LGBT Rights: the Good and the Bad

Gordon Brown issued a formal apology to Alan Turning last night in response to the petition I mentioned last month. This is very good news, as indeed is the fact that over 31,000 people (last I looked) have signed the petition.

On the downside, over at The Outer Alliance there is news of a speculative fiction market that refuses to accept any LGBT material, or even an ad for such material elsewhere.

Personally I am happy for anyone to set limits on what they are prepared to publish. If I were running a fiction magazine there are things I would be reluctant to accept. Stories that get their “entertainment” value from violence against women, for example, or stories in which the main villain is a gross stereotype of a gay man and there are no other gay characters in evidence. I’ve spoken out against such things before, and been criticized for doing so, but I did so openly and I think that anyone not prepared to accept LGBT material should be open about it and be prepared to defend that stance.

More specifically I object strongly to the idea that to even mention same sex attraction, or the existence of trans people, is somehow explicit sexual content that is obscene and pornographic — something that should not be mentioned in polite company.

And finally, if you don’t mean to equate being gay with being a pedophile, don’t do it. If you do the whole “whoops, I did it again” thing, no one is going to take your apology seriously.

But basically all anyone has to do is read. Go take a look at what Gordon Brown has to say about gay people, and then take a look at what Jake Freivald has to say about them, and ask yourself which one of them sounds like the better human being.

By the way, the ad that caused all the fuss is now visible in my sidebar. I’ll have an article in that issue of Crossed Genres (I was asked to provide it when I was in Boston last month). It will be about Heinlein.

10 thoughts on “LGBT Rights: the Good and the Bad

  1. Pingback: Twitted by Nymeth
  2. This is in no way an apology for sf/f publishers, but I was curious. Being in the IT industry, which has a strong tradition of interest in these genres, I see a lot of ‘everyday’ science fiction and fantasy fans around – and a lot of them are ‘grossed out’ by glbtq issues. The idea of, say, Captain Kirk and Spock falling in love is the stuff of parodies, not the stuff of serious science fiction. In a capitalist system, publishers are a business like any other, and they publishe things because they make money off of them – posting even advertising that is overtly LGBTQ is a quick road to offending some customers, and for getting a reputation for ‘being political’ with others.

    This isn’t right, of course, and my opinion is that any business that deals in the promulgation of art of any kind has an implicit responsibility to improve the environment they are in. But, it does bring up the issue, at least for me, that it’s very easy to blame a publisher, but some of the responsibility is with individuals, you know? Not sure how to SOLVE that – short of how it’s been solved slowly already, by just exposing people to things in a non-threatening way, so that they learn that people who are different from them really aren’t that different from them…

  3. Jason:

    All of these things take time. Laws are helpful, but in the long run we only get more respect for LGBT people because the population as a whole has a change of mind. But if you don’t talk about such things, if you claim that the mere mention of such things is “gross” or obscene, then you’ll never change anyone’s mind because they are not exposed to the possibility of thinking in a different way.


    He does mention “God”, but I don’t think he says which one.

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  5. a lot of ‘everyday’ science fiction and fantasy fans…are ‘grossed out’ by glbtq issues

    Yeah, all people have their biases. You should see me freeze up when I first learn that someone I know is a pot-smoker. I’ll be posting about being responsible for my biases at length later, but the gist of my sentiment is this: One of the reasons fiction is so valuable is that it is a safe form of vicarious experience. It’s like studying before a test; uncomfortable but incredibly responsible. People forget that it’s okay to get grossed out, angered, panicked, and all the rest. And if you’re going to test the waters of strong emotion, why not start with fiction? Sure, there’s a lot of respectable escapist literature out there, but the stories people talk about most and remember longest are those that move them in some way.

    Fiction that bothers us is like the bitter vegetables. We should read it; it’s good for us.

  6. I will note that while the Kirk/Spock thing has always been in fanfic and something many people point fun at, one has to realize 2 very important things. First, neither character was created as a gay man to begin with. Shatner’s Kirk clearly preferred women – of just about any species – and when Spock showed any active interest at all, it was in women – also across species for that matter. Second, there are those folks who don’t take that fanfic as “something to point fun at” but rather as important fiction to them. Fanfic, because it’s unlicensed use of someone else’s world, will always remain underground and hard to present as “serious work.” Hell, folks writing in shared universes have to deal with the snobbery of those who think if you didn’t invent it all from scratch it’s “derivative work” and to be scorned, Wild Cards not withstanding…

    Creating characters that are gay by design – who’s life is affected by that reality, makes a lot more sense if one is trying to make a serious dent in how people view folks from that perspective. TNG tried to touch on that concept a couple of times, albeit with less than stellar results, but it’s as close as I’ve seen mainstream SF go. Even Stargate, with a totally safe haven it’s first 4 years (showtime gave them a 4 year contract before the 1st year was done) never went down that particular path – sadly.

    But as Jason points out, it’s a commercial endeavor – until there’s enough audience that will buy that, we keep working on making the reality of gay relationships available in other ways.

    I will also note here: Paul’s question, while not unusual, isn’t particularly fair either. I have several Christian friends who are the FIRST to speak up for LGBT rights, some of them are gay themselves, some not. I expect Paul’s implication was “right wing, nut job who calls themselves christian” – but words matter, so it’s worth noting.

  7. Mark, the Q stands for questioning, or queer.

    I was going to comment how Kirk/Spock slash is a departure from canon, but Twilight beat me to it.

    Cheryl, thanks for posting the news. I tried to imagine ex-pres Bush making any such speech, but the concept was too surreal for my mind to handle. 🙂

    Regarding “ask yourself which one of them sounds like the better human being.”, there is the difference of one being a public speech and the other a private dialogue. Does that excuse what Mr. Freivald writes? No, but politicians are not always the most sincere. Of course, you did phrase the question, “which one…*sounds*…”

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