Why Representation is Important — an Article by Kody Boye for the 2015 Zombie Crawl

Hello everyone!

For those of you who know me—welcome! For those of you who don’t: My name is Kody Boye. I’m the author of a zombie novel called Sunrise, which features a young gay man and centers around not only his struggle to survive the zombie apocalypse, but also the reality of a new and unfriendly world. The Band of Dystopian Author’s annual Zombie Crawl is an awesome event that I unfortunately didn’t get to take part in last year, but now that I am, I’m excited to participate! You can find out more about my novel (and enter a giveaway to win a few eBook copies) at the end of this article.

So, without further ado, here is

Why Representation is Important

I initially struggled to decide on what I wanted to write for this article. At first I wanted to discuss LGBT characters in zombie films, but upon asking my audience for recommendations and only receiving only four responses, I began to think about how little representation there are for them in the horror genre. We’re used to seeing the common stereotypes of effeminate gay men and butch “woman who wants to be a man” lesbians. Transgender characters, or even those whose gender identity is slightly within the shades of grey, are treated even worse. This is an incredibly frightening realization — because growing up, we’re taught that diversity is important, and that we should attempt to understand people who are not like ourselves. It’s a fundamental aspect of the human experience to know that we are different from one another, whether it’s through skin color, religion, sexuality or even culture.

As of recently, I’ve begun to run into an argument that only serves to discount diversity in fiction. Usually it is presented in the form of a statement such as, ‘it isn’t necessary for characters to be defined by race or sexuality.’ A defense is then offered through the addendum ‘ because we’re all human.’ Some people don’t claim to see skin color or sexuality. Others say it isn’t important to a character’s development or story. A few even say that they don’t want to see it at all. While we can all agree that the later statement is born of ignorance, I’d like to address the former by explaining why it’s important that we not only understand what other people go through, but that we allow those stories to be presented without fear of censorship.

I grew up in a predominantly-white, Mormon town in Southeastern Idaho, experiencing not only homophobia, but witnessing the racism projected at the small Hispanic population that was present. I didn’t see a person of black or Asian descent until I was fourteen, and it wasn’t until the age of sixteen that I began to even accept the gay community and its various subcultures. Because of this sheltered lifestyle, you would think that I’d have opened my mind enough to where I could easily see through the ‘personal lens’ of my own existence, especially after I moved to Austin at the age of eighteen.
Not too long ago, however, I realized how ignorant I was to other people’s experience. This was revealed when, while reading a book, I completely ignored the description of a black character. I had, unconsciously, assumed he was white.

While this isn’t surprising (considering my background and the representation seen throughout the media in the later parts of the 90s and throughout the early 2000s,) I was completely mortified that I—a minority, if only by my sexuality—had unintentionally disregarded another person’s experience. It wasn’t out of malice, but ignorance.
This single event—captured within a span of five minutes—was enough to change my entire outlook on what many people consider unimportant in entertaining media. The ‘I don’t see color’ declaration was completely disregarded when the default narrative of straight and white is automatically inserted into a piece of fiction, which is exactly what I did when reading that book.

I could go into immense detail about how I experience the world differently from other straight men—including, but not limited to: the way I am perceived, the assumption of ‘dominant or submissive roles’ based on my personality, or that I like or dislike certain things based solely on the fact that I am gay. But since this article isn’t about me, and is instead about acknowledging the fact that people of different backgrounds (whether they be racial, sexual, religious or cultural) have different experiences, I will leave you with one final reminder:

I ignored the declaration of a black man’s skin color because I automatically assumed he was white.

If that isn’t enough to make you think, I don’t know what is.

SUNRISE_FINAL_WEB

My novel Sunrise is currently available for purchase and loan through the Kindle Unlimited Reading Library on Amazon.com. If you’d like to purchase a copy (or read a sample,) you can do so by clicking here.

If you’d like to win one of 10 eBook copies of Sunrise (and it’s tie-in novel when it’s released) for free, you can do so by entering and performing the various Rafflecopter tasks below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

z crawl schedule

Zombie Crawl 2 – Blog Party

October 22 – 31, 2015

by Band of Dystopian Authors & Fans

How it works: Each day, the scheduled authors and bloggers will post awesome zombie-tastic content for your enjoyment along with a giveaway on their site/blog/page. You can hop around to all of the participating sites and enter as many giveaways as you like! If you would like to be emailed links to the new posts each day, join this Zombie Crawl Daily Digest list which will ensure you don’t miss a post (or join the party on Facebook to get notifications). Make sure to leave comments and interact with the participating sites. Thanks for joining the party!

The Schedule:

OCTOBER 22 – Thursday

Band of Dystopian Authors & Fans (Party & Grand Prize Host)

Jo Michaels Blog (author)

Rissa Blakeley (author)

OCTOBER 23 – Friday

Claire C. Riley (author)

2 Girls & A Book (blog)

Emily Shore (author)

OCTOBER 24 – Saturday

Kathy Dinisi (author)

Us Girls & A Book (blog)

The Voluptuous Book Diva (blog 18+)

OCTOBER 25 – Sunday

Casey L. Bond (author)

THE KATY blog (blog)

OCTOBER 26 – Monday

Saul Tanpepper (author)

Warren Fielding (author)

The Leighgendarium (blog)

OCTOBER 27 – Tuesday

Kody Boye (author)

Rhiannon Frater (author)

ER Arroyo (author)

OCTOBER 28 – Wednesday

Allen Gamboa (author)

Armand Rosamilia (author)

Ethan @ One Guy’s Guide to Good Reads (blog)

OCTOBER 29 – Thursday

Kate L. Mary (author)

aftershockzombieseries (author)

Eli Constant (author)

OCTOBER 30 – Friday

Aria Michaels (author)

Brian Parker (author)

Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps (blog)

OCTOBER 31 – Saturday

Cindy Carroll (author)

M. R. Pritchard (author)

Toni L.H. Boughton (author)

Digital Dirty Girl (blog)

To learn more about Band of Dystopian and/or to enter our Grand Prize Giveaway, visit BandofDystopian.com and don’t forget to join the group on Facebook!