Hello all, and apologies for the lateness of this post. It was supposed to go up on May 17th, for the International Day Against Homophobia, Bi and Transphobia, but as usual I’m unfashionably late. It’s not too late for you to win prizes, though! I’m giving away an e-book copy of Written In Stone to one lucky winner after the post, so read on for how to win.
I’ve seen a lot of complaining on the Internet lately, in various forms of media. People aren’t happy with media depictions of… just about everything. Women aren’t being written correctly. Portrayals of gay/bi/trans people are trope-filled and/or phobic. POC aren’t represented enough. To a certain extent, I can agree. There is always room for more fiction about more people. The wider we can spread this net, the better, so that everyone can find a story that speaks to them on a personal level. However…
It’s a thorny subject that generates a lot of outrage and sore feelings. The heart of the matter is that people want to see themselves depicted in fiction. I’m pretty sure most of us in the LGBTQ community can tell you how wonderful it was the first time we read fiction that was about us specifically – that little leap of joy inside, that feeling that even if only for a moment – we were not alone in the world. But those warm fuzzy feelings that made me want to write fiction in the first place seem to have changed into something quite dark and quite frightening: a vision of the future in which television, game, and fiction writers’ every word is scoured and checked to make sure nobody is offended, hurt, or upset. Every big blockbuster movie and T.V. show seems to have its content analyzed by a small segment of people determined to find something to be outraged by.
I can’t get behind the outrage, because outrage and offense are to me the principle enemies of free speech. I don’t support the idea that people who speak thoughtlessly or provocatively should be hounded out of jobs and homes. I don’t think that people should have to check every word that comes out of their mouths and every idea that they have for a story because someone might find it upsetting. I’m a writer. Sometimes my soul is a very upsetting place. Parts of my life have been difficult to say the least. Sometimes those experiences bleed into my writing. That’s what honesty in writing is all about. Of course there have been books I didn’t finish due to the content being too extreme for my tastes, but that doesn’t mean those books shouldn’t exist. Everyone has a comfort level, but the only person who should be policing it is themselves.
Outrage is energy – energy that needs to be channeled in a more positive way. The Internet breeds outrage because it goes viral in a heartbeat and earns a lot of ad revenue via clicks. That’s right: your outrage earns other people money. I still don’t think it’s too late to put down the pitchforks and pick up pens instead. Recently, I backed a number of Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns dedicated to GLBTQ indie comics, because I believe we have the power to make positive change. Not through outrage – but through creativity. Each one of us has the power to log out of toxic comment threads and to instead write fiction or draw comics that make other people feel loved and accepted. I’ve recently wondered if I even still have a place doing what I do in a world where everyone seems so angry and offended, but the truth is this: this world needs stories about love perhaps now more than ever. What I write may not always be perfect. Some people may be offended by things I write. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying. I still believe that everyone deserves their love story and I won’t rest until we can have a world in which diversity and free speech are not seen as opposing forces but as companions that go hand in hand.
Now for the giveaway: to win a copy of Written In Stone, all you need to do is leave your e-mail and a brief comment on this post with any thoughts you might have. The contest closes 9pm EST May 24th and the winner will be informed by e-mail shortly after that.
Many thanks to everyone for letting me participate in the hop so late. Please visit the other participants for some wonderful posts and prizes.