Queer matters


I’ve been with Nicola for 21 years. I’ve been out as bisexual for most of that time. I have been writing fiction that overtly questions assumptions about gender and sexual identity/expression, or that simply assumes all the options are equally good, for much of that time. Kids, I’ve been a little transgressive in my day, and it has been/still is fun.

More to the point, it just shouldn’t matter. Honestly, who cares? Well, that’s the thing: lots of people who are getting bullied or beaten, ostracized, shamed and othered for being queer — those people care. Because it’s easier to be oneself in the face of bullshit when you can see other people being a little like you.

That’s why queer fiction is important: because it makes space for stories in which a reader can find people being a little like her, no matter how unlike her they might seem when she’s riding the subway to work. Maybe it’s a part of herself she’s always embraced but never seen made heroic in her culture. Maybe it’s something she responds to with that frisson of recognition: wait, wait, I’ve felt that way… Maybe it’s exciting, or inspiring, or comforting, or just plain fun. What matters is that it is.

We all live in this world. We’re all human, every single one of us, whether some of us like it or not. We all have stories; we should all be able to tell them, and to see ourselves reflected in others’ stories with all our human complexity, with all our faults, with all our pain and joy and love and truth.

And that’s why I joined The Outer Alliance, a group of SF/F writers, readers, bloggers, editors and reviewers who have come together as allies for queer speculative fiction. Anyone of any gender or sexual orientation is welcome. You don’t have to be queer. You don’t have to be “different.” You just have to believe that it’s okay to write stories where people who are queer, who are different, may find themselves the heroes, the lovers, the fighters, the caregivers, the family, the center, part of a spectrum rather than the lonely little satellite on the outer fringes.

The Outer Alliance mission statement is: 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.

That’s me. If it’s you too, then please come on over. Today you’ll find many links to many blogs where people are posting their queer writing, talking about queer stories, offering support, and in some cases being brave enough to show parts of themselves that they don’t always reveal.

And in the spirit of the day, here’s a reminder that available here for free are the decidedly queer “And Salome Danced” and “Dangerous Space”, as well as an essay Nicola and I wrote recently about queer fiction.

3 thoughts on “Queer matters”

  1. I love you for writing this piece. I want my kids to know and appreciate the passion and openness you bring to this calling…and it is a calling. What can I do to help? A straight guy who works for a hedge fund in NYC wants to help. Please let me do something.



  2. You just did. Big hug to you.

    There are so many ways to be an ally: there are political and social and youth organizations that need money or supplies or time, or artists who need support, or school diversity and conflict resolution programs that teach people better skills to cope with differences that frighten or dismay them.

    But really it all starts in one’s own heart. If all you do is walk through the world with your open heart, then chances to help will come to you. Open the door for a guy wearing a dress and high heels, and if she tells you her name is Sally, call her Sally. That small everyday act of recognizing someone the way they recognize themselves and according them full humanity — wow, that’s a gift we can all give each other no matter who or where we are. And it’s a gift that ripples. When people see you do it, sometimes they go off and think and start to do it too.

    I don’t mean this to sound like some woo lecture from the All-Wise Me. It’s just that I’m not a joiner or much of a volunteer. So for me, being an ally is intensely personal. It’s about engaging and listening and learning. And by asking what people need rather than assuming they need the same things as me.

    Which you have just done; and what I know of you is that you are this kind of person. Which brings us back to the beginning: just by being yourself, just by leaving this comment, just by asking, you just helped. Thank you.

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