Up on Salon Futura #2 I’m interviewed, along with Hal Duncan and Cat Valente, by Cheryl Morgan, for a podcast about the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of writing LGBT/LGBTQIA (aka quiltbag) characters in fantastic literature. It’s an interesting conversation. Actually, I think it would be more true to say that I listened with interest while the others said smart things. My brain was in standby mode for much of it (the perils of 10-day jubilees: I did it on this day). I kept trying to wake up but just didn’t quite get to the surface. And when I did chip in, my audio connection often boiled with static, so, eh, I think my part in the podcast was minor.
My contribution to the conversation can be summed up in three parts:
- The way to treat quiltbag characters with respect is by treating them as human. That is, to avoid cliché. That is, to write specific people in particular situations. Then, eh, it doesn’t matter if the dyke is killed at the end or the gay man is evil; they’re people first. (And, y’know, sometimes people die, and sometimes they’re evil. As long as they don’t die or aren’t evil because they’re queer. Or, as Hal said–more more articulately than I–as long as being gay isn’t a signifier of evil or tragedy.)
- Straight writers don’t need my permission to write quiltbag characters. Nor do they need to ask me for details. They need to use their fucking imagination. Basically, if you’re not good enough to imagine lesbian (or trans, or bi, or gay) characters as human being in all their glory (and horror), you don’t have what it takes to be a good novelist. It helps to have a life, to get out there and meet people of every persuasion, because then you begin to understand that the way you live your life is but a fraction of the glittering rainbow that is humanity.
- I don’t feel exploited by straight girls writing m/m fiction. This kind of romance (it’s usually romance) is written by straight girls for other straight girls. If it makes them happy then, eh, why not? It doesn’t hurt me. It’s a novelty, a passing foolishness. Distasteful? Most of it. Crap? Most of it. A reinforcer of utterly wrong-headed stereotypes? Most of it. But it will pass. It’s nothing to get seriously bent out of shape about. Which is easy for me to say, of course, because I’m not the subject of these odd little one-handed readers for straight girls. There again, my point is that gay men aren’t really, either. But I’m guessing mileage will vary considerably on this one.
I’m a lot more articulate here on my keyboard than I was with my headset. But, as I say, the others had interesting things to say. Definitely worth a listen.