I'm going to try to have a calm, cool, rational go at what's wrong with the discussion some folks have been having about the change in the Lambda Awards (and then, flist, I promise to shut up about it). If this gets linked about, I can't promise to be 100% calm in comments, but I'll do my damnedest, as long as commenters do their best to not fling about homophobic/biphobic/transphobic/racist/
First of all - I've said it before (all over the place, probably), I've got my own issues and problems with the Lambda Awards and how they work. I've discussed these problems before (and probably will again), generally in queer spaces. I'm hardly a published writer myself, but I do wholeheartedly support any number of actually published writers (more often under my actual name rather than my blogging pseudonym).
And if you have a problem with Lambda that doesn't happen to be my problem? Feel free to have it. I'll even listen to you and respect you when you aren't couching your problem in homophobic/biphobic/transphobic/racist/
misogynistic language. Once you start doing that? My ability to respect your problem - no matter how real and/or problematic it is - drops dramatically. If you manage all of the above, I'm just going to pull out my bingo card.
This counts even if you are part of the minority in question
. In my Biphobia: It's What's For Dinner
, I said, I always have to check my biphobic thoughts as self-destructive
. I know I have thoughts (and actions and words and all of that) that feed into straight and cis privilege - even though I don't have them. They are destructive to me and, yet, I can still participate in that which tears me down. I have every ability to join in with the majority and aid and abet them in destroying my own psyche. Every member of every minority does. It's one of the things that sucks about being part of a minority.
When a person says that heterosexual writers are obviously better than queer writers of any stripe
- well, that's a queer-phobic comment. I don't give a goddamn if you run the Pride Parade in San Francisco, that's fucking phobic and you'd better be called on your shit for it.
If you seriously suggest that a minority is oppressing the majority by creating a space for themselves
, I think you need a clue. Straight, cis people have the whole world. Wanting an award for non-straight/non-cis people is not as someone put it the Westboro Baptist Church
, segregation, or a lynching
. (I'm actually not entirely sure what Selah March is after, just that her comments and her blog and LiveJournal seem rife with problematic interpretations where she, the straight woman, is being discriminated against by the Big Bad Queers.)
If you lie about what happened
, I'm going to assume you're lying about other stuff, too. (Keep reading that link, the next bit is for that, too.) If you're upset because you'll make less money/be discriminated against if you come out and you just want to be viewed as the straight writer of queer character - boo hoo. This is me not crying for you. Yes, the closet sucks
. However, I don't think anyone should get a prize for it and, certainly, being the totally closeted writer of queer books appears antithetical to Lambda's purposes.
First of all, submissions can't go into Lambda until October 1. Anyone says Lambda's changing their tune midstream (hmmm, mixing my metaphors again) is lying, unless they've been hanging out with a time machine. Did Lambda announce it late in the game? Yes. However, they did announce it before
anyone could submit their work.
No one is saying straight cis women can't or shouldn't write queer characters (or gay male romance, since that seems to be everyone's agenda). Or, at the very least, Lambda's decision isn't saying that. It's saying, "Straight cis women, sorry, you can't win this award." (Just like straight cis woman who wrote Jennifer's Body isn't going to win a queer award for her presumably stunning representation of non-monosexual female teenagers.)
I don't know much about the genre of gay male romance. It's not something I actively seek out. In fact, I avoid romance novels like they'll give me herpes. I scrounge my local Barnes and Noble for anything resemble not-monosexual or genderqueer literature (I have one book) and that's about it. Beyond that, I want pirates and werewolves and possibly space aliens. However, Anne Somerville, who presumably knows more about the genre than I do, assures us that straight cis women are edging out queer folk in terms of writing about queer folk
. To quote her, "It’s not a gay friendly genre, when you get down to it."
Lastly - there are two final things I want to mention that I have not yet touched on.
Allies. You're not an ally if your response to a minority saying, "I think we need our own safe space where we can help build each other up and encourage one another to be the best people/writers/film makers/cake bakers we can be," is, "BUT I AM AN AWESOME CAKE BAKER WHY AREN'T I IN YOUR GROUP? YOU HATE ME! OMG YOU ARE GOING TO PICKET MY FUNERAL AND SPIT ON MY GRAVE! OMG I HATE YOU GUYS!" See? Then we end up feeling used. You want us as long as we're making you money and making you look good. As soon as we assert independence, suddenly we're evil and the Man and omg, exactly like George Bush. Even if it's not your intent or if it's not true, you're not being an ally and we feel used. Thanks.
Transphobia. Oh my god. The transphobia. I don't even know where to start. Maybe with When does a trans man become a woman, and if she is then a straight woman is he then ineligible for the Lambdas?
Or the assumption that no one who identifies as heterosexual would be able to qualify for a Lambda Award? I don't even have words for how incredibly pervasive it is throughout these discussions.
There are plenty of really good reasons to have an issue with the Lambda Awards. The ones listed here? Not them. Fear of the queer police? Also not them, since Lambda has specifically stated that they are relying on authors to self-identify themselves as part of the LGBT family. Go look at their website. You don't have to fill out a form as to how many partners of the same gender you've had or if you're going in for an operation. (Trust me. This was a first fear of mine and it is unfounded.)
ETA: It gets better: Hell, even rich, upper class, straight white men are having a rough time right now - everyone hates them!
And as far as I can tell, they're not being sarcastic. This is my sad face.