Welcome, welcome, welcome! Today begins the newest project I have. I’ll be posting interviews, guest posts and author spotlights every Monday throughout the 2014 year. For the first part of the year, I’ve decided to specifically focus on LGBT writers, meaning either the writer is LGBT or the novels/stories they write have main LGBT characters. This is very small niche of which I am a part of–on both sides of that spectrum. I just wanted to represent. Now to the fun part.
I’d like to introduce you all to Francis James Franklin! He’s from the other side of the pond, but due to the wonders that are the interwebs, he has joined us today. Today he writes about LGBTness and what that means to him.
In 1996 (I think) I went with a friend to the London Pride event. It was a great day. Gina G. was on stage singing ‘Ooh, aah, just a little bit’ (like I believe she was made to do again in Stockholm this year). One of the speakers that day made a remark along the lines of: ‘10% of people are gay, 10% are straight, and all the rest are bisexual!’ At which I cheered.
My friend looked at me, baffled, and asked, ‘Why did you cheer?’ The implied question, of course, being, ‘Are you saying you’re bisexual?’
Am I? No! I’m 100% straight, a.k.a., ‘damn straight’. Or maybe 99.5% straight – but I’m rounding up.
And yet… In my imagination, and in my writing, there are no restrictions on my gender or on my sexual and romantic orientations. In my first novel, Kings of Infinite Space, or: The Quest for Alina Meridon, the main character’s gender and orientations change during the course of the story. My second novel, Suzie and the Monsters – a fairytale of blood, sex and inhumanity…, features two characters whose romantic and sexual orientations differ, while Suzie herself is pansexual (or possibly omnisexual).
I’ve never questioned my gender. I am a man… but what is a man? There are so many characteristics of appearance and behaviour that we (most of us) identify instinctively as masculine or feminine. If a man has feminine characteristics, is he less than a man? Or if a woman has masculine characteristics, is she less than a woman? Should gender archetypes be limited to Conan the Barbarian and Cinderella?
For the first six weeks of our existence our gender is undifferentiated. Thereafter, a soup of hormones influences our development, minor fluctuations in the concentration of androgens affecting the way our minds and bodies grow. Is it any surprise that gender identity and expression, and sexual and romantic orientations, don’t always correlate with chromosomal expectations?
I am a man. Yet I read Cosmopolitan, I am quite opinionated about shoes, I have almost no interest in sport, I love reading and writing about strong heroines that don’t need to be rescued by a man… Gender inequalities trouble me, and I love stories that overturn traditional (patriarchal) gender roles.
I find the idea of gender shifts very seductive. As a teenager devouring science fiction and fantasy, two gender-shifting visions had a huge impact on me. Iain Banks’s Culture series is a utopia where gender (and, in fact, all aspects of physical nature) can be changed at will. John Varley’s Steel Beach is a society in crisis where new bodies are purchased and, to some extent, follow fashion trends; where for some people sexual orientation depends on their current gender, and for others it doesn’t.
In real life, I am a heterosexual man. In my writing I am most comfortable writing as a woman. And since attraction to women is something I understand, it’s natural for my female characters to share that passion.
So, why did I cheer? Because I believe most people don’t exist at the extremes of homo- and heterosexuality, that social conditioning forces us to take sides in a war of identity that shouldn’t exist. But perhaps also it’s because the bisexual woman in me isn’t just a fantasy…
About Francis James Franklin
By day I’m a university lecturer and researcher. By night I’m an author. I was born in England, grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland, and live now in Newcastle upon Tyne with my beautiful wife and daughter.
Over on my blog,I publish short stories and poetry, publish the occasional review, and discuss vampires and sexuality.
Francis has also graciously allowed me to do a giveaway for two of his stories. So click the “Giveaway” icon to enter to win either An Aromantic Romance or Quantum Sex. Next week we will have an interview with Jaye McKenna. She has graciously donated a copy of Human Frailties, Human Strengths for the giveaway.