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The Midweek Mingle: A Question of Barriers

Just like last week, this isn’t going to be so much of me trying to give advice. This is something I hope we can talk about, and something I hope I can get people thinking about. I’ll return to your regularly scheduled programming after I get back from Sasquan (Wish me luck that I won’t die!).

Now, I’m not exactly an old hat in the industry. I’ve been at it since 2010, and I’m embarrassingly young to be an SF/F writer (No exaggeration: it embarrasses me. I have to imagine most 23 year olds don’t just hope to suddenly be 55.).

Sorry. Sidetracked. Point is, if you have more information than I’ve been able to scrounge up, bring it to play. This is something that fascinates me, so I’m always on the lookout for more info.

So here’s my big question on diversity and equality today: do culturally-specific markets/genres breed inclusion or strengthen exclusion? It’s something I think about a lot, actually. Maybe more than I should, since it can sometimes pull me away from actually writing for hours at a time.

I’m not going to level my opinion on this. I don’t really have one, yet. I’m still trying to figure it out. But I will bring in some facts for y’all to peruse, and some possible ups and downs from having these areas that are specifically tied to one culture or subculture.

Since this is queer sci-fi, let’s start off there. The fact that we have SF/F books that focus on QUILTBAG+ characters is awesome, however they come about. There’s no denying that. But those same books are often also sold on the merit of their inclusion of those QUILTBAG+ characters. A lot of the mainstream market still sees those works as ‘gay books,’ ‘lesbian books,’ ‘trans* short stories,’ ‘bigender flash fiction.’

Okay, I made those up off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are examples of those out there. But that’s not the point, really. The point is that there’s still this barrier between ‘our’ fiction and the mainstream. Whatever ‘our’ fiction happens to be. Afrofuturism or gay fantasy or whatever it might be.

So, are these barriers just getting stronger the more we force our work into these boxes, or is it cracking open the walls bit by bit to that mainstream acceptance? Let me know, so we can all try a little better to mingle.

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