The Sound and the Fury: The First Panel Discussion About K/S

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Title: The Sound and the Fury: The First Panel Discussion About K/S
Creator: K.S. Langley
Date(s): July 2007
Medium: print, CD
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic: the first K/S panel
External Links:
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The Sound and the Fury: The First Panel Discussion About K/S is an edited summary of the transcript for Kirk and Spock: Do They or Don't They?, the first convention panel to discuss K/S. The discussion was recorded by K.S. Langley who transcribed it and published it in Legacy #1.

The panel took place Saturday, May 28, 1977, 4 p.m. at SeKWester*Con, Too! at Kalamazoo, Michigan. The moderator was Carole S. The panelists were Leslie Fish, Gerry Downes, Gayle F, Teresa Holmes, Amy H, Connie Faddis, and Amy Falkowitz.

This panel, and other discussion and fanworks at this con, led one fan to write an open letter. See Open Letter by Mary Lou Regarding Explicit Fanworks.

Some Excerpts

Leslie, Gerry, and Gayle, of course, are well-known in ST and K/S fandom as writers and artists (not to mention Gerry’s and Gayle’s editing/publishing and Leslie’s filking). Connie was extremely well-known in fandom as a gen editor (Interphase), writer, and artist. Amy H. was a gen artist. Teresa H. was a gen writer. Amy F. was a gen writer and a zine editor (The Other Side Of Paradise). [There were no men on the panel, but several in the audience, some of whom offered comments]

During the introductions, Leslie and Gayle identified themselves on the pro side of the concept. (Another panelist said of Leslie: “She’s really against it.” [audience laughter].) Connie said “sometimes I am and sometimes I’m not.” Gerry said she was “pro, with some reservations.” Amy H. declared herself, in terms emphatic enough to generate laughter from the audience, as neutral, and Teresa H. was the only panelist to come out clearly on the con side of the issue. This prompted a remark that it wasn’t a fair panel, but the response to that was “We couldn’t find any cons.” After some discussion, it was suggested that audience members could help to rebut from the con side. Carole then asked, “In that case, who would like to start?” That prompted a big laugh from the audience, and Leslie underscored that by singing, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

Leslie began by asking that “We define our terms carefully. What do we mean when we use the word homosexual or gay? What do we think of when we hear the word? There are all sorts of things that can fit under that label. Do we mean, or do we think of, say, the classic stereotypical prancing, limp-wristed fairy imitating the worst of the supposed attitudes of the most infantile kind of woman? Because this is obviously not our two heroes. In point of fact, this is this is a very unrealistic stereotype...that people who are homosexual in real life are all like this."
Audience member: “...my position on a homosexual relationship has nothing to do with ethics, or biology—it has to do with what we’ve seen of their characters. Kirk and Spock, as we’ve seen in seventy-nine episodes, are professional officers. It is almost literally impossible for them to continue working together, as commander and first officer, if they have that kind of a relationship.”
Gerry Downes took the microphone next. “In this story theme, there are all kinds of positions you can take.” [audience laughter]... [snipped]... Anyway, moving right along, she said...it seems to me that an awful lot that you see in televised Star Trek is actually contradictory. In some cases you see a very repressive Starfleet organization that is, you know, super-military, the army at its worst, and in other cases, you see Kirk making these on-the-spot gut reaction decisions and nobody is calling him down for it, therefore individual initiative must be allowed. And if you are very careful in the way you interpret Trek, you can come up with two totally separate whole concepts that are exactly opposite each other, and both of them are just as right. And then all you have to do is pick your favorite, you know, and run with it."
Amy: “Because I may disagree with the basic idea of it. [Indistinct conversation from others in the background.] But I...okay, I’m pro because I look at it as another possibility — not that it will happen, but it might happen. And those people whose stories I have read so far dealing with it — Leslie’s, and stuff that Gayle’s working on that isn’t published yet — I have felt have dealt with it well. And that’s mainly why I’m on the pro side.”
Connie F.: “Actually, only the surface has been scratched on the possibilities, both pro and con. And, in any kind of love relationship, you’re going to have endless possibilities. Nobody knows what’s going to happen with the bonding, and there are endless possibilities in that. Spock is likely, if they live out their normal lifespans, Spock of course is going to outlive Kirk, and that’s been a problem brought up in a number of things. I really think if you have a strong objection...objection or support idea, is that you put it in a story, and work on it and discuss it with other people, so that you can have it well-rounded. And if you feel strongly about it, that’s where your statement belongs. That’s where I put mine.”
Moderator: Okay, I’d like to say something. If there weren’t any problems, if there weren’t any hassles, if there weren’t any difficulties, the whole idea would not even be interesting. And I think a lot of interesting story ideas have been presented. And we’ve got to remember that all this is speculation. There’s no facts that we have to go on—nobody’s view is the absolute right one...[indistinct].” [Final round of applause from the audience, and cries of “IDIC!”]

See Also

Reactions and Reviews

1978

For MUCH commentary on this panel and subsequent discussion, see Open Letter by Mary Lou Regarding Explicit Fanworks and

In March 1978, Theresa H. wrote an LoC about this panel:
As for being—or not being—the most stalwart defender of my position on the panel, I would agree with you that I didn’t do too well. There are several reasons. First, Leslie Fish is a very intimidating person. Sitting next to her did not help my courage in the slightest. Second, hearing Amy H. declare herself neutral rather than con, perceived at the time as something of a cop-out, didn’t help much either. Third, prior to the panel, I had discussed the matter with quite a few people who indicated a basic agreement with me, but who all refused to show up, primarily because they were afraid to get emotionally involved—their words. This lack of support also did not help. Finally, I am very poor at public speaking; unless I know I’m among friends, I get extremely nervous. If I may say so, you are extremely fortunate to have had any con side at all. In the end, I think Connie’s excerpt and her subsequent embarrassment at discovering all the wrong people had been effectively forced to hear it probably said reams more in my favor than I could ever have said myself.... [1]

2007

I’ve been to a con! Ok, maybe not, but I feel as if I’d just sat in on a quite lively and sometimes surprising panel discussion about K/S. Only this one took place in 1977, before I entered the cosmic storm known as K/S. Never having been to a panel discussion, I became completely absorbed in this one. I found the early comments about whether Kirk and Spock would or would not “do it” to be unexpected. I expected a moral issue, yet it seems it was more of an issue of whether aired Trek even hinted at such a thing and whether these two characters were gay or would be attracted to each other. Various arguments evidently flew around the room, including the issue of fraternization within the military, whether both were more attracted to women and whether pon farr had to be the triggering event. I don’t know if this discussion could take place today since we’ve become so attuned to K/S, but I would likely have been left speechless had I been there in ’77.[2]
The next chapter continues with The Sound and the Fury: The First Panel Discussion about K/S. This was transcribed by K.S. Langley, as well as doing the research and compilation work on the previous chapter. A large undertaken that was very well done, K.S.! Reading the actual panel transcription after already reading the letters that followed it was strange in a way. From what was transcribed, it seemed to me everyone at the panel had a chance to speak, views were expressed civilly and in a mature manner, and everyone had a good time. When reflecting back on the previous chapter it’s hard to picture the comments that came out of that very panel. It was so cool to read some of the actual conversations that took place. Kudos to K.S. Langley for having the foresight to record it all those years ago, and save the tape! I think I would have preferred reading the panel first, though, then the letters/essays dealing directly with the panel, for the simple reason that the panel came first. It would follow the proper timeline, and the impact on the reader would be closer to what it may have been for those involved. I can imagine being there at that panel, everyone discussing things calmly, then suddenly finding yourself attacked in print later by someone who had the opportunity to confront you face- to-face, but didn’t. Still, very well done, a wonderful, informative, and sometimes startling, look back into our fandom’s early history. [3]

References

  1. "This refers to a part of the K/S panel, where Connie F. was reading an excerpt from her story in R&R 3, “None There Embrace” — a story that was not K/S and in fact represented Connie’s views of why K/S couldn’t work. In the middle of Connie’s reading, it was discovered that the hotel audiovisual staff were mistakenly projecting the panel discussion beyond the panel room." -- from The Sound and the Fury: Early Lettercols and Letterzines 1975-1981
  2. from The K/S Press #132 (2007)
  3. from The K/S Press #132 (2007)