lgbt in sff

By Haralambi Markov

I’m here today because last week I wrote a piece on the sexism surrounding the SFWA – the biggest scandal that hit the community. The subject has been covered to death by now and the most shocking moments are behind us with apologies, dialogue and moving forward already placed in motion. I’m not going to beat a dead horse; it’s already dead so what’s the point.

What I am going to do is talk about myself. Not because I’m a narcissist, but because I’m a LGBT writer within the SFF community and the fight for equality that’s resulted from these burning flame wards concerns me, too. Right now it’s been about women suffering from the status quo. There’s no recent accounts of homophobia in the community, but let’s all see the bigger picture.

If the situation for one of the two sexes (incidentally the one in charge of birth) is as fucked as the recent shit storms indicate, how bad do you think the situation is for any other community within the genre is? Us, LGBTQ writers, have it as bad, but our problem is we are invisible.

The very concept of us is to many uncomfortable. I encounter this in my day-to-day life. Even friends who I consider close and open prove time and time again that the idea of a man attracted to another man (sorry to any lesbians reading this, but heterosexuals love fetishizing you) is bizarre, weird and unwelcome. Imagining it is akin to witnessing body horror. And the worst part is that any attention I have given to any straight man has been either misinterpreted as flirting or exploited for incessant ego boosting.

The world told me being gay is a no-no, so when I got serious about writing every lead with a significant character arc was a woman, because women are allowed to have men as romantic interests.

takei at pride

George Takei, an icon in science fiction, is a courageous leader in the struggle for LGBT rights in the United States and the world.

I made sure I communicated more with female writers, because I thought men could sense the gay even through email. I kept my social media accounts free of any sexual references. Really hard for a guy with a foul mouth.

I didn’t want to screw it. I didn’t want to be thrown out, because writing is the thing that holds me together. I didn’t want to be denied this.

That’s how fucking scared I was of anyone finding out that I was gay. The funny thing about homophobia is that when you’re a gay guy living in a hostile environment, you internalize it to the point where you are a worse homophobe than the people around you. I chose to punish myself, become invisible. I’m not saying other LGBT writers choose this for themselves, but this is how it happened for me.

Yet, I came out of the closet (for a second time) and nothing happened. I wasn’t kicked out. I wasn’t bullied. What I did find was support and a writing group that is like a second family to me.

Nevertheless, I still feel weird writing LGBT characters. Even though I write for myself, I do wonder whether I can sell LGBT themes and characters. There’s a second question I ask when I get rejected. Was it because of the gay character?

I see the changes. I see the efforts people make to raise visibility and promote acceptance. I’m also getting more and more involved, but COME ON!

If we’re STILL dealing with sexism and a severe visibility problem of WOMEN in SFF, how can we even begin to talk of full acceptance of all minorities? It’s why seeing acts of sexism makes my blood boil. It reminds me of the long road ahead that we as a community have to walk, because where there is sexism, there is homophobia, xenophobia and discrimination.

And that’s just sad, because our job is to work with the different and off-beat every single day of our lives. It sucks that this remains only in theory.

The photo of George Takei at the Chicago pride parade is by Flickr user Zesmerelda and is used under Creative Commons 2.0 (Attribution) license.