Nearing the end of 2022, we opened a call for submissions for the third season of New Naratif’s Flash Fiction compilation. After commemorating Trans Day of Remembrance and realising the extent of queerphobia even in the most basic of needs such as disaster response, it could not be more obvious that SOGIESC justice and ecological justice are interconnected struggles.
Thus, to arm us with empathy and imagination, we asked fiction writers to tell us: In what ways do the struggles for queerness and ecology intersect and influence one another? This was what we would publish under the theme of Queer Ecology.
It was a complex and relatively challenging theme to tackle, but the New Naratif community delivered. We received close to two dozen submissions, from which we have selected eight pieces to develop. In no particular order, here they are:
Survival of the Fittest
Written in the form of a stage play script, Ara’s work managed to convey the essence of queer ecology as originally theorised by Timothy Morton. In the words of their cockroach character, “Gay penguins, lesbian squirrels, bisexual dolphins, sex-changing fishes… all sorts of things are out there. Nature doesn’t have a label for all these things.” Who could say no to a cockroach philosopher?
Taman Rainbow is My Home
From a surreal stage play with a talking cockroach, we go to a deeply personal narrative with an alligator in an irrigation drain. Written with the vibes of a diary entry, Vio’s story emanates warmth in its nostalgia as well as resilience in its outlook. A truly beautiful piece you wouldn’t want to miss.
From gentle warmth to burning heat, Audris’s story is one written in palpable anger as they explore the idea of queer ecology within Sundanese indigeneity. As gender is forced into a binary and nature is being relentlessly exploited, it is unbridled cosmic wrath that will come together to bite us back.
Another exploration of traditional elements, Korionto’s work sets itself under the hints of a post-apocalyptic world where abandoned temples host power cells and dancing can recharge batteries. But it’s not really the dancing that gives energy—it’s the collective care that queer people show one another, the care needed to be able to overcome their internalised transphobia and other prejudices, allowing them to love themselves fully.
The Lesser Known Part of the Timun Mas Tale
Bageur Al Ikhsan
With two stories where one frames the other, Bageur presents yet another exploration of queer ecology within indigenous cultures with his unique retelling of the Indonesian folktale of Timun Mas. This in itself is beautiful, but the frame story of a gay dad telling this story to his son—and especially the context thereof—is a true stroke of genius.
Speaking of gay couples in hardships, Himas portrays yet another beautiful story of love, loss, and longing. While her previous entry presents a world of potential liberation in the midst of impossible challenges, this current story tells of the soul-crushing loss and loneliness that queer people of lesser resources face from hate crime and environmental exploitation on a regular basis.
A Little Duck’s Longing
Jing Ying Yeo
It’s not only humans that can feel loss and longing from an unexpected and untimely death. Jing Ying’s work explores the emotional impact of human death on nonhuman animals, subverting the tired ecological trope that nature would be better off without humans. In this beautiful work, a little duck is saddened by the death of a human kin, the reasons of which are left to the reader’s interpretation.
Choo Yi Feng
Finally, we end this season with a surreal piece on environmental decay as imageries of monsters, economic collapse, gross ecological excesses, guilty pleasures, and hints of internalised queerphobia all coalesce into a blend of poetic cosmic horror. While not explicitly portraying identifiable elements of queerness and ecology, Yi Feng’s piece manages to capture the ambient strangeness of queer ecology in its atmosphere.
Each of the eight stories present their own uniqueness in approaching the issue of queer ecology, from the hopeful to the angry, from personal nostalgia to cosmic horror. It is our hope that the multiple varying perspectives we have curated and developed can provide a sense of empathy and solidarity regarding the multi-dimensional nature of justice for the environment and LGBTQIA+ people alike. As Audre Lorde said,
All artworks for this project were created by Jes & Cin Wibowo.