[Smithsonian Heritage] Pride Month Guest: Cathy Pegau

Hi everyone! I’m super excited to welcome back ALBTALBS friend Cathy Pegau! <3 Not only is she super awesome generally, she also helped bring in so many of the guest authors we’ve met this month! Thank you, Cathy, and thank you for guesting!

Queer Girls Belong Everywhere

RulebreakerOnce I started writing my science fiction romance Rulebreaker, I began seeking out more lesbian and bi women’s fiction to read. Though it wasn’t always so easy then, I found stories in a variety of genres: speculative fiction like Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite, historicals such as Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, and contemporary stories in the vein of Georgia Beers’ Starting From Scratch or Carsen Taite’s Nothing but the Truth, among others. There are still difficulties with wonky results (bare, manly chests in my search for lesbian fiction, Amazon? Really?), but search engines are improving and getting your queer girl fix in whatever you like to read isn’t the time-sucking, frustrating slog it used to be. Mostly.

I also wanted more queer women in my own writing, but I didn’t want the stories to be about being queer. There’s a lot of anxiety and difficulty in the world being part of the LGBTQ community, and by no means would I want to minimize that. They are important stories to tell, to read. I don’t feel like I could do them justice. My characters’ sexuality is part of who they are as people, but it doesn’t define the story itself. They are princesses and thieves, students and truck drivers, musicians and madams. They have things to do, and they are queer.

I prefer to write fiction where queer folks are an accepted, every day, no big deal part of society. Is that wishful thinking on my part, considering the struggles that are going on today? Perhaps. But there’s no harm in normalizing that which should be normal, is there? I did this with my science fiction romances and with some shorter fantasy and sci fi works. The few short contemporary pieces I wrote allowed me to set aside the struggles of being queer as well, mostly due to the fact they are short. Would I need to address their queerness in a longer piece? Perhaps. Were I to write more contemporary stories (it isn’t my go-to genre), perhaps I would need to delve into their identity in greater detail. I’ll have to see.

When I was writing my historical mystery series, I still wanted to include queer women in some way, but the story and series wasn’t about a queer woman. What to do? At first, queerness remained subtext, implied in dialogue but never taken head-on. In the third book of the series, however, I include two lesbian couples, one on the page and the other mentioned by other characters. While the MC has no issue with the characters’ queerness, I understand she is an exception to the mindset of the time. Though writing queer historical characters must be done in consideration of the time period, it doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t be included, even if your story isn’t about them.

Queer people aren’t a new thing. We have been in stories from the time humans developed language. We are in every aspect of society, every form of media. We are in ancient tales and those that take us beyond the stars. We’re queer. We’re here. We are everywhere!

Thank you, Lime, for inviting me over!

Happy Pride Month, everyone!

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Thank you Cathy! I appreciate the perspective you provided, and I think there’s a lot of food for thought. So, friends – how about your reading? What have you noticed or sought out?

Join the conversation!