Tag Archives: prejudice

That LGBT Thing & Writing Guidelines

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Benson Kua, Wikimedia

This post probably won’t be what you think it is. It’s about writing and my submission guidelines for Alice Unbound but it’s about more than that. The above letters refer to people of various gender preferences or identities. It’s also called QUILTBAG, for ease of remembering the letters in the acronym.

It is very common to now see a statement in submission guidelines that states something like: “Submissions from the QUILTBAG community are accepted/encouraged/not discriminated against.” The words vary but the intent is the same: inclusion. That’s the basis, though I’m not sure of the full evolution of this in terms of writing.

As some point in the past, someone or some people felt there was a prejudice against  gay or lesbian people or those identifying with any other version of gender identity. I’m going to state this here first, though I’m sure to offend someone. I’m an egalitarian. I believe in equal rights and the same treatment for all people. Now I’ve judged and juried several writing competitions and awards, edited some magazines/zines and a couple of anthologies. And even before I did any of these things I was a reader. Never did I choose to read a person because of their color, their gender or who they liked to have sex with. In fact, the latter especially is none of my business. I read because I liked the story and I went back to the same author because I liked their style.

As an editor and juror, I read for great stories first. I may know by a person’s name whether they’re female or male, but not necessarily. I don’t know if they’re a person of color or if they’re gay and asexual, or bi-curious, or bi, or gender fluid. And really, as far as I’m concerned, it does not matter. I’ve never submitted a story and said, hey, I’m a white girl whose Italian mother was ostracized by my father’s Scandinavian family, and I’m bisexual but only like black guys and white women. (Some of this statement is true and some is fiction, but again, it doesn’t matter. Some of that statement could be valid in submission, if the magazine only published Italian writers, or people of color. And likewise, the anthology I’m editing must have Canadian or residents of Canada as writers.) It is nobody’s business and has absolutely nothing to do with my writing. I also would feel uncomfortable stating any of this while submitting to an anthology/magazine, because I want my story to be chosen on its merit; not who I know, who I bed or how I identify.

Now, I’m not saying that there has been no prejudice. There probably has been in some cases or some areas. I just have lived in a bubble and don’t know about it overall but I don’t know every magazine out there. But an editor reading relatively unknowns from different geographies isn’t going to know these things about a person, unless that person is already known to them, or tells them. So where does this prevalence for guidelines saying “LGBT welcome” come from? I’m not sure. Some is general gender awareness and the rise of equality for gay and lesbian rights, and then more awareness of other gender identities/preferences. It’s only natural that it would get tagged into something as powerful as writing. And in the speculative genre, some might say that there has been a predominance of white Amerocentric characters, while at the same time, and long ago, speculative fiction was one of the first places where strong female characters and other types of sexual relationships were explored, even if it was once white men only writing them (and Samuel Delaney). Robert Heinlein was a product of his times but he was exploring identity and genders in his own way decades ago. Spec fiction has always been open to pushing boundaries. And yes, some female writers started out with male names to stop any prejudice against women.

This blog piece has evolved from comments on a thread where I posted the guidelines and someone said, why list this LGBQT stuff? At the same time, another person said editors were lazy for posting this and should solicit people directly. So let’s address that aspect.

If I have open submissions and the anthology is not invitational, then to solicit specifically from a transgendered person, or a gay person means I’m giving preferential treatment over other people. It’s an open submission and I’m an egalitarian. Second, editors don’t always have time to solicit this person and that. I’d have to start researching writers I know of, as opposed to those just starting out where there would be little to research, to find out who is gender fluid, transgender, asexual, bi, gay, lesbian, etc. to solicit a story from each of them. And I’m sure to leave someone out and cause more ill feeling. And then what about the hetero people, or cisgender? By being equal and fair, I list the guidelines so anyone can submit. Just send great stories.

Well then, why are you encouraging QUILTBAG in your guidelines? Because, if you don’t these days, someone is sure to attack you as being prejudiced. And in Canada, many small presses receive grant funding from provinces and the federal gov’t. Those governing bodies also require fair and equal attention to all types of writers. The statement is pretty much standard. So, if anyone of color or whatever gender identity feels like they might be ostracized or blacklisted, this tells them that they are not. And again, I’m really not going to know 99% of people’s gender identities or preferences.

Lion and unicorn, Alice, Through the Looking Glass

Lion or unicorn, or girl, you’re welcome to submit to Alice Unbound. Sir John Tenniel illustration.

In the end, as I’ve said before, I read for good stories. I don’t even read the submission letters first, and I don’t care who you have sex with. And please, don’t tell me. I don’t need to know. It’s none of my business and I will not reject or buy your story because you are any of the above. However, sometimes for those grants, if the publisher says, yes we had three transgendered writers, then that might help with more grant funding. Exile Editions actually has authors sign (voluntarily) a form that discloses if they are a minority of any type, but it doesn’t affect my selection.

And to those who decided to call editors lazy, try being an editor first before you make that statement. To close this post, I’ll state again, I’m an egalitarian. I don’t care who you are, or how you identify. I care that I have the best stories to emulate the premise for Alice Unbound.

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What Egalitarian Means

They called it Women’s Lib or Feminism. They called it Black Power. They called it Gay Pride. They  called it the Suffragette Movement. It has had many names but what it all boils down to is equal rights. Yes, equal rights, that every person, regardless of race, gender, sexual preference or religion should have equal rights.

I realized a while back that I’m not really a feminist, and it’s too bad some people color that as a negative thing (misconstruing it with feminazis who are adamant, woman over the expense of others hard noses). I am an egalitarian. Whether I am that color, that race, that gender, it matters not. Everyone should have a fair chance.

Obviously, I was raised in a culture that alows women certain rights, that also has laws about human rights. In my lifetime those rights have changed, allowing in most places across Canada gay marriage, recognizing discrimination. It’s not perfect and there are still obvious cases of discrimination, racial profiling, bigotry and hate crimes. Otherwise we wouldn’t hear about these in the news.

I think everyone needs to be given a fair shake. Unfortunately, everyone is born into different circumstances. They may be in a country that lacks human rights, that treats women as chattel, that considers a race inferior, that has poverty, corruption and disease. They might be born into a family with too many kids and not enough money to feed them, into royalty, with physical or mental defects, into a loving family, a hateful neighborhood, a low populated farming population. They could be affected by war, drought, flooding, car accidents, rape, murder, economic collapse, disease, love, hate, generosity, prejudice, fear, etc. There are thousands of ways that each person begins a life without being on even footing with everyone else.

This does not mean that we should just accept this status quo, that it’s your lot in life and you should therefore accept it and not strive above your station. If that were the case, women would still not have the vote, black people would still be slaves in the US, Japanese would still be in interment camps in BC, royalty would still be ruling… Oh, right, we still have that. I am inherently against monarchies whether figureheads or leaders, because they did not attain their position through popular vote. They get to be “royal” and rich because they inherit the position. Sure, we the people might vote in a scoundrel (Bush comes to mind) but it is the bed we make ourselves (mostly, but not all in Bush’s case), not the bed we are shoved into.

Inheriting the family business is one thing but not if it’s nominative ruler of a country. In an election everyone  who runs should have a fair shake at winning. That’s being egalitarian. Of course we have examples of sham elections, fudged ballots such in Iran and with Mugabe’s tyranny in Zimbabwe or Bush’s suspect election in the US. When something becomes unfair as the rigged elections of these rulers, it really bothers me. It’s not fair, the rules for everyone having a “fair chance” are tossed out.

When it comes to subjugation of women and children, and in some places men as well, I cannot understand how someone could treat a person as inferior because they are of a different sex. We’re all human beings. We must work together to survive and because one sex bears the fruit of the race does not make them inferior. To keep someone subjugated means that they aren’t allowed to do things or make their own decisions, that they are possessions of another. There have slaves of various races and there are slaves of gender. No matter how you cut it, it is still slavery, one human owning another.

There are people that believe in religious freedom but only if it applies to them. They then think that “those people over there” need to be converted or are Satan’s minions or the infidel. They shouldn’t do it that way. To convert someone by sword or gun serves only to give lip service to a religion not build true faith. It would definitely backfire with me, for no matter what I said to preserve my life I would grow to hate and detest the “faith” that was trying to convert me. In essence, should a person’s faith require them to wear an icon, a seven-pointed hat, a tattooed forehead or robes with pink polka dots, it is up to them. They shouldn’t, no matter what they claim, have a faith that requires them to subjugate, beat, murder, rob or otherwise denigrate another human being. What has been done in the name of religion is inexcusable. Basic human rights is what it comes down to.

So yes, I’m an egalitarian to the bone. It is such a fundamental part of my being that it could never be removed. Am I perfect in my philosophy, free of judgment and prejudice in all things. No. Cultural and societal conditioning, moires and values can sway and color us. I too have to watch for attitudes sneaking in which could prejudice me against someone. Difference is sometimes a hard thing for people to accept.

A person should get the fairest chance at life. That means through skill and experience should someone get the job, not through age, or gender, or looks, or color or religion. It should be on what the best person can do. If that goes to a white guy fine. If it seems there are too many white guys and not enough women or people of color then don’t rig requirements for a job or admission into something by that criteria because it is reverse discrimination. Instead, make is possible for those people to attain better educations if they have come from limited circumstances, no matter who they are.

I know there are many connotations to fairness and that ethical equations come into play, sometimes protect a culture or a way of life. But to me the basic rule applies, do what you will, as long as it hurts no one else. And everyone should get a fair chance at life and all its aspects and not be limited due to how we were born.  Overall, I don’t think it’s a bad way to live my life, trying to consider the rights of others and working to make sure they get a fair shake.

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Police Recruitment: Beat a Brownie

Here’s a new recruitment poster for police forces in BC. Something that more fits the bill.

XYPD (fill in your favorite force here)  is looking for a few good white men. You must be in great physical condition and have good coercion skills. A narrow-minded attitude is an asset. You should have failed your degree in criminology or have no education beyond high school. Blind obedience, anger and a need for power are why you want to join the force.

 Considered an asset:

  • bigotry
  • beating innocent people
  • racism
  • drunk and disorderly behavior while off duty
  • stupidity
  • bullying
  • prolonged and unprovoked use of a Taser
  • able to swear more colorfully than a sailor
  • will dump drunk people in cold and inhospitable places
  • creative excuses
  • a criminal record (physical violence, bribes, blackmail, drugrunning)
  • will shoot instead of subduing
  • will shoot and ask questions later

If you think you have the wrong stuff and know you can prove you’re a tough rookie, join XYPD today. Going places with power. Judge Dredd is our hero.

Who is Judge Dredd? A British comic book character in the future Britain who is strict, harsh and follows the letter of the law. In this future world police are also judge, jury and executioner. Though in fact I believe Dredd does have some scruples. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_Dredd

Police in BC are fighting a marred image that has come after such cases as the drunk Native man dumped in an alley and found frozen to death, the highly publicized death of Robert Dziekański (5 Tasers to the chest) Cases of corruption and now the latest public relations nightmare hasn’t helped the sinking ship of a police force that is supposed to uphold the law, not abuse it and use it for their own means.

Last Tuesday, January 20, three off-duty policemen took it upon themselves to beat up a man who delivered papers to the hotels. Phil Khan had been delivering papers for seven years, was well known on his regular route and was only doing his job, when  a guy started asking for directions, verbally abusing him. Khan is a Muslim and of brown skin.

The guy proceeded to beat him and when a cab driver dropped of two other guys, they joined in on kicking and beating the man who was crying out for help. When the cab driver and others told them to stop, they said they were the police and told the guy they were beating that they had a Taser and would use it on him. One of them said that they didn’t like “brown people.”

Obviously they’d been drinking but three off-duty cops, one from Delta, one from New Westminster and one from West Vancouver who were stupid enough to beat a person and then tell everyone that they were cops really shouldn’t be on the force. Let’s not mention a racist hate crime here. And this is the police force. Whether on or off-duty they’re supposed to uphold the law, not abuse it.

It used to be that you couldn’t get a job on the police force if you had a record. These days it’s becoming par for the course. Two of these cops are now on desk jobs awaiting word of the investigation while a third still patrols the beat, (and perhaps threatens other people). The investigation by the Vancouver police department has yet to net charges but there were witnesses: two city workers, a MacDonald’s worker, a cab driver who tried to stop it until the guys said they were cops.

But someone did call 911 and when the police came they handcuffed Phil Khan. Of course, if in doubt as to who to incarcerate, go for the colored guy. Now probably these three stooges who decided to boot the guy about also told the cops that they were cops, which went well until the witnesses said, no you’ve cuffed the victim. Then the three were arrested. All I can say is with the rep the cops have it almost makes more sense to trust the criminals these days. But then they’ll soon be hired to be the new police force.

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Carleton Votes Against Cystic Fibrosis

Carleton University is getting more attention than they want right now. The Student Association voted against fundraising for cystic fibrosis, something they’ve been doing for more than 25 years. Although one council member argues that they wanted to rotate charities, the statement that cystic fibrosis was primarily a white man’s disease was a deciding factor.

Yoicks! Where have the brains of students gone? As it turns out, CF affects as many girls as boys (not men here, many young people). From what I remember from anthropology there are three distinct racial groups: Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid, where specific physical and genetic traits differentiate them. The Caucasoid or Caucasian group includes white people, some North American First Nations, Indians, people from the Middle East and Europe. Many of them have brown skin but they’re of the caucasoid group. Not to mention many people are of mixed race and therefore can be black and white.

So, the Carelton U council got their facts wrong. But let’s say their facts were right, that the disease they were fundraising to help eradicate only affected white men. What if they then had voted this in, as they thought they were? It seems some people can’t see the reverse racism here. Should a person suffer because they are of a certain color, or a certain gender, even if it is the one we joke about as the least popular: white male? Should a child suffer because he was born a white boy?

Sickle cell anemia predominantly affects black people. Other diseases affect particular ages, or races or genders. Should one disease be barred from research or its victims from the benefits of such research because of this. Carleton U Student Association, time you guys took a class on ethics.

I’m all for equality but that means not biasing one group over another, not favoring one and not ostracizing any. If Carleton had voted to rotate their charity, that would have been a different story. But they didn’t. It’s sad to think that people get so caught up in being politically correct that they don’t see how incorrect they have really become. And in case anyone doubts the words, here is their motion:

Whereas Orientation week strives to be inclusive as possible
Whereas all orientees and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve their diverse communities
And whereas cystic fibrosis has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men
Be it further resolved that: The CUSA representatives on the incoming Orientation Supervisory Board work to select a new broad reaching charity for orientation week.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2008/11/25/ot-081125-shinerama.html

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Homophobia and the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf

The school district of Abbotsford is at it again. A high school course is being offered called Social Justice. It deals with issues and rights for animals, gay people, races, gender, etc. This is a Ministry of Education approved course and outlines what Canadian law covers in terms of rights. It was approved to be offered this fall.

Typical of Abbotsford, where the school district has in the past banned various books because of their content, some of it being about gay people, they yet again stuck their noses in, in an effort to slow down the inevitable offering of this course.

Now Abbotsford is an interesting place. It’s nearly an hour from Vancouver and now that housing has become unaffordable for the average human in Vancouver or even Maple Ridge, people are buying out there. I have several friends who bought in Abbotsford but it’s history is more right wing. I was a book rep at one point and drove all over BC. Abbotsford was one place where religious fundamentalism raised its hoary head. I had to be very careful what I wore (taking off my extra rings) and what books I showed the bookstores. In one, even a pictorial depiction of Jesus was frowned upon. An interesting note is that this city contains many bikers as well as the bible thumpers. I’m sure it’s changing with more people moving out from Vancouver.

However, you still have that religious right screaming out about unsuitable materials in the school any time a true education is offered, especially if it involves homosexual content. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were trying to wheedle out content based on different races too. So Abbotsford school district pretending yet again that they’re just doing a “normal” (for them, maybe) review process smacks too much of the same ole prejudices. They’re the little boy crying wolf.

Yet again we have people who purport to be Christians, those who should “love thy neighbor” and to “turn the other cheek” should something offend them. Yet they get all riled up when “those people” don’t live by their values. I just can’t figure out what it matters to anyone else. Hold your religion and beliefs in your heart and don’t push them onto others. Compassion? Puhleeze. It’s only given to those who tow the line the way the fundamentalists want. How hypocritical. Really, who a person has sex with (as long as it’s not your spouse or someone under age) is no one else’s business. I could decide that in my religion the color blue was “eeeevil” and then start running around and trying to get it banned or not allowing books that mentioned blue in the schools .

Everyone might think me a kook but should my religion get more followers we could then form a cadre and start ostracizing people based on their blueness. If I don’t want blue around me, fine, but realize that other people live by other beliefs and it’s none of your business. They don’t need “saving” and they don’t want it. I really wish fundamentalists of every religion would take a reality pill and chill out. Let everyone live their lives and if they aren’t hurting someone else, let it be.

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