Crossed Genres - GLBTQ Month
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Why Gay Sci-Fi & Fantasy Are Important
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And I think the best way to use F&SF to shift perceptions is when it's used to create a world where it's not relevant to the characters whether someone is gay or straight--the assimilation is complete. Someone is gay, or straight, or bi, or whatever, and it's just who they are. No one's startled that John is hitting on Joe, or Brenda is married to Betty, or Allan is dating both Erica and Ivan. That's the kind of world I would like to live in, after all.
The work that first did this for me was Diane Duane's The Door Into Fire, fifteen years before I finally came out. It was the first time I was presented with any sort of world where being attracted to another man was presented as perfectly normal, nothing to even comment on. It's still a favorite read... and I still have a crush on Dusty. :)
I think that's the most important thing that speculative fiction can do is present us with GLBT characters that are full characters, not stereotypes and not remarkable for their sexuality but for their character and personality. They should be heroes, and villains, and secondary and tertiary characters, and innocent bystanders, complete with their own motivations. They should be shades of gray, not black or white.
Maybe most of all, they need to be people that anyone can relate to regardless of the reader's sexuality.
This doesn't mean to downplay when a character is gay; this means to create a *complete* character. I can relate to Dr Susan Calvin and The Mule from Isaac Asimov's stories, and I'm hardly an icy old maid or sterile telepath. I can find a relationship with Norman Niblock House in John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, and I'm neither African-American nor Islamic.
If you're writing a gay character just for the sake of writing a gay character, then in the words of the Internet meme, You're Doing It Wrong.