For All My Unicorns Out There. Hop Against Homophobia and Trans*phobia post link!
This is a difficult one for me, and I think most writers, publishers, and reviewers involved—and certainly the excellent organizers. On the one hand, most of us are doing what we do (LGBTQ fiction) because we’re writing the stuff we wished we’d had to read once upon a time, the stuff that represents us and/or people in general in a way that is equal to the whatever-normative people in the vast majority of fiction. Simply by producing these things, it potentially adds to the collective consciousness and nudges collective thought and understanding.
But there’s also an element of exploitation possible, and I’ve talked a lot about this with some of my friends. Making money off of Serious Issues. Specifically I’ve talked about it with friends in re books that feature HIV-positive and sex worker narratives, and how it can sometimes feel skeevy. These are important works, again adding to the collective consciousness, and that’s why when they feel more like a ploy to sell books with TRAGEDY it feels exploitative. The same might be said of LGBTQ fiction in general—and often is. Even with the best of intentions, fiction that does strive to represent issues and people responsibly often doesn’t make the point the author has in mind. (Says the author whose bisexual romance books occasionally get tagged with “gay-for-you” and ends up facepalming. My fault and no one else’s, it means I was not responsible enough, but yes.)
So when a bunch of people who produce this kind of fiction get together to try and use that readymade platform to acknowledge issues head on instead, there’s a really fine line between “this is the problem that makes me want to write these books, and I want to use this readership platform to point at the reasons” or even “come for the free stuff, stay for the message maybe please!” and “hey you’re concerned about this issue so you should READ MY SHIT”.
It would be nice to think most people could handle that line, but I’m not very nice. I’m sure I don’t handle it to everyone’s satisfaction either. So there’s always this moment of, well, do I just not do it?
But I decided that’d be even more dodgy than doing it. I do write and yes, sell books that deal with very real, very serious issues in many cases. It needs acknowledged—more often than I do acknowledge it, I’m afraid. But it’s really important to be mindful all the time.
So that’s what I’m thinking of today, and that’s the supplemental waffling I didn’t want to include in my post, which will be seen by many people I’ve never spoken to before simply because it’s a linked event. And I tend to do my thinky nonsense here.
This post is full of awesome things and and full of awesome.