Welcome, one and all, to today’s random posting. Now, given the stuff in my Projects Update, you would be forgiven for expecting this to encompass a cosplay posting. After all, if I’m gonna be heading into last-minute alternative territory for Hyper Japan, it would make sense to think that I may have started work on it already. Well, yes. Yes, I have. In fact, it’s near enough ready to go. But, I wanted to do something different here. You see, it’s Pride Month!
That’s right, it’s that time of the year when we take some time to remember the 1969 Manhattan Stonewall Riots. For those unaware, this encompassed a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. The Stonewall Inn was actually a mafia run gay bar that was popular with the poorer members of the LGBT+ community. Anyway, within weeks, the initial backlash from the patrons had turned to concentrating on forming activist groups seeking to establish places where people could be open about their sexual orientation without getting arrested.
Arrested? Yup. Back then, there was a fairly strong anti-gay legal system in the USA, and police raids on gay bars were routine. Now, I am not one to condone violence. Even in this situation, it saddens me to think that it came down to that seeming like the best way forward. However, the end result of the debacle was one that was sorely needed. Life is still not perfect for people on the LGBT+ spectrum, whether that be due to areas still supporting anti-gay legislation or through sheer discrimination by everyone from family and friends to random strangers. It is a lot better than it was though and, at only 33, I count myself lucky to have been born when and where I was.
Now, to start with, I wanted to talk about something that has been on the rise in recent years: awareness of terms outside the better-known Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender bracket. Back when I was working within the Civil Service, I held the role of National Bisexuality Officer. In fact, I held that role right up until the day I left the company. During this time, one thing that I was trying to do was to ensure that there were internal resources available to help people understand other terminology. You see, whether I class as Bisexual or Pansexual really depends on your definition. I believe that people should be able to identify however they wish in terms of gender, and how they identify makes no difference to me in terms of attraction. In that respect, if you view bisexuality as ‘an attraction to both males and females,’ it doesn’t fit so well. If you view it as ‘an attraction to same and differing genders,’ it fits fine.
Regardless though, I wanted to use this posting to give a few definitions for terms that you may or may not have come across. I do not claim to be an expert, of course, and I can only claim to have a larger working knowledge of the terms that apply to me personally, but I do believe that the below is accurate. If I’m wrong, please do tell me below so that I can make corrections! Now, let’s begin …
Aromantic: A person who experiences no romantic attraction to others, regardless of gender. Aromantic people are comfortable in friendship based or other non-romantic relationships.
Asexual: A person who does not experience a sexual attraction to anyone, regardless of their gender. Known as Aces, asexual people do feel romantic attractions and do form relationships on this basis.
Demiromantic: A person who has little to no capacity to experience romantic attraction until a strong emotional or sexual connection is formed with another individual, sometimes within a sexual relationship.
Demisexual: A person who has little to no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong emotional or romantic connection is formed with another individual, sometimes within a romantic relationship.
Gender Fluid: A person whose internal gender perception is a mix of male and female. They may always feel like a mix of the two genders, or they may feel more one way than the other at different times.
Gender Non-Conforming: A person whose gender expression falls outside the traditional representation of a masculine male or feminine female. Sometimes also used to describe someone who identifies as outside the gender binary.
Pansexual: A person who experiences attraction to people regardless of their place on the gender spectrum.
Polyamory/Polyamorous: The practice of (or desire to have) honest, consensual non-monogamous relationships. This can include both open relationships and polyfidelity, where three or more people are involved in a romantic/sexual sense without the scope for additional partners. The arrangement of the relationship is sometimes referred to as a constellation.
Skoliosexual: A person that is primarily attracted to transgender or non-binary individuals.
Third Gender: A person who does not identify as male or female, but instead as a different gender.
NOTE: There are also other terms, a lot of which can be found at THIS LINK.
Of course, someone could fit under more than one term too. For example, you could be Ace, Polyamorous in a romantic sense, and identify as Gender Non-Conforming.
This being the website-week about my own work though, how does this all fit in with that? Well, a lot of my connection to the subject matter comes through in my stories. Now, I’ve stated before that I don’t sit down with the intent of writing a story that specifically represents x or y, and that’s true. Personally, I find that my work can get a bit stilted and feel less authentic if I intentionally try to focus on one aspect, at least in most cases. Honestly, it just works better if I set myself on a general course and just let things happen naturally.
That being said though, I do tend to be fairly inclusive. For example, The Spark Form Chronicles features a same gender couple, one of whom is bisexual. When I realised that I was heading down that route, I decided to take specific steps to ensure that this aspect was represented in a positive light. For more on that, take a look at my BiVisiblity Day 2015 post where I talk about my experiences growing up, the negative stereotyping out there, and how I sought to avoid it in my writing.
Then, in my current novel Addict, the protagonist is a lesbian PI who engages in a slow-burning romance with her client. Again, one thing was key here: realism. OK, so the book has been described as Sam Spade meets Blade Runner, and it features a group of people who use body implants in conjunction with flexible metal costumes to roleplay as animals, but that doesn’t mean that the characters can’t be real. In fact, one of the things that i’m most proud of is that the character’s flirtation was described by one reviewer as showing a realistic progression. This is not designed to be a book about stereotypes, but rather a realistic portrayal of two people falling for each other in a near-future world. As to where it goes from there, the as-yet-untitled sequel to Addict also features a character rumoured to identify as Gender Non-Conforming. The challenge for me there will be to broach that properly within the book, but without taking the reader out of the story.
Here’s the thing though; Not all of my characters fit within the LGBT+ spectrum. Yes, my stories prominently feature protagonists that do, but they aren’t the only people in my worlds. The majority of the POV characters in The Spark Form Chronicles are at the very least in heterosexual relationships, even if their orientation isn’t directly mentioned. Meanwhile, Addict sees plenty of heterosexual characters in supporting roles.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m always proud to see my work rank highly in the LGBT kindle lists, but I do want them to feature a good cross-section of society. To me, that’s the important part. The Stonewall Riots and subsequent Civil Rights Movement did not take place to allow LGBT+ people to scream I’m different. They came about because, no matter what our differences, we are all people, and when you come down to it, we’re all the same in that regard. I like to show a wide spectrum of characters because that’s what the world is: a melting point of diversity. Displaying a mix of characters that all exist together is, to me, the best way to show that a shared society is both normal and achievable.
In truth, I am not someone who has helped push equality forward to any great degree, but I view the little steps that I can take as important. Right now, that equates to presenting the society that I believe we should strive for through my stories. If that helps anyone at all, even if it’s simply by giving someone in a rough spot something to enjoy or a character to relate to, then that’s a success as far as I’m concerned.
Thanks for reading everybody.