I’ve been on a tear. Here’s why. (A manifesto)
I admit it. I’ve been on a real tear lately.
Here’s what I’ve done in the past 30 days:
- I published To Have Loved & Lost
- I joined about fifty million Facebook lesbian book / author groups
- I started a mailing list
- I’ve written 22,000 words of a follow-up novel (of 90,000 planned words)
- Plus I’ve written about 12,000 words of a… okay, this might sound strange, but it’s a post-zombie apocalypse novel with lesbian protagonists and a dykey love subplot 😀
- I built this website from scratch and wrote a gajillion posts for it
- Just this morning, I reached out to ten other lesbian authors to see if they’d be interested in networking and / or participating in a lesfic holiday party I’m trying to put together
This is why I’m on a tear:
#1 – Some of this I might have done anyway.
I knew I’d have some infrastructure-building to do by starting a new pen name and writing in a new genre. So some of this, like this website and the mailing list, were already on my to-do-list.
#2 – But mainly, all this effort is stemming from something else entirely.
Look, if you voted for Donald Trump, I respect your right to voice your opinion, and I accept that you have some legitimate concerns about our country — the slow erosion of the working class being the one I can get on board with the most. And I really, really want to be willing to be pleasantly surprised by this man. So far, though, his appointees and Twitter tantrums have only confirmed my fears that the electoral college is putting into place a complete idiot who’s legitimizing hate of all kinds.
Everyone is welcome to their own opinion, but for me, it’s time to stand up and be counted.
I’ll definitely be participating in the Million Woman March in Washington, DC, come January, but the place where I feel like I can make a difference the most is in the small-but-important realm of LGBTQ representation within the media.
If there’s a silver lining to the presidential election / disaster this year, it’s that it woke up my long-dormant inner activist.
Trump’s “election” (if we can really call it that, given that about 2.5 million more of us voted for Hillary) comes on the heels of a horrible year for queer people within mainstream media. We all know how the death of Lexa on The 100 set off a real Internet sh**storm, but what really tweaked people is that Lexa was just one of way too many queer people killed on TV this year. You would think that, given the fact that it’s 2016, the Bury Your Gays trope would be buried. Guess not.
4% of television characters in 2016 were LGBTQ, but they accounted for 10% of all on-screen deaths. (don’t remember where I read that, sorry)
The queer community is ** so thirsty ** for representation. But so often, the characters who represent us get killed off as soon as they serve their plot purpose, forwarding the stories of other (usually straight) characters.
And where are all the masculine-of-center ladies?
On top of that, butch / masculine-of-center women are almost non-existent in mainstream television, movies, and novels. Check out what one self-identified butch actress has to say about the situation in Hollywood:
“When they were casting that show, in the breakdown, it said, literally ‘butch, androgynous, artist living in a loft in Brooklyn type.’ I was like ‘Fuck yeah, great! OK,’” Julie said. “I go in—usually it’s like me and some girls who borrow flannel shirts from their fucking friend, and a couple of other lesbos that I know that we’re always doing the same thing, and Fortune Feimster’s there. So read for it, great, whatever. It said butch lesbian; that was the thing it was a butch lesbian part. Butch, butch, butch, butch, butch lesbian. Who did they cast? Debi Mazar. Debi Fucking Mazar. Is that butch lesbian to you? Where did that come from? That happens all the time. I definitely feel like I read for stuff that says ‘butch’ or ‘masculine’ or whatever and then it’s like ‘What?’ There’s a Debi Mazar type or whatever.” — Read the whole article here on AfterEllen
In other words, even in rolls that specifically call for butch actresses, casting directors are often choosing feminine-of-center women, reinforcing the invisibility and unwanted nature of butch women. When butch women are featured in shows, they are often misgendered for the sake of humor, are bit parts that don’t even have names, or play into the trope of the Predatory Lesbian.
And so THIS explains my recent burst of energy.
I’ve been out for basically the entirety of my adult life, and I’ve been masculine-of-center from the day I was born (my mom reports once trying to put a frilly bonnet on my head when I was six months, and I kept ripping it off and throwing it on the ground until she gave up). But generally speaking, other than donating occasionally to organizations I support, I kind of hate politics and prefer to watch from the sidelines. If I watch at all.
But something about the recent election just made me snap.
When I asked myself what I could do to help vulnerable communities in this crazy new political climate, I realized that possibly the best thing I can offer is to address the issue of positive LGBTQ representation in fiction. It makes the most sense because it’s the community I’ve already been a part of for the majority of my life.
I want to do more than just write lesbian characters and profit from the books I sell; I want to be part of bringing together a community of like-minded LGBTQ authors and readers who are all working hard to answer the battlecry that #LGBTFansDeserveBetter.
I’m a small fish and this is a small pond, and in its own way, my new goal only forms another comfortable echo chamber. But you know what? Right now more than ever in recent memory, we need the support, validation, comfort, and beneficial provocation that good LGBTQ fiction can bring us. And so if I can be a part of growing and strengthening that community, then I’m all in.
2016 might’ve hurt, but I’ve got a really good feeling about 2017, y’all.