Tag Archives: lgbtq+

Update about updates

Lately I’ve been updating far too little. Far too little for my own liking, even though I do know what I want with this blog. I still haven’t been able to commit to it as much as I should. Also my twitter activities have not been like I had intended it to be. Partly I think it’s fine, I’m human and I have other things in my life than just space and aliens. And partly it’s still fine but something changed in a way I didn’t expect. 

blogging

image credit Pixabay

The big change

The very last argument I had not to come out as agender was this: I didn’t want to put other people in a situation they didn’t ask for. I didn’t want people to deal with the fact that I was neither male nor female and that they had to adjust to that. I’m Dutch and there isn’t even a word for the singular they. Enby? (nb = non binary) I just didn’t want to confuse people but my wife said it was bollocks. It’s my life, it’s who I am. And I should show that, or at least tell people why I was looking into top surgery. Fair enough. 

So I came out earlier this year and everyone I spoke to was very accepting. Sure, some had no idea what agender was, but I was happy to tell them. Language is a struggle, as at work I’m sometimes called a lady (the rest of my male colleagues is then called gents in the same sentence), but that’s a language thing. Online I think it went well too. I wrote a piece on relating to Data of Star Trek The Next Generation as I started to realise that me being agender is part of that. It was fantastic. 

Unexpected impact

I feared my surrounding would struggle but they are fine. Sometimes they ask me questions but I see that as part of acceptance and I’m happy to talk about it. The biggest impact of me coming out as agender was not on my surroundings, it had the biggest impact on… me. I found myself in a situation of Fuck It, I’m doing this. So I dove head first into the LGBTQIA+ culture, something I probably already had but now I did it consciously. Other non binary people became visible and this was truly inspirational.

A whole new world opened up to me. I got my first binder, then got a decent one (which I’m calling ‘my second skin’), am on a two year waiting list for my surgery. And my head became a mess. Not in a negative way, but it’s been quite exhausting. It’s been a big change and I didn’t see it coming. I do see the irony in that. 

As I was busy with fitting into my own skin (and I still am), I was also tired. I started to slack writing, I enjoy learning online but didn’t have the strength for it any more. What I did manage was creating a new wardrobe, read and watch a lot of Star Trek, visit Sweden and finally declared my unconditional love for it (opposed to really, really REALLY loving Sweden), finally learned that dark hair suits me way better than blond and pastels, and I got a new task offered at work, one that suits me a lot, namely data control (numbers, not the android). 

LGBTQIA+ in the mix

I also realised that my space twitter became more LGBTQIA+ rights than space adventures. This is absolutely fine, it’s my twitter, it’s who I am. But I started it to communicate with space and alien folk and added Star Trek and cats to the mix. Does LGBTQIA+ mix well? Of course it does! But I really want to add more space, more aliens, more cats, even more Star Trek. I wanted to do something with my twitter and my blog. It had a purpose. And I just wasn’t doing it. 

Of course I had a lot on my mind this year. But that’s not all of it. I can do something when I really want it. But it needs not just a purpose, it needs an urgency. Trust me, I had coaching to figure that out. Eventually becoming a space writer and communicator doesn’t work. Becoming stupidly knowledgeable about Scandinavian UFO and alien cases eventually isn’t enough either. Eventually doesn’t spell urgency.

I want it, yes. I want to stop working in an office, sweet talking to terminal operators and skippers to please do their job at the agreed time. But to make that change, to work on that, I need more than ‘I want something else, possibly somewhere else’. I need a plan. One that could work. And it works when I want it and put my mind on it. I just need the right plan. The urgency. 

Here come the Swedes

Hello Sweden! While Sweden was winning from England in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, my partner (a bigger Sweden supporter than I am, she is nearly flawless at Swedish. My passive Swedish is great too, just don’t ask me to do anything else than order a coffee and asking whether this includes a refill, which to be fair is a great survival skill) and I were chauvinistic about the win and were overly annoyed by the Dutch commentator who, like many commentators, didn’t like Sweden at all. You see, the Swedish men didn’t lose 7-0 from the Dutch a few years ago which meant the Netherlands failed to go the the men’s FIFA World Cup. The Dutch never gotten over that. But never mind, we generally don’t like the Dutch either. 

Plus, on a more serious note, the climate change in the Netherlands it quite worrying. We’re both anything but sun worshippers and would both be considered suffering from summer depression. So 35 degrees is not ‘nice weather’ as the forced opinion in the Netherlands is, but it’s hell to us. We’ve celebrated midsummer (midsommar is a Swedish national holiday).This day marks the days getting shorter again, hurrah! And with the global climate change, how will the Netherlands even cope when sea levels do rise? It takes 5 minutes by train from where I live to the lowest point of the Netherlands, 5 metres below sea level. 5 metres is a lot! We thought about Sweden. We should climate migrate. 

Dreams and urgency

Dreams we had for like forever. But what happens when you start looking at how much it really costs? We’ve been dreaming of visiting Portland, Oregon for years as well and never really did something because we were sure we couldn’t afford it. Until we actually checked flight and hotel prices. We’re flying in two months. I don’t believe we’re living in a small village close to Kiruna by next year, but the things that need to be done (driver’s licence anyone?) aren’t really that much of a financial obstacle, if you have an urgency. Unless we win the lottery of course. I’ll be buying a ticket this afternoon. 

So, I have emigration plans, that’s cool. I realised that living in nature, in peace and quiet, and be semi self sustaining isn’t just a dream, but it’s something we can actually do. And we both love the city of Rotterdam, but these two introverts are really in need of a quiet life. We want two chickens for the eggs and a pig as a pet. Cool, cool, do what you must. But does this involve this blog and my space twitter? Yes, it does and it does big time. Because if I live in a village of 238 inhabitants in the North of Sweden*, chances are that I won’t get a job at an office. Hurrah! But I still need to work. So this blog finally has a destination. I finally know what I want to do with my plans. A real purpose. An urgency.

*or anywhere else in North Scandinavia. As long as it’s in the North, Scandinavia and provides a clear view on the skies and auroras

Thank you

I know I’ve struggled with blogging before and have pledged commitment time and time again. But never with a purpose such as this. I’m a certified science writer for Pete’s sake! The time has come to do something with it. And with many things in my life, if I really want it, really really want it and have an urgency to lead me (climate migration, leading a self sustaining life), then I know I will make this happen. Of course this blog may undergo several name changes again until I find one that fits and sticks. But it’s the contents that ultimately matters. 

I want to thank all my space and alien followers on Twitter for putting up with me for the past half year. You’ll get what you deserve now. I also want to thank all my new LGBTQIA+ friends, you’re an inspiration and I’ll continue to be on your side. And I would like to thank you in particular, you who has read all this. I’m happy to take you with me on this journey. 

Meet Fl4k, the non-binary robot

Gearbox announced the release of Borderlands 3 for September and ever since I’m a passenger on the hype train. I love the entire franchise, it’s a first person shooter looter, for its incredible story, its wit, its sarcasm, its humor, its surroundings, its characters… Basically I love it a lot. And when the four vault hunters were introduced, I called dibs on Fl4k. I knew nothing about the character, only that they seemed to be a robot and has animals with them, according to the nickname Beastmaster. The siren, soldier and not sure yet character are cool too, but I’m going to start with Fl4k.

Fl4k

picture credit Gearbox

Diversity in the game

It’s not really a surprise. With Borderlands 2 I was instantly drawn to Zer0, still my favourite. He’s a 4 fingered assassin, probably an alien. Nobody knows for sure. With the pre-sequel I played Claptrap, the annoying one wheeled robot. Don’t be fooled by his reputation, he’s ace. I also love Wilhelm. Sure he’s a baddy but he’s addicted to metal augmentation, which turns him into half human, half machine. Choosing a character in the original game was a lot harder. They’re all human after all. So of course for Borderlands 3 it had to be Fl4k. But what I didn’t know, Fl4k has an additional bonus. A huge bonus.

The franchise introduced Fl4k as non-binary and use the pronouns they and them. Fl4k is an AI roaming the planets (and looting and killing wherever they go) searching for themselves and their only companions are three beasts which they care dearly for. So, they aren’t just metal and unsocial, they’re also non-binary (and unsocial) like I am! Of course this is a match made in heaven, them being a hunter class is even an bonus to the bonus!

Sexual innuendos

Borderlands has a great history of not giving a shit about gender roles and sexuality. Characters such as the soldier Axton are openly bisexual. Moxxi is as well, as she discusses her girlfriends and husbands alike. Sir Hammerlock is gay, as is professor Nakayama who has a major crush on the main villain Jack (and is rejected as well). Zer0 is also rumoured to be non-binary after all, even though he’s always been assigned to the he/him pronouns. The creators of the game have spoken of Zer0 as they/them recently. The thing is, even though Zer0 sounds male, we don’t know whether he/they/she is.

With all the innuendos flying out and about, the characters sexual preferences are not an issue anywhere in the game. Janey openly flirts with vault hunter Athena but not with the other characters (spoiler, they’ll end up together, not in the game perse but in canon). It’s all treated normally, just like it should be. As long as the media represents the LGBT+ community as something to emphasise on, it’s never going to be treated as natural. But Borderlands is doing this. And so is Star Trek Discovery by the way. It’s refreshing and it is needed as well. Normalisation is one thing, representation is everything.

The critics

One may argue why they made the robot non-binary and not a human being. It’s also something some people complain about and I do get it. It would of course be nicer to have a human representation of non-binary people in the game (Zer0 isn’t human either but unassumingly he/they/she is flesh and bones). But I have to compliment the people of Gearbox. To have an AI as your non-binary character is the kind of humor you expect from the franchise. And they speak normal about it, use they/them, treat them as an equal to the other vault hunters. I think it’s great.

This is the gaming community of course. And gamers come in all shapes and sizes. Even in an open-minded franchise such as Borderlands, bigotry lives there too. Of course people (probably white males living with mammy) are complaining that the gender agenda has now shoved into their faces in the gaming world as well. Why oh why do they need to deal with this shit in there as well. Well, because you little shit, and I quote Mr Torgue, Reasons! The world isn’t all white and the world isn’t all male and the world isn’t all straight.

Representation matters

This is what Borderlands does a really good job at: representation. And that doesn’t please everyone. For the first two Borderlands games, you could choose between three males and one female character (if you count Zer0 male). The pre-sequel vault hunters were 2 women, a (male assigned) robot and a man. And with Borderlands 3 the choice is two women, a man and a non-binary robot. The baddies are twins (brother and sister) and what is new in the game is that they enemies are male and female. Before that the enemies that were giving you XP were all male and I get that because it’s easier to program and design that way. But now you have male and female enemies and it just is a whole lot more realistic that way.

Borderlands remains an absurd world of shooting looting, with crazy guns (guns on legs everyone?), absurd humor, funny dialogues, and amazing design. I would have started with Fl4k regardless of their gender. But just the fact that they are non-binary makes me love the franchise just a little bit more. Everyone is welcome in Borderlands. Well done you people at Gearbox, you are amazing and never change that.

Why Star Trek Discovery matters. So so much.

This post contains spoilers about Star Trek Discovery (up to episode 5).

I need to talk about episode 5 of Star Trek Discovery. What this has to do with alien life and theories on extraterrestrial beings? More than one might expect. Let me first start with saying (not even explaining) why Star Trek matters. It is about exploring. It’s about science, the search for more knowledge and the cooperation between species. It has always set examples without it being preachy. Star Trek TOS had TVs first ethnic kiss for example. It doesn’t seem important now, but it was then. The crew also featured various colours. At the time, Asians were usually portrait as a serving role, Sulu is a very valued and over all equal member of the crew.

TOS and TNG both gave geeks and nerd alike a role model in Spock and Data respectively. For the longest time, and still today, nerds and geeks are being stereotyped and given the feeling that you just don’t want to a geek or a nerd as they are always picked on (and throw away the glasses of a nerd and behold – the person becomes attractive. Barf!). Both Spock and Data are highly respected and were important role models for geeks and nerd for generations. Star Trek focusses on science rather than war (even in 2017 Discovery, where the Klingon war is the set of the story). It shows what humanity should strive for. An exploring species that treats everyone equal, not just alien species but also within their own species. The only difference between the characters are in rang and even there no one is discriminated. To be blunt, that is why I hugely favour Star Trek over Star Wars.

Granted, the series after The Next Generation were a little lost on me. Maybe it was overkill. I don’t know. Star Trek Discovery got my attention and I vowed myself to give it a chance. There is nothing like the original and it’s hard to beat Picard and Data. So far the characters on Discovery aren’t coming close to how I feel about some of the characters in TOS and TNG. Michael Durnham gets there though as is her roommate Sylvia Tilly. I’m a sucker for underdogs and outcasts, what else can I say? Despite the war with the Klingons and captain Lorca, Discovery does not disappoint.

This has various reasons. For one, science is back. Some may say it’s too much science but the new spore-based propulsion system is to die for. It’s biological technology and in development and so far the Discovery is the only ship it actually works properly. It makes the Discovery unique and captain Lorca greedy and arrogant. In episode 4 Durnham discovers that the Tardigrade captured at a sister ship significantly helps the Discovery warp. This however drains the creature, making it hurt and depressed. This is noted by Durnham and she is determined to help the Tardigrade. This shows compassion for all living beings, something that is common on Star Trek as everyone is vegan by that time in the future. We see how the Tardigrade suffers from the spore-based propulsion system with almost devastating outcome but we also see the beautiful and absolutely touching release of Tardigrade to freedom and happiness. As it turns out, the use of living creatures is essentially not allowed and the Tardigrade is just that. Also, it’s not needed as the scientists discover.

One of the scientists that helps discovering just that is cadet Sylvia Tilly, the ship’s least favourite crew member, Michael Durnham aside. She has a lot of annoying features but is adorable as well, or at least I think so. She persists in becoming friends with her roommate Durnham who is at first incredibly distant, being a prisoner and Vulcan trained after all. It pays off, for Tilly I mean. She is also accountable for the use of the word ‘fuck’ for the very first time in Star Trek. It’s used in the same way we all would use it. And that makes it real. Also, she is the smart outcast and giving so many other smart outcasts watching another role model. In fact, we are all Tilly. This is wonderful.

Fast forward to the homely scene in front of the bath room mirror. This scene is a real cliffhanger as we see Lt Stamets’ reflection in the mirror not doing what Stamets is actually doing, which possibly has been caused by the Tardrigrade’s DNA (this makes sense when you have seen the episode). But before that he is brushing his teeth together with doctor Culber. In an earlier episode they have been seen bickering while Culber was fixing Stamets’ nose, more or less introducing us to these two characters. The teeth brushing scene shows us two people in love, with one having a serious problem. This scene is important because of Stamets using the Tardigrade’s DNA. It’s actually after the scene (which is the end of the episode) which makes you then realise you just witnessed a gay couple without a fuzz made about it. Exactly how it should be and what we hopefully will achieve in the future. As Star Trek is situated in the future, this is done incredibly clever and surely made everyone in the LGBTQ+ community melt and jump for joy. THIS is what we want! And again, this is what it should be, always. It is huge without it being huge, brilliant.

In all, Star Trek Discovery shows us, like all Star Trek series, the way we want us to evolve as a human species and still shows us the lesser traits we have a hard time shaking off (see Captain Lorca). It’s humanity in the stars, more and more technically evolved. And yes, it was humanity that caused the Klingon war. The Klingon’s wanted to start it anyway but waited for someone making a vital mistake and it were the humans, the youngest member of the United Federation of Planets. We see more alien species on board of the Discovery without having explained who they are and where they come from. Simply because it is not relevant in this society. It’s a mirror to the future with one simple message to us all: Make it so.