Wednesday, March 08, 2006

My hunt for Octavia's sexuality

Someone in my livejournal asked me why it was important to me to know whether Octavia E. Butler was gay. After writing a lot of really ugly words, I got down to it and here is what I wrote. In a sense, I'm explaining why my position has changed regarding knowing whether a person "is" or "isn't."

I hope you enjoy.



Isn't it really profound to you the way... she's suddenly not here? I am a diehard fan, too. I own all of her books -- including Survivor. She is sitting on the first shelf in our first bookshelf (our books do not bother with order). So, as a diehard fan, when I read reports saying she was a lesbian, it makes me wonder: How did I miss that? How did I miss that! Did anyone else catch that? I know she has GBLT characters in her books, but does that mean anything?

I have to ferret out if, in my attempt to be counter-culture, something important fell out. When I created the philosophy of outness that did not situate knowing beyond the scope of who one is fucking, I didn't know what I know now. Now, I understand that knowing should not be restricted to just the person you are fucking, but to your community. *shrugs* I was wrong. Now, I would insist on outing in certain situations. You know why? I don't think being closeted is community-minded.

SOMEONE should know. Someone besides "who you are fucking" because how are we ever to establish an openness, not only about sex, but about sexuality if we insist that no one tells anybody (but that one... and then swear them into silence)? When I restricted "knowing" to intimate relationships that used sex as its foundation, I ignored the other kinds of intimate relationships we have with other people that use *talk/communication" about sex as the foundation. So, in being so specific, I feel I created a reality where people were allowed to hide... "if they wanted to" -- when the point is that maybe we shouldn't hide.

Maybe being a B/black lesbian writer *isn't* a bad thing.
Maybe being a B/black faggot writer *isn't* a bad thing.
Maybe being a B/black bisexual writer *isn't* a bad thing.

Maybe being a B/black *anything* ain't a bad thing.


You see it as segregation -- I see it as knowing my people. You don't have to tell the world, but if you consider us friends, you should tell me... eventually. Because I want to know and building relationships and community means I should know.

I can't be close to someone if I can't be my whole self.

'Sides, sometimes I need to talk about sex -- you can't do that and be in the closet.

Ponder it a bit.


Quentin Ergane


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