I am a writer of Canadian Historical fiction from a gay perspective.
The type of history I refer to is seldom found in textbooks, and yet it is very much part of the Canadian experience. I call it "pioneer social history" because it deals with the lives and times of ordinary citizens. However, since these stories usually went to the grave with them it is necessary to reconstruct their lives from journals and fist-hand accounts.
This, then, is the function of historical fiction: ‘historical,’ because it is a reasonably accurate reconstruction from existing records; and ‘fiction,’ because it is a composite of the lives and attitudes of the times--both the good and the bad. It also serves to mark a lifestyle that might otherwise be forgotten.
All these elements are certainly true of gay pioneers because, quite understandably, there are few published diaries or first-hand accounts of them. Not only was it an extremely dangerous thing to do, but most GLBT men and women were not ‘out’ to their families or friends. Moreover, they were even loathe to reveal a lifetime of secrets after death--often directing that their personal papers be destroyed by a trusted friend.
Without historical fiction, therefore, this very real and important aspect of pioneer life might be overlooked and forgotten, and along with it many of the contributions these individuals made--including the recognition of homosexuality as a fact of life.