Stop The Lies!

A very simple statement
A very simple crime
A lot of grief reflecting in how we spend our time
I want to change things
I want to make a change
I’m tired of spending time agonizing yesterdays

The Motels ~ Shame

I told Jason about the Lambda Literary deally. You know what he said? They’re idiots!
See, that’s how two gay guys married for years actually communicate their “real life” experience as an oppressed minority in our household. No paragraphs of heartfelt searching and attempting to understand the other side.

Just “they’re idiots” will do.

I am getting so tired of hearing about “the rise of straight women writing m/m fiction written by straight women for straight women”.

Honestly, you all can have whatever shame induced opinion you want about what you write or read but I for one am getting a tad pissed off about being lumped in with a bunch of “straight women” who are probably not even fucking all that god damned straight… (Where are you lesbians out there?) I swear, it’s like I am some fake gay man doing abnormal crap in the night like actually enjoying Josh Lanyon stories (OMG! and not giving a flying fuck about his gender and why the fuck did anyone even bring that old crap up again? He told you he was a guy. Don’t you listen? He’s been using that pen name since 2000 so I don’t think he’s hiding from anyone… er um well, maybe not when he started using it. *note to self: Tell Josh he’s evil but his plan is brilliant*) or liking J.L. Langley who “says” she is a straight women since she has kids and a husband (OMG! maybe she is lying to me too! J.L. Langley is actually a gay porn star from New Jersey!)

Who the hell gives a shit?

First off, if you want an opinion worth something I strongly suggest having an “informed opinion”. Yes, actually look stuff up and read it and hey, maybe look up Josh Lanyon’s bibliography while you are at it! My own reading shows there was Patricia Nell Warren and Mary Renault who were writing Gay Fiction long before anyone ever used the term Gay Lit around me at least. I just call it all Gay Fiction or Gay Romance myself. I only use M/M or M/F or even M/M/F, which is different than M/F/M, for really crappy shorthand when I don’t feel like typing out a paragraph about what I fucking mean. I am wrong in doing that. Can we all agree that M/M is a candy and M/F stands for Mother Fucker?

More to the point can we all agree that “women” straight or gay or bi or black or white have been writing Gay Fiction or Gay Romance and helping create the very foundation for Gay Lit long before there ever was such a thing? I find the latest crap coming out of Lambda Literary more tinged with sexism and I tell you as an old gay guy I get the old “Gay’s hate women cooties” feeling from it more than about elevating gay writers. That’s how I read their little statement and that is how I see it and fuck them.

I really hope “women” as a group who have contributed so much to this discussion, from Mary Renault to Marion Zimmer Bradley to fucking Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx, stick up for themselves more and tell off these assholes blatantly implying all these “women” are all somehow “not normal” or something for not caring about the gender of the love story or the writer writing it and enjoying Gay Romance.

Just “they’re idiots” will do.

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"Shame On Me, Shame On You" by TeddyPig was published on September 23rd, 2009 and is listed in Lambda Literary Foundation, Wank.

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Comments on "Shame On Me, Shame On You": 29 Comments

  1. LBea wrote,

    Well…to say I’m ‘normal’ may be a stretch, but I don’t feel any shame over what I like to read and what I love to write. I am all about the romance– gay, straight, or otherwise.

    Although I do draw the line at that Isabella Rossellini animal sex thing. Yeesh. Get a room.(I read too much Newsweek–there’s an article about Green Porno).

    I understand that there are a lot of hurt feelings here, on both sides, and like so many things, there are no easy answers. But I agree that there is an underlying “you girls ought to be ashamed of yourselves” vibe tainting these discussions.

  2. Selah wrote,

    If you weren’t a married gay man and/or I wasn’t a married straight woman, I’d consider proposing. Without a pre-nup.

    THAT’s how much I love you right now.

  3. JenB wrote,

    I’m having a hard time coming up with an eloquent way to describe my feelings on this subject, so I’ll go with this instead: I don’t care.

    I don’t care who writes what. I don’t care about the parts that do or don’t dangle between a person’s legs, author or otherwise. I don’t care who fucks whom or for what reasons they do so. I don’t care if my friends think I’m weird for noticing that another chick has great breasts or that the two male leads from a favorite TV show have sizzling sexual chemistry (or that I call other women “chicks”…heh). I don’t care if Amazon no longer knows what to recommend to me, given that I read romances involving every possible [human] sexual pairing…m/f, m/f/m, m/m/f, f/f, f/m/f, etc. I don’t care about politics. When I’m directly addressing a person I do find it helpful to know whether I should call them Miss or Mister, but I really don’t care about identity or sexual angst or whether gender-based pronouns are appropriate for everyday speech.

    I mostly don’t care about exclusive clubs or ambiguous awards.

    According to The Really Important People, that makes me part of the problem.

    But…again…I don’t care. I read because I enjoy it, not to further a cause. A lot of authors write for the very same reason. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. I’m not sure why this is even an issue.

    Excellent post, TP.

  4. Ally Blue wrote,

    Maybe I’m wrong to think this, but honestly? I don’t care about the Lambdas. I had zero interest in them before, and have less interest in them now, either as a reader or a writer. JenB, you are dead-on, I don’t write to make a political or social statement. I write because I love to write, and I want to share that with whoever is willing to read it. I do work toward a lot of causes in my private life, as well as my public life, but I don’t really see my books as being a part of that. I write romance; that’s all. If that Lambda’s don’t want me, meh, I can’t work up the energy to care, TBH. As long as I keep getting emails from readers (some women, but mostly MEN, Lambdas) telling me how much they loved my books and thanking me for writing them, I’m a happy camper. My readers are important to me; LLA is not.

  5. katiebabs wrote,

    I enjoy a ton of authors who write about werewolves and fairies and even those who write vampires that sparkle. Does that mean they have to be a supernatural creature to write them?

    Who cares what an author’s, color, sex, sexual preference or whatever. It is the quality of work that matters, not the person behind the computer typing that’s writing it.

  6. kirsten saell wrote,

    I don’t care, either. I mean, it sucks for straight women writers, but I can understand that now that so many of them are showing up at the door, well, there’s only so much cake to go around. Really, either way it doesn’t bother me that much.

    I’ll repeat the question I posed over at DA: If it was a growing segment of straight guy authors bristling about their f/f being excluded, would we even be having this debate? Think about it.

    But no, this isn’t something I’m prepared to be annoyed about.

    I’m much more annoyed by the marginalization of the bi community within the Lambdas than whatever entrance requirements they’re enforcing now. You want to talk marginalized? ONE category for bisexual “fiction and [emphasis mine] nonfiction: novels, short story collections, anthologies, poetry, memoirs, cultural studies, public policy, law, history, spirituality, gender studies, etc.”?

    If I write a contemp erotic romance novel with one gay dude and one bi dude, I can enter it in gay romance or gay erotica or the bisexual catch-all category (if I’m crazy enough to do it).

    But if I write a m/m contemp erotic romance novel with two bi heroes, it can’t be entered in gay romance, it can’t be entered in gay erotica, it can’t be entered in any of the LGBT categories. The only place it can go is the bisexual everything category where it will be competing with every other bisexual-themed ANYTHING.

    And an m/m/f erotic romance? Equally screwed. They’re going to be judging it alongside bi poetry and essays on bisexuality, bisexual YA novels and bisexual parenting manuals?

    Wonder where I’d stick my m/f romance with a bi heroine? Oh, I know–right up their…

  7. vein wrote,

    I am not annoyed about it as a writer; no way in hell I would ever be up for the Lambda. I am annoyed as a former fan and regular purchaser/reader of the winners.

  8. Ally Blue wrote,

    Kirsten:
    I’m much more annoyed by the marginalization of the bi community within the Lambdas than whatever entrance requirements they’re enforcing now. You want to talk marginalized? ONE category for bisexual “fiction and [emphasis mine] nonfiction: novels, short story collections, anthologies, poetry, memoirs, cultural studies, public policy, law, history, spirituality, gender studies, etc.”?

    I saw that over at DA. Now THAT is just crazy. Even crazier than some awards with a single GLBT category that lumps all genres of GLBT fiction together.

    This whole thing makes me tired. One day, I am convinced that the RWA will 1) accept that small presses and epresses are just as good as NY (which HAS to happen before anything else can), then 2) give GLBT romances an ACTUAL equal shot at winning in the RITAs. That’s what I’m hoping for, and what I will continue working for, because entirely aside from my zero level of interest in the Lambdas, I think I have a much better chance of changing the RWA’s mind than changing the LLF’s mind. I hope they don’t actually see straight writers of GLBT romance as “the enemy”, but I have a terrible feeling that at least some of them do :-(

  9. kirsten saell wrote,

    I saw that over at DA. Now THAT is just crazy. Even crazier than some awards with a single GLBT category that lumps all genres of GLBT fiction together.

    Thanks, Ally. :)

    You know, part of me just laughs at the bullshit we have to deal with (you know, how Willow went from pure straight to pure lesbian in one season on Buffy, and Susan on Seinfeld could switch her sexual orientation from 100% straight to 100% queer easier than changing her decor, along with all the bs I get for being indecisive or insincere or just going through a phase). Because if you can’t laugh at it, you’re just angry all the time.

    But if LLF hopes to (in their words) “bring more visibility to the most under-published segments of our LGBT community”, they’re going to have to do more than allow bi-themed books to enter two categories. Because, I’m sorry, but bisexual main characters are NOT underpublished in fiction. They’re just assumed to be gay.

    By not having corresponding bi categories to match the 7 gay/lesbian ones, they’re forcing a lot of great bi books to either disregard all claim to the bisexuality in them by entering the gay or lesbian category, or forcing them to compete with every other bi book out there, fiction or non. In practical terms, they’re forcing every m/m or f/f to label itself gay or lesbian just to get a fair shake, because the only bi alternative they offer is ridiculous.

    Couple that with the standard assumtion by society that every m/m relationship in fiction (and in real life) involves gay men, every f/f involves lesbians, and every m/f involves straights, and where does that leave us? Invisible. Again.

    It’s bad enough we get that from the straight community. Sucks when it’s coming from people who are supposed to support you.

  10. TeddyPig wrote,

    You would think “the safe bet” would be to have just 7 subject matter categories and let em all LGB or T duke it out. I think a more contentious awards would make for better press anyway and everyone will always accuse the judges of all sorts of wrong doing but the whole point is the best should be up there whatever the gender. Separating everything out like that just marginalizes in my opinion.

  11. kirsten saell wrote,

    I think that’s a great idea in theory, Teddy. Although the logistics of judging the lesbian and bi-female entries would be…tricky. I don’t know of a single gay man who reads and enjoys f/f romance or erotica, though many lesbians adore m/m. Perhaps they could have lesbians and gay dudes judge the m/m, and lesbians and straight guys judge the f/f? LOL

  12. Treva Harte wrote,

    I doubt that awards ever mean sales, so no one needs to worry there. But I did have an interest in Lambdas before. Now I just figure — wow, I’m not wanted, I’m not supposed to understand, the books they award should be more literary or whatever the rationale is and my interest is pretty much gone. I’m not entirely sure that’s what the contest folks had in mind.

  13. kirsten saell wrote,

    I don’t think it’s that hard to understand, Treva. Here’s the LLF’s mission statement, the very first bit of text on their homepage:

    “The Lambda Literary Foundation is dedicated to raising the status of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people throughout society by rewarding and promoting excellence among LGBT writers who use their work to explore LGBT lives.”

    Perhaps they erred in allowing some straight authors (Mercedes Lackey, Annie Proulx) to enter in the past–not because straight authors don’t “get it” or “can’t write with authenticity”, because clearly they do and can. But in the past, straights writing quality LGBT lit that elevates LGBT people in society were unusual enough that it probably felt really great to have some of them out there doing it, and it felt good to recognize it.

    But I’m guessing as more and more straights took to LGBT lit–there are quite possibly more straight women than gay men writing m/m at this point–allowing straight authors to enter could see the awards dominated by non-LGBT winners. And that is not what the LLF had in mind when they created these awards. That’s not what they’re about. They’re about LGBT authors who write LGBT literature. Likewise, I’m pretty sure a book that only portrayed straight people written by an LGBT author wouldn’t qualify either. Because it doesn’t fit the requirements.

    This whole problem could have been avoided if the LLF had an Ally Award for the work of non-LGBT authors. But they don’t. Yet.

  14. TeddyPig wrote,

    Kirsten,

    There is no question what these awards were for in the past.

    Their statement was and I quote “to recognize excellence in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender literature.” Period, no further qualifications involved. Then some category based contest rules about the time the book was published etc etc.

    Lambda Literary has a long history of scandal and various nut jobs running the group. They are not what you would call a very good example of inclusive behavior or above board politics. The only thing I can say about them is Lambda seems to attract losers that might cause problems for other groups so I guess we could consider them the community trash pile.

  15. kirsten saell wrote,

    Their statement was and I quote “to recognize excellence in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender literature.” Period, no further qualifications involved.

    Perhaps because they simply didn’t foresee a future where a growing segment of non-LGBT authors would become so focussed on LGBT lit (and yes, we are talking about straight women and m/m)?

    I know when I first discovered the online romance world, despite having read Ellen Kushner’s totally blammo and intriguing Swordspoint when I was 16, I had NO idea m/m would be of particular interest to straight female authors or readers. Call me naive, but I figured that for the most part, gay books (especially romantic/erotic ones) were written by and for gay men, and lesbian ones were written by and for lesbians. Perhaps that was LLF’s assumption as well, so the question of authorship wasn’t one they realized they needed to address.

    (And FTR, I was aware that f/f was of particular and obsessive and at times creepy interest to straight men, there’s the whole “excellence” thing to weed out the hot lesbo stroke-fiction written by and for men.)

    The landscape of LGBT authorship has changed in ways that perhaps LLF neither expected nor thought to plan for?

    Either way, I’m still much more pissed about the whole invisible bisexual thing. So don’t go assuming I’m best buds with them. Just someone unfortunate enough to almost always be able to see both sides of an argument.

  16. TeddyPig wrote,

    Kristen,

    Have you ever looked into people who wrote some of the classic Gay books?
    It’s not like their sexuality was cut and dry. EM Forster anyone? James Baldwin? You can’t tell if they were bi or closeted gay. They probably did not know themselves.

    There has never been a need to define “openly homosexual” writers for receiving this award in the past because most of Gay Literature was not written by “openly homosexual” people. To do so now is sorta fucked up and tells me whomever decided this has an agenda that has nothing to do with our cultural history or what is defined as Gay Literature.

  17. kirsten saell wrote,

    Well, considering recent research, I think just about any man who writes m/m romantic/erotic fiction is almost cetainly not going to be 100% straight. With women and f/f, the question is a bit more murky.

    But I digress. I’d guess that in the past, gay lit might not have been written by “openly homosexual” people because non-heterosexual people were just generally less open about their sexuality.

    And I’m sure they have an agenda. It’s about using LGBT lit to elevate LGBT people in society at large. Hard to do that–even with a great book–if the author’s still in the closet…

  18. TeddyPig wrote,

    Kirsten,

    The point is there are no “gay cards”. There is no right gay and wrong gay. There is no particular way to be homosexual, be that open or bi or trans or otherwise, that qualifies you as a more correct or better person or more qualified for notice than anyone else.

    Sorry Kirsten but they are not elevating anyone they are promoting further ghettoization of homosexuality at a time when we need to be promoting inclusion.

  19. kirsten saell wrote,

    So what do we do? Do we tell an organization dedicated to marginalized people (their literature, if not their authors) that they aren’t allowed to run things the way they want?

    Or do we say “fuck them if they can’t take a joke” and start our own organization, hold our own party where everyone’s invited. Hold our own contest and make it open to any author, and say “Nyah nyah, LLF, who needs you anyway?” Personally, I think that’s the better solution.

    Just promise me there will be some actual, really and for true, not just tokenism bisexual categories, cause if there aren’t, I’m gonna egg your car.

  20. TeddyPig wrote,

    Kirsten I refuse to attribute such grand selfless motives to bigots. I for one do not think they are dedicated to my community not the one I support and work with at least. So unlike other groups in my community that are inclusive I want to make sure people know about their rather messed up policies before giving them any money for entry fees and such.

    They can run their circus any way they want I am just pointing out the fleas.

    It’s the same thing I feel about RWA and eBook Authors. Know what they are about before handing them a penny because they may end up not providing the support you are looking for.

  21. Emilie wrote,

    I’ve been following this discussion with great interest. I agree that a romance with a gay hero and a bi hero could go into the gay romance category with no problem. There are plenty of classic books with straight protagonists written by lesbian and gay authors, from the nineteenth century and much of the twentieth century. They’re just judged as classic literature generally. I could write several pages on the invisibility and marginalization of bisexual women and femmes, but I’ll take that to my own LJ. As Teddypig keeps saying, if a book is good, it’s good.

  22. Sair wrote,

    Shouldn’t they (Lambda) be celebrating that so many diverse people enjoy this genre, both as writers and readers.
    Don’t you hope that this reflects a change in attitude by society in general?
    You could be changing public opinion one straight reader at a time.

    I can support positive reinforcement for culturally marginalized members of society who receive so little recognition, but this is not how Lambda seems to be promoting this award.

  23. Emilie wrote,

    And another thought — you figure that a certain percentage of those married women are going to have gay kids. Anything that makes a parent more accepting of their kid’s sexual orientation, I figure that’s a plus right there.

  24. Lee Rowan wrote,

    As an ‘old married’ lesbian (well, technically bi, but my wife and I have been together 10 years)…

    They’re idiots.

    And to whomever said ‘it doesn’t matter in sales’ .. yeah, it does, to libraries and many bookstores. But for small-press folks who don’t get into bookstores, not so much.

    IMO, any literary competition that has 3 criteria and lists the quality of the writing last is going at the issue ass-backwards.

  25. authenticity and audience redux « Kate McMurray wrote,

    [...] despite the great number of excellent straight female m/m writers. TeddyPig sums it up pretty well: they’re idiots! Victor J. Banis also weighed in. And Jane and Sarah F at Dear Author also have some things to say. [...]

  26. Selah March » Blog Archive » More re: Lambda Lit versus The Breeders wrote,

    [...] Teddy Pig says this: http://www.teddypig.com/2009/09/shame-on-me-shame-on-you/ [...]

  27. Alex Beecroft wrote,

    I really hope “women” as a group who have contributed so much to this discussion, from Mary Renault to Marion Zimmer Bradley to fucking Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx, stick up for themselves more and tell off these assholes blatantly implying all these “women” are all somehow “not normal” or something for not caring about the gender of the love story or the writer writing it and enjoying Gay Romance.

    Oh Teddy, I’ve suddenly conceived a huge and entirely platonic love for you. You rock!

    I don’t have a lot of say as to whether my book gets entered for the Lammies. I’ve asked my publishers not to submit it, but who knows if they’ll listen? But having said that, the LLF can do what they want with their award, and I honestly don’t care. What does disturb me most is the level of misogyny going on. Why is everyone acting as though the m/m romance genre is all about straight women writing for straight women, when in my experience the genre is full of GBLT authors of all sorts and straight authors of varying degrees of queerness, and is read by LGBT people of all sorts and straight readers of varying degrees of queerness. I think that’s something to celebrate, myself, and maybe you’re right and I should stop being so apologetic about my right to be here :)

  28. TeddyPig wrote,

    Thanks everyone!

    Alex,

    I just spoke my mind about this because frankly I have been critical of Lambda Literary Foundation award choices in the past so there should be no surprises here.

    What really does bug me is the amount of wank being created about this.

    I think it is really important to look to people like Victor J. Banis who is a gay man and gay writer who has contributed so much to Gay Fiction or even previous award winners like Lee Thomas for his novel The Dust Of Wonderland.

    These people are not “guessing” what the award was “about” or what it “meant in the past” as they either won it or were pioneers of the dang genre.

    Even Katherine Forrest the group’s president in her own letter admits that “straight” authors have won or been nominated for the award in the past so this is a very substantial change of direction. Not just a clarification of something that has always been in place unless you always secretly wondered if there was a “good old boy” network in place. Something the lesbians obviously decided “was there” and went to create their own award

    Not a single person is arguing “if” the Lambda Literary Foundation “can” change it’s direction. They “have” and they “did”.
    People are just pointing out that direction is backwards and not appropriate to meet the needs of promoting Gay Fiction in a positive way.

  29. Alex Beecroft wrote,

    Yes, everywhere I go I see people saying variations on “a bunch of straight people whining because they’re not eligible for a GAY award just sounds like a bunch of entitled asshattery to me”, and yet the fact is that all of the people I’ve seen speaking out against LLF’s decision have been LGBT people themselves. I wouldn’t want to be the poster who could dismiss Victor as an entitled straight person! Maybe I just hang around in different circles from them, but so far it really doesn’t seem to me like it’s that simple at all.

    Thanks for the link to Lee Thomas’ post. I hadn’t seen that one, and I agree with him that whatever else the decision achieves for the LLAs, it will certainly reduce their status as awards for literary quality. Which is a little counterproductive, I think.

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