Queering Up Genre Fiction

To check it off the list, I’m going to go ahead and explain my stance on writing stories that are rife with LGBT characters without being LGBT fiction. There’s a tendency still to assume, in genre fiction, that everyone is straight by default. Because obviously only straight people have fantasy adventures or become spies. If your main characters aren’t straight, you’re often destined for the LGBT section.

Here’s the thing: life is not defined by who you prefer to sleep with. It’s ridiculous to put a fantasy novel wherein the love story happens to be between two men or two women next to a novel about self-discovery. That makes about as much sense as putting a sci-fi series next to a romance novel.

What’s really happening when we do that is a perpetuation of queer people as the Other. It’s tacitly saying that straight=normal, so anything else should be separate. It’s turning genre fiction into political statements. You aren’t really writing fantasy, you’re writing queer lit. No matter what.

Don’t get me wrong: queer identity stories have a place. But I don’t really enjoy them, preferring sci-fi, fantasy, and spy fiction. My main characters in Thousandth Man meet and fall in love naturally. They’re in their early 30s, have been in other relationships before, and there is not a single moment in the entire series when their sexuality is the point. Why should it be when they have magic and politics to worry about?

It’s important to write stories with queer characters. More people should and not just for diversity’s sake. Every time a novel comes out where you discover halfway through that the space captain is a lesbian, or a spy thriller where the lost love was another man, we get one step closer to it not mattering. It’s normalization and that’s a Very Good Thing.

I would never begrudge anyone their novels about sexuality angst and coming out. People should tell the story that matters to them. But that’s not my narrative and I will always write something else.

I don’t sit around every day contemplating my sexuality, so why should my characters?

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