Baja Clavius

illustrated science fiction by Madeira Desouza

Why is gay science fiction for men so unusual?

Let me start by admitting how impressed I am with Oliver’s Keane’s commentary https://medium.com/geek-empire-1/e750602da27a on this subject. I was drawn to what he wrote because I have struggled as a gay male science fiction writer in San Francisco to attract an audience for my work that depicts gay men in time travel adventures in the future.

As Keane so accurately stated the problem: “…it seems a rather glaring failing to exclude the minority aspects of human sexual identity from the vast majority of [science fiction] stories.”

I deliberately write about masculine and aggressive gay male characters. Because I am a gay man, I really would like to be as accepting of all gay men as possible—no matter how their individual traits might differ from mine. But, I find that after many years of field experience, I do not care much for flamboyant or effeminate gay males in either real life or in fiction.

My gay male characters are depicted as having sex with one another. They just are not stereotypical clichés. In fact, my gay male characters represent the bara genre, written by gay men for gay men, depicting gay male, same-sex feelings and sexual identity of masculine, muscular men who sometimes behave in aggressive, violent, or exploitative ways towards one another. I would choose to hang out with that kind of gay male any day of my life. I also happen to believe that, from a gay writer’s point of view, that kind of gay male character is science fiction is far more worth the time and effort. So much of the gay romances that you can find in print, on television, or in films come across as just one more stereotypical cliché.

I decided to jump right into writing about how I think the moral codes and sexual behaviors of gay males a couple of hundred years from now might look like to us here in the 21st century. I had a lot of fun writing about this futuristic speculation and I believe that readers will enjoy it, too.

The overarching story in my time travel adventure Baja Clavius examines a ruthless multinational agency a few hundred years in our future located deep inside the moon that manipulates time to make sure yesterday turns out the way “it was supposed to.” From a top-secret base under the crater Clavius, the agency sends young gay men on time travel missions to change history by using sensual tactics to gain power and control over men. So, by definition, these gay male characters in science fiction are ruthless and manipulative guys.

Sure, my gay male characters like sex with men, but my gay male characters are not all flowery and romantic in the boy-meets-boy-and-falls-in-love kind of stereotypical cliché stories you can find everywhere. I think in real life that after the stigma of being a gay male fades from cultures around this planet, there will follow a change in moral codes and sexual behaviors. Today it most likely would be considered immoral and wrong for any gay man to manipulate another man sexually. In my science fiction time travel stories, the employer (secret agency on the moon codenamed MMDI) specifically required this kind of sexual manipulation as part of the time travel agents’ jobs. But, in the 21st century, such gay male behaviors is seen in a negative light.

Gene Roddenberry, who created Star Trek, told me in an interview I conducted with him in Los Angeles in the 1970s about how he avoided depicting the ways he really thought people from Captain Kirk’s time would be in terms of their moral codes or sexual behaviors for fear of turning off the audience in the mid-1960s. In fact, Roddenberry took every opportunity to depict Kirk in sexual encounters with many different females, which during Roddenberry’s lifetime was a sure sign that a man is macho and worthy of admiration. And, of course, there were no gay male characters at all in the original Star Trek. Looking back to that era, nobody should find that surprising. The emphasis in those days was upon the so-called “free love” culture, but in storytelling on television, at least, that was shown to mean straight people having the freedom to love (or have sex with) whomever they wanted.

My science fiction storytelling is for the 21st century. It explores conflicting and opposing compulsions that all men have whether they are gay or not. On one side there are impulses men have towards sustaining life, engaging in love, and being attracted to others. In the opposing direction are impulses men have towards being aggressive, engaging in violence, and, causing pain and death.

For centuries, artists and storytellers around the world have found inspiration in these two opposing human compulsions that no man is able to resist or impede merely by his conscious will alone. I happen to believe very strongly that just because you may be a gay man, your sexual orientation is not a reason for you to deny and submerge your natural male impulses towards being aggressive, engaging in violence, and, causing pain and death.

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I wrote this original commentary for posting on Medium.

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