I am not only pro-gay rights; I just can’t understand why they get harassed, alienated and attacked in so many parts of the world, just because they happen to prefer their own sex over the opposite. Mr. Card, who is a talented science-fiction author that I have immensely enjoyed over the years, had put me in a difficult moral dilemma. Should I keep reading his books, now that I knew that he was out to kill the gay’s right to marry gay? (this gay marries gay is important because he suggests that gay men should marry women and vice versa. Check it out. It is a priceless hymn to hypocrisy). Or should I repudiate his every word, as if this ugly face that he is showing to the world is the only part of his character that matters?
This dilemma is completely new to me, because I have always assumed that All Geeks Are Good (even the ones that go around creating cults and getting killed by their own creatures). From my experience, all geeks have suffered a disconnect to their peers and to the world, and all geeks have been accused at some point of – well, being a geek. That is a cool label now, but it wasn’t when I was a teenager, and I’m pretty sure that the treatment that geeks received was even worse when Orson Scott Card was a teenager.
Being a geek should not only prepare you to deal better with other people’s unrequited opinions, but also to realize how random, unjustified and cruel the scapegoat lottery can be. It really depends on what is cool around you and what your parents taught you and peer pressure and the religion of the majority. The odd one out could the Latin kid that can’t speak English yet, but who will be bilingual in a few years. Or the Goth girl who bites her nails until they bleed, but writes fabulous songs. Or the fat boy who cannot move as fast as the others, but excels in Physics. Or it could be you, for any of the reasons that make you different and hence, a target. And, Orson Scott Card, as a science fiction writer, qualifies as the geekiest of geeks, so at first my brain just couldn’t process that he had taken the time to write that hateful and deceptively calm column.
Taking an active stand against someone’s private life and publishing your opinions as if they were proven facts all over the Internet takes bullying to a completely different level. It requires the skullheadness of the socially stumped and the rightfulness of a person that has never considered a whole part of humanity as human as himself. For the author that coined the Hierarchy of Exclusion, he is behaving like a particularly close-minded Varelse.
So after giving it some thought, I opened Word and I replaced my protagonists’ names, Jeff & Stanley, with Mr. Card’s names. My gay married couple, the main characters in an urban science-fiction unfinished and hopeful novel, are named after a homophobic author. I could have named the villain after him, but somehow this small action felt right.
I cannot get Mr. Card to walk a mile on a gay person’s shoes, but I sure can honor all the gay Orsons and Scotts out there in my writing. Even if this novel never gets published.
Challenge of the week: if you are a writer, and are particularly concerned about a social issue, write a story in which the main character wears the name of your issue’s most fervent enemy. And then go and publish it. Because the best thing that you can do with a radical’s name is turn it into a positive symbol for the cause he is attacking. Even if the symbol is a very small one. It will make a difference.