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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: "Acceptance" by Arley Sorg

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: "Acceptance" by Arley Sorg

I don’t want your acceptance.

I want more. And Science Fiction is here to help.

When I hear those words, “I accept you for who you are,” my stomach goes queasy. I desperately craved those words in junior high and longed for them in high school. By college, I saw things in a different way.

Acceptance assumes a position of power. As if one person is overcoming distaste on behalf of another. As if they stand in judgment, waving a scepter: I accept you, despite what you represent! And just as one character in that conversation assumes a position of power, the other abases themselves, knowingly or not, giving up their agency by wanting or needing acceptance.

Power is only part of the problem. The heart of the problem is judgment. Perhaps (arguably) it’s natural to judge that which is “other,” even when the “otherness” is kind of similar to elements of one’s own persona or experience.

I think of my trips to Paris, specifically of the sense of strangeness that I enjoyed. I think of how I loved being overwhelmed by the size of the city. I delighted in the food, with flavors and styles similar-yet-different to where I’m from. I thrilled at the architecture, the shapes similar-yet-different to buildings and monuments that I pass all the time. I lavished in the sounds, the expressions, the exchanges, enjoying every moment.

When we talk about Queer and the notion of acceptance, the word isn’t synonymous with thrill, love, lavish, enjoy.

Acceptance is the very problem.

When you meet a new friend, you don’t tell them you accept them. You tell them how excited you are that you met. Perhaps you’re eager to learn from each other. Maybe you anticipate new adventures. You might just long for the challenges a new friend will bring; or bonding through select, shared perspectives.

I call upon you to move beyond acceptance, and to understand it as a flawed principle in which neither person really wins.

Science Fiction is a well-established venue for the exchange of ideas, and for challenging dominant or popular assumptions. It functions as a safe gateway to the strange; the reader often expects or craves the experience of strangeness. Simultaneously, it creates moments through which individuals find or develop shared perspectives.

At its best, Science Fiction is dialogue.

I want you to embrace the things that aren’t-quite-you. I want you to appreciate the ways in which someone might be different from you. I want you to value them, to get excited in meeting, to enter into discovery. I want you to learn; to edify each other through cultural exchanges.

These works offer a wonderful chance to interact with what you are not. This is an opportunity to participate in a conversation and to truly embrace the Other. From my perspective, it’s an invitation into worlds that you just might enjoy.

Don’t accept it.

Relish it!


Arley Sorg grew up in England, Hawaii and Colorado. He went to Pitzer College and studied Asian Religions. He lives in Oakland, and most often writes in local coffee shops. He has a number of short stories out at various markets and is hammering out a novel. A 2014 Odyssey Writing Workshop graduate, he works at Locus Magazine. He’s soldering together a novel, has thrown a few short stories into orbit, and hopes to launch more.

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