Tag Archives: LGBTQQ

Queer Cogs: Steampunk, Gender Identity, and Sexuality–by Lisa Hager

Illustration by Keith Thompson

As an academic who specializes in Victorian literature and a steampunk who enjoys taking on the persona of Dorian Gray on occasion, I get a lot of questions and not a few strange looks from my colleagues and students when I explain what steampunk is (or at least try to) and why I so thoroughly enjoy being part of this subculture and avidly devour its fiction. Though most people are definitely interested in steampunk or pretend to be for my sake, I often get the sense that they wonder why a “serious” academic like myself is interested in steampunk culture and literature – that I have crossed some sort of academic nerd line in the sand and may be slightly strange for doing so.

What this attitude misses is how speculative fiction and the subcultures that embrace it, most especially steampunk, can welcome diversity and difference in ways that rare in mainstream culture and give both energy and verve.

[Read "Queer Cogs: Steampunk, Gender Identity, and Sexuality" on Tor.com]

Comments Off

Filed under Essays, History

Con Life, Gender, and My Hypothetical Genitals — Guest blog by Ashley Rogers (a.k.a. Lucretia Dearfour)

Note from Ay-leen: In recognition of Pride Month in the United States, I’d like to thank Lucretia Dearfour for writing about her experiences in the steampunk community.

The first person that we know of to ever go through sexual reassignment surgery was Lili Elbe in 1930, unfortunately her body rejected much of the surgery and she died three month afterward.  The first most prominant recipient however was Christine Jørgensen, who received the surgery in 1952 and was then immediately outed to the public as Trans… as “Different.”  What is truly amazing to me about Jørgensen’s story is that the first paper to get the scoop and run with it was the New York Daily News on December 1st 1952, and the headline read “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty.”  The headline could have called her a freak of nature, could have foscued on how a man decided one day to be a woman, could have called her a freak or warped the public’s mind in any way shape or form as the first paper to break such a story.  What I respect about the article is that it chose to focus on the fact that Jørgensen became a “Blonde Beauty.”  It’s vein, it’s vapid, and it still says “He was this, now he’s not a he anymore,” but it does so in such a way that conveys a positive message.

Transgender and gender nonconformist individuals exist to this day.  We have existed throughout history and we have only gained strength and prominence as time has gone on with many thanks to trailblazers like Jørgensen.  We’ve still got a long, LONG way to go but the future is definitely moving in a very accepting direction for me and mine.

That being said, in Steampunk as well as in a lot of other geek-oriented subcultures I feel (subjectively) that Trans folks are on the whole accepted, though not understood and, at times, not encouraged.  This is something that can change, and is en route to change yet at the moment we still deal with a lot of double standard BS that cis-gendered (labeled one gender at birth and has no intention of questioning said gender) folks never need to think about.

Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Essays

#95 The Sworn Virgins of Albania–Guest blog by Historicity (Was Already Taken)

Note: This was cross-posted with permission from Historicity (Was Already Taken).

The Kanuni i Leke Dukagjinit (The Code of Lekë Dukagjini) is an oral law code which ruled the lives of those residing in the Northern Albanian area for at least five centuries. It was first codified in the 15th century by the Albanian Prince Lekë Dukagjini, but it was not written down until the 19th century. For this reason, scholars are unsure as to its origins.

The Kanun is divided into 12-14 sections (depending on which version you are looking at) dealing with church, family, marriage, house, livestock, property, work, spoken word, honor, damages, criminal law, judicial law, and exemptions and exceptions. In short, it governed every aspect of daily life.

Of women, the Kanun says: “A woman is a sack made to endure.” Under the Kanun, women are the property of their fathers, and later of their husbands and their husbands’ family. There were very few jobs women could hold, and many establishments they were not allowed to enter.

However, what is fascinating about the Kanun is that it provides a way for women to regain control over their lives; it is a loophole, of sorts. In fact, you could even call it empowering if you are speaking from a pre-feminist standpoint.

The loophole was that women had the ability to become a man in the eyes of both family and society. The women who became men were, and still are, known as sworn virgins. Upon taking a vow set forth in the Kanun, a woman would dress like a man, act like a man, work like a man, and command the respect accorded to a man; the only thing she was not allowed to do was to engage in sexual activity.

Sworn virgin Shkurtan Hasanpapaj worked for many years as a high ranking officer for the Communist Party. She supervised many men, and none questioned her authority as a man even as the government body they worked for strove to stamp out adherence to the Kanun.


Continue reading

Comments Off

Filed under Essays, History

More Lesbian Steampunk Stories: A Roundtable with Steam-Powered II Authors by Jaymee Goh on Tor.com

If this week proves anything, it’s two things: steampunk is still going strong as a trend, and it’s growing. And if this anthology proves anything, it’s that we really like lesbians. After Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories came out last year, Torquere Books realized it was pretty popular! And thus JoSelle Vanderhooft signed on again to bring us Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories (with an implicit promise that she’ll bring us another, and another, and another…). Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories comes out October 26 from Torquere Books, and you can place pre-orders by emailing JoSelle directly. If you like lesbian fantasy anthologies in general, JoSelle has edited a whole lot of them.

So, what can we expect from this new anthology?

[Read the Rest on Tor.com's Steampunk Week]

3 Comments

Filed under Interviews

The Steampunk That Dare Not Speak Its Name by Nisi Shawl on Tor.com

People have always had sex. Even in the Victorian era, a time synonymous these days with prudery and abstinence, sexual acts were committed.

In one of the period’s most infamous cases, popular author Oscar Wilde was tried and jailed for the “gross indecency” of making love with other men. Yet Wilde wasn’t alone in his support of “Uranian” (same-sex) relationships. Poet Alfred Douglas, Wilde’s lover and originator of the phrase “the love that dare not speak its name” (echoed in this post’s title), was also a proponent of the well-known Uranian movement. Since steampunk so often draws on Victoriana, we should find Uranian interests represented in a fair number of steampunk stories, right? Plus, the overtness of sexual markers such as corsets in steampunk, and the tendency of the genre’s authors to imagine modern attitudes into their versions of the past, should make queer steampunk common enough that multiple examples are easy to find. Right? Right?

[Read the Rest on Tor.com's Steampunk Week]

1 Comment

Filed under Essays, History

#89 Peter Sewally, the “Man-Monster” of New York City

One of the most scandalous cases in the summer of 1836 in New York City involved a wallet-snatching black prostitute who went by the name Mary Jones…but was later revealed to be a man named Peter Sewally. Sewally’s trial proved to be a spectacle that resulted in a newspaper frenzy as the competing papers New York Herald and New York Sun tried to out-do each other over reporting the most lurid details about Sewally and his transgressive deception. Sewally’s female image was also published as a popular lithography by yellow paper publisher H.R. Robinson (seen above). His case is a highlight in sex worker, queer, and African-American histories, and it all started on June 11th, 1836, when Robert Haslem reported his wallet being stolen while cruising the midnight alleyways of New York.

Continue reading

Comments Off

Filed under Essays, History

#63 Reporting from TempleCon 2011!

TempleCon, a retrofuturist gaming convention, has been running for six years, and I’ve been lucky enough to attend for the past two years. As a gaming convention, a majority of its programming is focused on huge, expansive gaming set-ups for all types: miniature games, card tournaments, LARPing, and tabletop RPGs. Most people usually spend their entire weekends in the gaming rooms, but for those who like to wander about, this year’s TempleCon offered an array of other activities, including Tempest’s bellydance workshop, costume & prop panels run by The Wandering Legion of the Thomas Tew, mulled wine & cider tastings, fashion show and costume competition, musicians such as Psyche Corporation, Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band, The Gypsy Nomads, and Eli August, and panels on writing, comics, steampunk, dueling, feminism, and of course, my own workshops on social justice issues. So, roaming the hallways as a zombie during the zombie march was equally as valid as playing Magic: The Gathering with your friends.

This convention had been particularly special for me though: on Saturday, I proposed to my fiancee. On this blog, I don’t tend to talk about my queer experience as much as race & culture & steampunk, not because I don’t see queer identities as relevant (in fact, understanding the intersectionality of all our experiences is an important aspect to fostering social change), but because the story, is, well, long and involved and deals with cultural (double)standards, racial exotification/invisibility in queer communities, and the ambiguous treatment of trans people and their partners in both straight and queer settings. Not to mention maintaining a level of privacy that any couple should be able to have.   But the occasion like this isn’t something to be taken lightly, and I really wanted to acknowledge the impact the steampunk community has had on a non-traditional couple like us. “A New Year, Another Beginning” is more of a personal reflection, concerning my ten-year journey with my partner Lucretia Dearfour and our experiences as a couple in life and as a couple within the steampunk community.

Also contributing to this con report is Monique Poirier, a previous contributor to Beyond Victoriana, who gives a run-down on her experiences on Saturday at the convention. Jeromy Foberg shares his time as a Volunteer Staff member for TempleCon, and Simon J. Berman, a staff writer for Privateer Press, also stops by to relate his attendee experiences. Along with my own pictures, photographer Jessica Coen also contributes her visual eye to our eventful weekend.

Continue reading

Comments Off

Filed under Conventions, Essays

#61 Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories — A Roundtable Interview, Part 2

Note: This is part 2 of our roundtable interview with several contributors to Steam-Powered. Read part 1 here.


Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Interviews, Review

#60 Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories — A Roundtable Interview, Part 1

Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories is a very unique anthology for a variety of reasons. By unique, I’m not stating that this anthology is tailor-made for only a specific target audience (though it may scream “niche” to the average reader.) Still, upon first impression, a reader might wonder: would someone who isn’t queer or female or a romance lover still enjoy this book? Torquere Books, known for its queer and alternative literature, may be jumping onto the growing steampunk bandwagon that is gaining speed in the publishing world. And, some people might fear the worst after steampunk Palin– is Steam-Powered just another trend-hopper?

No, it is not. To think so would do a great disservice to the quality of work contained within this volume, and the literary thoughtfulness from both the contributing authors and Steam-Powered‘s editor JoSelle Vanderhooft.

These stories feature the work of several prominent and up-and-coming writers in the SF/F world. It starts off strong with N.K. Jeminsin’s The Effluent Engine,” previously published on her blog for the A Story for Haiti fund-raising campaign, and also includes the work of Georgina Bruce, D.L. MacInnes, Sara M. Harvey, Beth Wodzinski, Rachel Manija Brown, Shira Lipkin, Matthew Kressel, Meredith Holmes, Teresa Wymore, Tara Sommers, Mikki Kendall, Shweta Narayan, Mike Allen, and Amal El-Mohtar.

Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Interviews, Review