And now for something completely different.
I should have mentioned this a long time ago. As an author, it’s difficult to balance the desire to avoid conflict and controversy with the need to make a positive difference in the world. There are a lot of people out there who believe that authors and other entertainment should remain entirely apolitical: I don’t think that’s even remotely realistic. Entertainment is inherently political, often in ways that the author may not necessarily even be aware of. We are all a product of our cultures and biases.
Anyone who has looked at my one-star reviews knows I’ve already made a statement simply by including LGBTQIA+ characters in my works. The simple existence of non-straight characters is such an affront to some readers that I’ve been given one-star reviews by people who have never even read the books.
That’s the state of the world we live in. And we stand at a precipice where the results of an election day could make this trend into a direction that’s significantly worse. A direction where, if the political climate grows more contentious, authors like myself may not be safe to continue writing about LGBTQIA+ people at all.
I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that.
There are powerful countries where fiction that includes elements the government deems undesirable, impure, or subversive is simply illegal. If I was writing the equivalent of Sufficiently Advanced Magic in China, there’s a chance I could be jailed for it.
But as much as I dislike the idea of being thrown in prison for writing about a gay character or two, there’s a great deal more at stake, and I’m frankly at much lower risk than a tremendous number of Americans.
This election won’t just decide the presidency itself: the winners in congress will be tremendously important, and the president will have a huge impact on what ends up panning out with things like the Supreme Court. Given that the Supreme Court is lifetime appointments, even the change of a single judge will substantially influence the legal system of the United States for many years.
Millions of people stand to lose the ability to get married, or have their marriages reversed, if the Supreme Court decides they’re not allowed to be married. Tens of millions of people stand to lose their medical insurance if the Affordable Care Act is deemed unconstitutional.
(Notably, I would be one of those people in the latter case: like many authors, I’m insured through the ACA.)
Beyond the Supreme Court, we’re also seeing absolute horrors going on all throughout the country. ICE detention centers. Unmarked federal agents pulling people off the streets. And, of course, literal hundreds of thousands of dead as the result of the pandemic.
I’m frankly horrified to see the state of the country I’ve lived in and loved since my birth. But I haven’t given up yet, and you shouldn’t, either.
Given the sheer number of voters, it’s easy to feel like your own vote is unimportant: don’t fall into that trap.
While it’s extremely unlikely for a single vote to influence something on the scale of a presidential election, small numbers of votes have decided other issues. Moreover, even if your own personal vote does not sway an election, collective voting momentum is important: by doing our part, we can inspire others to vote, and so on and so forth.
Please, please vote.
And if you’ve already voted: thank you, and I’m proud of you.
Stay safe, everyone.