In recent years the cozy cameraderie of the science fiction world has been disrupted by controversies over diversity and tolerance. We've been told that SF is too white, too male, and too straight, and that we need to Do Something to change that.
I'm not going to grapple with the question of whether the demographics of a given branch of literature and its fans should necessarily reflect that of the nation or the world. There are both valid and bogus arguments for and against that notion, and all of them have been made too often. Instead, I'm going to point out that the whole issue is based on a false premise.
As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I spent a weekend at DragonCon in Atlanta recently, and as a result of that trip I am convinced there is simply no lack of diversity within fandom at all. DragonCon had large numbers of fans of every race, a male-to-female ratio better than the college I went to, and (judging by some costumes and T-shirts) a pretty active gay and lesbian contingent.
Quite simply, SF and fantasy fandom is wonderfully diverse. What isn't diverse is the group of fans and writers who attend the smaller, older, literary-focused conventions like Readercon, WisCon, and the annual Worldcon. Writers and fans with an interest in diversity issues go to those conventions and see the same other graying white people who go to those conventions, and they hold earnest discussions about how to make SF more diverse.
Meanwhile the younger, more diverse — and vastly larger — cohort of fans are going to Comic-Cons in New York, San Diego, or Salt Lake City. They're going to DragonCon and PAX and GenCon. Hundreds of thousands of them are going. They enjoy science fiction movies, TV shows, comics, computer games, webcomics, tabletop games, card games, fan fiction, anime, LARPs, and probably some enormous hobbies I don't even know about. They're having fun doing what they enjoy. And what they don't enjoy are serious-minded panels about the need for more diversity.
So here's my prescription for how to make science fiction more diverse: SF writers need to get out more. Go to mega-conventions, try your hand in different media, and create works with genuine appeal. The fans have voted with their feet and made their wishes very clear. They want the fun stuff, not earnest finger-wagging. Instead of worrying about making SF more diverse, we should focus on making SF more fun again. Bring the fun and the diversity will follow.