I got my first hate (e)mail today. Well, actually, that's way too harsh. It's really not hate mail--unless hate mail's a lot more civilized and courteous than I've been led to believe. There was no name calling or swearing. I think it's more accurate to call it "grumble mail" or perhaps "somewhat-aggravated mail."
I've got strong views on a number of controversial issues, and my beliefs tend to make an appearance in the fiction I write--theme and content-wise. So the part of my brain that braces for unpleasantness while the rest of me goes bopping about, oblivious and optimistic, has been busily stacking sandbags, collecting canned goods, and making sure there are extra batteries for the flashlights. It's been preparing my psyche for this moment, with fortifications started as soon as I began having some success publishing-wise, accelerated into frenzied duck-and-cover mode once my more thoughtful work started seeing print.
Suffice it to say I'm not staggered, speechless, or spooked.
However, I am perplexed. Not because I received correspondence from a dissatisfied reader (can't please everyone, and it was only a matter of time before someone felt compelled to type up an email letting me know how much they didn't like something I wrote), but because it had never occurred to me that this particular story would be the one to elicit reader ire. It wasn't the one with the drug use, or the sympathy-for-the-devil-with-undertones-o
My anti-fan--I'll call her "C"--took issue with what she considered my negative portrayal of lesbians.
For the record, it was not my intention to offend or otherwise nettle, provoke, or aggrieve any lesbians, or cast any negative aspersions whatsoever on non-straight sexual orientations and relationships. My sincere apologies to anyone who found "My Friend is a Lesbian Zombie" anti-gay.
But, okay, here's the thing. C was piqued because the zombie lesbian in question slept with a man at some point in my tale, and that my narrator still refers to her as a "lesbian" and not "bi." Granted, I've never quite got the hang of labels; they typically leave me blinking in the dust. But according to both the Human Sexuality class I took in college (admittedly ages and ages ago) as well as my own first-hand, interpersonal experiences, a large percentage of straight folks experiment with same-sex relationships (especially in college, for e.g.) and yet still consider themselves "straight" and not "bi." Likewise, there's a number of gay folks who experiment with different-sex relationships and who still consider themselves "gay" and not "bi." So labelwise, I don't get why a lesbian having an affair with a guy is cause for dissidence. My take on the matter is that you love who you love, whatever their physiological composition is, and screw the labels.
Not to mention "My Friend is a Bi-Sexual Zombie" doesn't have the zing that "My Friend is a Lesbian Zombie" does.
C also thought my portrayal of lesbians in general was negative--the main one in question being a zombie and therefore having many disagreeable traits that are part and parcel of walking deadhood, but also her romantic interest who is a goth-type with necrophile tendencies. Yet, I thought my characterization of the lesbian characters was leaps and bounds more positive than that of the straight characters--one of whom is a psychotic serial killer and the other is a shallow, borderline neurotic with profoundly skewed priorities, overly preoccupied with the state of her worldly possessions.
Regardless, I wasn't trying to make a statement; my goal was to write a funny story. I'm there at the front of the "humor is hard to write" line, waving my "I wish I could write funny" placard, so I'll just nod and acknowledge that I missed C's funny bone, alas.
Hey, does that mean I'm controversial now? Another milestone, woohoo!
Except the part of me prepping for psychological/emotional cataclysm and disaster is scratching her head, inventorying the pile of unused sandbags and putting away all the cans of vegetarian baked beans, with a bemused and somewhat put out air. I think I'm going to need to placate her by watching CNN for an hour or so . . . or subject myself to a re-run or analysis/commentary of George W's State of the Nation speech. That should mollify her.
My signing with Aberrant Dreams is tomorrow. Details:
Date: Saturday, February 4th, 2006
Time: 4:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Place: Oxford Comics & Games 2855 Piedmont Rd NE; Atlanta, GA 30305-2767; (404) 233-8682
Swing by, say "hi," I'll sign anything. Or come and protest my portrayal of lesbian zombies.
- 92-day FYI from OSC's Intergalactic Medicine Show: "apologies for the long delay . . . your story did make it through the first cut, and will now be passed on to Mr. Card to read and make a final decision." Another month, or two . . . or more to engage in nail-biting before the final verdict.
- 15-day "this is a form rejection" from Son and Foe. Is it me, or have rejection notes gotten kind of weird recently? This one actually says: "As you may have noticed, this is a form rejection." *blink* Okaaay.
New Words: 700 on the Japanese Demon Hunter story.
4,642 / 6,000
Club 100 For Writers