Note: Some of what I'm going to talk about relates to this series, since it's what provoked the response in the first place. But a lot is relevant to views on LGBT in general, and I've marked spoilers for the series where relevant. But I will warn you, that while I do my best to mark things, if you are determined to read Wolfcry, you might want to read it before this, just in case. Onwards!
During my month long hiatus, I spent a lot of time rereading books because that's what I do when I get stressed out. In fact if you look at the list of books I've read in 2014, May's length is pretty much triple all the others, and almost all those books are rereads haha! During this reread I decided to tackle Amelia Atwater-Rhodes Kiesha'ra books, since I remembered really enjoying them in high school and had recommended them to someone fairly recently. If you don't know about them, they're a collection of really unique shapeshifter books - these aren't your typical werewolf ones (although the later ones do feature wolves). There's snake shifters and hawk shifters and tiger shifters and dragon shifters (ok aWyvern, but they're basically mini dragons). The world building is amazing, especially considering how short all the books are. I mean she not only has a full culture built in with social norms, religion, mythology, and history...she has that for multiple cultures. At least 3 fully fleshed out in the series, but another two that she's clearly mapped out as well. But as I said, the books are short. They could all stand to have at least another 100 pages to flesh things out a bit more. In fact that's really my only complaint, otherwise they're a really fun, quick read.
Once I'd reread the books, I decided to go onto Goodreads and update my ratings if needed, and just generally browse reviews. When I got to Wolfcry...I was shocked. And with each review I could slowly feel my anger build, and build, and build...until I was about ready to explode.
Clearly I need to go on a Goodreads review ban again.
Next comes a small spoilery bit, just so you know.
There was a reviewer who actually thought she was going to end up with the wolf who TRIED TO RAPE HER before Betia could be considered as a love interest, and thought that would have been a better choice. There are people who would rather have a woman raped than have them end up with another woman. Yeah. Let that sink in for a minute. I don't know why I was surprised by that sentiment...but I was. Everyone seemed shocked by the ending choice. I wasn't. Admittedly, I'd read the book before, but it has been OVER A DECADE, so I couldn't remember the ending. You could argue that might put me subcionsciously more likely to understand the ending and pick up clues, but that's beside the point. There are all sorts of hints that happen with Oliza's travels with Betia. Things that if it had been a male and female character would undoubtedly have caused people to ship them, but because they were same sex characters, the thought didn't occur to them. That in and of itself is not a problem - that simply says to me that there need to be more books out there like this. We need more exposure. It's the reaction after the surprise that makes me angry.
What concerns me the most is not the people who were outspoken about their belief that lesbian relationships are unholy. They will always be there. For all of time. There is nothing we can do to change that. There are still people who believe interracial couples should be condemned to death and that women shouldn't be leaders. I like to think they are in the minority and that mostly they're just kind of crazy. But the people who pretend they are ok with LGBT relationships? They're what's scary. They know it's not socially acceptable, so they think they are ok with it. And I honestly think that most of them really believe it of themselves, because most of us think of ourselves as good. But when these people are actually confronted with said relationship, they rebel against it and are disgusted. They don't want to hear about relationships that are different from theirs. They don't want to read about anything "other". In some ways - very minor and very different ways - I understand the kind of invasive questions and disgust that gays get. I don't want to make it seem like what I have experienced is anywhere near what the LGBT community goes through. But I often encounter the same sort of people (the ones who don't think they're being offensive).
It's like the people who have seen me with my boyfriend. He's Korean. I know I'm not getting as much flack as I would if he were black, but I've still had encounters - from people who probably don't even believe they are racist. I've had people ask me if I have something against white men. I've have people tell me to look them up when I'm interested in a real man. I've had people make assumptions about my boyfriend's genitalia that I really don't find entertaining. And honestly? What right do you, as a stranger (or even as my friends and family), to talk to something like that with me, simply because of my boyfriend's race? It's also just feels invasive.
If I was dating a white man not a single one of those conversations would have happened. Not. One. Ever. I feel like I'm in a relationship that is probably one of the most accepted as far as dating outside race goes, and certainly more accepted than LGBT relationships are. (Although I've noticed it seems to make a big difference - towards the negative - that I am a white woman and he is an Asian man, and not the reverse. I have my own theories regarding that, but this post isn't supposed to be about this, so I won't get into that now).
A lot of the same situations happen with LGBT relationships (and I'm not speculating on this - I have friends who experience this all the time). They want to know who the "girl/guy" in the relationship is. Or they feel uncomfortable if you show any physical affection in front of them - but they're totally ok with your relationship, really. And some of them actually do mean well and are just curious. We need books out there that make these relationships seem normal so that people don't end up being treated like they're at the zoo. Books like these are the books we need for world views to change. I've mentioned before, particularly about Tamora Pierce, that although I don't think I ever would have had a problem with the LGBT community (because my family is awesome and raised me well), I also think being raised on books like these have ingrained in me that people are just people no matter what they look like or who they love. Books can have that power, especially when kids get to read them.
We're getting spoilery again:
I think it's also important to have books specifically like this one, where you aren't set up from the beginning to know that the main characters are going to be gay. I feel like I've seen fewer poor reviews of books that were either set up from the beginning to have an LGBT relationship or if it is a side character, because people going in already know that's what they're getting. I feel like people think it's "ok" to have books about gay characters...but they don't want to read about them. Not if it's a main character and not if the character can be seen as straight at any point in time. Not if there's a potential love interest of the opposite gender. Then it's suddenly not ok. And that's what scares me. Because put in those terms, it's letting people who think they are allies show that they still believe LGBT relationships are inferior to straight ones. That it is preferable to have a man stalk you and attempt to rape you than choose to love another woman. And that's unacceptable.