From a reader:
The homophobia charge against Orson Scott Card requires a very selective reading of his work. He opposes gay marriage, not gay people (a distinction, of course, many refuse to recognize). What’s fascinating about Card is how he has written sympathetically about gays and humanized them in his work, despite his strident opposition to gay marriage and his general social conservativism. Thus, one of the main characters in his book Songmaster is gay. And in Card’s published guide to writing characters, he has a section (p. 38) on how to write about characters who are distant from your own experience, using writing about gays as his example of fiction giving him “a new way of looking at and understanding other human beings.”
Which is why it’s unsurprising that Card has very good gay friends, including the Grammy-winning musician Janis Ian, who, after getting repeatedly harassed for her association with him, posted [in 2009] this remarkable response:
Let me say first that I consider Scott a close friend; the time we don’t have together physically, we make up through the heart. If I had to lean on someone, or needed an ear, I would think of him. And if you’ve read my autobiography, you’ll know that in a time of great trouble, he was very, very, good to me.
By the way, the gay community was nowhere to be seen when I was at my lowest.
Scott does get very passionate about things. Sometimes you have to read his words pretty carefully to get the whole drift. And on this subject, he’s been misquoted and mis-read a lot. But I can’t personally recall seeing anything nasty that he’s written about being gay per se, and I’d want to know he wrote it, rather than taking the chance on a misquote.
Given that he’s a devout Mormon, of course he doesn’t think gay marriage is a good thing. Let’s face it – a lot of people feel that way! His article – your URL below – speaks more to the courts and the separation of church and state than my own relationship with my partner – or for that matter, Scott’s other gay friends.
And speaking of my partner… Scott has never treated my relationship, or my partner, with anything but the utmost respect. We’ve been welcomed into his home, invited to his childrens’ weddings, sent announcements of births and deaths – all to both of us, as a family unit. His children regard us as a family unit, and I’ve never heard or felt the slightest breath of censure from any one of them.
Scott’s also a Republican, while I’m a Democrat – and we manage to discuss our differences over the table without ever getting loud or crazy. Personally, I think if more people did that, the world would be a better place.
I’m sorry you appear ready to discount or avoid a writer of Card’s stature, because I consider Scott one of the finest writers of my generation, period. His short stories about musicians and music are the best I’ve ever read. What a pity, to deny yourself and your friends the illumination that level of artistry can provide!
I suppose we’d also have to discount Wagner because of the Nazi connection? James Joyce and Ezra Pound for their anti-Semitism? Thomas Jefferson, who believed slavery was God-intended? Most, if not all, of the founding fathers, who considered black Africans sub-human?
Continuing in that vein, we should probably discount Picasso, a sexist pig. And Beethoven, a royalist and a snob if you ever met one – and if memory serves, an anti-Semite.
Not to mention the current pope, who’s called homosexuality as big a threat to the world as global warming, and warned that it would destroy civilization as we know it if gays were allowed to marry.
Should I discount every faithful Catholic writer, dump Tennessee Williams, Madeleine L’Engel, Flannery O’Connor, because their religion’s figurehead is a lunatic?
Sorry if you’re Catholic…
Scratch any artist, in any form, and you’ll find things you don’t like. You can’t judge art by the artist; it has to be judged seperately, on its own merits. The artist himself has to be taken in the context of his times, and of his own culture, including his religion.
So long as that art isn’t being used to actively cause or promote harm to someone, as in a “Triumph of the Will,” I don’t think anyone has the right to judge the work by the artist’s personal beliefs.
But that’s my own take.
Just for the record, as a gay person who campaigned for and voted for Obama – Obama doesn’t think we should be able to marry, either. For many of the same reasons. And I’m sure you’re aware of his former pastor’s views on not just gays, but whites, and Jews. I have no idea what Obama thinks about gay people, and I fear it’s “hate the sin, love the sinner,” which I find condescending and disrespectful in the extreme. I’m still glad he’s president, and I still think he’s an honorable man.
Again, I’d hate to think anyone avoided great art just because they disagreed with the artist…
On a last note, to say someone is “crazy” or a “lunatic” because they deeply disagree with you, well, that’s just as narrow, isn’t it?
Thought all this might be of interest to you and your readers. It’s sad but unsurprising that those who seek to blacklist Card haven’t even bothered to examine his own life and work, or have done so selectively through the prism of their politics.