Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Queers Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED 100% written—and edited—by queer creators.
Queers Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED 100% written—and edited—by queer creators.
Queers Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED 100% written—and edited—by queer creators.
2,250 backers pledged $54,523 to help bring this project to life.

Personal Essay: "Speak Up, Speak Out" by Sandra Odell

16 likes

When we set out to destroy science fiction with this Kickstarter, we didn't want it to be your ordinary, run-of-the-mill campaign. We wanted it to be full of smashing, crashing queer voices, telling what it really means to be queer reading and writing science fiction. One of the ways we hope to do that is by sharing a series of personal essays about the experience of being queer in science fiction.  

Personal Essay: "Speak Up, Speak Out" by Sandra Odell

When I came out as a bisexual to my grandmother at the age of seventeen, she patted my hand said, “Oh, dear. It's only a phase.”

***

I started writing at the age of six, and submitted my first short story to a professional market at the age of twelve, a story about two young girls in love and their adventures with a horse who wanted to be a unicorn. I received my first personal rejection at the age of sixteen, spelled out in big red letters across the front page: WE DON'T PUBLISH STORIES ABOUT DYKES.

I didn't know dykes from dikes. All I knew was that I liked girls and boys, and figured if I couldn't find a story about girls like me, I would write one. It wasn't until I was well into my thirties that I realized magazines often refused to publish a story outside their perceptions of “the norm.”

***

What is normal? A complicated question to be sure, and no less so in science fiction, a genre that encourages readers to think outside the box. People who identify somewhere on the QUILTBAG scale have written, explored, and celebrated right along with their hetero-normative, cis-gendered peers. You might know some of them: David Gerrold; K.c. Ball; Arthur C. Clarke; Nicola Griffith; Rachel Pollack; Hiromi Goto; Charlie Jane Anders; Samuel R. Delany; Kelley Eskridge; Nisi Shawl; Henry Lien; Mary Anne Mohanraj; Nalo Hopkinson, and, and, AND . . . The list goes on, yet many risked their lives or more by refusing to keep quiet about their true selves.

For years, QUILTBAG authors have struggled to make their voices heard, and the QUEERS DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION project is a vital step along that steep path to the top of the genre mountain. Some will balk at another special, hoity-toity, why-can't-they-be-happy-with-the-way-things-are? issue. Others will decry this effort as another excuse to make a mountain out of a mole hill. I'll tell you a secret. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. We've taken this step, and we'll take the next, and the one after that. We're here, we're queer, and we refuse to keep quiet for the comfort of a close-minded few. Science fiction is all about making people uncomfortable, making them think, explore new ideas, look beyond their own limited perspective to the normal of this world and beyond.

Every step forward on this path is one step closer to our dream of equal representation. The dedication and hard work of those who have come before has lifted future authors who identify by a different norm to the stars. We don't have to hide in silence. We have the freedom to explore our own strange new worlds and others like us to come along.

I'm still here, Grandma, it's not just a phase, and I'll be here tomorrow. Writing. I have too many stories waiting to be heard: “Don't be afraid. Speak up, speak out. Let me show you what we can be when we see ourselves as more than stereotypes.”

________________________________________________________________________

Sandra Odell is an avid reader, compulsive writer, and rabid chocoholic. She attended Clarion West in 2010. Her first collection of short stories was released from Hydra House Books in 2012. She is currently hard at work avoiding her first novel.