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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: "Drama Kid" by Cecil Baldwin

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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: "Drama Kid" by Cecil Baldwin

In reflecting on my modest acting career, I can’t help but notice a distinct lack of gay characters in the parts I have played. Tartuffe never seduced Orgon in alexandrine couplets while his outraged wife hid underneath their parlor table; Jaques did not get to cuddle up to Orlando beside the Duke’s campfire deep in the forest of Arden; and the typically Chekhovian bookish schoolteacher, alas, pined away for Masha and not her brother Andrey as they futilely attempt the journey to Moscow. Even in the contemporary plays I have worked on, there is a dearth of truly unforgettable, strong, and complex queer roles. When auditioning for mainstream television and film, I find myself contending for the “gay best friend” character whose only contribution to the plot are a few très bon mots and a wicked fashion sense. Gay is who they are, what they are, why they are and not much more.

There are only two exceptions to this shortage of queer representation in my body of work—the first is when writing and performing autobiographical work for the Neo-Futurists based on my own life and experiences as a gay man; and the second is for the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, as the host of a local community radio show where Cecil (yes, we share the same first name, to much delight and confusion) proudly discusses his love for another man. Just about every aspect of life in the small, desert town of Night Vale is strange and bizarre, everything except the main character’s healthy, adult gay relationship. Tiny civilizations under bowling alleys may attack, glowing clouds may drop small-to-moderate sized animals on the population, and librarians run amok with bloodthirsty abandon, but no one thinks twice about a gay man being the mouthpiece for their community. Cecil’s love life is not his defining character; it is simply one aspect of his rich and complicated existence.

Mainstream media is slowly catching on to the idea that gay, bisexual, and transgender characters can stand their ground in stories and genres of every kind. Not only can we be the heroes of our world, but also we are just as good at saving the day as our straight counterparts. Maybe some day soon I will get to play Hamlet and have a mind-blowing make out scene with Horatio, or maybe that is just my own wishful thinking.

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Cecil Baldwin is the narrator of the hit podcast Welcome To Night Vale. He is an active ensemble member of the New York Neo-Futurists, creating original work for the long-running show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. Cecil has also performed at The Shakespeare Theatre DC, Studio Theatre (including the world premier production of Neil Labute’s Autobahn), The Kennedy Center, The National Players, LaMaMa E.T.C., Emerging Artists Theatre, The Assembly, Rorschach Theatre and at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Film credits include The Fool in Lear with Paul Sorvino, Open Cam and sundry national commercials.

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