Or why do I let gay characters in my stories.
Growing up in an all-white, all-Christian, mostly Catholic, society which is still well embedded in patriarchy mould. Where wars are waged by religious differences, like: they don’t honour Pope, we do, lately, and: they are Muslim pagans, before. And nationality being tied to those religious beliefs.
As a white, raised Catholic, on the right side of the war, you’d expect that I’ll be privileged enough to endorse my surrounding core beliefs.
How it came to be that I’ve became so strongly connected to diversity as an idea, which just can’t be displayed properly in a society as ours, and so passionate about gay rights (or as many around me would call it: Gay agenda)?
Well, as I learned while growing up, discrimination isn’t tied to saturation with diversity. Discrimination is fuelled with strive for homogeneous being, for confirmation of your world view. That drives people, not only to seek those who think, feel, and look like them, but to single out those who oppose them, who challenge their core beliefs.
It’s like we all seek security through war. I’ll beat you and that will show that I’m right.
The less diversity society has, smaller are the details that can make you an outcast.
You would think that being a girl made me feel the difference, but maybe our society is so sure in its patriarch that being nasty to women generally isn’t necessary.
I think that being a thinker made me stand out. Not in any especially rude way (well maybe I was rude one, being a girl and talking back to everyone). But you feel when you’re looked as someone strange. Mostly in a whimsical way (I know it’s a way to dismiss a woman but I didn’t mind, I was still young enough, I didn’t need to be taken seriously) so I’ve played with it embellishing my image accordingly.
You can say that I had fun with it.
I’ve adopted silly ideas like equality and justice very early on. I’ve fought racist remarks (which are easy to groom in absence of anyone matching the description), skirted nationality issues (they are much too much inflammatory and they all yell for themselves loud enough), engaged in feminist discourse (but much more engaged ladies are on the case and things are moving along where everyone agrees women’s rights are normal, and both women and men just slip into gender role routine), and in religious debates I’m out of the table completely (that’s whole another post).
Where do gay rights kick in?
I had no one to discuss them with.
You’d think that’s not a problem, but that meant there was no voice for gay people anywhere. There was no platform to turn to, no support, no books, nothing (bear in mind it was nineties I grew up in).
There was internet in making but nothing local.
I myself was so aware of general homophobic feeling that I had guilt issues in being so passionate against it.
Now I could argue that I subconsciously knew that one (only one that confessed by now, I hate that I have to use word confess here, he accidentally told me would be more accurate) of my close friends I grew up is gay. But I don’t think I was so in tuned or had premonition. I’ve considered was he gay or not, but never cared enough to force it out of him. What’s it to me what he likes in bed? He a good friend and that’s what matters.
When I think back now I think it was the silence that was frightening to me. The one family of black people we had in the city, or few families of Asians that turned up opening shops, were clearly seen. If anyone touch them everybody would know and it was that one time of national shame. (I keep forgetting about Gypsy’s our invisible minority but that’s not this post.)
But for gay people, which statistically had to be around and among us, you couldn’t stand out for. You just didn’t know them, especially while they grew up pretending to look in the same direction others are watching.
So I did what I knew best. I wrote stories. Normal stories, without special intention, just letting gay characters in. It was luck really (or I see it as luck) that my first published story was a gay one, it had closeted middle aged man talking to God, and few later ones too. But it didn’t really had any impact on society at all, not reactions, nothing. I’ve pitched my gay collection of short stories around but it didn’t fit anyone’s bill.
That’s how Torchwood found me. You can think of it small and silly but to see on our national television two men kissing (my timing was perfect I landed exactly before Captain Jack kissed Captain Jack). Of course I had to find out everything about it, got entangled in Doctor Who, and read fan fiction (I didn’t write it until Ianto died). It was exhilarating to find people playing away with gayness, pain and oddness. Then Ianto died and I went on a quest to make it right. I respect Russel T Davies and his artistic vision, but I got tired of crying my eyes out for gay characters who die to make an impact. I want some who lead ordinary lives and do stuff, not necessarily sexual, to be humans who happen to be gay not the other way around (there is a difference).
Brokeback Moutain was the epitome of that. The movie my gay friend took me wondering will it affect me (we were well in our twenties and he was still closeted in front of me, who shared my gay stories with him). I’ve cried for days, and then wrote 70 pages piece where two closeted gay men eat, drink, bake cakes, change jobs, discuss life and end up in bed at the end of it (I still haven’t published that anywhere I just gave it to my friend and am reading it every time I accidentally watch Brokeback, it’s a therapy really). That was before I discovered fan fiction.
So when Ianto died horribly I started a story that still lasts 700 pages and five years after. In meantime I wrote other stories and novels, published my first novel in Croatian, started various other fics but none of them marked me as Torchwood one. Why?
Because I’ve tried to preserve the show and give it a more bearable twist.
Being a white, fairly straight woman I have my own agenda. One that might not appeal to everyone. I want to normalize diversity. Not just gay one. Because it seems to me that our society is neurotic one at least. Obsessed with repeating same patterns, praising equality and diversity while letting our stories follow same rules, endorsing same qualities.
That relates to my various topics like plastic, family, god, voice, representation. For others are high pitched voices and protests. I’ll go on writing my little stories where people talk to each other, argue and make up, where aliens are mostly absent and people are trying to find a way to live beside each other.
What is your obsession? Where do you differ?