I never thought I was going to write a post about this, not because I didn’t think it was interesting, but because I honestly didn’t think LGBTQ+ themes and characters would be ‘interesting’ enough for authors to stoop to this.
For those who don’t know what queerbaiting is: it’s when authors (or just creators in general) hint at queer romance, but don’t actually depict it. It’s used to attract queer readers, or non-queer people who are interested in queer romance (for whatever reason), but at the same time not alienate cisgender, heterosexual readers.
General examples are Supernatural and Sherlock. Both tv series and probably more well known than books. In Supernatural there is an incredible tension between Dean and Cas. I’ve been watching Supernatural for so long.. Dean checks out guys asses on a regular basis, yet nothing ever happens. And Sherlock and Watson. I’d say, go check Tumblr, but Tumblr does exaggerate everything (Teen Wolf anyone?). Though it’s pretty obvious it’s queerbait.
Anyway, back to books. For those who are eager to know what books I’m going to talk about. I’ll name names, and I’m sure I’ll get some backlash, but if you’re willing to discuss this in a nice manner, be my guest. If you’re going to be a little shit about something that’s very hurtful to a lot of people, I will not be so nice.
Alright, so in the Throne of Glass series. There is a certain character that spoke about her sleeping with other women, and finding it enjoyable. Though there is no mention about her interest in women in the rest of the story. No interest at all in the women around her. Now, sure.. not everyone is in love with everyone. But you know.. when the MC is someone every single guy falls for. It’s a bit shady. That one part of the story makes sure that the author can claim queer characters, without actually writing them as queer. And I’m sure a couple of you are thinking that you can have sex with someone of the ame gender and not actually be queer. That just means that person wouldn’t feel any feelings during sex other than lust, and that’s just as bad.
Then there’s Undercover Princess. The book could have been so cool, if it weren’t for the obvious queerbaiting. I was really excited when I read the synopsis and thought it would include an f/f relationship. We get roommates slipping into eachothers bed.. spooning. Them licking icecream off of eachothers faces. It was super flirtatious, but it was just.. Nope.
While queerbaiting might not be dangerous, there is danger involved. Queerbaiting is sometimes seen as queer representation. Since readers often read between the lines and label a character as queer, while there only has been queerbaiting, books are marketed differently. Authors think they can do this and market their books as diverse. This might become the default. Because there are still so many authors out there that don’t want or don’t feel the need to write queer characters. They are attacked because of it, and while I definitely don’t condone that, I don’t want them to slip through the cracks when they incorporate this and it’s seen as something good.
The biggest problem isn’t with the authors though. It’s with the publishing houses. Every book that gets published (except for the self published ones ofcourse), goes through a process, it gets vetted and eventually, it gets the green light to be published. All those moments of queerbaiting (and other things like misgendering, bi erasure, or just complete books without any diversity at all) are read. No one mentions that there are issues with those stories. Things don’t get flagged or changed.
I think when authors are attacked regarding queer representation, reagarding all these issues, publishing houses should be held accountable just as much. While authors could definitely learn, it’s much more efficient to go a step up in the process, closer to the source of books.
Have you encountered any books with queerbaiting? What is your opinion on this matter? Let me know in the comments!