To be perfectly clear on the subject, I am a gay male thirty something who has never been in the closet. There were people, important people, I tell until later in life, but the moment I understood I liked guys I never felt the need to lie about it when asked. I grew up in suburbia when alternative music was cool and same sex attraction was just another way to be “alternative.” Prejudice certainly still existed, but it was moment of transition towards acceptance, one of many forefronts of what America is still going through today as we crawl towards equal rights at glacial speeds.
It was Science Fiction’s willingness to explore otherness and its examination of society’s progress towards a more inclusive standard that attracted me to the genre. Too often, however, minority writers get pigeonholed into the tropes of their minority. There is a certain expectation that homosexual writing should address the modern day struggle for identity and equality. Gay writers are supposed to write about coming out, about homophobia, about AIDS, about religious persecution.
I prefer more nuanced writing. Instead of writing about sexuality as a source for conflict, I choose to write about sexuality as an accepted detail in the fabric of society. Instead of crafting monochromatic binary worlds of gays and straights, my worlds are populated with individuals of ambiguous sexuality whose attractions are revealed only through their interactions with other characters. Individual characters may have individual biases against specific subsets of sexuality (and race, gender, and species for that matter), but when they do it is a character flaw not a societal expectation.
When humans are no longer alone in the galaxy, it’s hard for me to imagine future where the color of your skin, your sex, your sexuality, or your religion are still going to be the most divisive details of human existence. The best Science Fiction isn’t just predictive, its also prescriptive, describing not just what things will look like in the future but what things should look like. In this way, it is one of the best mediums to explore sexuality without the constraints of modern bias.
In an upcoming post, I intend to take a look at speculative authors who have helped shape my own views with their depictions of sexuality and one author who managed to offend me enough to make me stop reading them.