A Story Worth Telling: Ginn Hale on LGBTQ+ Characters in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

The Long Past by Ginn HaleWe're always on the look out for a great new book, so we were delighted to see Ginn Hale's latest, The Long Past, get an RT Top Pick! The fantasy anthology has love, action and LGBTQ+ characters finding their HEAs. We talked with Ginn in the RT VIP Salon about her book, and wanted to hear more about why she believes the LGBTQ+ narrative is an important one.  Take it away, Ginn!

Stories are so ubiquitous to us as human beings that we often take their presence for granted. After all, the majority of people are born into the tales of their communities. Stories suffuse everything from family lives, our histories and our faiths. From epic myths to gossip on the block, a multitude of narratives combine to build common knowledge and our sense of community.

But few, if any, LGBTQ+ people are born into queer households, much less queer communities. For us, finding our stories requires seeking them out, often at a time in life when we are just beginning to understand that we aren’t the same as the majority of our peers and when we’re working out what that means. So the stories that we do discover can have a much greater impact upon us, in part because there are far fewer queer stories to be found and also because they may be the very first representations of ourselves that we encounter.

Science-fiction and fantasy would seem to be ideal genres to find LGBTQ+ perspectives, since the characters and worlds they can depict are constrained only by their author’s imaginations. As a young reader I loved sci-fi and fantasy and so when I began searching for depictions of people like myself, those were the books I turned to. I looked and looked, through libraries, dime stores and bookstores. (This was long before the advent of the internet or any sort of search engine, so my pursuits were literal, physical journeys —  hours of thumbing through book after book by hand.)

Unfortunately the first queer characters I encountered were monstrosities inspired by homophobia and hatred. Queer identity signaled grotesque cruelty, physical ugliness, sadism and predatory sex-drive. Then there were stories seemingly crafted to appeal to queer readers that ended up portraying queer love as agonizing and destructive. For me and thousands of other LGBTQ+ readers, those characters were us. Their losses, their failures, their suffering and their deaths were ours. And it felt crushing to experience that again and again.

It also began to feel like a lie to me.

Because as I grew older, I met other LGBTQ+ people. I learned their stories and shared mine. I met the love of my life. (We’ve been together 30 years now and I still feel like I’m falling in love with her all over again every day.) I marched in pride parades; I volunteered at gay bookstores. I discovered that I had supporters and allies among strangers and in my family.

So, I began writing books—science-fiction and fantasy, in fact.

At once I discarded the trope of doomed queer lives as absurd. Yes, we are still facing bigotry and oppression but those things aren’t our stories; they’re just the trials we overcome, they’re the monsters that we will outwit and defeat. Hate doesn’t own us and it can’t define us anymore than any single race, religion, gender or nationality can.

We and our stories represent a beautiful diversity of achievement, persistence, courage and caring. And the love that we are so often attacked for feeling, is not our doom. It’s our greatest strength.  

I think that’s a story worth telling to everyone.

You can grab your copy of The Long Past here: Amazon B&N | iBooks Kobo Indiebound, and check out more SFF stories on our Everything Sci Fi/Fantasy Page!

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