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/misogynistic language.

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.
There's plenty of information on biphobia out there. There's plenty of it out in the world.

In her essay, Robyn Ochs writes, "Thus, bisexuals create discomfort and anxiety in others simply by the fact of our existence. We are pressured to remain silent, as our silence allows the dominant culture to exaggerate the differences between heterosexual and homosexual and to ignore the fact that human sexuality exists on a continuum. It is much less threatening to the dominant heterosexual culture to perpetuate the illusion that homosexuals are “that category, way over there,” very different from heterosexuals. If “they” are extremely different, heterosexuals do not have to confront the possibility of acknowledging same-sex attractions within themselves and possibly becoming “like them.” There is considerable anxiety in being forced to acknowledge that the “other” is not as different from you as you would like to pretend."

I recommend reading her whole essay, especially if you're unaware of this issue. I identify alternately as pansexual and anthrosexual and am currently working my way through Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out (edited by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu).

For online resources, I recommend Texas A&M's Biphobia Guide, this discussion of biphobia in the lesbian community [warning for a fair amount of biphobia in the comments], Biphobia on Scribd, and this extensive read entitled GL vs BT, taken from the Journal of Bisexuality.

There is biphobia in the world. People who aren't monosexual experience it regularly - often daily if we watch television or read books. We grow up in a culture where we are invisible except in the negative. Bisexual women are often the slutty ones who play both sides of the field. Bisexual men spread AIDS.

There are few heroes for us. When, for example, I say that Oscar Wilde exhibited bisexual behavior and the reaction is, "What the hell are you talking about, [livejournal.com profile] chasingtides, the man was gay," that is erasure. Not only is it erasure, but it denies us our heritage.

When I was fourteen, I realised, startled and suddenly afraid, that I liked girls. I knew I liked boys - I had had quite the crush on a boy in my junior high. However, out of the clear blue on my first day of high school, I realised that I was definitely attracted to females as well. However, I struggled with this for years. It wasn't that I wasn't attracted to men and women; I was. It was that I knew there was a word for that - bisexual - but I also knew, quite clearly, that I wasn't bisexual. I am monogamous. I have a low sex drive. I am honestly attracted to people of all genders and want to pursue single romantic relationships with them. Clearly, I was not bisexual. There was no decent person, not in my extensive reading and not in my genre television watching, who was bisexual.

In those years, I well could have done with the knowledge that these were biphobic stereotypes and it would have been a good thing if I had been, in main stream media, exposed to non-phobic figures. (I was not involved in queer culture because while I was clearly not a bisexual like that, I was also obviously not gay or lesbian.) I could use having some less-than-monosexual figures in my life today, for that matter.

Biphobia is integrated into our culture, in the mainstream West and into the culture of the queer community. This means that, likely, you might say or do something that's biphobic. Hell, I always have to check my biphobic thoughts as self-destructive; I hardly expect the rest of the world to be magically biphobia free.

When you write the slash fic where either or both of the male characters have canonical female love interests, think of the possibility that your character might be not-monosexual, rather than a closeted gay character. When someone points out that a person or a character exhibits bisexual behavior - for example, Lord Byron or Ianto Jones - think before you jump on that person. When you are in a place of fannish discussion, think before you espouse biphobic stereotypes.

However, I will say this: ignorance of this issue is not an excuse. If I said something racist and said, "But I didn't know better," what I said would still be racist. If I said something homophobic and said, "But I didn't know any better," what I said would still be homophobic. The same applies to biphobia. It is not the purpose of bisexuals and other non-monosexuals to educate and help you. We aren't educators; we are people, living lives. Telling us we should not be angry is also, in my less than humble opinion, inappropriate. This is prejudice and discrimination that we face in our daily lives; we have every right to be angry about it.

(And no, I'm not putting this under a cut. It's long, but it needs to be read.)
chasingtides: (rainbow windows)
( Feb. 9th, 2009 09:56 am)
Courage Campaign Petition: Tell the Supreme Court to invalidate Prop 8, reject Ken Starr's case, and let loving, committed couples marry. DEADLINE: Valentine's Day

"We, the undersigned, share President Barack Obama's view that "for too long, issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us. It's time to move beyond polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect."

Yet, on December 19, 2008, Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund filed legal briefs defending the constitutionality of Prop 8 and seeking to nullify the 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted between May and November of 2008.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case on March 5, 2009, with a decision expected within the next 90 days. We, the undersigned, ask that the Court invalidate Prop 8 and recognize the marriage rights of these 18,000 couples -- and all loving, committed couples in California -- under our state's constitution.

As Americans who believe in the rule of law and fundamental civil rights, we know that Ken Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund's shameful attempt to nullify these unions will not be vindicated in the eyes of history. We know that, ultimately, love will prevail, no matter how hard they try to fight it."

They are trying to force legally married couples to divorce. I don't care what your position on same sex marriage is, these couples married legally under their state law. This is wrong.


chasingtides: (Default)


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