Why ‘OUT’ Has Nothing Relevant to Say

Okay, so apparently, people haven’t learned the lesson of Save the Pearls that trying to turn a majority into the minority in fiction and then make the minority character the hero against an oppressive society just smacks of unchecked privilege and thinly veiled bigotry. Because now we have Out by Laura Preble (Kickstarter page here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/809008221/out-boy-meets-girland-is-imprisoned-for-it) that turns same-sex couples into the ruling class and focuses on a poor, oppressed straight couple getting crushed by the system.

First of all, let’s look at the very first sentence of the pitch: “OUT is a novel that is too controversial for the traditional publishing world.” By which, I have to assume, the author means, “I pitched this to some publishers who told me it was a stupid idea, but they just don’t understand mah jee-nee-us, so I’m gonna put it out anyway. As soon as I can get some other bigoted chumps to pay for it for me.” Because no, the idea that straight people are being oppressed by those horrible gays is not controversial, it’s fucking stupid and bigoted, and I applaud those publishers for not wanting to be associated with it.

The hero of this book is Chris, who is the son of a powerful Anglicant minister (yes, we see what you did there) who finds himself attracted to a girl. And because the “Parallels” are the ruling power backed up by the Anglicant church, this kind of “Perpendicular” love is forbidden. Christ (yes, we see what you did there, too) is in love with Carmen, who is the daughter of a lawyer who prosecutes Perpendicular people (or Perps — anyone else noticing the clue-by-four yet?) for their crimes. So the two of them are forced into a secret underground society (unimaginatively called “The Underground”) so that they can truly experience their forbidden love. Oddly enough, it is Chris’ own sister who tells Chris about The Underground (I think this father needs to keep a better watch on his kids, personally), who want to use Chris and Carmen as martyrs for the cause since both come from high-profile families.

Okay, so let’s start with the obvious — if same-sex lovin’ is all that’s legal, HOW DO PEOPLE HAVE CHILDREN? This isn’t some strange planet we’re talking about where the genders are capable of asexual reproduction — this is a “young adult speculative fiction novel” set right here on Earth. And while the author claims there’s no apocalyptic turnover of society, it’s hard to imagine any other way that same-sex relationships could become the norm and still ensure the continuation of the human race. Even if this world has perfected genetic manipulation to the point of being able to synthesize a fertilized egg from same-sex gametes (which would mean that lesbians could ONLY ever have daughters, let’s remember), that doesn’t explain how the race was able to populate itself BEFORE that level of technology. And if they couldn’t, then obviously opposite-sex pairings had to be the overwhelming majority at some recent point in the past, or else there would be no population growth.

But, given the religious domination (and assuming the Anglicant church to be the same age as our Anglican one), there is no indication that this shift ever occurred. So where the hell did the children come from? Are all the children simply the product of illegal Perpendicular love and stolen away as their mothers are sent to the “rehabilitation camps”, and then adopted by good Parallel couples? That’s gotta be some great parenting right there — “Yes, Timmy, according to the law, you shouldn’t even exist. You’re the product of a vile and reprehensible act, and every time I look at you, I’m reminded of the disgusting union that spawned you. Now eat your vegetables.”

So, right off the bat, we know that the author is talking out her ass. She has no conception of politics, religion, culture, biology, or genetics. She claims the book to be “speculation on conscious survival of the species rather than natural selection”, which seems to imply that homosexuality is “natural selection” and that if we want the human race to survive, we have to reject that and consciously force ourselves to survive. Except that natural selection, by definition, refers to those traits that make a species more likely to survive long enough to reproduce. So a conscious desire to procreate would necessarily be the more selected trait, as those individuals without it would rapidly die off.

But even setting aside all the logical and logistical objections to this story, the moral ineptitude is just staggering. Writing a story that casts a poor little straight boy at odds with a society of evil, homosexual oppressors is just reprehensible at the outset. This doesn’t send the message of “what if *you* were the oppressed one”, it sends the message of “fight back against those hateful queers”. This book represents the culmination of the fear of “the homosexual agenda” — it is the ultimate expression of the world that hate groups like the FRC and NOM claim will result from GLBT equality. A book like this is a wet dream for homophobes. They can (and will) hold it up and say, “See! This is what we’ve said all along! This is where we’re heading!” And I’m not entirely convinced that isn’t Preble’s intent.

Her personal web site claims the book is a look at “gender identity and discrimination”, but Out doesn’t deal with gender identity, it deals with sexual orientation. The fact that Preble is unable to tell the two apart is at best ignorant, and at worst transphobic. And, of course, a world with Parallels and Perpendiculars erases the existence of Diagonals (i.e., bisexuals), which throws some biphobia onto the pile as well. In short, there is no corner of the QUILTBAG rainbow that the author is not pissing on with this book.

And, of course, Preble is complaining that people are coming down on her as homophobic, swearing she has the “best intentions” and only wants to “open a meaningful dialogue” because she wants to “say something useful”. Because, apparently, the best way to present yourself as an ally to the GLBT community is to speculate upon a world where gay people throw straight people into rehabilitation camps. Because telling young adults, “You know that gay kid on Glee you like to watch? Well, if his kind were in charge, you’d be in jail right now!” is the best intentions she can imagine.

The simple truth is, you cannot be an ally if the people you claim to ally yourself with are telling you you’re doing it wrong, and you don’t listen. It’s not being a GLBT ally when you tell those people accusing you of homophobia that they’re stupid. Being an ally doesn’t mean automatically having perfect understanding, but it does mean paying attention when people who are actually in that marginalized group point things out to you that you’re doing wrong and fixing it.

Instead, Preble is doing the same thing that countless others before her have done, swearing that she knows better than us how to properly present our struggles, oppressing our viewpoint through her misguided attempt at “liberation”. She is no friend to the GLBT community, and no amount of trying to force her way in the door will change that.

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About erikrmoore

Erik Moore was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. From a young age, he was an avid reader, and recalls that the first book he read on his own was "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day". He was teased at school for being a geek and frequently dealt with it by retreating into the fantasy worlds of stories, other people's at first, and then those of his own creation. Though a writing enthusiast, his first love and vocation will always be computer programming and website development. He currently resides in Florida with his wife and their menagerie of dogs and cats, and wears his geek label proudly.
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4 Responses to Why ‘OUT’ Has Nothing Relevant to Say

  1. *jaw drops* err… I think you said it perfectly.

    I’ll just try to change the world my way: by being open minded, not afraid to admit mistakes (though I’ll be terrible embarrassed if I make one), and writing worlds where diversity is as is and gender/sexuality is not an issue.

  2. Tamara says:

    “Okay, so let’s start with the obvious — if same-sex lovin’ is all that’s legal, HOW DO PEOPLE HAVE CHILDREN?”

    That’s one question that went through my mind, too, when I read the kickstarter project page. To me, it all comes across as an author so desperate to jump onto the bandwagon of successful YA dystopia that she whipped out a story without thinking through *any* of it, including how idiotic and offensive the plot, world, and theme are.
    And, sadly, in that opinion, I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.

    • erikrmoore says:

      In the first chapter, there is a reference to Chris’ “surrogate”, so apparently there is some system of surrogacy going on. However, it’s not made clear if that’s via IVF or some other means. And even if it were, that’s a recent development, which still means that prior to that, the only way to procreate was by a pair of upstanding Parallels taking one for the team and engaging in that nasty Perp sex — and then, I’m guessing, flipping a coin over who gets to keep the kid?

      And what’s the saddest part is that this is the LEAST objectionable part of that first chapter.

  3. After reading the first chapter of this mess last night, I have to say the problems run even deeper. She present the MC’s father as an evangelical abuser who tries to marry his son off to a man twice his age. All the characters presented are one-dimensional, the writing–IMO–was juvenile (and you don’t have to write with a juvenile hand for young adults, don’t talk down to them), and the world as presented is problematic from page one. Then you have all the technical issues (the manuscript is in dire need of an editor).

    While some people are claiming we should all wait to read the book in its entirety, I disagree. I can see from the trailer, the first chapter, her blatherings about it on her blog and Facebook (and her outright hubris when she says she doesn’t fall into the same category as those who fail at writing discrimiflips), and from her own blurb and pitch on Kickstarter that the book is incredibly problematic, not thoroughly though through (though she’s obviously been writing it for over two years now, since she tried a Kickstarter funding for it in June of 2010 that failed), and I don’t feel I should have to give her money (and thus reinforce her opinion of her work) to prove she’s done something homophobic, bigoted, and harmful.

    Add to it her cries of being an ally because her son is gay and… oh, I am just heartsore this sort of fiction will be on the shelf at all. Our children don’t need to read pages of hatred where gay people are vilified and all other members of the QUILTBAG don’t even exist.

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