The Amazon Trail

Gen Future  

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

 

One reason I’ve been writing all these years has to do with helping us feel good about ourselves. I’d like to think the cultural work that’s proliferated from the latter half of the twentieth century through today has contributed to building our strength so we could accomplish all we have. If the pendulum of history swings against us like a wrecking ball from the future, we’ll need the writing, the photographs, the women’s music—to stay strong, to be queer strong, just as we need it now.

But will our stories be available twenty, fifty, a hundred years from now? I believe they should be, but hadn’t thought much about it until a discussion I had with K.G. McGregor, popular author and President, Board of Trustees, Lambda Literary Foundation. And then I thought, yeah, of course we should do some planning for a far away day when, who knows, we may be outlawed again.

McGregor pointed out that our book rights would disappear into the ether (not the ethernet) unless we plan now to conserve them. We all need literary (or artistic, etc.) executors devoted to our queer arts, who will ensure that our heritage is sustained. But we need to do something besides name executors in our wills. What instructions should I give the women to whom I’ve entrusted my life’s work?

Is it possible for our art to have meaning decades from today? Even now, well before they come out, kids are learning skills like coding. They play Blockly games and CodeCombat. They don’t turn pages, they swipe while reading. Their earbuds pipe in stories read by professionals and enhanced with music. If there’s something they don’t know, they say, “OK, Google,” and Google gives them their choice of thousands of answers. Their brains will be wired very differently from ours.

Meanwhile, back on planet early 21st century, we writers are working our buns off to create a gay literature. Will it have any relevance at all to eventual readers? What can we do to make it relevant? The same goes for art, drama, music. Will hip hop resonate with kids who generate music—lyrics, melodies, voices, instruments— electronically? What will happen to tactile sculpture when an artist can create using a 3D printer?

Is it even our responsibility to write for the readers of 2035? Did Thomas Hardy or Jane Austen worry about such things? I worry plugged in people may lose touch with, say, the romance of a romance novel. Will they care if the butler did it or the spy comes in from the cold? As a general fiction writer whose heart is invested in portraying realistic lesbians and gay men, who am I speaking to in the future other than herstorians?

I don’t have the answers. Lambda, for one, is working on our legacy. The rest of us, our gay attorneys, librarians, archivists, readers, historians, and organizations will have ideas. There are gay archives all over the world. Are they equipped to do anything other than collect and make available what’s already out there? My papers to date are at a university, but there’s no money to catalogue or organize them. The library depends on volunteers to do the work. Money is going to be essential to house, feed and defend the heritage we leave.

Meanwhile, in Washington, who knows what the power struggles may do to erode all the progress we’ve seen. I have been saddled with the temperament of a pessimist and see shadows of ISIS in our right wing fundamentalists. The U.S. hasn’t been able to solve the dire problems of racism and economic inequality. The House majority leader has been toppled from office by right wing fundamentalists and his probable successor has withdrawn for reasons I fear to consider. What will the Supreme Court look like if the Tea Party of 2015 has its way?

While the artists paint, the poets rhyme, the actors bring alive plays to tell our stories, all of us need to consider how we will bridge to our queer heirs. Can we pass down the tradition of mentoring new talent as the Golden Crown Literary Society is doing? Can we encourage little coders to create programs capable of securely capturing their legacy before the kids are even conscious of its importance to their freedom?  It’s a legacy we may have created for ourselves, but it would behoove us to pass it on.

Copyright 2015 Lee Lynch

 

13 Responses to “The Amazon Trail”


  1. 1 sthrasher39 October 29, 2015 at 9:00 AM

    You make some insightful points, Lee. Thanks for always being on the scene.

    Like

  2. 2 crowsheart October 29, 2015 at 10:11 AM

    I suspect our parents and grandparents had many of the same questions in the sixties and seventies…in fact, I know they did as they viewed us out in the streets…I was asked much the same then. I have to believe in this upcoming plugged-in generation (my grandchildren) there are artists, historians, politicians and hopeful humans of all kinds. I am hoping they’ll do what we try to do. Take care of what has gone before them. These are worthwhile points Lee and we should talk about them. Thanks for this. C.P.Rowlands

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 3 onamarae October 29, 2015 at 5:50 PM

    Will you be in Washington for the 2016 Con, Lee? I could see your idea as a panel discussion or a roundtable of some sort. It certainly is a valid question that deserves some discussion and energy. I would certainly attend! Ona

    Like

  4. 4 Lee Lynch October 29, 2015 at 10:51 PM

    Ona Marae, that’s how this started, as an idea for a panel. I believe there are a couple of important issues lesbians could discuss. Yes, I plan to be in DC, but you don’t need me to talk about them. Maybe other women have expertise to offer: attorneys, librarians, archivists, etc. Thanks for being sensitive to our herstory.
    Shelley & CP, I obviously agree!

    Like

  5. 5 Mercedes October 30, 2015 at 12:35 AM

    Thank you yet again, Lee. I too have winders if the pendulum might one day swing back the other way. The political climate sometimes seems to indicate that it is very feasible.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 7 Central Oregon Coast NOW October 30, 2015 at 1:54 AM

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW and commented:
    Renowned author and Central Oregon Coast NOW member Lee Lynch has written a thought-provoking piece aimed primarily at gay and lesbian writers, but with important questions we all should be asking ourselves. Thank you, Lee!

    Like

  7. 9 Elaine Burnes October 30, 2015 at 9:38 AM

    Yes, great idea for a panel. This isn’t something to worry about in the far future, either. We’ve seen publishers go belly up. What do they take with them? What do authors need to know to protect their rights?

    The moment I got married, I knew that if that pendulum swings too far the other way, I’m now on a list. My optimistic self thinks books will be here forever. Who thought vinyl records would come back? Watching ISIS destroy millennia-old sacred places, gives my inner pessimist pause.

    My wife was just telling me about a study showing reading books is different from reading on a screen. Books haven’t been around long enough for our brains to have evolved, so it must be able to adapt. Screen reading, however that evolves, will change the way we process information, but the information will still be there.

    All we can do is write our stories, like Jane and Thomas. Think Jane Austen ever thought there’d be fan fiction of her stories 200 years later? The young’uns might not appreciate us now, but as they age, something is bound to resonate. They can be writing their stories too. The best stories are universal, so the audience will always be there.

    We haven’t run out of stories yet.

    Like

  8. 11 S.A. October 31, 2015 at 11:51 AM

    I certainly hope that future generations will still be intrigued by whether the butler did it, for example, but your point is well-taken and very relevant. My spouse is a high school teacher, and her kiddos now were born after we graduated from high school ourselves. How different is the world they’re growing in than the one we did!! Great blog, as usual, and good food for thought. Thanks!

    Like

  9. 12 Devlyn November 1, 2015 at 6:04 AM

    You certainly have given me some food for thought Lee. I am almost ashamed to say, I have never thought about this before but thanks to you and your kind, who hold our past and future, I am feeling educated and will do my damndest to ensure that where I can I will help I will.

    Like

  10. 13 Guillermo Luna November 2, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    The “ONE” institute at USC has a large gay archive. They’re committed to preserving our past. http://one.usc.edu/

    When writers think about “what to do with their papers” this would be a good place to consider.

    Like


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