Yo peeps! Recently I was lucky enough to attend the 48th annual world mystery convention, better known as Bouchercon. Bouchercon was named for Anthony Boucher, a reviewer, editor, and author. You can check out that history here.
Much like the Golden Crown Literary Society, Bouchercon travels to different locales each and every year, which can make for a whole lot of fun and adventure. This time we landed in Toronto, Canada, and the convention was AMAZING! The town was totally cool, the people were amazing, and the atmosphere inspiring. Bouchercon, for those of you not in the know, is the premier world mystery gathering of authors and fans. I believe about 1,700 crime fiction authors and supporters attended this year, which is totally nothing to sneeze at!
Last year, in New Orleans, (okay, I admit much of this particular convention is somewhat hazy) we had a very well attended LGBTQ+ panel that was moderated by an incredible ally—Catriona McPherson.
I cannot say more about what an awesome supporter this woman is. Yeah, fangirl moment!!!! Anyway, this year, Bouchercon Toronto doubled down with another LGBTQ+ panel, this time moderated by the inimitable Kristopher Zgorski, and it was a beyond a raging success. I’m still stunned by the folks who turned out to hear what we had to say.
The panel consisted of Owen Matthews (Owen Laukkanen,) Stephanie Gayle, John Copenhaver, me, and Greg Herren.
It was a great mix of people and the conversation, thanks to Kristopher, was timely and poignant. In the past, it used to be that mystery conferences gave lips service to LGBTQ+ authors, pigeonholing them on a panel no one dared to attend for fear they might be looked at as gay themselves. Not now. The panel, once again, was full of attentive, interested people, and no one (at least that I’m aware of) felt stigmatized for attending. They weren’t even afraid to stand up and ask questions!
We talked about a number of topics, including why we, as authors, include LGBTQ+ characters in our writing, how the industry has—and sometimes has not—changed in the willingness to include these kind of characters in crime fiction novels, and the importance of diversity in crime fiction. We also touched on who we all look at as role models—LGBTQ+ authors who helped us feel free enough to include gay characters in our works. Ellen Hart, Mary Wings, JM Redmann, Katherine Forrest, Sandra Scoppotone, Greg Herren himself, Mark Zubro, Rita Mae Brown, Sarah Waters, Penny Mickelbury, and lots of other LGBTQ+ authors were mentioned, and there are still so many others upon whose shoulders we stand.
It feels a little like times are indeed a’changin’ despite the current political climate, which all too often feels insurmountable. It’s the small things we need to be aware of, that we need to acknowledge. It’s the people who aren’t afraid to stand beside us, who aren’t worried that their proximity might somehow reflect badly upon themselves who will help us carry the torch of hope forward. Because, make no mistake my lovelies, there is definitely hope, even when it feels like hope is completely lost. I don’t have NEVER SURRENDER tattooed on my leg for no reason!