|Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia|
Why Ignorance Is Not Bliss and Representation is Important
So, I am a genre writer and in many of my books some of my characters are gay, bi, asexual or otherwise not what would once have been called "normal". Science is finally proving that "normal" is a myth and so many things are a spectrum, but that is a whole other post. What I would like to talk about today is IGNORANCE and REPRESENTATION.
Today I firmly believe in equality for all in all things and that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia should be something we eradicate from our societies. However, I have to admit, I was not always so open minded. As a teenager I was not on the equality train. And do you know why?
I was ignorant.
I grew up mostly in a time before the internet in small villages. There were no gay characters in the books I read or the TV I watched, unless they were the comic relief. I didn't even know bisexuals or transsexuals existed. I was not one of those people who thought gays should be hurt or killed, but I did think they were not like me, they were other and they should not be allowed to do things like adopt children. Yes, I am ashamed to admit, I was one of the "well it's okay if they keep it behind closed doors brigade".
I was wrong because I had no idea what I was talking about.
I shudder to think of some of the the things I once believed were true. I did not know any better because I had no reference except what I was being told. Do you know what changed that? The internet and fandom. When I went to Uni I began to see things were not as I had always been led to believe, but what really opened my eyes was the internet. I started using the internet properly while I was doing my PhD and I found my way into fandom.
Now this was a time when most fandoms ran via mailing lists and where slash (m/m) fiction often had to have its own list because it might upset people. Some people even argued that it all had to have an adult rating because m/m was an inherently adult concept. However, it was still far more open than I had ever experienced before.
I began reading fiction where my favourite characters were gay. Which led me to accept that being gay was simply an aspect of someone's being. It was not something other, something weird, something a bit wrong, it simply was.
I still didn't fully comprehend many things, but representation in fiction changed my views.
Then came Livejournal and so many wonderful people willing to educate those of us who did not know the realities that gay, lesbian, bi, trans, asexual and queer people face. And do you know what this has allowed me to do? It has allowed me to spread this knowledge, to change the views of people in my family from distant tolerance to acceptance and recognition.
I am a boringly white, straight cis female, I will never be able to completely understand what it is to be in the shoes of a gay person or a trans person or any such minority, but I can empathise and understand that all these phobic attitudes must stop. This came through representation.
Representation in fiction changed my mindset.
Never let is be said that representation is not important. It is important for so many reasons and this is mine.
Thank you very much for reading, please check out the competition below.
Were you born into an environment where you grew up understanding the issues LGBTAQ people face, or did you come to it later? Who is your favourite LGBTAQ character?
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