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Raising a Rebel by W_L


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Want to offer the option of direct reader interaction, feel free to discuss or ask questions regarding various topics or issues that come up in the writing.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Again, I want to acknowledge the core readers who have joined me in this story. I had originally thought I'd write a short one-off LGBT Chinese Xianxia genre story, since I didn't think anyone around here has attempted one yet. Now 4 chapters in, I am glad for the reception. I know this story won't be as well received as my modern romance or adventure series, but I am grateful to have readers.

This is also a fan-fiction story, which is something I seldom write. I was captivated by Heaven Official's Blessing (Tian Guan Ci Fu) by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, who pushed the popularity of the taboo genre of same-sex love to the mainstream in mainland China, which has censored gay media and stories to the point where subtext and unspoken word of love is the only form of expression (Even with those limits, she delivers a truly epic 5 book story spanning 800 years between her male protagonists, who would do anything for each other. Love may be expressed in words easily, but devoted love can be shown in action even if love cannot be spoken). The story also highlights traditional Taoist themes and the gay romance is between "equal" partners, a novelty in a lot of Asian gay fiction.

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What's coming up next: Mythology watch, because I am going to introduce some Chinese mythology backstories for you all to think about. Rick Riordan brought Ancient Greek and Norse myths into context through his modern stories, but I think far fewer people know about Ancient Chinese and East Asian mythology.

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Well, I have written 9 chapters in this story, covering a lot of ground in East Asian mythology and referencing TGCF (Heaven Official's Blessing).

In my last chapter, I did some things few Asian historical fantasies have attempted: 1. Bring the obvious canonical question of gender identity into stories surrounding deities who in religious texts changed their genders, and 2. Establish the start of integration and mixing of non-eastern religious beliefs into this historical fantasy story, i.e. Christianity. This has been a taboo subject to bring into historical fantasy, which I just don't understand why. Even great writers such as Rick Riordan side-stepped the issue of Christianity in his Percy Jackson sequel series, Heroes of Olympus and Trial of Apollo, despite knowing the history as I do, those Olympian gods and the Christian god were worshipped at the same time in the Roman Empire.  I'm not afraid to incorporate this aspect into my story as it is historical fact that Christianity did arrive in China at some point during this period and it's important to how belief systems merged and reformed during this period, seeing new variants of Buddhism, Taoism, and a Chinese monotheistic religion called Manichaeism with overt Christian allusions form.  Even when I write fantasy, some facts remain intact and I don't create a world in a vacuum. At least in my view, it creates a richer concept with divergence and convergence in ideas.

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For fans of the TGCF books and the animated show, I will likely re-introduce Mu Qing and Feng Xin, since Mu Qing already knows something is up with Xie Lian and I can't imagine them not helping him out. This story takes place several thousand years after TGCF final chapters, a lot has happened as I have alluded to.

Some characters, I infer based on the original author's notes, have passed away, sadly though. He Xuan will not be returning, nor will Shi Qingxuan as they were (maybe a reincarnated version of them will return, depending on readers' opinions). As they were, I can't see how their tragic friendship/pseudo-love story can continue after what happened in the books, though it is one of my favorite story arcs. As such He Xuan's ashes were destroyed and his essence released at his request by Xie Lian and Hua Cheng, while Shi Qingxuan as a human must undergo the karmic cycle of rebirth over the last thousand years. I can see a couple of ways to bring them back.

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Fengshen Bang antagonist, Daji, and Journey to the West's benign Buddhist deity, Guanyin, will be featured, along with others. The setup and parallels between these two are too rich not to incorporate. They're polar opposites, a sadist and a saint, both prototypical transgender representations from opposite side of the spectrum.

Daji, the name of the biologically female nine-tailed demon fox, is one of my favorite villains, who in many later critiques by Taoists and Confucians call Daji out as an enemy of "the natural order" for having a presence on the throne and dominant sadism. Daji to me would probably be a male by identity and personality wise, he's probably psychopath based on both the historical and fantasy stories (an ancient Jeffrey Dahmer, yikes :( ). On a side-note, the Japanese interpretation of the nine-tailed demon fox is far less negative, eying Daji more as a victim of repressed sexuality by the norms of society than a sadistic psychopath. Both could be true in a way, victim becoming victimizer is quite common in human experiences. One can have sympathy for the devil without accepting his actions.

Guanyin in contrast as a male Indian prince poses a radically different interpretations of gender norms and identity. In the opposite direction, this character wants to protect others and guarantee the freedom of choice to every living being. When I was a preteen watching Journey to the West's Hong Kong television production, I was completely shocked to learn this nice female Buddhist goddess was in fact a boy who chose to become a girl. I did further research and learned that the story was true, so it made me ponder gender and sexuality far more. Knowing a major deity in a world religion was transgender opened my mind to a lot of possibilities as a kid. I might be cisgender and gay, but it made me think beyond hetero-orthodoxy. In various Buddhist and Chinese fantasy stories, she represents the best aspects of humanity: compassion, honesty, and humility, striving to always put others first before herself, but knowing when to let go and allow people free will to be themselves. For me, my interpretation of her is that she was probably one of the first pioneers or prophet in queer thought.

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That's just my take on things so far as I have written it, but seeing so few comments in my story, I guess my story has hit its peak in readership interested in this subject. I am happy though to at least open worldviews to various people and introduce some fun topics.

Edited by W_L
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