[Crossposted at Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis.]
As a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.
I live in Anchorage. Like most of LGBT folk in Anchorage, along with our allies, a lot of my emotional & political energy over the past few months has been taken up in our fight for protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. On August 11, we won that fight — temporarily — when the Anchorage Municipal Assembly, by a vote of 7 to 4, passed the Anchorage equal rights ordinance, AO 2009-64. But a few days later, on August 17, Mayor Dan Sullivan vetoed it. While the Assembly has a few more days to try to override the veto, it doesn’t seem likely. And so, for the third time in 35 years, Anchorage first granted equality to at least some of its LGBT citizens, and for the third time the forces of intolerance, Christianist supremacy, and homophobia took it away again.
So you’ll pardon me if it wasn’t until today that I got the full skinny on why the Outer Alliance was started some days ago with the goal to “educate, support, and celebrate LGBT contributions in the science-fiction and fantasy genres.” [Ref #1] I knew it had something to do with some creepy comments made by a certain science fiction/fantasy writer, but I didn’t actually know what he said.
Now I know. And let me tell you, it rates every bit as full of hatred and ignorance as the worst offal spewed in Anchorage this summer out of the mouths of Christianist hate-pastor Jerry Prevo, self-proclaimed homophobe and “rascist” Eddie Burke [see note 1 below], and the numerous red-shirted individuals who carried their “Truth is Not Hate” hate speech into the Assembly chambers or spilled it into the comments on the Anchorage Daily News website [note 2].
The SF/F fiction writer in question was John C. Wright, Nebula Award-nominated author of the fantasy novel Orphans of Chaos, along with other SF/F titles. His Wikipedia entry provides a good summary (I’ve removed the links and internal footnoting for ease of reading):
On July 29, 2009, Wright posted an entry in his blog entitled More Diversity and More Perversity in the Future! where he criticized SyFy’s [formerly known as the SciFi Channel] promises of more diversity in programming, calling homosexuality an “abomination”, “an irrational lust”, “a malfunction of love”, “perverted” and not “normal and natural”, drawing comparison to racism and suggesting its depiction to be similar to that of “love affairs with corpses, small children, and farm animals”. This caused controversy within the science fiction community, drawing heavy criticism from fellow sci-fi writer such as Hal Duncan. Wright later deleted the original post, complaining of “slander” at having his views about lesbian and gay people identified as homophobic and bigoted, and sought to clarify that he shared the views of his church that homosexuality was against nature. He concluded, however, by saying “The love a homosexual feels toward his lover may be disordered — but it is still love, and love is still divine.” [Ref #2]
As wryly noted by Mari Kurisato a few days later,
John C Wright has decided to try to outdo Orson Scott Card and other misohomosexuals, primarily by being a stellar shit thrower on the internet and then going “well, I didn’t mean it exactly like that.” [Ref #3]
Links within the quote are hers, and worth checking out. They are, in order, the full text of John C. Wright’s original LiveJournal entry, which someone retained after Wright took it down from his own blog; the portion of SF/F writer Orson Scott Card’s Wikipedia entry on his views about homosexuality; and an entry from Wright’s blog indicating a putative “apology.” [Refs 4, 5, 6] For her part, Mari Kurisato, a talented illustrator, went on to design Outer Alliance’s logo. [Ref #3]
But the actual post I ran across which first gave me a rundown, and some highly useful commentary, about the John C. Wright controversy was one by Kip Manley called “John C. Wright is recoiling in craven fear and trembling, and I don’t feel so good myself” [Ref #7], which takes Wright’s nonsense and makes it — well… nonsense. Because that’s what it is. And pretty atrocious nonsense too. Much as we became accustomed to hearing in Anchorage in the course of our Summer of Hate. [Note 3]
At one point, Manley quotes from an older post of his, when the topic of discussion was Orson Scott Card — a writer I used to call “my favorite Mormon science fiction writer,” up until the time Card started displaying his own antigay attitudes. Manley wrote in 2004:
Science fiction is largely a fiction of setting: the bulk of the iceberg that’s unseen, underwater, is the act of world-building, and in that act, politics is paramount. (One is building a polis, after all.) —Therefore, it’s all-too-appropriate to keep in mind an author’s politics when considering their science fiction: an author who, say, considers homosexuality to be an aberration, is un- (or perhaps less) likely to build a world that would appeal to a reader who does not. There’s an assumption clash: one of his fundamental, foundational bedrocks is abhorrent to me, and vice-versa.
One can respond: well, yes, but there’s nothing about aberrant homosexuality in Ender’s Game, so how can it clash? Heck, there’s nothing in that book about homosexuality at all! And I will resist the urge to say oh, you think so? and I will even resist the urge to say precisely! —Instead, I’ll allow as how there’s frequently large gaps in the jerry-rigged polis left as exercises for the reader: one can hardly describe every kitchen sink, after all; one must make assumptions, and count on the reader doing likewise (which among other reasons is why fan fiction [and slash fiction] is so popular in science fiction). But that’s precisely why when those assumptions suddenly clash, it’s unsettling, even violently dissonant. [Ref #8]
I struggle with those issues myself — whether or how completely to divorce the art from the artist — even with people like Orson Scott Card, whose second “Ender” novel, Speaker for the Dead, has always struck me as deeply compassionate in its acceptance of difference between people. But if the artist is not necessarily the same as his art, nor is Card the same as Ender Wiggin. At least not when it comes to homosexuals. [Ref #9]
But deciding whether or not to purchase or read or boycott the work of writers who have publicly demonstrated their homophobia, or any other moral failing they may have, is not what the Outer Alliance is about. Rather, it is, as previously stated, to to “educate, support, and celebrate LGBT contributions in the science-fiction and fantasy genres.” [Ref #1] And here’s one reason why:
This is a point that probably does not need to be reiterated too often among our group, but one that never quits being useful: when they (the members of the majority culture, or whatever you want to call them) know personally even one of us, then they tend to be more open-minded about who we are, more ready to give up those prejudices based on what we are not. This fact, more than any other, is why we are winning what American right-wingers like to call “the culture war” in spite of our vast numerical disadvantage. Every single time a queer comes out or a straight ally speaks up in favor equality of human dignity, at least one, and usually more, of our opponents fall back and retrench or just give up. The John C. Right [sic] Affair is good example of it. [Ref #10]
As a writer — now hoping, frankly, to move on from the Summer of Hate and back to my writing — this is something I can wholeheartedly endorse and take part in. As a lesbian citizen of Anchorage, for whom the Summer of Hate is a very recent and very lasting memory, it’s how I intend to conduct myself in my day-to-day life: to live openly, happily, and fully as who I am — knowing full well that eventually, even the likes of Jerry Prevo and Eddie Burke will fall away.
I hope that readers of this blog, most of whom (I think) are Alaskans, and some of whom (I hope) are readers of science fiction and fantasy, will consider joining the Outer Alliance and will take a look at some of the numerous posts posted today in honor of Outer Alliance Pride Day. They’re all listed on the Outer Alliance’s website. [Ref #11]
Maybe even take a look at mine. [Ref #12] I’ve gotta say, as interesting as Palin getting punked might be, such that my post on it’s gotten 130 hits today as of this writing — it would sure be nice to have more than 11 hits on the excerpt posted early today of my novel-in-progress Mistress of Woodland. Who knows, you might even like Mielikki more than you like Sarah Palin.
- The red-t-shirt rightwing talk radio host Eddie Burke wore when he testified at the Assembly identified him as a “Homophobic Red Shirt Bible Thumping Nazi Gay Bashing Tea Bagging Rascist White Guy Bigot.” Speculation is that either (a) Burke doesn’t know how to spell or (b) he was purposely combining the words racist and fascist and identifying himself as both.
- “Truth is Not Hate” was, of course, the most frequently seen sign carried by anti-ordinance protesters over the course of the summer. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” yada yada. I plan to examine the falsity of these claims of “not hating” in the near future. The signs were printed by Alaska Family Council, which along with Prevo’s Anchorage Baptist Temple took the lead in the Christianist assault on equal rights in Anchorage over the summer.
- “Summer of Hate” is a term I’ve adopted from Brendan Joel Kelley’s account of the Anchorage equal rights ordinance battle in his August 28, 2009 post for Dan Savage’s blog, “Meanwhile in Alaska: Anchorage’s Summer of Hate” (The Stranger). Brendan Joel Kelley is associate editor of the Anchorage Press.
- 8/09. “About Us” (The Outer Alliance).
- “John C. Wright.” Wikipedia entry.
- 8/19/09. “Perversion versus Obscurity” by Mari Kurisato (Mari’s MetaMusings).
- 7/29/09. “More Diversity and More Perversity in the Future!” by John C. Wright (John C. Wright’s Journal, reposted on the PaBlog). Wright’s statement is also reposted as comment 42 to the August 13, 2009 post “Justifying homosexuality without justifying incest” by Amerpersand (Alas! a blog).
- “Orson Scott Card.” Wikipedia entry, section on “Homosexuality” (Card’s views about it).
- 8/18/09. “APOLOGIA PRO OPERE SUI part I” by John C. Wright (John C. Wright’s Journal, LiveJournal).
- 8/15/09. “John C. Wright is recoiling in craven fear and trembling, and I don’t feel so good myself” by Kip Manley (Long Story Short Pier).
- 4/24/04. “Negative space, or, Why I don’t trust æsthetes” by Kip Manley (Long Story Short Pier).
- 7/28/08. “Editorial: It’s Time to Call Out Anti-Gay Author of ‘Ender’s Game'” (AfterElton.com).
- 8/25/09. “Outer Alliance Pride Day 9/1/09” (The Outer Alliance).
- 9/1/09. “Outer Alliance Pride Day Posts Begin!” (The Outer Alliance).
- 9/1/09. “Outer Alliance Pride Day 2009: An excerpt from Mistress of Woodland” by Melissa S. Green (Henkimaa.com).