Greetings, Seekers! For those of you who may be newer to our blog, Jonathan and Kristina go by J & K for short. Today, I (J) put fingers to keys to describe my feelings about LGBT+ voices being declared ‘underrepresented’ by the writing and publishing community. K and I have encountered this categorization untold times in our quest toward finding an agent/publisher, and it’s prompted fruitful conversation. Without further ado…
Let’s get one critical element out of the way: I identify as a gay male. My coming out experience was, well, an experience. I know the sting of rejection by family and friends and what it’s like to couch-surf because you don’t have a place to call home. That being said, I also know how much happier I am living as my undisguised, true self. It really does get better. Especially with friends like K, who has ever been supportive of me and a staunch ally of the LGBT+ community.
So, underrepresented. I’m not fond of the term, but it is accurate. I can think of precisely one major work of fiction in recent years that has an LGBT+ protagonist: the Hugo award-winning novel A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (which I highly recommend). Sci-fi and fantasy has ever been fertile ground for pushing boundaries. I am encouraged by the critical acclaim Martine’s novel received. It’s one step closer to my long-held dream of picking up the next New York Times best-seller and finding in its pages a main character to whom I can relate on every level.
While I may not be the author who makes that dream a reality, I do have the power to write what I have wanted to read since I first realized that I identified as gay. In Etherea, the world that K and I have created, there are no labels. There are just people who like what they like. And, when a character seems to take issue with this, her peers help guide her to a place of understanding. Prejudice against same-sex relationships is a minority way of thinking in Etherea, but since it remains a prominent issue in reality we wanted to acknowledge it and show how it can be successfully navigated.
So, underrepresented? I think not. While traditional publishing routes may have failed to give LGBT+ writers marquee status, there’s a multitude of voices like mine filling the interwebs with a tapestry of stories. And a chorus of allies speaks with us. We don’t need best-seller status to be heard. I’ll leave you with these beautiful words from one of my favorite authors:
“How shall we sing our love’s song now
In this strange land where all are born to die?
Each tree and leaf and star show how
The universe is part of this one cry,
Every life is noted and is cherished,
and nothing loved is ever lost or perished.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Ring of Endless Light