelling. But what makes a fictional world truly resonate? The answer lies in its diversity, reflecting the rich tapestry of human experience.

In our world, where LGBTQIA+ individuals are an integral part of our communities, their representation in fiction should be no exception. Yet, crafting LGBTQIA+ inclusive realms require more than mere tokenism; it demands a thoughtful and authentic portrayal that honors the complexity and dignity of LGBTQIA+ lives.

The importance of diversity in world building isn't just a matter of social justice; it's an essential facet of creativity. By embracing LGBTQIA+ inclusivity, creators can enrich their worlds with depth, empathy, and realism, forging connections with a broader audience. We want to guide aspiring world builders in crafting realms that celebrate LGBTQIA+ inclusivity, offering insights, tips, and resources to weave diversity into the very fabric of their creative works.

Whether you're a seasoned writer or a budding game designer, join us on this journey to explore the power of diversity in world building, and discover how you can create worlds where everyone truly belongs.

Understanding LGBTQIA+ Representation

Before diving into the practical aspects of crafting LGBTQIA+ inclusive realms, it's vital to understand the landscape of LGBTQIA+ representation in literature, media, and art. This understanding lays the groundwork for creating worlds that are not only diverse, but also authentic and respectful. We'll explore the historical journey of LGBTQIA+ representation and why authentic portrayal is more than a creative choice—it's a meaningful connection to readers and players who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community.

Historical Perspective

LGBTQIA+ representation in literature, media, and art has come a long way, but the journey has been fraught with challenges. Historically, LGBTQIA+ characters were often relegated to the shadows, stereotyped, or even vilified. From the censorship of LGBTQIA+ themes during the early 20th century to the harmful tropes that persisted for decades, the portrayal of LGBTQIA+ individuals was often far from authentic. However, the rise of LGBTQIA+ voices in literature and media has ushered in a new era of understanding and acceptance, allowing for more nuanced and respectful portrayals.

The Need for Authentic Representation

In a world where LGBTQIA+ individuals are as diverse and multifaceted as anyone else, their representation in fictional worlds should reflect this complexity. Authentic representation goes beyond simply including LGBTQIA+ characters; it's about portraying them with depth, dignity, and respect. It's about avoiding stereotypes and clichés that reduce individuals to mere caricatures. Authentic LGBTQIA+ representation in world building enriches the narrative, providing readers and players with characters they can relate to, empathize with, and see themselves in.

Creating LGBTQIA+ inclusive realms is not just a trend; it's a responsibility. It's an opportunity for creators to contribute to a more inclusive and empathetic society, where LGBTQIA+ individuals see themselves reflected in the stories they read and the games they play. By understanding the history and importance of LGBTQIA+ representation, world builders can approach their craft with the insight and sensitivity needed to create truly inclusive and engaging worlds.

Creating LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Characters

Characters are the heartbeat of any fictional world. They are the vessels through which readers and players connect, empathize, and engage with the story. In crafting LGBTQIA+ inclusive realms, the creation of well-rounded and authentic LGBTQIA+ characters is paramount. We will delve into the art of character development, offering guidance on how to create characters that reflect the diversity and complexity of the LGBTQIA+ community without falling into stereotypes or clichés.

Character Development

Creating LGBTQIA+ characters that resonate with readers requires more than just assigning a sexual orientation or gender identity. It demands a deep understanding of the character's personality, background, motivations, and relationships. Here are some key considerations:

  • Individuality: Treat LGBTQIA+ characters as unique individuals, not defined solely by their LGBTQIA+ identity.

  • Backstory: Consider their history, experiences, and how their LGBTQIA+ identity has shaped them.

  • Voice and Agency: Give them a powerful voice and an active role in the story, not just a supporting or token character.

Avoiding Clichés

  • Stereotypes and clichés can undermine the authenticity of LGBTQIA+ characters. Here's how to avoid common pitfalls:

  • Avoid Stereotyping: Steer clear of one-dimensional portrayals that reduce characters to stereotypes.

  • Challenge Tropes: Move beyond tropes like the "tragic LGBTQIA+ character" or the "sassy best friend".

  • Create Multi-Dimensional Characters: Build characters with depth, interests, flaws, and strengths that go beyond their LGBTQIA+ identity.

Incorporating Intersectionality

LGBTQIA+ individuals come from diverse backgrounds, and their experiences are shaped by various factors such as race, ethnicity, disability, and more. Here's how to incorporate intersectionality:

  • Consider Multiple Identities: Recognize that LGBTQIA+ characters may have other intersecting identities that influence their experiences.

  • Reflect Real-World Diversity: Create characters that mirror the diverse world we live in, considering how different aspects of their identity interact.

  • Consult and Research: Engage with diverse voices and resources to ensure an authentic portrayal.

Creating LGBTQIA+ inclusive characters is a journey that requires empathy, understanding, and a commitment to authenticity. It's not about checking a diversity box; it's about honoring the multifaceted experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals and reflecting them in the characters we create. By embracing individuality, avoiding clichés, and recognizing intersectionality, world builders can craft characters that not only enrich their fictional realms, but also resonate with a broader audience. The characters we create have the power to inspire, connect, and foster a more inclusive and compassionate world. Let's wield that power with care and creativity.

Building Inclusive Settings and Cultures

Creating LGBTQIA+ inclusive characters is just one piece of the puzzle. The worlds they inhabit—the cultures, societies, laws, and norms—must also reflect inclusivity. In this section, we'll explore how to build settings and cultures that embrace LGBTQIA+ diversity, ensuring that the entire fabric of the fictional realm is woven with acceptance and representation.

Cultural Considerations

  • Inclusive Societies: Create societies that celebrate LGBTQIA+ diversity, reflecting acceptance and equality.

  • Varied Cultural Norms: Recognize that different cultures within the world may have different attitudes and norms regarding LGBTQIA+ individuals.

  • Symbols and Traditions: Incorporate symbols, festivals, and traditions that honor LGBTQIA+ history and culture.

Legal and Social Norms

  • Laws and Rights: Consider the legal status of LGBTQIA+ individuals, including marriage rights, anti-discrimination laws, etc.

  • Social Attitudes: Explore how society views LGBTQIA+ relationships and identities, reflecting both acceptance and potential challenges.

  • Educational Systems: Consider how LGBTQIA+ topics are taught and understood within the educational systems of the world.

Challenges and Conflicts

  • Realistic Conflicts: While creating inclusive worlds, it's also essential to recognize that conflicts and challenges may exist.

  • Avoiding Exploitation: Handle conflicts with sensitivity, avoiding sensationalism or exploitation of LGBTQIA+ struggles.

  • Reflecting Real-World Issues: Use conflicts to shed light on real-world issues, providing insight and empathy without stereotyping.

Building LGBTQIA+ inclusive settings and cultures is a multifaceted endeavor that goes beyond surface-level representation. It's about infusing every aspect of the world with inclusivity, from legal systems to cultural traditions. By creating worlds that honor LGBTQIA+ diversity, we not only enrich our storytelling, but also send a powerful message of acceptance and empathy. These fictional realms can become mirrors of the world we aspire to live in—a world where LGBTQIA+ individuals are celebrated, understood, and embraced in all their complexity. Let's continue to craft worlds that reflect this vision, inspiring readers, and players to imagine a more inclusive future.

Storytelling and Plot Considerations

In crafting LGBTQIA+ inclusive realms, the plot and storytelling elements play a crucial role in bringing the characters and world to life. How do LGBTQIA+ themes fit into the main storyline? How are relationships and subplots developed? We will delve into the narrative aspects of LGBTQIA+ inclusive world building, offering guidance on integrating LGBTQIA+ themes into the plot and ensuring that they are integral to the story.

Integrating LGBTQIA+ Themes into the Plot

  • Main Storyline Inclusion: Ensure LGBTQIA+ themes are woven into the main plot, not just relegated to subplots or side stories.

  • Relevance and Purpose: Make sure LGBTQIA+ elements serve a purpose in the story, contributing to character development, conflict, or theme.

Subplots and Relationships

  • Developing Relationships: Craft LGBTQIA+ relationships with depth and authenticity, reflecting varied experiences.

  • Subplot Integration: Create subplots that explore LGBTQIA+ themes, ensuring they are relevant and enrich the overall narrative.

Avoiding Tokenism

  • Beyond Token Characters: Avoid including LGBTQIA+ characters or themes merely for the sake of diversity.

  • Meaningful Inclusion: Ensure that LGBTQIA+ elements are meaningful to the story, not superficial or stereotypical.

  • Consultation and Sensitivity: Consider consulting LGBTQIA+ readers or sensitivity readers to ensure authentic and respectful portrayal.

Storytelling is the soul of any fictional world, and in crafting LGBTQIA+ inclusive realms, the narrative must resonate with authenticity and depth. Integrating LGBTQIA+ themes into the plot, developing meaningful relationships, and avoiding tokenism are essential steps in creating stories that truly honor LGBTQIA+ experiences. By approaching storytelling with care and intention, world builders can create narratives that not only entertain but also enlighten, fostering a deeper understanding of LGBTQIA+ lives and struggles. Let's continue to tell stories that reflect the world's beautiful diversity, inspiring empathy, connection, and change.

Resources and Community Engagement

Crafting LGBTQIA+ inclusive realms is a rewarding endeavor, but it's not one that creators should undertake alone. Engaging with the LGBTQIA+ community and utilizing available resources can enhance authenticity and foster a more inclusive creative process. In this section, we'll explore how to consult with LGBTQIA+ individuals, and we'll provide a list of resources that can aid in research and understanding.

Consulting LGBTQIA+ Individuals

  • Community Engagement: Seek input from LGBTQIA+ individuals within your community or online forums.

  • Sensitivity Readers: Consider hiring sensitivity readers who specialize in LGBTQIA+ issues to review your work.

  • Respect and Openness: Approach consultations with respect, openness, and a willingness to learn.

Resources for Research

  • Books and Literature: Explore LGBTQIA+ literature, both fiction and non-fiction, to gain insights.

  • Websites and Organizations: Use websites and organizations dedicated to LGBTQIA+ rights and education.

  • Online Communities: Engage with online forums and social media groups focused on LGBTQIA+ issues and creativity.

Building LGBTQIA+ inclusive realms is not just a solitary creative pursuit; it's a collaborative journey that benefits from community engagement and diverse resources. By consulting with LGBTQIA+ individuals and tapping into the wealth of resources, creators can enrich their worlds with authenticity and empathy. The voices, experiences, and insights of the LGBTQIA+ community are invaluable in shaping worlds that truly reflect and honor diversity. Let's continue to learn, grow, and create together while forging connections that transcend the pages of our stories and the boundaries of our fictional realms.

World building is more than a creative exercise; it's a reflection of our values, our understanding, and our aspirations. In crafting LGBTQIA+ inclusive realms, we are not merely adding color to our fictional landscapes; we are weaving a tapestry that celebrates the beautiful diversity of human experience.

From creating authentic characters to building inclusive cultures, from weaving LGBTQIA+ themes into our plots to engaging with the community, every step is a testament to our commitment to inclusivity. It's a journey that requires empathy, diligence, and a willingness to learn and grow.

The worlds we create have the power to inspire, to challenge, and to change perspectives. They can be sanctuaries for those who seek representation and mirrors for those who wish to understand. By embracing LGBTQIA+ inclusivity in our creative works, we contribute to a broader cultural shift towards acceptance, empathy, and celebration of diversity.

Let's continue to craft worlds that resonate with authenticity and compassion, worlds that invite readers and players to explore, connect, and imagine a future where everyone truly belongs. Our creativity is a powerful tool, and with it, we can shape not only our fictional realms but also the world we live in. Let's wield it with purpose, passion, and pride.

Join the Conversation:

Inspired to create worlds that celebrate LGBTQIA+ diversity? We'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Leave a comment below to share your insights, and be sure to sign up for email updates to receive exclusive insights, tips, and resources. Together, we can shape a more inclusive and empathetic creative landscape. Let's connect and collaborate!