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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.
2,250 backers pledged $54,523 to help bring this project to life.

Personal Essay: "Halfway in the Pool" by James L. Sutter

Posted by Lightspeed Magazine (Creator)

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: "Halfway in the Pool" by James L. Sutter

I almost didn’t write this. Not because I don’t believe in this book—I adore the folks putting it together, and think it’s important for queer voices in SF to be heard. No, I almost passed because my first thought—and indeed my second and third—was “this space isn’t for me.”

 I’m bisexual. That makes me queer. I’m also white, cis-male, middle-class, married to a woman, and about every other quality that puts me right in the middle of the ol’ societal bell curve. People generally assume I’m straight, which means that I rarely encounter any sort of prejudice. Nobody questions my marriage. Nobody beats me up or disowns me. I haven’t suffered for the cause, so who am I to speak for it?

 That halfway-in-the-pool feeling has defined my sexuality for years. Maybe this describes you, too. Feeling like a fake in the straight world, and a poser among the queers. Hell, to some folks, bisexuals don’t actually exist—I’ve had sympathetic gay men explain to me that there’s no such thing as a bi man, and I shouldn’t be ashamed of being “the straight friend.” Despite being attracted to multiple genders, calling myself queer still feels like I’m wrapping myself in someone else’s flag.

 Which is why representation in science fiction—and everywhere—is important. Because every time a reader comes across a queer character in a story, it reinforces the idea that queers exist, and that they come in a million different shades and configurationsIf I had seen myself reflected in the books I read when I was younger—“Hey, that starfighter pilot likes ladies, but sometimes dudes, too!”—maybe it wouldn’t have taken me three decades to make sense of my own sexuality.

 As writers, we can educate and provide comfort to people we’ve never even met. We can reach those different from us not only through debate, but through immersion. We can lure people in with a good story and sucker them into tolerance. Prejudice rarely survives in the face of familiarity and friendship, and by making people fall in love with queer characters, we can make the world—the real world—more accepting.

 We can also help widen the scope. Queer culture has often been defined by struggle—but only because it had to struggle. At long last, we’re starting to see kids growing up queer without stigma. We’re racing toward a day when sexual preferences become no more significant than musical ones, and just as varied. A world where it’s acceptable not only to be queer, but to be a little queer.

 So if you’re worried you’re not queer enough to speak, that you don’t belong here—stop. You are, and you do. You’re a part of this, too.



James L. Sutter is a co-creator of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Senior Editor for Paizo Publishing. He is the author of the novels Death’s Heretic and The Redemption Engine, the former of which was ranked #3 on Barnes and Noble’s list of the Best Fantasy Releases of 2011, and was a finalist for both the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel and a 2013 Origins Award.

James has written numerous short stories for such publications as Escape Pod, Starship Sofa, Apex Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Geek Love, and the #1 Amazon bestseller Machine of Death. His anthology Before They Were Giants pairs the first published short stories of science fiction and fantasy luminaries with new interviews and writing advice from the authors themselves.

In addition, he’s published a wealth of gaming material for both Dungeons & Dragons and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. For more information, visit or follow him on Twitter at @jameslsutter.

Elya Arrasmith, Tasha Turner, and 17 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar


      YES! I'm glad you decided you belong - you sure do!

      - Another bi man (married to a man) ;-)

    2. Missing avatar

      Megan England on

      Yep, this brought tears. The words could have come from my own hands. Thank you for sharing this incredibly personal experience for those of us who have always felt so queer inside, but never queer enough for some.

    3. Missing avatar

      Breeanna Sveum on

      Oh, gosh. I'm pan (and maybe a tiny bit genderqueer? idk) and this was EXACTLY what I needed to read today. I frequently don't feel queer enough for queer spaces, and this was really helpful to read.

    4. Katrina Lehto

      I'm on the verge of crying at work because of this. Thank you for writing it.