Sometimes, I hear folks say that they don’t read fiction because it isn’t real, that non-fiction has more value as it concerns events that actually happened.
And of course that is true, I love reading history. I love learning. There is much to be learned from non-fiction books.
But I disagree on the notion that fiction is inherently untrue. Well-written fiction simply explores Truth in a different way. Fiction is about exploring ideas. What if? Most change in the human society involves a what if? For instance, many of the impossible things written by Jules Verne, or seen in old Star Trek episodes are now quite commonplace.
Having not grown up in a world in which gay folks can easily meet, court, and live long lives together, I find I have a hunger for stories in which gay folk can connect and build lives. I want to rewrite the norms that were forced upon me when I was young. I want stories of heroes who conquer dragons and also meet a handsome man along the way. Or maybe if it is a shifter story, the dragon IS the handsome man – and the villain is the character who wanted the dragon dead.
Straight folks are raised with all the protocols in place with regard to how to fall in love and start a life together. It can be confusing when you come out long after puberty and it isn’t clear exactly how one is supposed to go about living one’s life and discovering romance. We have stories of historical gay couples in non-fiction of course, but when one includes the wealth of fictional stories incorporating LGBTQ characters, we are exploring our own codes, our own protocols for how to live as a gay person. Our stories clarify our norms. What is any society, but its myths? What it chooses to entertain itself with? Whether the story is about ghosts, or mermen, or zombies, I do think that beyond the fantastic elements, there is substance. There is Truth.