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Violets and Green Carnations: The LGBTQ+ Perspective

Welcome to “Violets and Green Carnations!” I am Jessica Lucci, steampunk author most known for my Watch City trilogy. I incorporate LGBTQ themes and characters in my books because I feel like everybody should be seen, heard, represented, and validated in steampunk literature.

Why is this presentation called, “Violets and Green Carnations?” It is symbolism based on important Victorian era writers.

“Streaks of Violets” are reminiscent of Carl Sandburg, particularly in his inference of President Abraham Lincoln’s sexuality.

“Green carnations” brings to mind Oscar Wilde, who was a famously gay writer. He would wear a green carnation, and it became popular fashion amongst gay men at that time.

In this talk, I am going to delve into the importance of LGBTQ literature in our steampunk culture. I will also demonstrate with brief readings from my books, and will provide a list of LGBTQ books I recommend.

Throughout time and literature, LGBTQ writers and characters have helped shape the global consciousness of what it is to be not straight.

LGBTQ books in steampunk have made an impact on our growing community. The reach can start with us and stretch beyond.

Many of my own books, including the Watch City Trilogy, are used and read in a local to me shelter for unhoused LGBTQ youth. It is important for them, and for all of us, to see not just ourselves represented in what we read, but to see the diversity of our communities, as well.

I have found steampunk as a culture to be very open to diversity and underrepresented people. Whether it is in cosplay, science, crafting, art, music, or literature, steampunk provides a safe place where everyone is welcome.

I need to credit Oddball Newt for creating this home base of a genuine steampunk family.

Steampunk challenges us to think outside the box. No other genre investigates the past, present, and future in the ways we do. We follow a broken timeline that includes the atrocities of slavery, bigotry, racism, and homophobia. But, our timeline also includes the end of slavery in the United States, the vote for women, and a tentative acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

Through our steampunk fantasies, we can create new timelines that intermingle the best and worst of our world. Through our imaginations, we can safely stand up for each other, and effectively rewrite history, if only in our imaginations. When you start with imagination, anything can happen.

In the latest steampunk trends, many people choose to cosplay gender fluid, for example, a woman dressing up as Nikola Tesla or Dorian Gray. This acceptance of feminine masculinity is met with openness and delight in steampunk.

I have seen men cosplaying as Victorian women, without foolishness, and at times without austerity. Always with joy. Many men wear corsets magnificently.

Steampunk allows us to play with gender roles and sexuality. We are the creators who use Victorian aesthetics to unveil a better history.

Steampunk offers flexibility in how we portray ourselves. Reading steampunk literature can transport us to worlds both similar and different from our own, in which LGBTQ themes can be explored and accepted.

Following is a list of LGBTQ literature (besides my own) that I recommend. Some are appropriate for tweens and teens, and some are for mature readers.

“Ten Minutes Past Tea Time” by Elizabeth Chatsworth

“A Bargain of Blood and Gold” by Kristen Jacques

“Mystery at Skeffield Manor” by Hollis Shiloh

“The Hunter” by Jordan Reece

“The Winter Triangle” by Nikku Woolfolk

“Karen Memory” by Elizabeth Bear

“A Matter of Disagreement” by E.E. Ottoman

“Clockwork Tangerine” by Rhys Ford

“Soulless” by Gail Carriger

“The Girl in the Steel Corset” by Kady Cross

“Leviathan” by Scott Westerfield

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