Why Do We Need More Science Fiction By LGBT Writers?

Illustration for article titled Why Do We Need More Science Fiction By LGBT Writers?

Last year, Lightspeed Magazine had a special issue in which "Women Destroy Science Fiction" (and horror, and fantasy.) Now, Lightspeed is following up with "Queers Destroy Science Fiction." And today's the last day to support the Kickstarter. But why should you care about getting more LGBT SF? The editors of the issue explain.


Mark Oshiro, nonfiction editor:

One of the more important aspects of this issue is the centering of queer issues so that we can talk about how science fiction can affect our lives, both for the positive and the negative. It's easy to assume that everything that has been written in this genre is already out there. But queer folks can bring a perspective to the genre that has been largely lacking in the past. My hope is that QDSF can broaden what we consider part of The Science Fiction Canon. There's so much room to make this genre varied and complicated and nuanced, and I want to help move us in that direction.

Steve Berman, reprint editor:

A great deal of Queer speculative fiction has a shoestring budget. Mainstream publishing is, at heart, conservative. As author Malinda Lo has demonstrated with statistics, the number of LGBTAQ and I books in the vibrant young adult field is a tiny fraction; whether or not Queer individuals number 5% or 10% or even 15% of the reading population, the books that cater to their experiences, that offer positive representation with Queer protagonists is terribly low (same with ethnicities other than White and with disabled leads). The adult market is not much better.

As the owner of a small press specializing on Queer speculative fiction, I face a constant (and continually frustrating) challenge to get the books we publish into the hands of Queer readers. Most of the gay and lesbian periodicals are no longer in print. Most of the gay and lesbian booksellers have closed shop. Websites devoted to such books tend to focus more on erotic and romantic books. How does a bisexual man in Idaho discover a science fiction story he can relate to and fall in love with?

My goal, as editor and publisher and writer has always been to provide readers like myself with something quirky, something strange and fantastical, something eerie, to read and remember not merely for the weird but also for the Queer. QDSF is helping that dream happen.


One exciting area of the evolving Queer visibility and vitality in Queer genre fiction is the move away from strictly "coming out" literature to stories that involve Queer characters in situations that were given to heteronormative individuals. "Queerness" is becoming more of a non-issue. A gay astronaut? Why not. A lesbian swashbuckler rescuing a peer of France? Sounds exciting! Tiresias from Greek myth portrayed as a transgender philosopher investigating the poisoning of an Athenian statesman? I'm ready for his next mystery.

What this shows is that authors (and, conceivably, the marketplace) have reached the next step in Queer writing: now that folk are "out" what happens next in their lives? Adventures, mishaps, high jinks…the wealth of human imagination is now in play for such characters. There is still a need for "coming out" tales; not every Queer person has the drive, the freedom, or even awareness of being self-actualized young in life. For some it remains a long and difficult journey. But if the closeted can discover, can devour, stories that show life does move steadily onwards after announcing a minority sexual or gender identity, then their path to pride and acceptance is one step closer to achievement.


Wendy N. Wagner (managing editor):

As I've collected the personal essays for QDSF, I've had several of the writers tell me that they have work that's been rejected from publications because their work was "too gay" or because it put too much focus on trans issues or it just wasn't mainstream enough. I think this happens to women and other marginalized voices, too—some publications just aren't interested in sharing work that deviates from their sense of the social norm. But I believe that writers create their most insightful work when they have the space to draw on their entire personal experience, and the Queers Destroy projects are places where queer writers can feel free to be themselves, truly and deeply. That's got to encourage people to dig deep and create something amazing.


The Queers Destroy projects are about inclusivity and making SF/F a safer, more welcoming space for queer writers. This isn't about making one great market for queers and other marginalized voices—I hope that seeing the SF/F community rally around the Destroy projects will empower people to destroy all kinds of publications with their great fiction.

Queers Destroy SF!—and the project I'll be guest-editing, Queers Destroy Horror!, is important to me because being bi has colored my work so deeply, and I feel lucky that I've found markets that have been friendly to me. Being queer is like being a woman: it's part of my identity, it's part of my body, it's part of my personal voice and way of seeing the world. Literature is only as good as the unique truths it conveys, and Queers Destroy is a way to put a microphone up to writers whose truths often get hidden or overlooked. If I can encourage more great writers to speak up and be themselves, then I'll feel like I'm a success as an editor.


Seanan McGuire (guest editor-in-chief):

Empathy comes from exposure, and empathy matters. If we remove everyone who is not a reflection of the nebulous "norm" from our fiction, we don't learn how to see other people as people. That's not just a shame; it's wrong. We need to be exposed to all the wondrous diversity of the human condition through fiction, so that we are better prepared to recognize and adore it in reality.



Pope Somhairle, Bishop of Evans, Pine, Hemsworth, Anti-Pratt

And before the ignorant chorus of bleating "why focus on sexuality at all?", when an aspect of who you are that is central to your love and who you love puts you out of the mainstream in such a way that invites even catty mockery and the theft of control of your identity, tell me then that you won't long to hear an authentic voice reclaim that identity and struggle.

—an aspiring Bi-fi writer