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My letter to the Lambda Literary Foundation

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Sep. 26th, 2009 | 12:13 am

. . . in response to their appalling clarification of their change in rules.

Dear Mr. Valenzuela,

"Our books are taken from the shelves of libraries all over the country and even from the website of Amazon.com this year."

Oh, the irony of this. You do realize, don't you, that a large percentage of the writers who initially spread the word to the rest of the world about Amazon's action were heterosexual authors of gay male fiction? Now you are citing that episode as a reason to exclude those very authors from your awards.

"We also took into consideration the despair of our own writers when a heterosexual writer, who has written a fine book about us, wins a Lambda Award, when one or more of our own LGBT writers may have as a Finalist a book that may be the only chance in a career at a Lambda Literary Award."

As an LGBT writer, I am deeply disappointed that the LLF believes that the only way in which LGBT writers can compete with their heterosexual peers is through affirmative action.

The LLF states that it believes that this change in rules is necessary in order to "elevate the status of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people throughout society." Well, the gay male novel that caused me to come out as bisexual to my mother, at age eighteen, was Isabelle Holland's "The Man Without a Face." If Ms. Holland was lesbian, she certainly wasn't openly lesbian. The authors of gay male fiction whose literary courage inspired me to be courageous enough to come out as gender-variant? Slash writers - mainly heterosexual women.

Obviously, in the eyes of the Lambda Literary Foundation, I've been following all the wrong role models.

I'm quite open about my orientation and gender identity, but I am not crushed if a heterosexual writer or a closeted LGBT writer wins an award for LGBT writing. Instead, I am heartened to know that more good LGBT literature is available. That is what I have always looked to the Lambda Literary Awards for: excellence in LGBT literature. Narrowing the field to "excellence in LGBT literature only by out-of-the-closet LGBT writers" weakens the worth of the award, in my view.

At any rate, I hope that you will make very clear in any promotional literature about this year's awards that only out-of-the-closet LGBT writers were eligible, since the awards have, until now, been broader in scope.

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Comments {11}

nosce te ipsum

(no subject)

from: mightymaeve
date: Sep. 26th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
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Man! I'm glad you sent this response. I agree.

Personally, I have found that LGBT communities - as a whole - are more open-minded and embracing the principle of being unashamed or uncensored for whatever your 'pride in self' might be and wherever you are on your journey of self. It isn't gay pride, it's self pride. But, like any organization, there are individuals that are prejudice against those unlike them.

It seems like it is fighting back against society's censorship and judgemental prejudiced by swinging the pendulum back too far on the other side...

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Stella Omega

(no subject)

from: dharma_slut
date: Sep. 30th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
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This comment makes me a little bit sad and angry, and wishing what you've just said were more true than it actually is-- for all of the reasons it isn't.

Self pride about being straight? good lord, that's not a problem! Nobody throws a girl out of the family because she tells them she's straight. Straight men beat up other men because they think the guy *might be* gay.

The pendulum will only 'swing back too far the other way' when some gay church, for instance, can drum up a mass hysteria to win the majority votes for Prop9, making straight marriage illegal.

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nosce te ipsum

(no subject)

from: mightymaeve
date: Sep. 30th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
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Point taken, point taken! ^_^ Although I did have to read your first sentence several times over. I don't have your word power; I fight with words every day, trying to grab onto their ephemeral essence to bind them and then hurl them out in a way that expresses my feelings and understandings clearly and powerfully yet succinctly, as you did in your comment!

As an omin/pansexual person with gender identity struggles, I find that there is a prejudice from both hetero and homosexual communities. For example, if I go with a date to a Pride Parade with someone appearing of the opposite sex, my family will say, 'wut?' as they scratch their heads in befuddlement. I'm forever pressured why I identify with gay communities whenever I have a relationship with the opposite sex. It's a minor issue, nothing series like the examples you gave, but it annoys me nonetheless.

I once read a book that spoke of a society that had no concept of gender nor age. You just loved, despised, or felt whatever towards the individual. Science fiction, of course. LOL!

Have you read PomoSEXUALS: Challenging Assumptions about Gender and Sexuality? I recommend it if you like that sort of read.

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Stella Omega

(no subject)

from: dharma_slut
date: Oct. 1st, 2009 07:12 am (UTC)
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aww, such kind compliments! Can I be your friend? ^_^

I haven't read the book, but your self-description sounds remarkably like mine...

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nosce te ipsum

(no subject)

from: mightymaeve
date: Oct. 3rd, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
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I sent you a PM, my dear!

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The Elf ½

(no subject)

from: elfwreck
date: Sep. 30th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)
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This post has been included in a Linkspam roundup.

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Stella Omega

(no subject)

from: dharma_slut
date: Sep. 30th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
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Dusk, I want to rec kaigou. Sie has written the most comprehensive pros-and-cons post I have seen. it's very much worth reading.

(deleted and reposted to fix the html)

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I am NOT Dusk, but I read it

from: anonymous
date: Oct. 2nd, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC)
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and being more or less bi woman I could only say that the kaigou is not making her comparisons right. For ex, "Gone with the wind" is NOT African-American lit not because MM was white, but because she was a racist, and the book is NOT about Blacks, it is about poor little slaveowners who got wronegd by big bad Yankees and ungreatful former slaves. The same story is, I guess, about picturing Native Americans in usually racits mainstream "classics" in USA.

On the other hand, all female writers of M/M love their gay chars and picture them in the best way possible. They are writhing specially about gay people, so I suppse the comparison just could not hold water. They are not anti-gay, they are not even patronising, at least I think so.

I should also recon, that in Russia the first influental feminist writer was a male revolutionary named Chernyshevski, and his younger friend Dobrolubov (about 150 years ago) - and they were not even gay! Chernyshevski wrote (among other things) a heart-breacking novella "A small voice", from POV of a young woman who cannot have love life and sex life because of society restrictions and so on. After all, she started to have short affairs with younger men, and even had a child out of wedlock - and the male author was firmly on her side, never juging her. I guess it is good a book about women and for women as one could wish for.

Rose Red

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Stella Omega

Re: I am NOT Dusk, but I read it

from: dharma_slut
date: Oct. 2nd, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC)
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yeah, I agree with you about GWTW,

A better comparison would be "Uncle Tom's Cabin" which, although written with much sympathy by a white writer, is still not part of the body of black literature.

Kaigou's point is that regardless of sympathy or understanding-- and these things occur often enough that we can all keep our hopes high-- a minority's literature is defined by itself.


On the other hand, all female writers of M/M love their gay chars and picture them in the best way possible. They are writhing specially about gay people, so I suppse the comparison just could not hold water. They are not anti-gay, they are not even patronising, at least I think so.


I will not make a big generalisation about all M/M writers, and in many many cases, you are correct-- but you cannot tell a gay man what he finds patronising or not. That's patronising.

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Re: I am NOT Dusk, but I read it

from: anonymous
date: Oct. 2nd, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
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"but you cannot tell a gay man what he finds patronising or not. That's patronising."

Yes, it would be, but having read at least 3 (!) opinions of very gay men (and writers) about the matter, I found that they agree with me :)

Rose Red

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Stella Omega

Re: I am NOT Dusk, but I read it

from: dharma_slut
date: Oct. 2nd, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
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Ahaha.

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