Saturday, January 16, 2010

Read this.

An absolutely perfect rant on gay subtext, the need for GLBT heroes, and how slash fiction plays into that.

My favorite passage:

I want those main characters to fall in love and make out because it means that fans of their characters will have to come to terms with their gayness, exactly like they would have to do in real life. It's one thing to start out a book, like Swordpoint and Havemercy did, introducing your main characters as gay from the start. Because from the outset the reader knows, the reader can choose whether they approve, or tolerate, or whatever. They can put that book down and walk away.

But reality doesn't let you choose. Reality is when your best friend turns to you and says, "the thing is, I'm gay," and your entire world turns upside down.

The most empowering aspect of slash for me is that it takes beloved, known characters, and strips away their heteronormativity. Yeah, countless people have accidentally discovered Harry Potter slash on the internet, and gone "ACK MY EYES" and hit the back button as fast as they can, but that also means that for half an instant, countless people were forced to grapple with the idea that someone they loved was gay, even if that someone was a fictional character. And maybe they didn't get it, but maybe that moment brought them closer to acceptance or tolerance or empathy.

Fiction has always been vitally important to me. When I was growing up, TV shows were my safe place to retreat to when life sucked. But there were virtually no queer heroes in them, and those few queer heroes who existed had either no romantic interests or romances that ended in tragic deaths. I stayed deep in the closet until late college, and looking back, I wonder if part of that was due to the influence of the stories I loved on TV. When your safe place tells you, "There is probably no one like you, and people like you only die horribly anyway," it's hard not to take that to heart.

This is why GLBT characters end up in my own writing often. This is why, two years ago, when a central character in the novel I was writing surprised me by starting up a same sex relationship in a subplot, I pulled it to the foreground. Because it needs to be text, not subtext.

I'm writing myself a new safe place. With any luck, someone else will find themselves in the heroes here, too.

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