You’re still thinking of these people by their label, which doesn’t help ‘minorities’ or create diversity. What it creates is fetishism and lack of realism; you’re still hanging an entire character’s existence on the thing you’re trying to say they shouldn’t be hung on.
Including diversity is a beautiful thing, but the point we (by ‘we’, I mean ‘the diversities’) are making when we say we want to see more diversity is that we want to see our own faces in literature.
Being gay doesn’t make me immune to being an asshole, or being single forever, or dying. I am frequently an asshole. I’m not single. I will die. My fiancee could die tomorrow, and then I might well be single forever.
My point is that I experience life the same way everyone else does, with the added stigma of my ‘diversity’. The way you’ll make me feel as though I can connect to your ‘minority’ characters is if I see someone like me; a human being, a woman who loves other women, who is flawed and imperfect and in need of change and has a story in that change.
I don’t care that your lesbian character is a villain if I can see myself in her. I will bloody well salute you for putting my face in literature, for giving me someone to relate to. Nobody says I have to hate your villain just because she’s the bad guy.
If you only have ‘one of each’, you’ll come across this problem frequently, because what you’re doing is actually tokenism and tokenism is inorganic. It isn’t how life works. At work, I’m the only white woman in a ten foot radius. I’m not, however, the only lesbian.
If you’re going to pour everything you want to say about being gay/POC/asexual/bisexual/trans*/whateverelse into one person, you are not going to effectively portray what you want to say about being those things. We’re not one person. We cannot be conveyed by one person. The sum total of our collective experiences as a ‘minority’ cannot be thrust upon one sole character.
Is it a problem that your black villain is black? No. Is it a problem that he’s the only portrayal of black people in your story? Yes.
Is it a problem that your trans character is single? No. Is it a problem that they’re the only single person in an entire cast of characters? Yes.
Is it a problem that your lesbian is dead? No. Is it a problem that she’s the only one who dies? Yes.
We are people. Please don’t make us out to be anything more precious or tawdry than you are. We have our beauty and our ugliness, like you do. We just experience things a little differently. You need to understand our experiences by talking with us in order to properly turn our experiences into characters who can express them.
I’m not all lesbians. I’m only one of them. And that’s not who I am. My name is Lu, and I’m more than a lesbian.
Some good thoughts on including diversity in fiction.