(Though probably not in the way you think.)
It’s come to my attention (especially lately, with the dust-up at the Hugo Awards) that if a person doesn’t fall in line with a certain set of beliefs and -isms, and isn’t aligned with a certain political and social worldview, that such a person will never be accepted into the mainstream of SFF writers. That’s okay. I write what I write because I love writing it, and there are enough other like-minded people around to find the sort of thing I like to read, as well. I don’t write to meet certain set amounts of POC in a book, or to advance a social/political belief, or to fight for gender equality. I don’t like being preached at through books I read, and I don’t intend to preach at my readers.
This particular idea was strengthened in the last few days. Over the weekend a thread cropped up on one of the blogs I like to visit. The question was (paraphrased): What makes you stop reading a book? How long do you give a book before you give up on it?
It was a question that interested me, and so of course I commented. In my comment I listed several things that would make me stop reading a book: sex scenes, rape scenes, bestiality, graphic torture, and homosexual themes. I went on to add that I would also stop reading if I didn’t connect with the characters, and mentioned that I would also stop reading a book if there was continual profanity. I wasn’t making a statement of what I believed, or of what I thought was right and wrong. I was simply stating what I didn’t read.
Do you want to take a guess as to whether someone replied to me? And as to what they said?
If you guessed that they did, and that the gist of their comment was that they had decided I was equating torture and rape with homosexuality, and that they were offended by their own inference, you would be right.
In vain did I point out that I had never equated them with each other, that sex scenes and characters I didn’t identify with were also on the list (was I also equating them with rape and torture? Spoilers: no) and that these were my own personal preferences as to what I did or did not read. A few of the commenters were simply determined to be offended. In which case I reckon they must be offended at the dictionary, too, since it also lists homosexuality along with some other nasty words and ideas. There seems to be an idea that if you don’t agree with what a person does or doesn’t support, that you can ‘call them out’ to tell them how offended you are, how unkind or bigoted they are, and how they need to be more careful in what they say.
So I’m coming out.
I don’t agree with homosexuality. I won’t write about it, or (in almost every case) read about it. I won’t promote it. I think it’s wrong.
I don’t agree with abortion. I won’t write about it in a positive light, and I won’t promote it. I won’t read books that promote it. I think it’s wrong.
I don’t agree with misogynism. I won’t write about it in a positive light, and I won’t promote it. I won’t read books that promote it. I think it’s wrong. Also, I find it highly annoying.
If you’re not going to read the books I write because of that; well, that’s your right. Just like it’s my right to read and write what I want to read and write. I won’t be silenced in my convictions, and by God’s grace I’m not going to be bullied into being too scared to speak what I think is right. If that means that some people (or even a lot of people) won’t read my books and feel that they have to call me various names; well, that’s their right. It’s a free world after all.
And I’m free to act upon my own convictions, too. If you’re lesbian/bi-sexual/gay/trans; if you’ve had an abortion; if you’re a misogynist– I don’t hate you. I do have a different moral system, and it’s not going to agree with yours.
It helps if people remember that. And it helps if we all decide not to be instantly offended by everyone who doesn’t agree with us (especially if you’re reading values into simple statements of preference). Fortunately I have quite a few family members and friends who identify as lesbian/bi-sexual/et al, and are always willing to have open discussions with me. They don’t love me any less for my beliefs, and I don’t love them any less for theirs. We certainly don’t agree with what is right and wrong, but none of us are closed minded enough to say that the other isn’t allowed to have their point of view.
The internet is not the same. Fair enough. But I don’t try to tell others what to read or write, so don’t expect me to change my beliefs to suit you, either. Whether I make a living at writing or only ever manage to keep it as a side-job, I want to honour God; and I can’t do that if I’m too afraid to stand up for what I think is right.
If you want a reason to label me, to refuse to read my books, to call me names, I’ve listed some for your convenience. Choose any or all of the above. And for my writer friends, whom I have loved ‘meeting’ as I began to publish, and who may or may not agree with me: some of you write stuff I don’t like to read, but I’d have to be daft to say that you’re bad writers because of it. Most of you are brilliant writers, some of whom simply write things I don’t always read.
Also, no hard feelings if you feel that you no longer want to interact/follow/’like’/talk to me. These can be divisive issues, and many publishers don’t like their authors to associate with ‘my kind’ of person just in case mud, doing what mud does best, sticks.