Some post-election thoughts
Dear staff, writers, editors, supporters, patrons, and readers of Circlet Press,
It was a tough night here at Circlet HQ as the election results rolled in and I probably don't have to tell you why--but I will. This wasn't about Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump for us. This was about the fact that the Trump campaign and the Republican platform are serious threats to our existence as marginalized people. Gay, lesbian, trans, bi, gender non-conforming, minorities in sexual identity of every kind, including survivors of sexual assault (and not to mention women and people of color in general) are all seen as less than human by the Trump camp. Literally.
So I thought it might be a good time to remind you all what Circlet Press stands for, and why even in the face of a difficult uphill battle, we're not giving up, and why even in the face of massive global upheaval, erotic fiction still matters.
1. Writing matters. All writing is a declaration of humanity.
The act of writing is self-expression in a declarative form. Whenever we make words, even if they are tweets, at the most basic level we are saying "I am here!" Unlike vocal speech, writing is a deliberate act, one that combines cognition with communication--with intent to commnicate to an imagined other who is not present. It's a powerful act whether one is writing a personal blog, an article, a story, a letter, or even a diary entry. It might feel right now like putting down words doesn't matter. But it does. It does because you matter, your voice matters, your personhood matters.
2. Erotica is a claiming of sexual identity.
The extension of the fact that writing matters is that writing about sex matters in particular. Not only do we write "I am here!" but "I am queer!" (or whatever flavor of non-standardized sexuality or sexual identity you declare) No matter what your sexuality is--even if it's vanilla heterosexual--society has judged you for it and wants to tell you how you can or should do it. If you cannot be yourself in your private thoughts, you cannot be yourself anywhere. In our sexual fantasies is where some of us first discover our true selves, and then through that act of putting down words, of putting that fantasy to paper as if communicating with another sentience, we express that truth. There are those out there who literally wish death on us for being queer or sinners or 'liberated women.' Declaring our existence as sexual minorities and celebrating our sexuality with joy through erotica is an act of courage and an act of self-preservation, too. The more we are seen, the better we are known, the more space on the stage we take up, the more difficult it is to marginalize us.
3. Fiction and storytelling are important.
It's important to tell stories, to make things up and share them, because although real life autobiographical blogs (for example) are also important for claiming space and declaring one's existence, sometimes only a story can express your inner truth. Sometimes the act of creating that story reveals our truths to ourselves and without that story we never would have discovered them. But fiction is also important as the only effective tool we have for creating empathy in others. This has been studied repeatedly in multiple languages and cultures. Fiction is even more effective at creating empathy than knowing someone in real life, because although you might have a gay friend (for example) and empathize with them, living through the adventures and tribulations of a gay character in a book has a much pronounced and more long term effect. Fiction is powerful. Story is the most powerful tool we have for changing people's minds and for opening them.
4. Science fiction/fantasy are important.
A narrow view of 'acceptable' sexuality quite literally leads to death, mayhem, murder, and suicide--to gay bashing, trans bashing, honor killings, intimate partner violence, et cetera. Fiction helps to create empathy, but science fiction and fantasy add one more potent ingredient to the mix: spurring the imagination. The ability to imagine worlds that are not like our own, to examine issues from multiple sides, to think seriously about the future, to imagine what it would be like to live in families or societies or groups that are not like our own--this is what science fiction and fantasy are uniquely suited for.
So, yes, erotic science fiction and fantasy matter, and it matters to me very much that all of you have been part of writing it, publishing it, supporting it, and reading it in the 24-years-and-counting journey that is Circlet Press.
I understand if some of you need to change your priorities in the face of new political realities and step away from fiction or publishing. We will each fight the good fight in our own way. I've seriously considered more than once over the years whether there was something "better" I should do for the world than write and publish "smut." Each time I came back to the conclusion that--in my case at least--the answer was no, there wasn't something better I could be doing with my talents and my brainpower. This is the number one thing I do to try to bring about a better world, one where people like me--a bisexual mixed-race kinky-as-fuck fiction writer--can be safe and thrive, at the center instead of the margins.
Writing matters. Sex matters. Sexuality matters. Fiction matters. Stories matter. Imagination matters. Art matters.
You matter. No matter what the new powers that be might try to say about it. Thank you for being part of my mission to create a better world.