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Fantasy and the Modern World

The Drag Queen of ElflandSome of my favorite fantasy series – Lord of the Rings, the Shannara Series, the Wheel of Time – take place all or mostly separated from current day. Although I have to acknowledge that Terry Brooks has since gone on to connect the Shannara books to his A Man of His Word series, which did bring the idea of his fantasy series into the present.

It seems to me that this blending of Fantasy elements and the modern world offers a unique opportunity to explore the LGBT community’s place in society, by giving us tools to look at how we fit into the world a little differently.

This can take the form of magical realism, like in one of my oft-cited favorites, Larque on the Wing, in which a straight housewife morphs into a gay man, her “true” identity. Or in my about-to-be-published story “The Bear at the Bar”, in which a Freaky Friday type exchange allows a gay gym bunny to see things from the other side of the tracks for a day.

Or it can deal with creatures from the other side – elves or fairies from Faery, for instance, and how the differences between their culture and ours can hi-light our own shortcomings and hangups as a society. Editor Lawrence Schimel dealt with this aspect in The Drag Queen of Elfland.

So my question today – have you ever written (or read) a fantasy that dealt with LGBT issues in a modern setting? And how did it use the blending of the two to shed light on the LGBT experience?


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4 thoughts on “Fantasy and the Modern World”

  1. This is a really important concept for me, that being queer is deeply connected to psychic gifts or stories that get classified as fantasy. After all, that’s why we call ourselves queer: we belong to the world in a way that’s different from our non-queer brothers and sisters. In fact, we’re wired to understand how to live and walk in more than one world, and our discipline is to learn to do that in a good way.

    My first book was an erotic swords-and-sorcery story featuring gay magicians and fighters. It was (at least I thought it was) a fun romp full of sex and adventure. Not great literature, but lovingly written for the one-handed reader.

    My second novel, Traveling Light, features an apprentice shaman in modern Vancouver, and while being a shaman doesn’t require a person to be queer, it helps. The acknowledgment of two-spirit people in First Nations traditions is some indication of that.

    There is so much for LGBT writers (some may object to the term Queer, although I personally love it!) to explore along these lines. I feel that after four novels I’m now ready to write in the tradition of magical realism, with queer protagonists.

    • I used to have a problem with Queer, but now (obviously) have adopted it. :P I like your ideas about being queer and fantasy – I agree there;s a deeper connection.

  2. I write a lot of Urban Fantasy. My gay werewolves are very different, with very different experiences. One was raised on the Nightside, with a family that celebrated his lycanthropy, but could not accept his gayness. One was raised very suburban middle-class. His folks are fine with him being gay, but cannot handle the werewolf thing. Even he barely believes it, and certainly doesn’t believe in other Nightfolk.

    My older werewolf, with a half-sidhe husband, has vocal prejudices about moving to the South. “The kind of place where they drag us behind their pickups for being queer, if they don’t just burn us for witches.”

    I’ve done truckers on literal Hell-runs, dark carnivals at the height of the 80s AIDS crisis providing deep temptation to closeted small town folk, were-horses, biker wizards, immortal vampire hunters doing the very delicate dance of sounding out each other’s orientation, and a lot more.


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