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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.
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Personal Essay: "How Queer Narratives Beat the False-Consensus Effect, Reminded Me that Diversity Existed, Exploited Human Psychology, Inspired Sex Positivity, And Helped Me Stop Worrying (But Not to Love the Bomb)" by An Owomoyela

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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: "How Queer Narratives Beat the False-Consensus Effect, Reminded Me that Diversity Existed, Exploited Human Psychology, Inspired Sex Positivity, And Helped Me Stop Worrying (But Not to Love the Bomb)" by An Owomoyela

Here's the thing: I had a great sex-ed program. The Unitarian Universalist church developed a program called "Our Whole Lives," which tackles sexuality across multiple grade levels in a holistic sense, everything from relationships to communication to safe sex to cultural and social issues around the whole shebang. No abstinence-only for me; I distinctly remember instructional slides, and show-and-tells to introduce us to condoms and dental dams.

I don't think the program had much effect, on me.

I decided early on that this "sex" thing wasn't interesting, so I brushed off the information as a sort of background radiation. I'd already written sex off; why bother absorbing facts about it? But there was one thing that bothered me: why did so many people fixate on something so (obviously) pointless? Why were sex scenes damn near mandatory in books and movies, and why did everyone think that getting a boyfriend or girlfriend was the only game in town?

There's this thing called the false consensus effect, whereby we tend to think that everyone else thinks the way we do. In my case, this led to thinking that since sex itself wasn't interesting, there had to be some other reason everyone was so obsessed with it. A reason . . . like conspiracy.

So in high school I became convinced that sex was unnecessary, pointless, a low-value activity that culture had brainwashed people into demanding. Like pop-fashion shirts, or the latest poster for the latest band.

It lasted until someone pointed me toward the AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network) forums, and said, "Hey... this sounds like you." And so I was introduced to the greatest repository of asexual narratives on the internet.

Suddenly, the ambient culture made so much more sense.

The thing was, I had never been shown that my understanding of sex fell somewhere on a spectrum. The narrative I got was that everyone had a sex drive, and I was part of "everyone," so everyone shared my experience. Right?

Humans are hardwired to respond to narratives. If I'd had stories that showed people opting out of sex, I would have been a much less bitter teen. Recognizing that not everyone experienced sex the same way—that the single narrative in the stories surrounding me was false—let me recognize and support the diverse sexual experience of others.

Learning about asexuality made me sex-positive in a way that preaching sex positivity never could have.

But there are other narratives I still don't see—though now I can see that they're missing. Narratives like how the relationships I form can still be intimate and valuable without the sticky glue of sex holding them together. Or how those relationships spring into being, when not propelled by sexual desire. There are people like me out there, who might not have a friend to point them to AVEN—who might be waiting for a story that helps them make sense of it all.

So what do you do, when you don't have the cultural maps you need? When you have to invent a whole mode of intimacy that no one believes in?

You roll up your sleeves and say, "Let's queer things up."

The culture of intimacy we've been sold is abridged. It's time to make some unauthorized amendments. The more we each speak up, the more space exists for all of us.

So grab a pen, and join me.

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An (pronounce it "On") Owomoyela is an asexual neutrois author with a background in web development, linguistics, and weaving chain maille out of stainless steel fencing wire, whose fiction has appeared in a number of venues including Clarkesworld, Asimov's, Lightspeed, and a handful of Year's Bests. An's interests range from pulsars and Cepheid variables to gender studies and nonstandard pronouns, with a plethora of stops in-between.  Se can be found online at an.owomoyela.net, and can be funded at patreon.com/an_owomoyela .

Geoffrey Rabe, Jona Fras, and 13 more people like this update.

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