02 June 2012

Definitely Loud, Definitely Proud


By some strange coincidence, I find myself kicking off two of BtV's monthly themes in a row.  This time it's "Loud and Proud: LGBTQ Characters, Themes and Plots on Page and Screen".  Unlike fan fiction, this is an odd fit for me.

Well, I'm definitely loud.  All of my friends and family would agree on that point. But I'm not Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans or Queer.  I've got friends who qualify in every category--some more than one--but I'm vanilla.  Even in my fanfic days, I didn't write m/m.  It wasn't that I didn't read it.  It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it.  In fact, some of the descriptive passages I read in those days were hot enough to melt steel, to say nothing of me.  But it just wasn't my area of expertise, so I didn't even try.

Until I did.  "Personal Demons", my contribution to the lesbian fantasy anthology Hellebore and Rue, recounts the story of a tantric sorceress and her lover dealing with demonic possession in contemporary Alexandria, Virginia.  I told the story behind the story when the anthology first reached the virtual shelves.  Even though the story behind the story had a happy ending, it showed that prejudice against LGBTQ characters remains, even in the "anything goes" world of science fiction and fantasy.

But support for LGBTQ fiction is strong and growing stronger among the reading public.  Hellebore and Rue soon made it to print and remains available in paper format, despite the shuttering of our original electronic publisher, Drollerie Press.

Furthermore, the anthology didn't just hang on.  It prospered, winning a 2011 Rainbow Award for Best Science Fiction and Anthology.  It was also named a 2011 American Library Association Over the Rainbow LGBT Book for Adult Readers--an honor shared by less than 75 books out of roughly one million books published in English each year.   To say nothing of more than a dozen reviews, with more appearing each month, a full year after the book's publication.

This tells me that things are getting better.  Every day people grow more accepting of and receptive to the fictional representation of alternate life styles.  Much as some pundits try to deny it, the real world follows fiction.  Life does imitate the good things in art--maybe not as closely or as often as we'd like.  But there's no denying it does, which gives me hope for our nonfiction future.  And something more.

As someone who fought the good fight for two LGBTQ characters, it makes me proud.  Most definitely proud.

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Jean Marie Ward
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