Growing up in Chicago, I had friends who were diverse in pretty much every way—race, religion, and sexual orientation. While at the Commission on Human Relations, Chicago’s civil rights department, I worked side by side in harmony and respect with coworkers who were diverse. Though our days were filled with discrimination cases and hate crimes, the positive and meaningful experiences I had with my colleagues—as with my childhood friends—shaped me into someone who believes passionately that it is in our differences that we find life’s richness.
It’s been more than twenty years since I left Chicago, but that wonderfully colorful, heterogeneous world is still mine. As sociologist Dr. Morris Massey said, “What you are is where you were when.” Massey describes certain times in a child’s life as “self-programming periods” when young people develop their value systems.
So I was floored when someone who had been successful in publishing—and whom I’d considered sophisticated—commented that the character diversity in The Child Riddler was fantastical. Really? The streets of New York City, publishing capitol of the world, aren’t filled with only straight, white people, are they? Yes, I had gay and POC characters. But I hadn’t created these character differences just for show or because I live in a fantasy world. Diversity is reality. I ignored the comment.
The Child Riddler’s protagonist is a female James Bond and a lesbian. That’s just who she is. There is no other statement being made.
When I read Tricia Ennis’ post, “Nancy Drew, Bess, and Tiny Queer Subversions,” on this blog, it was almost as if Tricia had taken a peek into my muse’s soul. She wrote, “Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Bess’ queerness, though, is that it is largely unremarkable in the context of the show…Nancy Drew doesn’t make any bold statements about queerness or queer identity…And really, when it comes to queer representation, bold statements aren’t always the order of the day. Sometimes—most times—all we want is to be included in the story.”
My diverse characters just want to be included. They should. They are part of the story. They are real here on earth.
The fantasy is pretending we are homogeneous. While right now in the publishing landscape that may be the norm, that’s boring to me.
In my diverse world—the real world—I am surrounded by a powerful, exciting kaleidoscope of people.
That’s the planet I want to live on.
Angela Greenman is an internationally recognized communications professional. She has been an expert and lecturer with the International Atomic Energy Agency for over a decade, a spokesperson for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and a press officer for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, the City’s civil rights department. After traveling to twenty-one countries for work and pleasure, Angela decided to seriously pursue her love of writing. She is a member of the International Thriller Writer’s Debut Authors program.
Her debut international thriller, The Child Riddler will be released by Bella Books in July.