Thu
Oct 20 2011 3:00pm

Is the Geek Community More Accepting of Gay Icons?

Is the Geek Community More Accepting of Gay Icons?

When Star Trek’s latest Spock, Zachary Quinto, came out of the closet last weekend, it struck me that there are a lot of prominent geek actors who also happen to be gay. In the older generation, you’ve got Ian McKellen — who’s played two iconic characters, Magneto and Gandalf, and sports the awesome shirt above — and the original Star Trek’s George Takei. Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible), John Barrowman (Torchwood), and Sean Maher (Firefly) are all out. And while he denies the rumors, Hugh Jackman’s (X-Men’s Wolverine) sexual orientaton is under constant scrutiny despite having been married to his wife for more than 15 years.

Do you know why I was surprised to come up with so many well-known actors? Because in the geek community, sexuality seems to be a non-issue. I have to believe it’s because a group that’s used to being marginalized is much more welcoming of alternative lifestyles. According to at least one self-described geek, I’m on the right track.

“A lot of it comes out of acceptance,” according to my friend Clinton, a gamer, LARPer, anime fan, and lawyer (not all in that order). “Both communities are marginalized and stereotyped, and the idea of being labeled can be kind of scary.” But rather than shy away, these actors face those labels head-on. “There are all the pressures to be ‘mainstream’ and here are established actors saying, ‘You know what? I’m gay. I’m a geek. Deal with it.’”

By contrast, mainstream fans have more difficulty understanding their leading men as anything less than a role model for pumped-up machisimo. Here’s a perfect example of this revulsion, an anecdote that will always stick in my mind: During one performance while Hugh Jackman was starring in The Boy From Oz in 2003-2004, right before he leaned in to kiss his male co-star, he heard someone in the audience shout, “Don’t do it, Wolverine!”

Is the Geek Community More Accepting of Gay Icons?Straight men feel that their masculinity is somehow threatened, like with the theatergoer who couldn’t envision Jackman as anything but the snarling, slashing, hairy mutant. Geeks don’t have to go through that same reimagining because their idols were never those ideals to begin with. The men I listed above don’t fit the conventional ideal of gritty, brawny action stars. And yet, they’re successful in their field! So already, these actors know that they’re never going to fit into the cookie-cutter mold that mainstream audiences expect. Perhaps, then, it gives them greater confidence to come out, knowing they’re already welcomed.

It’s interesting to note that Neil Patrick Harris came out about two years before Dr. Horrible. He was forced to out himself after a gossip site noticed his partner David Burtka in a guest spot on Harris’ sitcom How I Met Your Mother and connected him back to his boyfriend. I wonder, if the same case had happened on a geek show, would the fans and press have done the research and made the accusation that forced Harris’ hand?

Geek movies poke fun at the mainstream’s narrow-minded definitions of what’s normal; we all laughed at the part in X2: X-Men United when Bobby Drake’s mom asks, “Have you tried... not being a mutant?” It’s an apt comparison, and highlights how ridiculous it is to expect queer people to hide their true selves; you can’t change how you were born.

Clinton agrees that the gay/geek dynamic comes down to the masculinity issue. “Being a geek is something that maybe isn’t the most socially ‘acceptable,’ but it’s a hobby,” he says. “Perhaps it’s even ‘fixable’—get out of the basement, get some new clothes... if you believe the stereotype. But being gay is perceived as being a direct attack on your masculinity—‘real guys like girls.’ I think that perception is starting to change, but I think being gay is still perceived as a sign of weakness. Note, for example, the question of whether professional athletes will (or should) come out. So maybe it is that geekery is a bit more ‘forgivable’ in the sense of, you can still be normal and a bit of a geek, but homosexuality is still thought of as a deviation.”

Wolverine aside, geek characters aren’t necessarily known for their manliness. More often they’re smart, confident, loyal, clearheaded. (Is it any surprise that the characters in a sausage fest like The Expendables are valued more for their ability to grunt out orders and spray baddies with machine guns than to talk out their problems?)

Another factor that Clinton points out is that a good chunk of the geek community is in their 20s and 30s. Naturally this group is more liberal than the generation before them. We accept Hollywood stars who make their careers doing sci-fi and speculative fiction films; we ourselves are game designers, writers, and other people making a living off what used to be regarded as just a hobby. It’s only logical that the respect for our heroes would remain untarnished despite them coming out.

The fact that sexual discrimination is rampant, while the geeky lifestyle is still relatively private, is part of the reason why gay geek actors are so important, Clinton says: “They’re geeks and it’s normal. They’re gay and it’s normal. They’re just normal people with a job that they love, a hobby/lifestyle they enjoy, and they like to kiss boys (or girls). So it goes to the point of, anyone can be a geek.”


Natalie Zutter is a playwright, foodie, and the co-creator of Leftovers, a webcomic about food trucks in the zombie apocalypse. She’s currently the Associate Editor at Crushable, where she discusses movies, celebrity culture, and internet memes. You can find her on Twitter @nataliezutter.

35 comments
tigeraid
1. tigeraid
Your reasons are intriguing, and make sense.

I've no doubt that I'll get flamed for this, but it needs to be said: the other major reason that springs to mind for me is that the majority of geeks and nerds, particularly of the sci-fi variety, are either atheist or agnostic. As such, we never had it in our mind that there was anything morally wrong with homosexuality.
Charles Moore
2. Shadeofpoe
This may be a recent development, but in terms of gaming culture things are incredibly homophobic. And scifi and fantasy, at least until recent years, has been a tad white washed. I don't think it's fair that we as geeks can claim any kind of all emcompasing acceptance of a particular part of society and therefore place ourselves above other parts of society.

Sure we don't throw a fit when actors come out, but how many of our genre defining books and movies have gay leads?
tigeraid
3. AGrey
@Shadeofpoe-

I think that as things like videogaming become more mainstream, they will start bringing in more of the 'nongeek' crowd that bring their homophobia with them. (Especially shooters, which appeal to the 'mainstream masculine' idea referenced above.)

And i'll agree - for all that we are accpting of gay actors/actresses, there aren't a lot of homosexual characters in a lot of geek media
tigeraid
4. JohnnyAtomic
"Straight men feel that their masculinity is somehow threatened,"

Way to stereotype a whole group of people.

Had the possibility of open homosexuality causing a strain on something as simple as "suspension of disbelief" crossed your mind? And why must you call all heterosexual men cowards for finding something distasteful. If I asked any of my gay, male friends about having sex with a woman, they would find it repugnant. I wouldn't then tell anyone who would listen that all gay men are intolerant cowards.

I know that it isn't fair, but the reality is; if you want tolerance you will have to extend it as well. Even to people you obviously don't like.

A bigger issue (as mentioned by Shadeofpoe as well as AGrey) is why we don't develop more openly gay leading characters. We don't see to many black men asked to play white men, just because white actors are more numerous. There are plenty of gay writers, directors and actors.

And if the answer is "nobody will pay to see it/read it", then that's not bigotry, it's just life.
James Whitehead
5. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
I think had NPH been lower profile and on some sci-fi show, 'journalists' may not have started digging so soon. Since, however, he was more high profile it started sooner. Don't forget our culture has become obsessed with 'stars' and everything about them.

We, as a people, feel we have the right to know everything about the stars we watch. I remember when NPH outed himself as much ado about nothing, in my mind. No big deal just sad he had to come forward not on his terms but on someone else's.

Also, I will disagree to some extent with the idea that the geek culture is as accepting of others. You go any number of conventions, gaming, comic, etc... and the way the 'geeks' treat each other isn't any different as to how they are treated by the more mainstream of people.

Kato
Michael Grosberg
6. Michael_GR
Gay and geek? Look at your examples again. It's not about geekiness - it's about science fiction! SF has been in the business of accepting and celebrating differences - between humans and robots, androids, animals and aliens - for decades. The SF genre has been used to explore outside-the-box ideas such as sex change, gender, new types of family and child rearing. Is it surprising that fans are more accepting?
Matthew B
7. MatthewB
This piece is more wishful thinking than truth, or perhaps it springs from small sample size or a false sense of consensus. There are just as many unenlightened, sexist, homophobic geeks as there are in the larger society.

I say this as a geek. It's way too soon for us to start patting ourselves on the back about how open-minded we all are. And it's pretty close-minded to assume the incredibly broad category of non-geeks is significantly less enlightened than we are.

@4 JohnnyAtomic: "And if the answer is "nobody will pay to see it/read it", then that's not bigotry, it's just life."

It's not one or the other - it's both. Bigotry doesn't stop being bigotry just because it has practical justifications, especially when those practical justifications arise from a broader bigotry.
tigeraid
8. Teah
"I have to believe it’s because a group that’s used to being marginalized is
much more welcoming of alternative lifestyles."

Yeah... no. Being gay is not a "lifestyle."
tigeraid
9. SeanWills
JohnnyAtomic, you might want to ask yourself why you're having such a disproprtionately knee-jerk reaction to the article. You're extrapolating pretty wildly from what was written.

And this:
If I asked any of my gay, male friends about having sex with a woman, they would find it repugnant. I wouldn't then tell anyone who would listen that all gay men are intolerant cowards.
They might find the idea of having sex with a woman 'repungant', but I seriously doubt they'd react negatively to a gay actor playing a straight character. That's what the article is about, not whether people find the idea of having sex with the gender they're not attracted to distasteful.
tigeraid
10. Jake 2.0
@ JohnnyAtomic
"Had the possibility of open homosexuality causing a strain on something as simple as "suspension of disbelief" crossed your mind?"

Watching gay actors in straight roles (including several of the ones mentioned in the article) has never been a problem for me. This sounds more like a "you" thing.
Thomas Jeffries
11. thomstel
I agreew with Michael_GR. The realm of SF has speculated on the nature of relationships between various life- and non-life-forms through the years. Even the relationship between Frankenstein and the Monster wasn't as simple as "he made it". Heck, _Young Frankenstein_ didn't even do that, and it was a spoof!

Taking that into account, it's not really suprising that fans of SF would have already mentally coped with many flavors of relationships, human or otherwise, over the course of their life spent reading. Thus, less of a deal when presented with such variety in real life.

Also, TOLERANCE. Within one article and eight or so comments, we've got some potentially-misused quote-fu and word choice arguments a-brewing. Call out the merits or flaws in the post or other comments, but keeping it civil will go a lot further than grabbing pitchforks. After all, many folks aren't completely aware of their own prejudices, and given the chance will work to break them once they know!
tigeraid
12. Shaz
Interesting article, I hope it is true, and I'm sure this comments thread will bring a lot of stories from first hand experience in fandom.
On a lighter note, there is a picture of Sir Ian wearing a t-shirt in the same style as the one pictured above, but which reads, ''I'm Gandalf and Magneto. Get over it.''
David Siegel
13. bigscary
This is just hearsay, but a lesbian of my acquaintance in college would say that the geeks were far more accepting of her being gay than the gay community was of her being a giant nerd.
tigeraid
14. Jazzlet
The idea that it is not possible to suspend belief and accept gay actors in straight roles reflects rather more on the poster than on reality. To use John Barryman as an example, he is gay NOT bisexual, yet I have no problem believing that Jack Harkness is bisexual. And for some reason it doesn't seem to cause people so much trouble to accept straight actors in gay roles.
tigeraid
15. Dr. Geek
Interesting article. There may well be a correlation between geek/dork-dom and acceptance of other lifestyles; on the other hand, I've also known a fair share of geeks/dorks who were (and probably still are) incredibly closed minded, ignorant, and hateful.
I'd guess that it's more probable that there's a third variable that influences the tolerance and respect cited in this article.

Anyone know if there's any established research to support/refute this?
Michael Burke
16. Ludon
Some members of the Geek Community may take a higher profile in their acceptance but I don't think you can say that the community as a whole is more accepting. Even within communities you can find splits over who should or should not be accepted into the community - some gays have problems with other gays identifying themselves as Christian because they see the two communities as mutually exclusive.
john mullen
17. johntheirishmongol
I think you have to say there are a lot of different types of geeks and so there are probably a lot of different reactions. There are gaming geeks, and anime geeks, and theater geeks, etc. But what kind of acceptance are you looking to find? You can be gay and be a successful actor, but the only successful romantic leading man who was gay was Rock Hudson and that was in the 1950's and he was very closeted (although it was a pretty open secret for a while).

Will I buy Zachary Quinto as a romantic leading man? I doubt it, but I didn't think there was any real chemistry with Zoe Saldana anyway.

The real question is do they hurt their careers by coming out. The overall evidence is that they do. Neil Patrick Harris might be funny, but it is just a supporting role. The guy on Grey's Anatomy killed his lead ambitions when he came out. Shonda might have carried him for 2 more years but his story lines petered out after he came out.

I acted in a lot of shows and the theatrical community has been pretty accepting for a lot of years. It isn't really a big deal. I do think its pretty funny that there are rumors about Hugh Jackman, probably because he likes doing musicals. Talk about stereotyping....lol
Alena McNamara
18. aamcnamara
I find it interesting, but should probably not be surprised, that all the actors mentioned in this post are male. The acceptance and celebration of queer male figures over queer female figures in geekdom/fandom in general is pretty much a constant. (More books featuring gay male characters than gay female characters, the existence of the term 'femmeslash' as opposed to 'slash', etc.)

Off the top of my head, for awesome queer-of-some-sort female actors, I can think of one (Kirsten Vangsness). She isn't on an SF/F show; Criminal Minds does have a strong fandom, but I don't know if that counts as "mainstream" or not.

Plenty of food for thought, anyway.
tigeraid
19. AndyGump
Sorry but all those geeks are actually actors. And actors being gay is nothing new.
Sky Thibedeau
20. SkylarkThibedeau
I have to agree with some of the comments.

I'd say the geek community is more accepting of a person for who they are than the gay community is of someone being a nerd (though there is a big lesbian nerd subculture).

I'd agree too that Geeks are more Atheistic and Agnostic than the general population. I had a Character in the now defunct Second Life Battlestar Pacifica Role Play (bsg47.com) who was a Gay, Pacifist, Vestal Virgin Nun. I got more greif for her being religious than I did for her being gay(though as a Vestal Virgin celibate).
tigeraid
21. TocalaTuba
I wonder if this post is missing the point of the whole "acceptance" thing. Because like AndyGump says, an actor being gay is not the same as the character being gay. Acceptance really can't come without awareness, so if viewers don't know the actor's gay, then nothing is changed. But the awareness of his sexual orientation does not change the caliber of his performance, if it perhaps changes people's opinions of it. However, to say that Ian McKellen's performance of Gandalf or Magnetowas completely unaffected by his sexual orientation would be inaccurate given that an actor's entire life experience most likely affects their performance on screen.

I think, however, that you'll find this idea that group x is more accepting than group y could be construed in anyway. Perhaps readers are more accepting of gays because you find more gay characters in literature than television. Perhaps people who watch foreign films are more accepting of gays because you'll find more gay characters in European films than American films. However, is bringing group y as a marker for group x's goodness of heart the best way to demonstrate acceptance? It could be that authors, actors, filmmakers, and writers of any genre aren't interested in writing gay stories or straight stories but human stories that include gay and straight characters.
tigeraid
22. AlBrown
I am a person of faith, and I don't think that being a person of faith means you are more or less likely than an agnostic or atheist to be tolerant of differences. Like everyone, people of faith come in many flavors. Don't fall into the trap of branding us with a stereotype, and assuming we all think the same. Predjudice comes in many forms.
RobynMcIntyre McIntyre
23. robynmcintyre
It's always good to define your terms to make sure the point you're making is understood in context. For example, "...a good chunk of the geek community is in their 20s and 30s." Really? Then you must be defining "geek" differently from me. Even if we take out the dead guys like Isaac Asimov and Steve Jobs, I think you'll find more than a few grey hairs in the rest of the crowd.
tigeraid
24. HeatherP
@Teah

That's what you took out of this article? She's talking about two cultures that both experience stereotyping and discrimination. Now one can argue wether your born a geek or become a geek, that's a fun question for sociology majors, but I never saw an opinion stating that sexual preference was a choice. Your objection seems forced to me.

I think that broad statements like this are difficult to make because there are always going to be outliers but you have to look at the middle arch to try to get a feel for the average persons opinion. As a whole the US has been shifting more toward the accepting side, but I do agree Geeks would be more likely to be accepting. Anyone who has not been accepted into societies norms shares a bond.

But that's not to say we're not human either. The "hardcore" gamer would look down their nose at me and my abject love of the SIMS games. (I play ME too, don't judge!) "Real" anime fans at cons talk dismissivly about people who have only seen Naruto in English and claim to be fans. And don't get me started on the Furries, battling the LARPers for the redheaded stepchildren award of congoers.

And it isn't all light judgment either. As a bisexual femal I don't participate in local gay culture even though there is a huge community in DFW because in LGBT being bi can be looked down upon.

Now the anthropologist in me wonders what precentage of geeks associate with LGBT and if that in and of itself has anything to do with being more accepting.
tigeraid
25. lm10
What about lesbians in the geek community? I'm surprised no one has mentioned Jasika Nicole--she plays Astrid on Fringe, and according to Wikipedia she has been out for at least five years.
Noneo Yourbusiness
26. Longtimefan
I really do not know how to approach this article.

It is observational and generally positive which is nice.

I would say that there is perhaps a possibilty that actors interested in same sex relationships are accepted in roles of Sci-Fi characters because geeks are passionate about their stories and representaions of those stories on big or small screens to the point of being willing to accept a well acted role over an actors personal life.

Good acting brings a character to life. A science fiction character is often drawn in a strange setting with unusual cultures or abilities to engage the audience over dramatic story acting where the situations are hyberbolic parallels to real life. A real life that people are familiar with in themselves and in the gossip of the actors they are watching.

There is a possiblility of less suspension of disbelief because of the simulation approximation.

Then again people chose to accept or not accept what they want. Both in literature and relationships.
Matt Ostrom
27. Mattimage
This is a good article. Most of the comments are good too. I’m a Geek. And I accept gays. My friends are geeks, and they accept gays. At different levels. But we got a long way to go. We are all just human.
I like what TocalaTuba wrote. Geek Writers, Reeders, Filmmakers are more interested in HUMAN stories with the wonders of Sci – Fi and Fantasy.
I think the story of Frodo and Sam in the Lord of the Rings is interesting because Frodo and sam are not Gay, but with every thing they go through, they have a strong bond and are able to embrace each other, and don’t care how it looks. They don’t “feel that their masculinity is somehow threatened.” They would make good role models.
Rob Hansen
28. RobHansen
I'm a bit surprised by this being treated as a new phenomenon. My experience of SF fandom here in the UK back in the 1980s is that there were transgender and openly gay fans at conventions and no-one much cared. It just wasn't an issue. I've also done some digging back into the history of fandom over here and found fans in the 1950s (back when it was a criminal offence) who didn't hide the fact they were gay yet were accepted as members of their local fan groups. Heck, Arthur C.Clarke wasn't out back then (or ever) but his homosexuality was an open secret within the community yet had no effect on how people treated him.
tigeraid
29. coryj
@#4 JohnnyAtomic: Most gay men, including myself, do not find heterosexual sex repugnant. What you said is a lie in order to justify your own homophobic views on gay male sex. I'm certain you don't mind lipstick lesbian porn at all.

Also, I seriously doubt you have any gay male friends. Another tactic used to deflect criticism.
tigeraid
30. andrewM
Torchwood is crap ... I don't think the geek community is more accepting of the gay lifestyle than any other group. NPH may be gay but he never plays gay characters, if the media didn't push it he would never have come out. People always want to push their agenda on other people and when there's a push back your labeled this or that. The majority always have to stay obliged to the minority.
Ashley Fox
32. A Fox
I rather think this is nodding to cutural differentation. All communication/entertainment mediums can be said to aim at two broad types of audiance; those that think, and those that follow.

A clear example of this would be newspapers and their contents. Red Tops vs Broadsheets.

An audiance that follows, reads a red top, wears the latest trends, watches the popular shows, buys the number one records, probably has an I phone, knows the celeb gossip. These people run the gamut from poor to rich, from stupid to intelligent, of all colours and creeds; but they are all concivably mainstream.

An audiance that thinks takes their interests and ideas deeper, they read the broadsheets, know about current affairs, are usually affilated with an alternative subculture (be it rock, LARPing, theatre, art, SFF, those people that build the robots for robot wars etc), they seek to eduacte themselves beyound whatever is the norm for whichever strata of society they come from.

When you look at the history of the struggle of these two groups we see; The Romantic era, and its burgeoning sexuality and intelect. Its embracing of Classical Idylls, which brings to mind the great thinkers of Greece and their notorius sexual practises.

And if you mention the Romatic era, of course you cannot ignore its procreator. The Enlightment, with its forward thinkers and libertines.

And of course the common denominator; a rebelion against religious and mainstream dogma.

It does seem that where you have those that think, you also find diverse sexualities and a greater tolerance for what is percieved as alternative.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
33. tnh
I'm not perfectly sure what the author means by "geek", but I'm very familiar with the fannish congoing SF community, and my experience matches that of Rob Hansen @28:
I'm a bit surprised by this being treated as a new phenomenon. My experience of SF fandom here in the UK back in the 1980s is that there were transgender and openly gay fans at conventions and no-one much cared. It just wasn't an issue. I've also done some digging back into the history of fandom over here and found fans in the 1950s (back when it was a criminal offence) who didn't hide the fact they were gay yet were accepted as members of their local fan groups. Heck, Arthur C. Clarke wasn't out back then (or ever) but his homosexuality was an open secret within the community yet had no effect on how people treated him.
Sounds right to me.

I'll say the same thing about the SF community's attitude toward its GLBT members as I'd say about its attitude toward disability: it's not a significant issue for them. You can't call that tolerance because there's nothing to tolerate. Being GLBT is a preference. Being handicapped is an interface problem. Being a fan -- now, that matters.

Which brings up the other commenter, Bigscary @13, whose experience matches mine:
This is just hearsay, but a lesbian of my acquaintance in college would say that the geeks were far more accepting of her being gay than the gay community was of her being a giant nerd.
Yup.

The last significant incident I can think of in core fandom that could be labeled homophobia (it was very complicated) happened around 1964. There was a flimsy attempt to drum up accusations of homophobia during a major flamewar in 1983-1984, but it died down quickly after (1.) various people pointed out that several of the accused were neither straight nor in the closet; and (2.) it became evident that their accuser had never noticed that about them. It brought his expertise into question.

Tigeraid @1, there are plenty of deists in the SF community. What we're short on are loud intolerant fundamentalists. Religion is a separate issue anyway. There are plenty of religion-free homophobes in this world, and there are major religious denominations that poll as having less problem dealing with gays than the overall population.

MatthewB @7:
There are just as many unenlightened, sexist, homophobic geeks as there are in the larger society.
No, actually; there aren't. There may be some self-identified geeks who are homophobes, and if you're run into some you have my sympathy; but the milieu is overall a lot less homophobic.

HeatherP @24:
The "hardcore" gamer would look down their nose at me and my abject love of the SIMS games. (I play ME too, don't judge!) "Real" anime fans at cons talk dismissivly about people who have only seen Naruto in English and claim to be fans. And don't get me started on the Furries, battling the LARPers for the redheaded stepchildren award of congoers.
Since fans have a real knack for feeling dissed and/or excluded, I've learned to take such stories with a grain of salt. Consider that the Fan Guest of Honor at the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal -- a nontrivial community honor -- has had a long association with furry fandom. As for conrunners vs. LARPers, their only real objection that I know of is that some LARP groups have used conventions as gamespace without asking, and without regard for what else was going on there. When conrunners talk about incidents like the SWAT Team at Disclave, it's with disbelief, not irritation. Mostly they're just glad that no one got killed.

AndrewM @30, nobody's having gayness thrust upon them.
tigeraid
34. Melissa Singer
When I was a teenage babyfan in the 1970s, I met other fans, some my age, some up to 10 years older. Some were easily identifiable as gay. I--and my friends, who were stepping into fandom with me--didn't care. This isn't a matter of tolerating or not tolerating, accepting or not accepting. I literally did not care. We talked about SF and comics and theater and stuff like that. Sexual orientation made a difference in how we perceived things, but not in how we related to each other--that we were all fans was what was important.

Some of my friends were gay, but almost none were able to come out while in high school. When one did, during our senior year, I'm afraid my reaction, which was basically, "okay," was disappointing to her. (I've never really understood what the "good reaction" is supposed to be.)

However, as to the comment about having more trouble being a geek in the gay community than being gay in the geel community, I hope that that is changing, in part because at least in some places, people are coming out earlier (in middle school, at least in some parts of NYC), and in part because "geek" itself isn't as divided from the rest of the culture as it used to be.

My teenage daughter and her friends do all kinds of geeky things. They read SF/F, watch anime, worship Dr. Who, play Portal, cosplay, collect stuff, and are starting to get into MakerFaire. But they also read books that aren't SF/F, watch The Good Wife, worship Lady Gaga, and do other things that aren't geeky at all, as do many of us adult fans, no doubt.

The difference I see is that in my daughter's peer group, unlike mine when I was her age, no one is ostracized for liking geek stuff. No one says, "you're weird" when you tell them you spent Labor Day weekend at DragonCon. Instead, they ask, "did you bring me anything?" There's no separation into geek and non-geek, because even the most "non" in the group have read Harry Potter and/or seen Iron Man (and most have gone beyond casual pop-culture geekery in some way).

So to my daughter's generation, the gay geek is not notable, from either the gay or geek "side."

Which is not to say that there aren't divisions, just that gay/geek doesn't seem to be a big one.
Kathy Routliffe
35. kaffyr1
My suspicion is that, in the broad, variegated, patchwork, and byzantine world of fandom (which is what mean when I point to it/Knight), there will be corners, corridors, rooms and foyers in which we'll find groups who are more accepting of this, and less accepting of that. Walk to another room, waltz down another corridor and into another foyer of fandom, and you'll find a separate group whose views are the polar opposite of that first group.

However - and I may well be putting on my rose-colored spectacles - I like to think that each group carries within it a nurturable impulse toward being more, rather than less accepting. And that, I think, is because all of us geeks/nerds/niche cultural afficionados/skiffy fans/fen have had more than the occasional brush with "you're weird" or "that's just wrong."

Prolixicity cut short: we're not automatically more accepting of x, y, or z. We may have a great potential for doing so.
Matthew B
36. MatthewB
tnh @33:
Hang on a sec - your comment comes from personal experience, so does mine, so we're both dealing with anecdotal evidence. If you want to categorically tell me i'm wrong you should be prepared to back that up with some facts. IMO you and Natalie Zutter are overgeneralizing your own perceptions and experiences with both the geek community and the general population, giving too much credit to the former and exhibiting elitist condescension to the latter.

"The last significant incident I can think of in core fandom..."
"There may be some self-identified geeks who are homophobes..."
"Consider that the Fan Guest of Honor at the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal -- a nontrivial community honor..."

I think i see the problem: you seem to be arbitrarily separating self-identified geeks who exhibit attitudes you don't like from the general geek population as if they don't count. You also appear to be ignoring anyone who doesn't fit into some sort of elite level of fandom rather than the run of the mill geeks. If your definition of geek naturally excludes undesirables, then patting yourself on the back for inclusiveness is definitely premature.

If you're NOT running into homophobic geeks, great for you, but pretending that the entire geek community is a magical realm of diversity and acceptance is naive and is a disservice to lgbt geeks who may not find an open and welcoming community down at their local comics shop.

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