The Rabid Puppy brigade have gamed the Hugos again. At least this time, there was some humor involved—see the Chuck Tingle entry. But for the most part, it’s underwhelming and sigh-inducing, rather than shocking and hateful. I’m reminded of a quote that Toni Morrison made about racism (see below), though you could substitute just about any bigotry/ism in for racism.
I’m just going to focus on creating my weird, diversity filled fictional worlds, and reading and supporting the same. The Puppies’ antics are just a distraction. So much good fiction—some of it written by Straight White Men, no less– is coming out now. We are in a Golden Age, with tons of stories and many unique voices being heard, both in the large and indie presses.
Let’s keep our focus there, and away from immature provocateurs.
This past Friday, Dr. Andre Carrington, Jennifer Marie Brissett and I discussed the issues of racism, homophobia and diversity in the Speculative Fiction community on a panel at the CUNY Graduate Center. We covered the Hugo Award unpleasantness, access to publishing and instances of racism and homophobia both as authors and as fans. The classroom was full, and people had to be turned away! The audience and the panelists were lively and engaged. You can watch the video here. Thanks to people who came out and to Dr. Philip Kadish for arranging this panel!
Much has been written about the current unpleasantness in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fan community. The TL;DR version is that two groups of right wing blowhards ballot stuffed the Hugo Awards. The first group uses dogwhistle language—they are against “Affirmative Action Fiction” (works that feature trans or gay or ethnic minorities characters, and believe that women should be a hero’s reward). The other group is not subtle about about their contempt. They include a White Supremacist editor and an author known more for his unhinged homophobic rants is nominated six times(!) The message they are sending is quite clear.
Other people have written about this issue—including George R.R. Martin and John Scalzi and Mary Robinette Kowal. I agree and support their efforts and suggestions.
But here’s the thing for me. and frankly, the elephant in the room.
I don’t feel safe. I’ve been called the n-word and the f-word in public more times than I can count. And where I live is perhaps the bluest of blue cities—Washington DC. I have no desire to pay my hard earned money for the pleasure of being insulted by a bunch of people who despise my very existence. Elimination rhetoric is only a hairsbreadth away from violence. I’ve seen it way too many times. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. I’ve got to wonder about how many gay people, or fans of color will actually show up to Worldcon, and frankly, any other con as long as these toxic people are going to attend.