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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old July 9 2011, 02:39 PM   #1
starri
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Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassified)

I may be about to step in something bad, and if I've crossed a line, I understand if I need to be warned or banned or whatever, but this is something that's been bugging me since I read Marco's excellent "Ruins of Noble Men" short story.



And that kind of touched off something.

Yeah, I'm a gay Trekkie. After the franchise proper has pretended I don't exist for 40+ years, seeing TrekLit show that maybe there's also room for me in the future was really refreshing.

But of late, it means less and less to me, because it's starting to feel like we're just there as token nods to diversity, rather than as fully realized characters. The one that sticks out most in my mind at the moment is Ranul Keru, who has basically been a monk since the death of Lieutenant Hawk which happened, what, eight, ten years ago in continuity? Meanwhile, no one seems to have any squeamishness about Dr. Ra-Havreii making the rounds among Titan's female crew.

T'Prynn lost her lover, and while I think that was rather beautifully written, it was still another Dead Gay.

I hope Etana Kol and Krissten Ricter are still together, but who knows if we'll ever see them again.

If there are any gay characters currently in TNG or VOY, I can't think of them.

Although, in fairness, I do have to say that way Christopher handled the de facto bisexuality of the Deltans in Watching the Clock was very, very well done.

In any case, I don't want to sound ungrateful, because it's nice to see my life reflected in something I love so much. I just wish that, in 2011, TrekLit could go a little more boldly.
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Old July 9 2011, 02:53 PM   #2
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

Keru hasn't been a monk. There have been references here and there to him showing interest in another crewmember (for instance, the end of Sword of Damocles implies he's having a romantic rendezvous with someone, though the gentleman is not identified by name), though nobody's gotten around to developing that thread in detail.

There are plenty of LGBT characters in Trek Lit, many of them alive and well if not recently featured in the books. You can find an extensive catalog of them in this earlier thread in this forum:

http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=87663
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Old July 9 2011, 02:53 PM   #3
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

This thread from a while ago might be interesting for you.

ETA: It seems Christopher was a few seconds faster.
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Old July 9 2011, 03:24 PM   #4
starri
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

Keru hasn't been a monk. There have been references here and there to him showing interest in another crewmember (for instance, the end of Sword of Damocles implies he's having a romantic rendezvous with someone, though the gentleman is not identified by name), though nobody's gotten around to developing that thread in detail.
I apparently missed that entirely. Guess I need to go back and re-read it. I just remembered his utter disinterest in Ensign Norellis, and since Norellis left the ship after Destiny, I know that wasn't going to go any farther. I think I remember Andy Mangels saying that Titan's transporter chief was supposed to be gay too, but that it didn't make it into the narrative.

Anyway, thank both of you for the heads up.
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Old July 9 2011, 05:02 PM   #5
MatthiasRussell
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

I think your perception is COMPLETELY off, starri. Treklit has been extremely open to many forms of sexuality, has not shied away from the subject, nor has been particularly harsh to homosexuals. In book 1 of Vanguard a woman in a hetero marriage having a hetero affair was killed. Someone in a hetero relationship was killed in Declassified. I see no discrimination; the books have made the variety of sexualities a non-issue in the future.
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Old July 9 2011, 05:40 PM   #6
starri
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

I think your perception is COMPLETELY off, starri. Treklit has been extremely open to many forms of sexuality, has not shied away from the subject, nor has been particularly harsh to homosexuals. In book 1 of Vanguard a woman in a hetero marriage having a hetero affair was killed. Someone in a hetero relationship was killed in Declassified. I see no discrimination; the books have made the variety of sexualities a non-issue in the future.
Maybe it's just a question that we're (from my perspective at least) underrepresented and, at least until Christopher and Defcon were kind enough to point out more examples than I had at my fingertips.

I'm not saying I want some kind of quota system, and no matter what else, TrekLit has been an order of magnitude more diverse in that regard than Trek-proper. I am very appreciative of all of our authors, but there was something about the VGD death that stuck in my craw a little. Despite that, I still think Marco told a very good story.
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Old July 9 2011, 06:19 PM   #7
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

I think it's perfectly reasonable to say that TrekLit has featured the "Dead Gay" trope too often. I also think it's important to bear in mind that they probably never meant to use that trope as often as they have or to imply that there's something wrong with being LGBT or what-have-you. One can point out the need to improve their depictions of LGBTs without implying that it's for want of effort or ill will.
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Old July 9 2011, 06:37 PM   #8
Thrawn
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

^ That's fair.
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Old July 9 2011, 07:41 PM   #9
starri
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

I think it's perfectly reasonable to say that TrekLit has featured the "Dead Gay" trope too often. I also think it's important to bear in mind that they probably never meant to use that trope as often as they have or to imply that there's something wrong with being LGBT or what-have-you. One can point out the need to improve their depictions of LGBTs without implying that it's for want of effort or ill will.
If I implied that, it was completely unintentional, and I apologize. I certainly don't think there's any kind of sinister purpose behind the turn of events, and as I've said, I think all of the TrekLit authors and editors deserve a lot of credit for being much braver about the issue than any of the people at the filmed Trek, and I know of at least two out gay producers there.

But, like I said, there was something about the VGD death that stuck in my craw
. Maybe that jumped out at me because two days after I finished Declassified, I married my fellow Trekkie partner of eight years and it had more resonance for me that it might have otherwise.

TNG has Picard and Beverly, TTN has Will and Deanna, VOY has B'Elanna and Tom, ENT has T'Pol and Trip, and sure, all of those series have seen deaths of straight characters too. I just kind of wish, in 2011, Trek would be able to give us a stable gay or lesbian relationship with a major character (and I'm not advocating just switching around an existing character for the sake of diversity, but it would be nice if a gay man or a lesbian got a happy ending for once too.

I'm sorry, I just want to repeat that I truly hope haven't insulted any of our writers. More than anything, I want to read stories that are good, but this is just something that's been bugging me for about a week.

Thank all of you for the wonderful stories.
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Old July 10 2011, 05:22 AM   #10
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

I think that you have a point, Starri. Tragedy does not discriminate based on any factor, but you're right that no promenate LGBT couples seem to EVER beet those odds. I also understand that this is not supposed to be an issue in the 24th century, but we all live (and read) here in the 21st.

If a qualifier is required, I am a straight person. With that said, I take away something completely different from Ranul Keru. I think that his monkish life is very meaningful. It shows the depths of a love that was lost and has not been, and may never be, replaced. He experienced something rare for a person of any persuasion and he treasures that. I think that his situation is profound and I kind of hope that he stays monkish (and has a really big adventure). I'd prefer that the relationship you want to see be depicted with other characters.
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Old July 10 2011, 08:01 AM   #11
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

[QUOTE=starri;5087871]
TNG has Picard and Beverly, TTN has Will and Deanna, VOY has B'Elanna and Tom, ENT has T'Pol and Trip, and sure, all of those series have seen deaths of straight characters too. I just kind of wish, in 2011, Trek would be able to give us a stable gay or lesbian relationship with a major character (and I'm not advocating just switching around an existing character for the sake of diversity, but it would be nice if a gay man or a lesbian got a happy ending for once too.
.
Let's be fair here. Those relationships are between existing characters from canon. Characters who are MUCH less likely to be killed off in stories than any other character. And since there are no major characters from the TV shows or films who were known as gay- then it's no coincidence that those couples have not had a member die.
Then, since all of the gay relationships in the novels do NOT involve major characters from canon, they are naturally most likely have a character be killed off.
I don't really see that changing until a future movie or TV show features a major character who is gay.
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Old July 10 2011, 11:29 AM   #12
starri
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

Let's be fair here. Those relationships are between existing characters from canon. Characters who are MUCH less likely to be killed off in stories than any other character.
Not for nothing, but Trip was dead in canon until TrekLit revived him in part to pair him with T'Pol.

If a qualifier is required, I am a straight person. With that said, I take away something completely different from Ranul Keru. I think that his monkish life is very meaningful. It shows the depths of a love that was lost and has not been, and may never be, replaced. He experienced something rare for a person of any persuasion and he treasures that. I think that his situation is profound and I kind of hope that he stays monkish (and has a really big adventure). I'd prefer that the relationship you want to see be depicted with other characters.
I don't necessarily think it needs to be Ranul either, but he an T'Prynn are probably the highest profile of TrekLit's LGBT characters (I'm sorry, I wasn't a fan of either SCE or NF), and I guess I tend to notice them the most.
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Old July 10 2011, 01:25 PM   #13
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

Consider the larger context. How many relationships in Trek Lit period, regardless of orientation, involve tragedy and loss? Fiction is not about things going smoothly. Fiction is about crisis and conflict. It's a writer's obligation to put all one's characters through hell. It's not any one group that's being singled out. Wally's right that canon characters are usually protected from out-and-out death (usually), but there have been heterosexual Trek Lit couples that have been split by death, including:


Those are just off the top of my head.
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Old July 10 2011, 02:04 PM   #14
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

Fair enough, but there are also plenty of TrekLit couples who manage to stay more or less happy too:

Miranda Kadohata and her husband
Phillipa Matthais and her husband
Atish Khatami and her husband
Mac Calhoun and Elizabeth Shelby
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Old July 10 2011, 06:18 PM   #15
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Re: Humanoid Sexuality in TrekLit (Minor Spoilers for VGD: Declassifie

I know exactly what you mean starri. I'm a gay Trekker too and I started that other thread that lists, with the help of many, the LGBTQ characters of Trek Lit. It's not all that it could be; that's certain. But it's inclusive in a way the shows / movies have yet to be...it's progress. I mean, remember when Trek Lit barely scratched the surface and now...well, it's not perfect but there's variety. There's more than 1 LGBT character. It's too bad you don't like the New Frontier stories because they're really quite inclusive and often times characters aren't presumed to be straight (even when they are) which is quite refreshing in any sort of fiction. I meant to set up a website with all the info and to comment on things but then my life took a turn and I've never really recovered enough to get around to it.

I hoped for a LGBT character in the shows from Next Gen on and was mostly disappointed by everything we got...though DS9 seemed to at least suggest that LGBT peeps existed, which was something. But the way television is now, I'd be shocked if there wasn't a gay character in any future series. When Trek didn't include us in the past they missed an opportunity to be ahead of the curve....but now? It would be like they were behind the times. I mean tv scifi / fantasy started getting more inclusive when Trek was still on but now it's really getting somewhere. Babylon 5, Hercules / Xena. Buffy / Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, A Game of Thrones, Spartacus, Doctor Who / Torchwood, Stargate: Universe, Caprica / BSG, True Blood, Heroes, Warehouse 13... They've all been inclusive to varying degrees. It's hard to imagine a new Trek not being part of that.
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