It started off as a quick reply to krylyr's post Bullshit and Blasephemy, so go read that first if you need context. However, my reply got longer than I expected, so I'm posting it here:
"The Parable of the Shower" was awesome. Based on the title and the first few sentences, my immediate thought was, "There's no way she can pull this off," but she does. Not only does she maintain the language but she also keeps it funny throughout the story. She explores the implications of that opening situation without ever flinching or shying away. The issues she confronts turns what might otherwise have been a style exercise into a moving story that's also really funny.
As for Card, well, now I know not to read "Hamlet's Father."(Rain Taxi's review) He has a right to express, by now, his really well known views. I have a right to express mine. That he wrote a story with a cardboard gay villain is still shocking but it's not surprising. What surprised me was his "this is fault of all of those calling me out on my homophobia" response. I get sad when people start calling out bingo card spaces.
About what happened to Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown, I have absolutely no doubt that by the time I manage any sort of success in the field, either de-gaying or whitewashing will have happened to me too. I've already decided that whoever says that is an editor, publisher, or agent I didn't want to work with anyway. (Yes, I totally get that editors, publishers and agents can make these sorts of decisions without personally being racists or homophobes themselves.)
Actually, something like it may have already happened to me at least once. My same sex marriage allegory once got a personal rejection that ended with something like "We really enjoyed this, but it's too controversial for our magazine." It's a story about a town fighting off the monsters that carry winter. *sigh* And a completely insignificant example: One of the first crits I received from Critters was from someone who did the "I'm not a homophobe, but..." thing and de-gayed my story. (It's amazing how much damage bad copyediting can wreak.) I've received a lot of useless crits from Critters but that was the most useless.
On the plus side, we now have agents rushing to blog and update their web pages to make clear that they absolutely welcome a diversity of characters in fiction. Public disapproval of de-gaying is always a good sign.
(ETA: originally I'd written "same sex marriage parable," but I meant "same sex marriage allegory." I've replaced the word above.)
we now have agents rushing to blog and update their web pages to make clear that they absolutely welcome a diversity of characters in fiction
When this whole thing came up and razed the internet, I hoped the above would happen. I kind of knew it would. And now, of course, will be those who will say it was all a publicity stunt to get exposure (and an agent!) or something mad like that.
There are gay characters in Finder. It's a fairly big plot point, though not the focus of the book as a whole. These characters appear again in ATNL. So far, it hasn't proven a problem. Then again, this IS small press!
You know...now that I think about it, I don't think I've ever written anything book length without gay characters within. It's just...I don't know...part of my every day. NOT having such characters would be strange. I just never understand why it's a big deal to ANYONE. Why there has to be any deal at all.
On one hand, I'm with you. There's no reason having a diverse group of characters should be a big deal. OTOH, it's clear that there are people for whom it is a big deal.
How people react to the very notion of a character who is gay, of color (or both) is out of my control. About the only thing I can do is make my work as awesome as possible. (Fortunately, I should be doing that anyway.)
(Hopped over from Nick's blog. Hope that's okay.)
There are plenty of magazines that are fine with "controversial" material; I'm not sure there's too much reason to keep knocking at the doors of those that don't.
This is totally non-feasible, but how great would it be if you were to respond to a crit about removing the "gay" from a story with one about removing the straight from the critiquer's? (I think this passage about him looking at his wife's photograph really calls too much attention to his sexuality--if he had a husband instead it might keep the reader's focus where you want it to be, on him as a character.)
Looking forward to your Bloody Fabulous story. :D
Hopping over from Nick's blog is great. Public posts are public because I want people to read them.
No, there isn't too much reason to keep sending stories to magazines that don't want "controversial" material. However, I seem to be figuring out which magazines those are the hard way. :(
I gave up on Critters a while ago. My current writing group would never do anything as stupid as attempt to de-gay my stories. But, yeah, turnabout would be a lot fun. (And, yes, totally non-feasible.)
I'm thrilled that that my Bloody Fabulous story is in an anthology with yours. I remember reading "Where Shadows Meet Light" in Fantasy Magazine. It's a beautiful story.
Yeah, giving up on Critters is.... oh, Critters. Did you ever run into the guy who critiques everything by publishing a like 250-word rant telling the author to use fewer linked verbs?
Anyway, if you want to compare notes about places that are compatible with controversy, I'm at first name dot last name at gmail dot com and happy to give my impressions.