The Outer Alliance is a new org started (I think) by author Hal Duncan, in partial response to author John C. Wright’s inane and bigoted diatribe against “homosex”, and partly just because it’s necessary. They’ve asked that, as of September 1, people show their support by posting their mission statement and logo, and then linking to a piece of fiction which is supportive of GLBTQI issues. So here’s the statement:
As a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.
Frankly, I wish The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms were out, because I think it’s a better contribution. But to explain that risks spoilers, so I’ll shut up about it. And anyway, there’s a good reason for me to post this contribution, which is that it provides an object lesson.
Now, to explain: I’m straight. I’ve got straight cisgender privilege all over the place. I realized it recently when I realized most of the LGBTQI stuff that appears in my fiction — and I’ve been writing it for years — is male/male, and that I’m putting it in at least partly for purposes of personal titillation. Yeah, I said it; just as apparently a swath of men get off on so-called “lesbian” porn, I find gay male material erotic too. (Never understood why people find this so strange. If I like looking at one hot guy, why would it bug me to look at more than one? Anyway.) To my younger mind this was partly striking a blow for feminism — objectifying Them as We womenfolk have been objectified. But partly it was just selfishness. And really, is doing unto others as they have done and done and done unto you really improving things? Or does it just support the same problematic system, without really changing it?
OK, that’s a leading question; obviously my answer to that lattermost question is yes. Which is where the object lesson comes in.
My example, “Red Riding Hood’s Child”, written in 2003 and published in… hmm, 2005? was my first attempt to address this issue. At its core, it’s a story about hot gay werewolf sex, wrapped in a fairy tale retelling/deconstruction. But I also tried to include some messages about defying the status quo and choosing what’s right for oneself regardless of societal approval. I’m not sure I succeeded at that, because by the end of the story… (spoiler, if you haven’t read it)
…Anrin’s choice has made him evil, or at least inhuman and dangerously vengeful, and thus I unintentionally fell into the homophobic trap of equating homosexuality with really negative stuff, like inhumanity and immorality. So even though I tried to do a good thing with this story, there was serious fail.
I’ve tried to learn from that, though, and am still trying. I’ve got a story coming out soon in the Circlet Press anthology Like Twin Stars, which tries to realistically depict bisexual men in a “Clan of the Cave Bear”-ish society. It’s meant to be titillating too — it’s hardcore erotica — but we’ll see if I succeeded. Also, recently wrote a lesbian steampunk story called “The Effluent Engine”*, which was solicited from me for a forthcoming anthology. This one was a real challenge for me, because I’ve never written lesbian women before — typical straight chick bias — so I couldn’t fall back on “the objectifying gaze” to imbue the story with sexual tension. I think I succeeded. Again, we’ll see. (I’m too close to my stories when I write them, so it takes me awhile to post-process objectively and figure out where they worked and where they didn’t. Reader reactions play a big role in that.)
Anyway, please consider joining the Outer Alliance, or at least supporting their Pride Day effort with your own post. You don’t have to be LGBTQI, as I’ve demonstrated, and you don’t have to be perfect (though it helps if you try). Just be supportive, and act on your convictions.
* Not erotica. It’s about a female spy from an alternate version of post-revolutionary Haiti, who travels to antebellum New Orleans to seduce the sister of Norbert Rillieux in hopes that she will build a device to capture natural gas from waste matter. In the process, the spy must battle the sinister Order of the White Camellia. There are derringers and inconvenient bustles and dirigibles. Probably the most fun I’ve had writing a short story EVAR.
ETA: Have been informed that Hal Duncan didn’t found the Outer Alliance; the actual founder was Natania Barron. D’oh. Apologies, folks!