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30 September 2009 @ 04:08 pm
Lambda, Discrimination, And Are You Seriously Saying That?  
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.
 
 
 
Cherrycherrymmm on September 30th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
Ummmm....*cringes in embarassment* What is "cis"?
apwizardryapwizardry on September 30th, 2009 10:12 pm (UTC)
A person who identifies with the same gender they were assigned with at birth. Basically, the opposite of trans.
apwizardryapwizardry on September 30th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this. I agree with you on almost everything.

But I'm just going to correct you on a fact in there: Jennifer's Body was written by a woman. The same woman who wrote Juno.
apwizardryapwizardry on September 30th, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
Sorry, that totally has nothing to do with anything, but it bothered me. I'm bothered by really trivial things.
Chasechikchasingtides on October 1st, 2009 12:26 am (UTC)
It's okay. I'm going to fix it (concept still stands). I've just read a couple feminist blogs that have only talked about the men who've had a hand in making it and, honestly, I've no interest in it so I never looked further.
apwizardryapwizardry on October 1st, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
It was an exploitative scene that just made the women into sex objects: "OMGZ LESBOS MAKIN OUT!!!11!!1!"

The whole movie was like that. >.
Chasechikchasingtides on October 1st, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
Exactly why I have no real desire to ever see it, unless I'm getting paid to do a queer feminist deconstruction (ie never).
apwizardryapwizardry on October 1st, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
It was really bad. I wanted to see it because it takes place in Minnesota and I wanted to see license plates and references and locations and all that shit, and the writer is Minnesotan, and she wrote Juno, which I really liked. But Jennifer's Body was a horrible movie. It was poorly written, poorly executed, and horribly misogynistic.

Plus I didn't have to pay to see it. If I had to pay for it and didn't live in Minnesota I wouldn't have seen it.

It's just disgusting.
The Elf ½: Linkspamelfwreck on October 1st, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
This post has been included in a Linkspam roundup.
paisleycatpaisleycat on October 1st, 2009 04:26 am (UTC)
I totally follow your points and agree with them as you've presented them, but I do have a question. Who are these folks that offend so? Are they just random writers on the internet who happen to want all of teh prizezzz?
Chasechik: bladeschasingtides on October 1st, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
Actually, I really could care less what the original offenders saying. I don't know them. They don't know me. I'm fairly sure we're all happier that way. They are writers - primarily cis/straight, but not all so - who think that cis/straight people have an inalienable right to have a stake in the Lambda awards. (Whatever. I could care less that they think they should win prizes when they seem to have difficulty presenting a cohesive argument.)

What's actually more offensive (and is happening on other journals/in communities) is when people I actually do know and/or like are agreeing with these people. In at least two cases, I share community space and friends list space with the original offenders and there's clear overlap there. Backing up/supporting homophobic/transphobic/racist/misogynistic language is nearly as bad as spouting it yourself in my book and it's easier/more appropriate for me to deal with it on my journal/in my space than in a community where things are already being hashed out in a really raw way or in someone else's journal where I am clearly disagreeing with them.
Chasechikchasingtides on October 2nd, 2009 05:47 am (UTC)
Also, in answer to your second question, which I realise I didn't answer last night, the three people I linked to are, in fact, actual published writers in the genre of male/male romance. erastes is bisexual and thus would be eligible for the awards in any case, but is actively (and with heavy homophobic language) advocating that straight cis folks be allowed to enter/win. Also, she's lying a lot and that doesn't help.

The other two appear to be published straight cis-women authors of male/male fiction. I don't know enough about the genre to say much more than that. Their commentary is repulsive, however.
TamerTerra: WTF (RaiOmi)tamerterra on October 1st, 2009 11:27 am (UTC)
What's really facepalm worthy is the queer writers going 'But my straight friends write really well! Better than you boring old farts! *flounce*'

Oh, and the woman saying 'I don't want to be out because my job pays really well, but you should give me an award anyway!'

This whole thing is just aggravating.