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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: "Here's How It Goes" by Alyssa Wong

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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: "Here's How It Goes" by Alyssa Wong

Here’s how it goes.

You are twelve years old and your heart itches with unrealized desire. You feel it every time you write, a new awareness echoing through the people populating your stories.

It will take you nine more years to come out to yourself. It will take another to begin telling others, to wear yourself with some modicum of comfort. But at twelve, with no locks on the doors and no privacy anywhere, your brain hums with duplicity, hard-edged survival, and stories full of feelings you can’t contain.

When you are fifteen, your mother will tell you that she’s changing hairdressers because she doesn’t want to give money to a gay man. When you are seventeen, your own crippled faith cuts your queer friends away because they look too much like you. When you are twenty-one, your mother will cry for months, send you admonishing emails, and refuse to watch your college play because your character is a lesbian.

You hide them in the back of your math notebook so your parents won’t find them. You write in code, you never let anyone kiss, but oh, you know. You turn to ultraviolence for skin-to-skin contact, but lack of emotional intimacy and trust fans the spark in you into self-destructive flames.

In your teenage years, you steal books from the library, hoarding them like the nerdiest Smaug. Swordspoint, The Will of the Empress--they change your life, the way you read and write about relationships. For the first time, you see that sometimes girls fall in love with girls and boys fall in love with boys. For the first time, you begin to realize that it’s okay.

That maybe you’re okay, too.

But those are books. In real life, you hide by going to church and ignore the way your face heats when you talk to your best friend, the way your heart lightens, buoyed by a heady mix of excitement and fear, every time she says, “Sure, I’ll hang out with you.”

Your mother comments on how close you two are and eyes you with suspicion. You laugh it off and watch your back.

Your writing suffers. Your characters are hollow, cored of their identities. You write until your hands and heart bruise, but it doesn’t get any easier. Your writing doesn’t get better. It feels stunted, and so do you.

It takes until you’re twenty-one to excavate that piece of you buried under sedimentary layers of fear, self-hatred, and guilt. You write your first openly queer story, and things begin to slot into place so fast that you can barely keep up.

Slowly, you stop being afraid.

When you stop self-censoring the queerness of your stories--when you stop mangling your writing and yourself trying to fit into a mold that was never, ever tenable--your writing explodes with life and color. When you stop denying your own existence, you finally start telling your stories the way they need to be told. You begin to reclaim their truth, your truth.

You are twenty-three and your heart still itches with desire, but your words are truer now, more focused, more powerful for it. When you write, it’s no longer about destruction of identity, but restoration.

_____

Alyssa Wong is a 2013 graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Black Static, and Tor.com, and her poetry is forthcoming at Uncanny Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @crashwong or at http://www.crashwong.tumblr.com.