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Me: Don’t be a hypocrite, own your identity or don’t. Pick one. INTERNET: PILE ON!

About a year ago I wrote a blog post titled “Defining Own Voices, Authors: you can’t have it both ways“. I thought the title was self-explanatory. The blog post repeatedly says words to the effect: “don’t claim to be an ‘own voices’ author when it might make you money then deny that identity to ward off negative consequences. You can’t have it both ways.” In my mind, trying to have it both ways IN PUBLIC makes you a hypocrite at best. I didn’t even mention examples of people falsely claiming identities to make money, this was just about choosing, in a public setting such as with the marketing of a book or applying for a publishing opportunity open only to people in vulnerable minority groups, to claim an identity SOME of the time but not at others.

Internet piled on – but I was oblivious

So, of course, the internet decided to pile on. Even people I’ve worked with in the past piled on and didn’t bother to – for example – EMAIL ME. ALTHOUGH THEY HAD MY EMAIL ADDRESS.

Instead I discovered the pile on yesterday because a SFWA committee member emailed me although, to my knowledge, none on the SFWA committee had my email address. I’m not sure if SFWA is seeking clarification or is policing the internet. As a non-SFWA member them contacting me is a concern but let’s wait and see what they want.

Today I discovered Twitter wasn’t letting me see replies to me and @-ing of me from people who weren’t following me. Not helpful but I’ve fixed that now. Still, the internet being what it is, a genuine attempt to contact me would have used THE EMAIL ADDRESS THAT AUTHOR HAD. SFWA managed to track down my email address so it obviously wasn’t that hard.

Anyway, I engaged with one of the authors leading the pile on

By engaged, I mean I googled the essay topic and my name. Then I clicked on the top relevant link, who happened to be an author I’ve worked with before. Back before he stopped talking to me on Twitter and unfollowed me. But he wrote a lengthy blog post twisting what I said and inciting more of a pile on. Thanks.

I won’t name him because I suspect he’s doing this for the clicks. His post seems as orchestrated as the Scalzi-Beale conflict that generated clicks and money for both authors. I won’t be party to that. Also, I learnt not to give publicity with the SMOFS conflict. The SMOFS are a bunch of Americans who, several years ago, objected to me, an Australian woman, setting up this website. Their objections: “you’re doing it wrong” and “how dare you do this thing without our mentoring and our permission?!”

Once I stopped linking to their shit they escalated the harassment and bullying – until I threatened to dox them and, to back up my threat, I named one of their ISPs and gave the ISP’s address. End of problem.

Admittedly, mocking the SMOFS probably helped: Through the looking class and A troll too far. I found a photo online of the ringleader. I couldn’t be sure it was him before I did the drawings but public reaction confirmed it. Also, one of his friends accused me of plagiarizing the first drawing from Deviant Art in an effort to bully me into taking down my pastel drawing. So white American middle class middle aged men and I have a history in the spec fic “community”.

Usually I don’t go to their websites anymore and they don’t email me, use social media or come on to my website to bully, harass or threaten. I call that a win.

The Hypocrite-apologist

I’m going to call this author the Hypocrite-Apologist (HA) because his premise appears to be that he wants my permission to lay claim to all the shiny prizes regarding identity while only being “out” when it suits him. Or he’s supporting other people’s “right” to do this.

HA says “The DMZ essay talks about authors co-opting the “Own Voices” label to sell books, claiming or implying that they’re disabled in order to get a little extra publicity, or a few more sales. No examples are given, but yeah, it can happen.”

I didn’t give examples because I wasn’t going to “out” anyone. Why does that need to be spelt out?

some people get killed for their identity

HA: “some people get killed for their identity”.

Me: I know. Queers, disabled people, women, Muslims, they get killed all the time. WHICH IS MY POINT. THEY SUFFER FOR THEIR IDENTITIES. What I explicitly and repeatedly talked about in that post was NOT people hiding their identity, living in the closet. I talked about people coming out of the closet to snatch the goodies before retreating back into the closet. You don’t get it both ways. At least, you don’t on Dark Matter Zine. As I said at the bottom of the post: THIS IS DARK MATTER ZINE’S OFFICIAL POSITION. Consenting adults elsewhere? That’s between you and the gatekeepers.

HA says I’m policing identity

You will note that I didn’t say someone can’t write an identity with which they don’t identify. If you look through other posts I’ve written, like the series in response to the Lionel Shriver controversy, I explicitly stated that, when writing a voice you don’t identify with, do your research and write respectfully. One such review I wrote is here where I talk about the author having done her research. I also interviewed the author, Suzy Zail, here. Zana Fraillon is another author who does her research and writes voices with which she doesn’t identify. I love and adore her work as you can see by my reviews of her books and interviews with her. Nowhere did I say that an author has to only write their publicly-owned identity. I said, repeatedly, that you can’t own it sometimes for shiny opportunities while denying it when it’s inconvenient.

Last year for International Women’s Day I ran a podcast panel on #MeToo characters. I believe that every woman* has either experienced rape and/or sexual harassment or knows someone who has. However, prior to that interview starting, we established that I wasn’t going to ask. I was ok with that. At no point did they “wink” at the audience claiming to be “me too” while not specifically owning it. We skirted the issue and focused on the characters NOT their experience. They were not owning any identity in that podcast, they were talking about their books. Anything more is conjecture.

(* and other people too but EVERY WOMAN. For more information try googling Christian Porter rape allegations, Brittany Higgins, Grace Tame, Canberra Bubble … and I could list a whole heap more. Australia’s government is currently in the middle of a “me too” moment and has, typically, botched its response.)

Identities in the closet

Furthermore, I’ve interviewed and reviewed authors WHO I KNOW are disabled but they do not own that identity. They establish that they do not “own” this identity; I won’t point to those interviews for obvious reasons. I work with their publicly declared identity and they are consistent. Which was what I urged in my blog post.

As HA is aware, I was diagnosed with my disability when I was 6 months old. I always knew I had a disability but I did not identify as DISABLED until 2005/6 when the South Australian Health department discriminated against me and destroyed my career. Then the University of South Australia discriminated against me and effectively expelled me twice (2007 and 2008) for being disabled and asking for disability access. These issues and some of my evidence are now with the Disability Royal Commission.

These events caused me to change my attitude from “I have a disability and I ‘pass’ when I could but I did check the ‘disability’ box for work” to “I am disabled”. Also, as my eyesight deteriorated over the past 20 years, I found I could no longer “pass” as normal. I know a lot about coming out of the closet as a person with a disability and accepting and learning to live with the label “disabled” and the violence since then. HA seemed to dismiss this in his lambasting and misrepresentation of what I wrote.

I called for people to either be publicly “out” or not but don’t try to claim both at once. But HA felt hurt by that. I don’t see the problem: to try to claim to be, for example, a cat and also a dog at the same time makes no sense in the normal course of events. Are you going to chase yourself then claim to be traumatised by the big bad dog? Pick one, don’t be a hypocrite.

(Sorry, getting a bit facetious here. It’s how I deal with knowing the internet is out to get me. That and lots of crying, shaking, hiding from public view, and a few glasses of wine.)

The final straw

The specific event that triggered that post – after years of being really pissed off – was me reviewing a specific book and recording a podcast with that author. During that interview the author, SG, claimed that identity and spoke for that group of people. Then SG accused me of outing her and requested that I change my (five star) review. I removed the review and the podcast so I could not possibly be accused of outing her. Also I was quite annoyed that she claimed an identity but hadn’t come out and was, effectively, winking at the audience. To my knowledge she is not a SFWA member.

Sophie on the attack

At no point was I homophobic or biphobic. My objection was solely regarding her speaking for the queer community in the podcast, talking more than both the other two author guests – who were both out – put together, then claiming to not be out. She asked me to change my review.

This request confronted me with the fact that I’d dismissed my concerns about her coming out story BECAUSE SHE WAS OUT. If she was out and speaking for the queer community with such authority, then I figured I had to accept her story on face value. But she wasn’t out. Therefore my thoughts were:

  1. I don’t change reviews on request unless I’ve made a mistake
  2. I have made a mistake, I gave that book 5 stars because I believed she was out so I either have to radically change that review or delete it.
  3. She’s outed herself in that podcast and has accused me of outing her – I have to remove the podcast so I don’t out her.

SG’s claim that my response was homophobic and biphobic is defamatory and libel. Furthermore, she’s Australian so she falls under Australian laws. I still have the original review, podcast and podcast post as well as records of all conversations to prove my claim. At the time, SG was angry that I removed the review and podcast but she hasn’t previously – to my knowledge – made such defamatory claims previously. I am now considering taking legal action, particularly in light of the fact that two authors just cancelled a podcast booking. If SG apologises unreservedly and publicly then I won’t need to.


Also, if you have a problem with something that I’ve written how about you talk to me?

I’ll be contacting SG via her publicist so I’m practicing what I preach. Once I stop shaking.

I was clear IN THAT ARTICLE that I am not prohibiting people from writing stories that aren’t their own. What I’m objecting to is having it both ways: claiming an identity WHEN IT’S CONVENIENT and shedding that skin when it’s not.

Me to Hypocrite-apologist

I am really upset and angry right now. I’m shaking and crying. I would have thought you’d have at least read THE WORDS ON THE PAGE instead of selectively taking some of them and spinning this.

BTW I wrote this post a year ago. Why now?

HA’s response in part

“You will note that I didn’t say someone can’t write an identity with which they don’t identify.”

Again, I never said otherwise. Your essay was about who’s allowed to use the “Own Voices” label. I don’t believe you ever tried to say people couldn’t write characters with identities other than their own.

You say you’re upset because I didn’t read the words on the page, but your first two points here don’t seem to have anything to do with my post.

“Also, if you have a problem with something that I’ve written how about you talk to me?”

As I said in the post, I reached out on Twitter, but never got a response from you.

“BTW I wrote this post a year ago. Why now?”

I wrote my post a week ago. Why reply now? I’m guessing the answer is the same. I responded to your essay when I became aware of it.

Whatever you may have intended with that essay, many the words on the page–the words that I and many others have now read–were hurtful.


Firstly, HA claims he reached out on twitter. I didn’t get that tweet. Also, interestingly, Foz Meadows @ ed me on Twitter in March but I didn’t see that. I don’t know why. I check Twitter every day, multiple times a day, but didn’t see any of that. Today I discovered that Twitter was preventing me seeing any tweets @ me by people who aren’t following me. I fixed that.

However, HA HAD MY EMAIL ADDRESS. He performatively “reached out” on Twitter but didn’t bother to email me. Presumably because he wouldn’t be seen by the community in email.

SFWA reached out BY EMAIL. That’s how I learnt about this.

You want examples?

In my initial response to HA I cited loads of examples where I support people who don’t publicly declare an identity but are writing fabulous stories of those identities.

OF COURSE I DIDN’T CITE EXAMPLES OF PEOPLE WHO ARE CONCEALING THEIR IDENTITY WHILE WRITING THAT IDENTITY. Because that would be “outing” them. However, HA included SG’s tweet on his page so he provided his own example.

But also, SG is not the only reason.

I’ve seen people who wouldn’t check a “are you disabled” box for work or in other circumstances because it would potentially cost them opportunities while they will take rare publishing and mentoring opportunities from those who are firmly barred by gatekeepers for being vulnerable minorities. There are heaps of us who have no choice but to be out, be out consistently, and suffer for it. We suffer bigotry, barring from opportunities AND WE SUFFER VIOLENCE. REGULARLY. And we’re exiled to the margins consistently.

This is NOT about telling people all the time about all the identities. Those claims are spurious vexatious bullshit from people just joining the pile on. I’m seeing authors I’ve never heard of saying “well, I won’t send her *my* book”. Yeah, sweetie, I have enough books thanks. Also, I was thinking that I should read, review and interview more authors in the US/Canada/UK region from smaller publishers. Now? I don’t know. I don’t have a full list of who’s piled on and I don’t want to touch any of them.

Why not review authors who’ve attacked me?

Why do I actively avoid authors who’ve attacked me? Because any criticism I give of their work can be construed as revenge. Look at SG: she said I’m homophobic and biphobic solely because I said you can’t talk for the queer community while in the closet, at least you can’t on my website. And you can’t write an “own voices” coming out story when you’re not out. But, because she’s playing identity politics, she’s twisted that into something completely unrecognizable. I’m waiting for her to put a Human Rights complaint in against me. Let’s see how far that goes. Ha!

It’s nice for HA that he can choose whether to declare his disability. In my post I suggest that people who get to pick and choose whether to declare should not take rare opportunities from people who are disabled and don’t get a choice. Or, alternatively, the choice to take one of those opportunities should be the act of coming out. They shouldn’t get to “go back in”. Grace Tame doesn’t get to “go back in” as a sexual abuse survivor and nor does Brittany Higgins. They’re out and they’re standing for everyone who’s out and in. I applaud them. I respect others’ decisions not to come out. But those who aren’t out can’t, for example, submit to an “own voices” anthology then expect to go back into the closet where it’s safe and warm. Any other outcome defies logic.


I can (but won’t) name a specific author/editor who claims to be an own voices person with depression but I would lay good money on the likelihood that she never ticks the “disabled” box for her academic career. So, in my opinion, she’s taking rare own voices publishing and editing opportunities away from disabled people for her hobby, while other disabled people who live with their identities – and the inevitable discrimination and barriers – 24/7 have nothing.

I did not say you can’t be queer if you haven’t come out. I’m saying that a queer person who hasn’t come out can’t speak with authority for the queer community of which they’re not part because being a part of a community requires being out. Nor can they write an “own voices” coming out story because they haven’t come out. QED.

HA says he hurts. So do I.

My article specifically and repeatedly says “DON’T WINK AND THE AUDIENCE. DON’T TRY TO HAVE IT BOTH WAYS”. And that this is Dark Matter Zine’s official opinion. I will not support an author who claims to be an own voices author when convenient but not all the time. In contrast, I can, do and have supported authors who tell me “Don’t ask, I don’t identify” and we work with that.


If you’re one of the people bullying and harassing me, or one of those telling me to go fuck myself, or one of those telling me to commit suicide or threatening to kill me because of ZE, Sophie Gonzales, Jim Hines and the general pile on they’ve orchestrated, please be advised that I moderate comments.

Furthermore, all comments come complete with ISP addresses so I will know who your ISP is. And the police can contact your ISP and track you down if your “comments” are violating legislation.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


  1. Just a thought, perhaps reviews should be about the work being reviewed, and not your space to work out your own shite.

    • This is my website. My reviews reflect my opinion. Your harassment comes complete with your ISP number enabling law enforcement authorities to track you down. Just so you and all your kind know.
      FYI to all reading this: I allowed that comment through so I could respond to it. It’s far from the worst comment I’ve had since ZE, Sophie Gonzales and Jim C Hines decided to destroy my reputation and bully/harass/drive me to suicide. I’ve asked what they want and they haven’t actually told me other than effectively “you’re wrong, I [Jim Hines] is right, and you need to submit”.

      • Your claim that Gonzales and Hines are deliberately trying to drive you to suicide is a pretty clear case of libel. Maybe dial it down, take a temporary step back, and read what folks have actually said.

        • It appears to me that the pack of people who are hunting me, harassing me, abusing me and accusing me of various things are trying to drive me to suicide. I can’t get a job or even volunteer work because of my disability so all I have is this website. And Jim Hines specifically told me to stop working on this website. He may as well have told me to lock myself in a room and never come out. What do you think would be the end result of that? Seriously? You take away the thing I created after losing so much other stuff, that I persevered with while I endured so much more crap from RMIT and UniCanberra etc, and now it’s all I have. And your gang is trying to bully me into stopping so I have NOTHING. Go and harass someone who’s campaigning against gender neutral toilets or against same sex marriage or something.

          Also Jim Hines used the example of his diabetes to claim that he’s a victim here. Many years ago he posted photos of himself and his injection site and he’s used his diabetes as part of his identity. To claim in his post that he’s affected by me saying “be out or don’t, pick one for your public persona/image” because he hasn’t told every single one of his work colleagues is dumbfounding.

          Jim Hines claimed that he was sufficiently concerned to allow me to tell my side of the story that he – PERFORMATIVELY – reached out on twitter instead of doing what SFWA did: send an email. When I didn’t respond to his tweet he didn’t bother emailing me. And now he’s saying “oh well, that didn’t matter because this isn’t about you” when his entire post is about what I said and, like James Beamon of SFWA said of the guy who started this, Jim has twisted what I said to suit his agenda. His agenda seems to be to manufacture outrage, clicks, and to help drive me off the internet. Nowhere has he acknowledged that I’m an isolated disabled woman who’s doing the best I can and who struggles to read. Also, I can’t, as someone suggested, spend three years studying critical theory at university. Furthermore, that person also seemed to think that doing so enabled her to write reviews without her opinions or something; reviews are people’s opinions. That’s why, for example, the legendary David and Margaret of David and Margaret At The Movies argued with each other in every episode. It’s not a person’s opinion that makes a review helpful, it’s whether you know the reviewer well enough to know if you’ll agree and/or if the reviewer expresses their opinions and justifications so you know if you want to consume that story.

          Even if I removed my website from the internet today, It would still be here. The National Library Archives of Australia takes snapshots of this website and keeps it for posterity because they believe this is a “significant Australian website”.

          I ASKED what Jim and co want. Jim’s response was to stop reviewing and interviewing people. Also he asked for an apology: I apologised for using wording in my review of Jemisin’s book that was racist. I didn’t know that wording was racist. I have removed that review. I am justified in voicing my concern about Jemisin’s use of supernormative whiteness that effectively shifts blame for atrocities away from normative whites onto people with albinism. There are academic papers on the topic that I have referenced on my website. You can also use Google Scholar to find them.

          I will not apologize for my decision that results in me refusing to simultaneously try to protect someone while knowing they’re in the closet while also allowing them to publicly claim an identity. I don’t know how that would even be possible.

          As I’ve said previously, I could have re-recorded the introduction to Sophie’s podcast. If Sophie, Will or Alison had verbalized the Skype text comment, I would have stopped, figured out a replacement wording, and continued. This happens frequently during interviews. No one said anything. Then she attacked me for not having read something in teeny text while reading my scripted intro (that was in a separate Word document and was many times bigger text than Skype’s text chat). However, she talked like someone who is “out” in the podcast. She talked for the queer community in that podcast. Then she told me afterwards in April that she wanted me to protect her identity. Re-recording the introduction would not have protected her identity because of what she said. In the Twitter DMs, I tried to explain that to Sophie. She brought Will Kostakis into the conversation (she appears to have accused me of doing that but she brought him in). I tried explaining the problem to both of them. Sophie wasn’t responding to that specific issue. Will said that I should take all the material down that “outed” her.

          So now people are complaining that I outed her when I did not know; they are complaining that I didn’t change the introduction to protect her and yet keep the podcast up where she effectively outed herself although she clearly and repeatedly stated in Twitter DMs that she wanted me to remove material outing her; they are complaining because they say I have no right to voice my opinions and concerns in reviews; and they are telling me to stop working on Dark Matter Zine. And those are the more polite statements.

          • Jim didn’t say he wanted you to STOP reviewing. He suggested you take a BREAK. Here is the comment, copied from his website. I think perhaps you misread it?

            ‘As for what I want? I mean, given what I’ve seen, I do think it would be good for you to take a break from reviewing books and stuff, at least long enough to hear some of what people are saying, but that’s on you. I hope you’ll at least consider why so many people are hurt and angry over the things you’ve said.

            But my “agenda” in writing this post? Here’s the thing. It wasn’t about you.

            Yes, obviously the post was about an essay you’d written. But I wasn’t trying to make you change or stop reviewing or cancel your podcast or whatever.’

          • He told me to “take a break”. In any language that means “stop”. In this context it means “BE SILENT DISABLED WOMAN, FOR I, A MAN, HAVE SPOKEN. HAVE NOTHING. DO NOTHING. CEASE.” Even if it’s temporary. And who is he to mandate that anyway? He’s someone who jumped on the back of ZE’s twisted version of my essay, the twisted version that James Beamon of SFWA voiced concern about. Jim is someone who decided to take that twisted version and run with it. He decided to take Sophie’s version of events without doing his due diligence and USING THE EMAIL ADDRESS HE ALREADY HAS or, god forbid, he use the contact form on my website. That might have resulted in a dialogue that wouldn’t have generated him the sympathy and sensational outrage against me.

            Also, Jim claims I discriminated against him because – get this – he’s made his diabetes part of his public persona for at least several years that I know of. But he says I’m discriminating against him because he hasn’t told every person in his workplace individually about his diabetes. I have half a mind to contact his workplace and ask them for a response to his published words and the implication that his employer and/or colleagues would discriminate against him for being a white middle class male with diabetes.

            Furthermore, I explicitly said in my original essay and follow ups that I never said “you don’t have X identity if you’re not out”. I said you can’t publicly claim a public identity and publicly deny that identity at the same time. Through my original essay I kept saying “don’t wink at the audience” and “don’t try to have it both ways”. But sure you’re all outraged because I’m asking people to be consistent.

          • There is an agenda. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a rampaging pile on. I suggest you lot go and find someone who is actually trying to harm your community, someone who is campaigning against queer rights, and work just as hard to silence and cancel them instead of bullying me, vilifying me and deliberately twisting my words to mean something I explicitly did not say.

  2. Gawd sorry your dealing with this bullcrap! Screw that. Hope your ok. I know someone who has stumbled into conflict with that crowd (the lgbtq community online as it were) and they will just get madder the more food those trolls get….. look after yourself as some of them are waiting to pounce on anything they view as “homophobic” the best thing you can give them is nothing that way they end up looking worse because your taking the high road while they look crazy being mad at you for nothing online…… And like you said if its publicity they want they will have a field day with a legal case because that crowd will just spin it so you look homophobic for suing and they make millions in sympathy sales. But your too smart for that…… we see right through their little games…. beat them at their own game and don’t play into what they want…. watch how quickly they’ll lose interest when they realize they’re not getting any fame out of this anymore….. be the bigger person and everyone will know soon enough who’s in the right and who just wanted a quick buck…..!!!

    • Thanks so much for your support. I’ll take your comments regarding legal avenues under advisement but, last week before I knew about this, two authors cancelled a podcast. Sophie’s defamation of me may be the end of Dark Matter Zine. And Dark Matter Zine is the only thing I have after disability discrimination destroyed my career multiple times over. At this point the only hope I have for this website to continue functioning, to continue receiving books for review and interviewing authors, is to clear my name.

      As it is, I’ve had to shut down my Twitter because of the harassment, bullying and abuse.

  3. Long time reader here. Sending love. That’s so very hard! 🙁 Unfortunately a trigger warning isn’t legally calling you biphobic or homophobic, it’s “a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc. alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material”, in other words, it’s to alert people that they could potentially, personally find the story biphobic or homophobic and that they might be distressed by it. This is not the same as saying you’re biphobic or homophobic under the law (though I’m sure it still hurt to see!). I hope you feel better soon though <3 Have a self-care day.

    • thanks so much. Sometimes I wonder why I continue working on DMZ because it’s such a thankless task while costing us a lot financially as well as in time and energy. And I rarely hear from people like you. (Hugs with tears.) Thank you.

      The reason I keep plugging on is because I have nothing else after significant and repeated disability discrimination then this.

      I now have screen shots of what she said on twitter, some of which I dispute. If the twitter DMs and tweets supported her story, she’d have included screenshots. Now that her statements and the author who apparently started this’s tweets have been sent to me (hopefully this is a complete collection), it appears they both have books coming out around now so they’re trying to generate publicity. And HA is also, of course, looking for traffic for his blog.

      I blocked 3 people on twitter then that seemed to clear up most of the barrage, so there’s that. And I also tweeted a link to the original podcast so people can judge for themselves if she outed herself in that podcast. No one has listened to it and responded yet so I’m hopeful there.

      I’m still shaking. Still teary. But some of the chatter on Twitter has been fur-baby focused, some usual rage at the government, and now your comment. There’s a little light in this dark place. Thanks.

      • I’m glad I was able to make you feel a little better. My experience with these things is that twitter likes to get mad about something and then move on to the next thing, especially if you say your piece then stop engaging (then they don’t have any fuel to keep whingeing). I’m sure this will all be forgotten by next week!! Be brave and focus on the good stuff and I promise all the other bs will blow over as fast as it came!! (Yay for fur babies providing light!)

        • Thanks again. Others are also having a bad day and asking for tweets to make them feel better so I tweeted a couple of furbaby pics and told some stories about my crazy unique entertaining cats, which helped make me feel a bit better too. Share your joys and you double them as the saying goes.

  4. I’m something of an outside observer here, but I’m going to stick my nose in anyway. I don’t know the whole story, just bits of it from different perspectives. You’re probably not a monster. But you’re probably also in the wrong here, at least partially. And if the Internet is piling on, it’s time to at least consider your part in it.

    Let’s look at the author who you had the interaction with that seems to have sparked this. From their telling of the account, when they were invited, they didn’t know it was based on an ‘own voices’ moniker and so when they were introduced that way tried to let you know they weren’t out, and again when the review came out. Maybe they’re lying. Or maybe it was just a misunderstanding. They happen, a lot. You should at least consider the possibility that maybe they genuinely didn’t think they were being reviewed or invited to a podcast based on owning an identity. And if that’s the case your response was out of line. That’s not unforgiveable, your response was based on a misunderstanding too. For someone who is not out to accidentally ‘out’ themselves when they’re not ready though… I mean you’d have to imagine it’s terrifying, and sympathy and kindness is the approach. So what if it’s unprofessional to ask for a chance? You don’t want to be responsible for outing them, that’s the greater sin.

    As to your essay about claiming Own Voices, I agree but only to the extent of actually claiming and marketting based on own voices. But you say a lot of other stuff that does frankly come off as queer or biphobic. Not virulently, hatefully so, but just from ignorance. And I hope you’ll listen and consider this, though you seem pretty defensive and riled up right now because you feel attacked. But again, what I said about your own part in things. Like when you say, “Under this banner, any author who’s ever found someone of their gender attractive could claim to be queer while never having had a same sex relationship, never having experienced coming out, never having experienced others’ reactions to being nontraditional, nonconformist. It’s a con.” No, I’m sorry, but no. People who’ve never had a same sex relationship but think they’re queer ARE queer. Even if they’ve never come out. Yes they might not suffer as much as somebody who embraces the identity and tells others. That doesn’t mean they don’t suffer. People who suffer less still suffer. Now, it’s totally fair that if they’re not willing to embrace the identity they shouldn’t claim Own-Voices for Queer characters, and honestly, I don’t have a problem with that. But embracing the identity can still mean “I’ve never dated a same sex partner but I’ve sure thought about it a lot.” As long as they’re honest. A queer person is still queer even if they happened to have met the opposite-sex love of their life as their first relationship. That doesn’t mean they don’t still have interest in the same sex. That they’ve never dated a same sex partner and endured the homophobic reactions to that doesn’t mean they’re not queer enough. It just means they happen to have suffered less. Just as, before you owned your identity, you were still suffering from the ableism steeped in society, just perhaps not as much as when you embraced the identity. Those experiences still go into your life. And, with the ‘never in a queer relationship’ they have every right to seek support in the queer community even if they don’t want to embrace it publicly. Now if they wanted to claim Own Voices then yes they should be open. Openly claiming Own-Voices rather… does that, of course. if someone really wanted to, they could create a pseudonym that’s “out” when they aren’t and it’s hard to police that (and even if they don’t experience the full range of discrimination, they might still be able to speak on their particular part of it as well or better than somebody more open, like the anxiety of being closeted). A lot of this sort of thing has to work on the honor system anyway. So really all that’s left to worry about is if they want to ‘wink’ and claim the benefits of own voices without actually claiming it. And in certain situations, like potentially the one that sparked this, that’s a very gray line. If they tell someone, because they feel like they’re in a relatively safe space, that they’re a particular identity, that doesn’t mean they expect to be treated that way and given the benefits. As a reviewer/interviewer, I think making it clear is more on you than a random author who might still be navigating their identity and how it intersects with their writing. If you want to review someone based it on own voices, be very clear they’re claiming that identity openly. If you’re inviting someone to a podcast based on that, be very clear that’s the expectation, even if you know they privately claim that marginalization.

    • Given what you’ve said, what would your response be when an author outs themselves in a podcast, claims to speak for the queer community and talks more than the two queer-and-out guests put together, then turns around and tells you to change your review because you’ve outed them?
      My thought process:
      1. I don’t change a review after an author request unless I’ve made a mistake
      2. I made a mistake: I dismissed my concerns about the coming out novel BECAUSE I believed the author was out. Once I knew the author was NOT out, I couldn’t keep that review as was. I either had to talk about my concerns with the coming out story being so easy at the end and how the author didn’t have experience to justify their story or delete the review. Which I did.
      3. The author outed herself in the podcast. Really, well and truly outed herself. She said she wanted me to change my review so she could show it to her family. It was highly unlikely that an excited family member wouldn’t click on the tag to show ALL her posts on my website to then find and listen to the podcast. She’d already accused me of outing her. So DMZ removed her from the podcast to protect her identity. And, for that, she was furious. If I hadn’t done it and her family listened to the podcast, she could have blamed me too so I was in a lose-lose situation.

      I have interviewed authors who have said “don’t ask. I don’t want to publicly identify with this identity” and I always respect that. I don’t ask, I work with them as if they’re writing others’ stories. And I’m ok with that, as I’ve said on many occasions in many posts.

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