Despite its long history of encouraging racial and gender diversity, Star Trek as a franchise has struggled for decades with how to create and give voice to LGBTQ characters. One landmark Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode notwithstanding, series writers, actors, and more recently director J.J. Abrams have all spoken about that particular lack of representation in Gene Roddenberry's otherwise progressive future. However, that's slowly changing; series scribe and author David Mack recently defended his own attempt to create that kind of diversity from a bigoted fan, and it really captures why the work is important.
Mack recently published Harbinger, a novel in the Star Trek Vanguard series that involves two women — a Vulcan and a Klingon — having an affair. A fan wrote him to let him know that he didn't approve:
David Mack will probable never read this email but I am writing it anyway. I purchased and started reading your book, Harbinger and stopped when I got to the part where the Vulcan was having a homosexual affair with the Klingon spy. I deleted the book from my E-reader and will never purchase another volume authored by David Mack. You can call me a homophobe or use any other excuse you choose to write me off but the truth is homosexually [sic] is not universally accepted and I get to decided [sic] what I read and I choose not to read any more of your work. And on top of that no Vulcan would consider the situation "logical". You can't just remold the Vulcan persona to suit yourself.
I am just letting you know that you have lost at least one reader I am not looking for a reply.
Mack's response breaks down, in eloquent fashion, why creating characters like this is important and necessary, no matter how small-minded fans may be.
If he thinks the fear of alienating a few closed-minded readers is going to stop me from writing stories that feature and promote characters of diverse backgrounds—including LGBTQ characters, persons of color, and people who belong to ideological or philosophical minorities—he must be out of his mind. I'm a fucking Star Trek writer. Hasn't he ever heard of IDIC—"Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations"?
I will never be made to feel shame for doing this. I am proud that we’ve been able to do this. I know we’ve still got more work to do, and we can do better at integrating more diverse viewpoints and characters into the ever-expanding universe of Star Trek.
I'm not so starry-eyed as to think that day will ever come, at least not in my lifetime. I suspect that humanity will always have to contend with prejudice in one form or another. But that doesn't give us license to stop struggling against it. It is exactly the reason we must press on and continue to do better, to demand better, to show that it's possible.
The effort is its own reward.
You can read the entire post here.