Last week, we talked about the Big Scary Barrier for including members of the QUILTBAG+ community in the SF/F community, and right there at the end, I put it on content creators (myself included) to create more diverse characters. By doing that, there’s more for someone queer to latch onto, and that will make that person feel more welcome.
But that raises the big question: how? The easy answer would be for QUILTBAG+ individuals to start creating more content, and we do see that happening more and more, both with new authors entering the field and established authors coming out of the closet. But that puts the pressure on a very small set of the population: queer people with the time and desire to write science fiction, fantasy, and horror. On pure statistics, it’s very unlikely to make a significant enough change, even if we would theoretically be the best candidates.
So again: how can you do this? It’s not an easy question, and I won’t be able to answer it in one fell swoop, but I’m going to touch on something that’s incredibly important to this, something that I would consider to be the foundation for maybe making our literature and movies and whatever else more inclusive.
Talk to queer people. Actively talk to them about issues both in real life and in fantasy (I would apologize for the Queen reference… but I hardly think that needs to be apologized for.). I don’t mean to assault random strangers with awkward questions or anything like that, but find a way to get information straight form the source, and you’ll be light years ahead of someone who didn’t.
If you know a QUILTBAG+ individual well enough to breach the subject, that’s awesome. Ask them if you can talk about that with them, have some coffee, and take notes when something strikes your ear.
But what if you don’t know anyone you could talk to about it, or you don’t know anyone well enough? That’s where the Internet comes in. You can go on sites like Reddit (the link will take you to r/gay),or Queer Sci Fi on Facebook, and get some information there. A forum would work as well. Really anywhere that can get you connected with someone from the community.
Once you know the real life issues (and the issues with QUILTBAG+ portrayal in fiction), it will assuage that niggling fear all writers seem to have when writing the other. Or at least help assuage it, if nothing else.
Now, if for whatever reason it’s just completely impossible for you to talk to someone, or you’re just simply not comfortable with it, you can read what others have said about the subject. Read books on QUILTBAG+ rights, on QUILTBAG+ literature. Google up some articles on the subject. I don’t want to be the self-promotion guy, but check out some stuff on this blog right here. The most important thing is that you get the information, and that you apply it in fiction. Actually, let’s call that second most important.
I think the most important thing you can take away from any of this is perception. Once you’re aware of QUILTBAG+ issues, you’ll be more likely to see them. This applies to life outside of fiction as well, but having that mindset will make you more likely to put those things into your fiction in the first place. I’ll talk more about this in coming articles, as well, so be sure to follow Queer Sci Fi to keep up to date on everything.
And remember: help the world mingle, one word at a time.
Voss Foster lives in the middle of the Eastern Washington desert, where he writes science fiction and fantasy from inside a single-wide. He is the author of Tartaros, The Park, and The King Jester Trilogy (Zirkua Fantastic, The Jester Prince, and A Fool’s War, coming in 2015). He has also written several short stories, featured in Apocrypha & Abstractions, Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, and other various anthologies and publications. When he can be pried away from his keyboard, he enjoys singing, cooking, playing trombone, and belly dancing, though rarely all at the same time. More information can be found at Demon Hunting and Tenth Dimensional Physics.