Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Subtext and the Art of Subtle Influence

I just read an interesting and saddening post on blatant idiocy here. Go read this story of discrimination and fear. We'll wait.

So, the upshot seems to be that if you are gay, your writing cannot be trusted. Of course, the un-named 'A' is right. WAIT, before you hoist me on this petard of my own making, hear me out...

'A' was clearly afraid. Afraid of 'The Gay' yes, but more likely, afraid that she and her readers would be shown in plain black and white that being gay does not stop a person from being admirable. Nothing scares bigots more than having light shed on their irrationality. What if the gay writer said something that made sense? What if, please God no, she actually agreed with him. What if she found herself drawn to his words, moved by his arguments, attracted to his ideas. It is difficult to maintain negativity towards people we truly admire. This is the fear that causes bigots to throw up barriers, but it is a line in the sand.

As writers, we would do well to remember that words have power. Blogger A has managed to dance away from the wave that would erase her self-imposed border, but the tide is rising, and that line in the sand grows harder and harder to defend. The best thing we can do is write. Books with gay characters. Books with real people in them. Books with characters worth admiring. Blogs that are inclusive. Articles that ask hard questions. Stories that change us, that shine light into our darkest corners, that bring our own irrationality to light where it can shrivel and die. Blogger A is right: words have power, but Blogger A is wrong not to embrace  the power of words to shape us into better people.