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Let me start with a geology story. I promise, there’s a point to this.

When I was a geologist at the research company, I had a core come in. There was a ten foot section of it that I didn’t know how to describe. It was fine-grained, filled with burrows. So far so good. But the mineralogy was… puzzling. Not enough dolomite to be described as a dolostone, not enough clay to be described as a mudrock, not enough quartz sand and silt to be described as some kind of sandstone or siltstone. It sat basically at the nexus of all possible rock types for that environment and was definitively none of them. In absolute frustration, I dubbed it “shit rock” and wrote all my reports and captions accordingly.

Of course, this is a business. I couldn’t actually turn in reports to the client with the term “shit rock” used. So I had a long talk with my boss. The problem with geology, he explained, is that everything we work on is a continuum. So there will always be something that falls in that liminal state where you’re not quite sure what it is, and even if you wanted to do battle with the rest of the community to coin a new term, you’d just be replacing one borderland with two. You can write definitions all day that will define 99.999% of all the rocks out there, but then some son of a bitch is going to come in with the 0.001% case because there are a lot of rocks on Earth, and one in a million things happen more often then any of us can grasp.

There will always be rocks that defy easy classification. You eventually just have to dip your toe into the art rather than science and describe it how you feel fits best – and then be ready to defend your decision.

Which comes to me. A little while ago on Twitter, I said:

And then while I was taking a shower, because all my most important thinking happens in the shower or when I’m supposed to be trying to fall asleep, I realized that it was an empty thing to say without the rest of this post.

I’ve been nibbling at the edges of this for a while, trying to figure things out. But maybe it’s the scientist in me, I don’t like committing to anything unless I’m absolutely certain – and the thing about life is that absolute certainty is in shorter supply than most people would like to believe. Because what if I’m wrong? How do I defend something that I’m still figuring out? But I don’t feel like I have the luxury of wibbling quietly into the night any more.

Because you see, in this way, gender’s got something in common with geology. Everything works on a continuum. You will always find cases that defy classification, and no matter how frustrating that is, they don’t go away. And that is part of the beauty of the world, trust me.

So how do I define myself? Queer, for certain. Sometimes it’s easier to tell people what a rock – or yourself – isn’t than what it is. I’m not female. I don’t quite think I’m male either, but I’d have to give it a good few years try out before I could say for certain. Fuck knows, it’s taken me something like 34 years to figure out the “not female” bit, but GOD it has been a relief since I reached that conclusion. So my big request here is to please use a gender-neutral pronoun (they) if possible. Or if you just can’t make that work in your brain, because I know the verb conjugation gives people mental cramp at times, masculine (he).

And please, call me Alex. It started out as… not a joke, precisely, when I came up with my pen name. But it’s grown on me, like a much more comfortable skin.

But there’s a point to this, and it’s not just me sitting at my keyboard and crying. I’ve been doing that too often in the last forty-eight hours.

When I was a baby queer growing up surrounded by kids and adults who thought “smear the queer” was a perfectly acceptable name for a game that involved throwing balls at other people so hard it gave them bruises (and I was one of those kids, because at the time I didn’t know better), it was invaluable to me when I started seeing LGBT people openly be themselves. It told me that there were more options that I knew, that maybe I didn’t have to keep trying to jam myself into a mold I didn’t fit, and I could be happy.

Since the election yesterday, there’s already been countless stories of racism, sexism, and homophobia being flung at people with renewed abandon. I live in a place where it’s relatively safe – swing state turned pretty reliably blue state Colorado, in the Denver-Boulder area – to be out. So I think that I need to be as out as possible even if I’m not entirely happy with my R-squared values, because now more than ever it’s important to make it known that we exist. That we will not go away. That people who are like me, who live in environments where they are not safe, are not alone even if they can only hold that truth silently in their heart.

Sometimes, merely living, existing, is an act of defiance, denying the narrative that we are fictional, or merely confused, or unhappy, or intrinsically broken.

Let this be my act of defiance. Let this be the first of many.

– Alex

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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So apparently the new Constantine isn’t going to be bisexual or a total fiend for cigarettes, but hey at least they managed to make him blond this time? That’s a brave creative choice there, guys. There is so much about this article that just gets on my pecs that I already ranted about it on Twitter, but I still have more than enough froth to lay it all out in long form too.

I really don’t give that much of a shit if Constantine smokes. Yes, there’s been some plot connected to it. And yes it’s part of the character’s image, but considering smoking is bad for you and there’s a concerted effort to make it less glamorous in the media, fine. I can buy that. But the bisexuality thing? I mean, I get that bisexuality has a long history of being portrayed as glamorous in the media and that there is a definite public health concern Oh wait, no. Wrong paper. Here’s right right one. It reads: fuck you.

When asked about this at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour Sunday, executive producer Daniel Cerone ran down the various editions of the character that have existed since the demon fighter was introduced in 1985 to suggest his sexuality is not a crucial aspect of the character (nearly all of the character’s relationships in the comics have been with women). “In those comic books, John Constantine aged in real time,” he said. “Within this tome of three decades [of comics] there might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man. So [maybe] 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans.”

So let me get this straight:

  1. Being bisexual totally isn’t important to the character.
  2. In fact, it’s so unimportant that we are making a conscious choice to leave it out.
  3. I mean, he mostly bangs women anyway, and that’s all that matters. He’s barely bisexual at all. You wouldn’t even know to look at him.
  4. Sexuality is so unimportant and he screws so few men, he’s basically heterosexual, amirite?
  5. And maybe we’ll make him bisexual in twenty years, so quit your whining.

Am I missing any part of this absolutely scintillating argument? (Also, double bonus fuck you points to EW for spending almost the entire piece on the issue of the cigarettes because that’s totally more important than representation.)

What really chaps my ass is the way this just reiterates and promulgates the idea that bisexuality is something that is defined by outside observation, instead of something we get to define from within ourselves. It’s not math. You’re not bisexual just because you you’ve crossed some magical ratio threshold and they take away your straight or gay card and replace it with a license for wanton promiscuity, confusion, or other bullshit stereotype of your choice. I’d still be bisexual even if I died without ever having a girlfriend. Why? Because I fucking said so.

It’s hurtful. It’s insulting. How can it be anything but hurtful and insulting (and goddamn frustrating) when we basically get told over and over again that we’re lying, mistaken, or just plain wrong about one of the most intimate, personal matters of our own goddamn lives?

Look, I totally get that it’s not easy to viscerally understand how someone can be attracted to something you’re not. But unless you’re a giant asshole, we’re way past the point where matters like love and attraction get discussed as a matter of choice. And here’s the thing: you don’t have to understand how we can be attracted to both men and women. You just have to accept that we know better than you how our own thoughts and emotions work since we’re the ones thinking and feeling and shut the fuck up.

Our sexuality is not defined by interaction with our environment or by your observation thereof. We’re not fucking Schrodingersexual. This is not rocket science. This is basic respect.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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I have two new short stories out, because I am living the dream!

First off, go to Scigentasy and read What Purpose a Heart. Because it is painfully obvious that your morning doesn’t contain nearly enough space opera, ship to ship battles, or lesbians. I’m even more excited because the artwork Scigentasy put with this story is absolutely gorgeous and perfect in every way. So go! Read it! Why haven’t you read it yet?

Also, the second piece of flash I’ve ever managed to write, List of Items Found in Valise on Welby Crescent is out in Shimmer #19. This story has had three different incarnations and gone through over 10 drafts, which is pretty impressive (or potentially depressing) considering it’s less than 500 words long. But it’s an odd little story I wanted to see if I could tell in a strange way, and I’m really pleased with it. The story will be available online in June, but I think you definitely want to read it so much right now that you should buy a copy of Shimmer #19. And as a bonus you’ll get some other awesome fiction too.

Patricia Ash at GearHearts has reviewed The Ugly Tin Orrery and gave it 4/5 gears. If you’ve been missing out on pirates and murder and steam engines designed to jump the tracks, you should really remedy that. Just sayin.

Other exciting things are in the works, which has involved me being in editing hell for the last two weeks. Super exciting things. Unfortunately if I told you, a squadron of ninja would then have to show up at your house and kill you to preserve my honor, so it’s probably for the best that I’m just going to be mysterious and annoying about it.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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I have a new story out today from Crossed Genres: The Heart-Beat Escapement

Please read and enjoy!

This story is one that went through a lot of drafts–nine in total. It started out about 1500 words longer than it is now.

Something about the way Greensmith says but grates. “I already know that,” Owen snaps. The baby, abandoned in an alleyway and dying; the doctor and the engineer who found him and replaced his malformed heart with one crafted of delicate gears. It was his favorite fairy tale, growing up.

Most of those 1500 words I ended up cutting out of the story were the fairy tale Owen refers to here. Bits of it were interspersed throughout the story to act as section breaks. It ultimately didn’t work right and slowed the story down way too much, which is why I cut it, but I’m still pretty fond of those words. So I thought I’d share those sections (plus a bit extra to make them more coherent) with you as a little bonus–Owen’s bedtime story.

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Lionsgate has apparently copped to just how many people are pissed off about OSC being a giant homophobe. They’re hosting a benefit premiere of the movie for LGBT groups.

To a certain extent, I feel for them. Ender’s Game is a novel that’s been screaming for a movie for years. It has everything you could want. Except for the part that the author is a giant homophobe and people don’t want to support him because he gives money to anti-gay organizations. (Unsurprisingly, I am one of those people.) They picked up a good story with a giant lead weight attached to it, and they’ve been fighting against that ever since. That… really sucks. Honestly, Ender’s Game was a very special novel to me when I was growing up, and I wish I could feel good about going to watch the movie.

But then again, this should not have come as a surprise to them. It’s not like OSC waited until the movie was in production and then came out of the closet (hur hur hur) as a homophobe. He’s been saying that for years. In fact, I used to read his blogs and regular articles until the homophobia came up, at which point I had to stop because it was too upsetting. This happened over ten years ago, so yeah. It’s not a surprise.

Lionsgate trying to offer the olive branch with the benefit premiere just gives me even more conflicted feelings. Because it does make me happy that they’re trying to do something. But they’re the ones that stepped into the middle of this mess to begin with–did they think people wouldn’t notice? And would the amount of money coming in from such a benefit premiere outweigh the support given to the author? I have no idea.

I want there to be more good science fiction movies. I really do. I’d hope this would be one of them. But… but. I’m glad Lionsgate has stepped up, but why didn’t they see this coming from the beginning? It feels like a response to a PR nightmare, not necessarily a real acknowledgment of the fundamental problem.

Lionsgate would like us to separate the art from the artist. I wish I could. But not today, I’m afraid, and I don’t see that changing when the movie comes out. I wish things were different. I really do.

Originally published at katsudon.net. You can comment here or there.

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Orson Scott Card would like us to be tolerant of his anti-gay marriage views, now that we’ve won. The point is, apparently “moot.” I call bullshit on that one.  DOMA may be dead, and the language of that decision may be what will make the rest of the dominoes fall, so to speak. But the point is not moot. Gay and lesbian citizens still can’t get married in the majority of states in this country, many of which have enshrined homophobia in their constitutions. Transgendered Americans are still even further behind when it comes to having full rights to be who they are. And that’s not even taking into account the fact that there are rights beyond marriage.

So no, the issue is not  moot. The issue will not be moot until every one of us is equal under the law. Telling ourselves that we have already won and stopping the fight before the finish line would be foolish indeed.

And even if victory is inevitable (oh how I hope that it is), OSC is still in prime position to fund the foot dragging and last tantrums of a lost conservative cause. So no, I don’t think it’s time to forget that yet, not when he hasn’t backed down, hasn’t changed his mind. He’s just been overruled.

What about separating the art from the artist? You don’t have to like someone and their views to like their art, to consume and support it you know.

I’ve had this argument with friends before, specifically in regards to Orson Scott Card. It’s an uncomfortable subject, and I have conflicted feelings about it. Not in the least of which is the fact that when I met OSC in person years ago, I thought he was a pretty nice guy, and he gave me some of the best writing advice I’ve ever gotten. He’s very likeable in person.

Then I remind myself that, as a bisexual woman, he thinks there’s something wrong with me and would want me to be a shamed, second-class citizen if I had fallen in love with a woman instead of a man.

But separate the art from the artist. It feels like a horrible twist on “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

There is a reason, for the most part, that I don’t actively seek out the opinions of artists. Sometimes knowing too much ruins it. Sometimes knowing too much means you can no longer read or watch or listen to a piece of art you enjoyed without thinking about how the artist has harmed something about which you care deeply. Sometimes you wish you just didn’t know.

But artists are people just like the rest of us, and they have opinions, and they have a right to express those opinions. Wil Wheaton points this out eloquently and often whenever someone complains about him daring to have politics out loud where people can see them. And like for everyone else, the freedom of an artist to express an opinion is not the same as the freedom to have no consequences because of it. When we’re talking about artists like OSC, his voice is louder than that of many others because of his art. He has a platform. We, his fans, built that platform for him with our support.

If we do not like what he is doing with that platform, I don’t think we are in any way obligated to continue that support.

But separate the art from the artist. Why can’t you do that? Shouldn’t you do that?

Does art happen in a vacuum? Is it truly a thing separate from the artist? This isn’t just an academic question for me, when it comes to Orson Scott Card. I read Ender’s Game as a teenager. I literally finished the book in twelve hours, unwilling to put it down. It had a lot of meaning to me.

And yet.

At the reading where I met OSC, someone in the audience asked him a question: As a Mormon, did he try to put his religion into his work? And OSC gave what I thought was a very true and important answer that has stuck with me—he doesn’t try to do that. Preaching at your audience never turns out well. But he said that his religion is fundamental to who he is, and he wouldn’t be surprised if it comes out into his art in subtle ways.

Because as artists, even when we are imagining ourselves as other people, we are the ones doing the creating. I am a white, bisexual woman, and I’m sure that no matter how hard I try, my experiences will always subtly reflect in how I create. Because it is my art.

Can you truly separate art from the artist? How do you deal with, say, Chris Brown and Roman Polanski if you like their art but cannot support them as human beings?

Art does not occur in a vacuum. And while you can appreciate art as good or bad without knowing the person behind it, regardless of the person behind it, consuming that art does in fact mean you are supporting its creator. And by supporting them, you are complicit in their causes. I have joined in boycotts of companies when it was revealed they were donating money anti-gay groups. Why should an artist be any different? Because he wrote some books I like? I’ve eaten Chik-fil-A sandwiches and nuggets more often than I’ve re-read Ender’s Game.

If you can separate the art from the artist, maybe that makes you a better person than me. Feel that way if you like. But I cannot support someone who believes that me and many of the people I love and esteem are not full human beings. Orson Scott Card chose to use his platform to denigrate LGBT people. I can damn well choose to take a tiny sliver of his platform, a platform I joined with countless others to help build, away.

Originally published at The sound and nerdery of Rachael Acks. You can comment here or there.

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I’m sure getting a whiff off of this:

Marriage should be limited to unions of a man and a woman because they alone can “produce unplanned and unintended offspring,” opponents of gay marriage have told the Supreme Court.

So let me get this straight… one of the strongest arguments the opponents of gay marriage think they have at this point is that only heterosexual couples can have “oops” babies? Seriously? And gay people don’t need marriage because they have to plan their babies? I just. I can’t even.

First, I’m sure given the glorious spectrum of human sexuality, this line of argument is not true anyway. For example, John Scalzi pointed out on Twitter that:

Polyamorous bisexuals in same-sex open marriages might wish to dispute this line of “reasoning”

And of course, infertile couples, childfree couples, etc etc etc. But I don’t think we even have to go that far. We should just take a step back and gaze in wonder at the utter, majestic stupidity of that line of argument. We’re boiling the supposedly inviolate and super special institution of state-sanctioned marriage down to trying to get people to legally hitch themselves together because of accidental pregnancy? Because accidental pregnancies out of wedlock place a burden on society but ones within a marriage can’t? (…how’s the weather on your planet?)

Instead, they argue that it is reasonable for the law to steer opposite-sex couples toward marriage, including by giving them extra benefits. “It was rational for Congress to draw the line where it did,” Clement said, “because the institution of marriage arose in large measure in response to the unique social difficulty that opposite-sex couples, but not same-sex couples, posed.”

I just… what? I’m guessing they’re still hammering the oops baby point here, which doesn’t really paint marriage in such a great light. Oh look, marriage is an easy solution to unintended pregnancy – how about rape as well? This is something that still happens in the world and is horrifying. Or maybe I just missed the bit in world history where they told us about how same-sex couples have always had it easy and opposite-sex couples faced unique social difficulties of other sorts.

If all you can come up with once you’ve stripped way the overt homophobia is something that brain-lockingly dumb, maybe it’s time to just quietly pack up the briefcase and go home.

In another part of their brief, they argue for the high court to stand back and to let the “democratic process” resolve the dispute over gay marriage. Both note that voters in several states recently approved same-sex marriage, and opinion polls report that most Americans now favor it.

So basically “please let the dinosaurs draw it out in a lingering, painful state-by-state extinction.”

History called. You’re on the wrong side.

Originally published at katsudon.net. You can comment here or there.


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Tetsugawa Katsuhiro

September 2017

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