I attended the 2022 Lambda Literary award ceremony. I had a lovely time and felt very welcome. I met a bunch of new people and reconnected with a few I’d met before. I was kind of surprised how little overlap there was with Flights of Foundry — I saw a handful of people I recognized, but fewer than I had expected.
The meeting was conducted online and used Airmeet as the platform but had a couple of things I hadn’t seen before. First, it led participants to fill out their profile. Only about 30% of participants did, but this was still significantly higher than at a bunch of online events where it seems everyone is functionally anonymous. Second, they were using an informal discussion tool where everyone was distributed across the screen and could double-click near them to open up a voice/video chat window with them and everyone else in the vicinity. Only a small percentage of the participants came to use the environment, but I thought it actually worked pretty well. I had nice discussions three or four times with people and would have been happy to spend more time meeting and chatting.
The actual awards ceremony was preceded by several hours of panel discussions. They were interesting and useful.
Queer New Worlds was about queer voices in speculative fiction. It was interesting to hear a variety of perspectives. I asked a question that seemed to puzzle the panelists: how to write to bridge queer and straight audiences? The answer that they seemed to like best was that you should write what you want and let the audience find it.
Banned Book List was a gallop through the books currently being banned for queer content. I asked how to get your book banned and got a very nice tongue-in-cheek answer that matched the cheekiness of my question.
LoveWins was about queer sex and erotica. It was a fun romp with lots of interesting discussion.
My take, as a newcomer to this community, is that many queer writers see their work as fundamentally disjunct from writing for straight audiences. It may, in part, due to the uniquely poisoned atmosphere in the public square today, which is being driven by the right-wing mania to torment people that their evangelical minority base hates and wants to see punished. My personal take, is that the majority of people in the country have already accepted the normalization of queer and trans content. I am hopeful that the right wing will find some other whipping boy soon and this particular phase will only last as long as the so-called “War on Christmas.” With their capture of the Supreme Court, they can certainly cause mischief, but I’m hopeful it won’t persist.
That said, I think it’s important that everyone stand up and make clear that they support our queer folk who just want to live without being threatened and harassed by right-wing assholes.
My own writing does try to bridge queer and straight audiences. I would like queer audiences to find characters that they can identify with, like the trans protagonist, Revin. Or his gay mentor Will. Or his bisexual mentors Grip and Curtains. At the same time, my goal for straight readers is that they discover they can also identify with Revin and perhaps even forget that he’s trans from time to time — only to “wake up” when events happen that throw his gender into relief, whether a casually gendered statement (e.g. “Boys like you are always hungry” or “Your penmanship is almost as good as a girl’s”) or in places where gender is enforced, like in a bath.