One of the biggest things in SF/F literature is cross-genre works. Almost every time I go to a convention, or run through a site on speculative fiction writing and whatnot, there’s at least something about mixing other genres into your speculative fiction. It’s a time-honored tradition, dating back to the pulp magazines with things like weird westerns (Billy the Kid vs Dracula, anyone?).
Normally when I write this column, I’m talking to the SF/F community about how to bring in more QUILTBAG+ members. This applies there, but what I’m talking about in this article applies in reverse, as well.
Now, in any subculture, there’s going to be a very noticeable, very large aspect. Normally more than one, but always at least one. It could be anything. An icon, an art form, a sort of defining book or movie or what have you.
What I want to talk about is where those intersect or, more specifically, where we can make those intersect. I’m not going to go into the writing side of things (I talk about that every other week on this column), but into more the cultural side of things. And yes, this is meant to just be a jumping off point. I’ll be talking about the things that would make me, as an SF/F fan, more interested in a QUILTBAG+ event or the ilk, and me, as a gay man, more interested in something on the SF/F side of the coin (So many acronyms. It burns!).
Sometimes, there’s already something in place, something that exists that can bridge the gap. In this case, the first thing I can think of is the cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s the ultimate sci-fi B-Movie (Maybe Attack of the Killer Tomatoes beats it for some people, but not for me.), and it’s also beloved by many members of the QUILTBAG+ culture. It’s a built in intersection between the two subcultures, and one that both can enjoy, no matter whose ‘turf’ you happen to be on. I’ve seen it at SF/F cons (I run Rocky Horror at my local convention, actually), and I’ve seen showings in gay bars and the like.
I’m not saying that’s the only movie out here which crosses between them both, but it’s the most obvious to me, and an experience I personally recommend. A full showcase of RHPS is something everyone should experience once in their lifetime.
But how can you take a more active role? Maybe you’re not content to just experience a movie or TV show which crosses interests. Maybe you want something with a little more push behind it. Well, there’s a lot that can be done, and a lot of things with footwork in place from both the QUILTBAG+ community and the SF/F community.
At any of the major conventions I’ve been to, there’s always ‘late night programming’ which is for 18+ only. Included in that are panels on including erotic content, panels on alcohol and drinking, and various shows and performances that aren’t really for the younger crowd. Most common among those is burlesque. I don’t know if it’s just because of where I live (I once had someone tell me that you can swing a cat in Seattle and hit a burlesque performer) or if it’s ubiquitous, but I know that it happens all the time, and they already make it geeky, a lot of the time (I’ve seen Doctor Who burlesque and Game of Thrones burlesque around here).
Burlesque is a very big thing in the QUILTBAG+ community as well (again, could just be around here. Sorry if it is) and, even more than burlesque, drag is huge in the gay community (drag kings don’t get as much press, but they play a very important role to). It’s one of those things that comes straight to mind when you think of gay culture. My proposal on this: geeky drag. We see it a bit in cosplay already, but not as its own thing. It’s another place where you could cross through both of our cultures. And yes, I don’t’ just mean at SF/F cons. I’d love to see the rise of new geeky drag queens and drag kings
But this is also a post where it’s not so much advice as an open forum. I’ve listed a couple jumping off points, but I’m interested in what others have to say. If you identify as someone in the QUILTBAG+ community, talk about what you’d like to see brought in from your side of the fence, and vice versa if you’re in the SF/F community. And if you’re in both, chime in about everything. Everybody chime in. And everybody mingle.