Is highlighting individual characteristics (eg. race, sexual identity, gender, disability) and experiences that stem from these alongside industry achievements a positive thing, or should an individual's body of work be separated from that which marks them as a minority?
I recently brought up a discussion point in my last front page post which garnered many interesting responses and viewpoints, so I've been looking forward to bringing another topic to the Newgrounds Community. So, let me explain further on my point and provide some clarification to add a bit of context to what I'm asking. I'm a member of a group of composers called PERSPECTIVE on Facebook, and an article was shared that sparked some differing opinions, in celebration of Wendy Carlos, a pioneer of Electronic music in the 20th century (A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Moog Synthesizers). The context of this article was not only in celebration of her work, but on her history of transitioning from male to female in light of this month being LGBT Pride Month. You can catch that article here.
The thing about this article that caught the attention of some was the headline "Wendy Carlos: Trans Woman, Kubrick Collaborator, and Synth-Music Pioneer" with some arguing that her legacy should be on the merit of her work as a composer, and that highlighting the fact she was trans is a negative thing. There are also those that argued that while Wendy Carlos was an innovator in the electronic music world, her experiences and struggles as a trans woman are also just as relevant.
I also came across an article today with the headline "Black female physicist pioneers technology that kills cancer cells with lasers" which sparked a similar response. Those arguing that highlighting the race and gender only adds to marginalisation of minorities, and those that argue celebrating the achievements of those with marginalised characteristics in society is a positive thing from a diversity perspective.
I can see validity in both sides, and it's truly made me think about my own point of view. Speaking honestly, on one hand, it does sort of irk me when I see headlines like this that box people up and distract from the merit of the achievement, especially when the characteristic being mentioned seems so far detached from what they've actually achieved. I think to myself, would I want to be highlighted as "Gay composer achieves x" for example... first and foremost, I'm as much a composer as any other composer, gay or straight or otherwise. On the other hand, as a musician, I find that I always endeavour to wear my heart on my sleeve and my projects are always laced with as much of my experience of being alive, including my heartaches, my struggles, and that which makes me different. Should it not be a good thing for me to be free to express and celebrate that? Also, is there a difference in opinion between those that live a fairly privileged life, and those that have had to fight extra hard against marginalisation to achieve their successes? I wonder to what extent my own privilege and struggles inform my own opinion, as despite technically being LGBT and coming from a working-class background, I've had a fair amount of privilege compared to many.
I'm not quite sure where I stand on this and as life goes, we're all learning more about where we stand on things the longer we're on this planet and the more we experience.
I'd be very genuinely interested in hearing some of your opinions on this topic, as a community of creators and supporters of uncensored expression.