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[personal profile] megwrites
I think one of my least favorite plotlines in Urban Fantasy is the one where the supernatural world goes public (or is made public) by someone and thus our heroes and heroines are taken off on a whirlwind adventure of trying to deal with the non-magical public and the world of magic at the same time.



I think that this is because one of the things I treasure most about Urban Fantasy is it's potential to really be the genre of the underdog. I love underdogs, seriously. And the minute somebody becomes famous, they're not the underdog. They're the celebrity.

Not only that, but the concept of "outing" is something that, as a self-identified queer person, is kind of near and dear to my heart. It's something that you don't get to escape when you're queer. Even if you decide to be completely closeted and to live a straight life and try your best through prayer and whatever else you believe in to not be gay, you still have to make the decision to be silent, and that comes with its own consequences.

As for me? I myself have levels of outness. There are some people (best friends, trusted confidantes, internet folks, etc) who know the whole kit-and-caboodle. They know about the boys and the girls that have been in my life.

And there are people to whom I do not, at all, identify as bisexual and would never identify as bisexual to. This includes a lot of my family. Especially older members of my family.

I was going to say that it's not that I'm afraid of my family's reactions. I want to say that I'm cool and collected and that I just don't care. The truth is? It is about fear. It's about the fear that if I came home with a woman and said, "Here's my fiancee" - there would be family members who would never talk to me again, who wouldn't attend my wedding, who would disown me completely and tell me I'm going to hell.

And these are people I care about deeply. People who I love, who it would hurt like a knife in my chest if they stopped talking to me. It would be like having all my Christmases taken away at once. In fact, literally it would be. Because holidays and get togethers would be difficult, if not impossible, under those circumstances.

I'd lose my family, I think. Or a large chunk of them. The people who used to love me as a child, who picked me up in their arms, who celebrated my every tiny triumph from summer camp to getting good grades to my high school graduations would suddenly hate me and turn away from me.

It's hard enough when the topic comes up at home and I sit through the "carpet muncher" and "fudge packer" jokes. And actually, I've stopped doing that because I just can't do it anymore.

God, even thinking about the possibility has me shaking. Seriously? This is feeling is what it must be like when there's a tumor pressing in on your heart so that every time it beats, it feels like your entire being has to twist, painfully, just to go on.

And so yeah, I tap into some of that old, horrible, disgusting heterosexual privilege I have because my fiancee is the right gender. But if he wasn't? If he was a woman (and yeah, that possibility was just as real as him being a man. Because I did fall in love with women, I did kiss them, I did go out with them, I did want to be with them).

Let's not even talk about the fact that I'm very careful where and to whom I identify my status as being childfree to. Because you wouldn't believe the nasty reactions you get when you very politely inform someone that you don't want children ever. Especially after they, very rudely, asked such questions as, "So, I hear you're gettin' married. When ya gonna have kids?" (Because my reproductive decisions are totally your business. *eyeroll*).

Which is why the issue of outing and the way it's handled in a lot of urban fantasy novels bothers me. I can draw a lot of parallels between being supernatural and being GLBT or childfree or whatever it is that makes you different and isn't readily apparent to others.

Because it usually centers around someone who works close to the media - newspaper, radio, TV - who willingly outs the supernatural world without permission from others and without regard to the consequences for people who didn't get to make the choice for themselves. And from there, it focuses on a larger picture and social changes that happen. Laws are passed, public panics occur, etc, etc, etc,.

For instance, in Kitty and the Midnight Hour, one of the things that wasn't addressed was the people who didn't want the supernatural world outed by Kitty and her radio show. And not just for reasons of privacy, but for reasons of necessity.

I noticed in that novel that Kitty had a pretty understanding, loving family. That's great for her. But what about the people who have, like me, family that is loving but not so understanding? A lot of my family are pretty hardcore conservatives and deeply religious. I don't say this to demean them. I say this because it's the truth, because they have some beliefs which would make them turn away from me, because they believe they would have to.

I'm not different. I'm not magically more accepting or forgiving because I'm queer. If one of my family members was a member of the Klan? I'd turn my back on them. If one of my family members was a child molester? I'd turn my back on them. I wouldn't even consent to be in the same room with them. I'd turn them into the police. So yeah, if one of my family members came out to me as a rapist? I'd probably react the way they'd react to me bringing home a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend.

Which is all to say that Kitty made a choice based on her own circumstances without thinking about the circumstances of others. Most "outing the supernatural" novels tend to do that. They don't focus on the little folks, the ones who have been doing their best to live quiet lives, who aren't glamorous insta-celebrities.

What I'd like to see somebody someday write (or, if all else fails, I'll write it) is what happens if the supernatural goes public and you're, say, just some werewolf who's managed to keep it all a secret for twenty years and you've gone about raising your kids and working in an office and living as normal a life as possible then some jackass with a TV show or an itching for their fifteen minutes of fame outs you all without ever asking you if you wanted to be outed or even could afford to be.

What if you're someone who made the decision a long time ago to keep your wolfy side to yourself, but now you've got friends and family members who'll never speak to you again, and your spouse is leaving you, and you're getting fired and all because some ditz on a radio show had to open her big mouth. What if you're not allowed in your church or your kid's school anymore?

What if people are calling for you to be treated like a dog because you're so dangerous.

Or even worse, what if you're somebody who isn't at all supernatural, just a little weird or quirky, who gets accused of being a werewolf or vampire and ends up at the wrong end of a lynch mob when they're really just a human?

Someone who's a severe agoraphobic and never comes out could easily be accused of vampirism. Someone who does the same but has a dog that constantly gets loose and runs around could garner suspicions of lycanthropy.

I never seem to find the novels that focus on that. There seem to be two varieties: the first is the kind where the supernatural is public and the second is where it's secret.

I prefer the second, but I prefer it when the secret is not so much a deliberate conspiracy as a side affect of people who collectively live on the downlow, so to speak, out of the mainstream eye. Because there are a lot of subcultures that most mainstream Americans know little to nothing about, subcultures that exist not because nobody talks about them, but because they're small and they just don't interact much with the mainstream. They exist in people's houses and out of the way, hole-in-the-wall clubs and obscure chatrooms and websites that you have to know about to even get to, because they wouldn't even come up on a Google search.

Kinda like slash fandom used to be back in the old days, actually. It wasn't that nobody talked about Kirk/Spock, it's just that it was a relative small niche at the time in a relatively small subculture.

Did you know there are actual superheroes? Well, actual people who wear masks and outfits and go around doing good deeds at night. Not kidding, there actually are. Not a lot of them, but there are people who do this.

I didn't even know about it until a quirky news report on one of those quirky TV stations that you get with cable came on at, like, 11:30 at night and did a piece that followed around people who dressed up as superheroes and went out doing everything from handing blankets to the homeless to chasing off suspected drug dealers. Their reasons for doing this ranged from street philanthropy to delusions of grandeur and that's what made the piece interesting.

Put a mask on a guy and send him out to fight crime and he's still a guy.

And that's what I want to see, because it rings far more true and speaks of range of choices both ethical and practical that people make. It puts the "human" back in superhuman and that's very, very important to me.

As a rule, vampires and werewolves and whatnot do not gosh wow me. I am fresh out of sensawunda for any genre of literature. Spaceships and aliens don't get it up for me, either.

What does push my buttons is seeing the ordinary and how it is more powerful than any magic or technology. Because that's the truth of it, isn't it? No matter how far we go, how much we do, how long we exist, we're always going to be human.

Give us rocketships and launch us out into the stars? And you're still going to get the same smelly, stinky, whiny, farting, burping people just trying to get by and do the Right Thing and get laid and not die you had back on Earth with the occasional Evil Bastard thrown in, because well, we have plenty of Evil Bastards right here on Earth and they'll be sure to follow us out into the heavens.

Same with magic. Throw all the faeries and vampires and werewolves and magical unicorns and whatever else you want. You're still gonna have farting, burping and so on.

I think that's my main frustration with the entire urban fantasy genre, in the end. A lot of authors seem to feel that if you have extraordinary creatures and circumstances, you're excused from making the human side believable. I tend to think it's different. I think the more extreme and magical you make the setting, more more incumbent it is upon you to get it right, to show that human face and to show that it does not change when magic or technology comes around. It just gets more human. Which is sometimes very ugly, sometimes very pretty, and always more extraordinary than anything else.

You can write all the wonderous things you want, but nothing is more amazing than the moment when people do what people do. When they sacrifice themselves for love, when they reach out to help others though there's no benefit for themselves, when they make peace and shake hands with a person they might have killed on sight a day earlier, when they invent things that didn't exist, when they survive the unsurvivable and go on building houses and shops and families even when they do so on the pile of rubble that used to be their old lives.

And if you don't get that right, if you forget that those things are why you're even around to write? Then magic doesn't matter and doesn't work. Ever.

Date: 2009-05-06 02:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] denoue-moi.livejournal.com
About not being out to your family... Well... I sure am glad you're marrying a boy. I just kind of had to take a deep breath and say to myself, I'll introduce them to Jennifer, and if they don't like it, they can all eat my ass with a wooden spoon.

If anyone wants to tell me I'm going to hell, well good. I want to go to hell so I can show love to all the people who've been thrown away by their creator.

I have extremely high standards for my family. They can either respect me - and I don't expect perfection - or they can fuck off and die.

How much of their stupid bullshit have I put up with? They can handle me fucking a girl.

Date: 2009-05-06 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com
I just kind of had to take a deep breath and say to myself, I'll introduce them to Jennifer, and if they don't like it, they can all eat my ass with a wooden spoon.

Don't worry. I have laid the groundwork. I have made it clear that asshattery will not be tolerated at my wedding and that I have no problems going Bridezilla on EVERYONE'S ass. Don't worry. You will be treated with respect and courtesy (at the very least) while you're there.

And if someone does make a comment or do something that makes you uncomfortable, please come and get me immediately and be sure to stay for the Kicking Of The Ass that will follow right afterwards.

I want to go to hell so I can show love to all the people who've been thrown away by their creator.

Frankly, I think that's why you deserve heaven the most. And I don't think people are ever thrown away by their creator. I think they're thrown away by other people. I think their creator is way cooler and better than that.

I frankly believe that God created people to be straight, gay, bisexual and all the flavors in between. I think it's just people who say that He/She/It didn't.

So says the Gospel According to Meg: God is great, God is good. People are complete dickwads and douchemonkeys. Don't listen to what they have to say about God, because the things they say (including things in or about the Bible) are about as accurate and factually based as what you read in the National Enquirer. Actually, the National Enquirer is much better.

How much of their stupid bullshit have I put up with? They can handle me fucking a girl.

Yeah, I know, right? And they don't even have to put up with that. They just have to put up with you holding her hand and her being your partner/girlfriend. It's not like you're gonna do it right in front of them on the kitchen table!

Ugh.

Date: 2009-05-06 03:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] denoue-moi.livejournal.com
I don't worry about anyone bugging me at your wedding. I mean, hell, everyone will be looking at you. They won't notice me.

I was referring more to my family. Which has been surprisingly decent about it.

And yes, your gospel is awesome. It's better than the lolcat bible

Date: 2009-05-06 09:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com
I mean, hell, everyone will be looking at you. They won't notice me.

Well, there's a lunch reception later on so there will be a time in which everyone sits down and eats together. But a) I'll try to put you with Andrew's friends Jenn and David because they are totally of the kinky/liberal persuasion. If it makes you feel better, Jenn used to date a girl named Jenn for a long time before she married David. So you're in good Jenn company.

Yeah, I know. It's a popular name. :)

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