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This? This is my not amused face. The Lambda Awards
Sparky
sparkindarkness
The Lambda Awards by the Lambda Literary Foundation are book awards for GBLT authors. In the past they have allowed straight people to submit entries. They have now decided to limit the awards to GBLT authors since an award designed to elevate, protect and showcase GBLT talent became swamped by oodles of straight authors of both gay fiction and m/m romance.

To note: I would have linked as friend’s post who admirably summed this up, but since his entry is private I won’t foist the debate, controversy etc onto his space. It’d be rude. But I will say that I don’t claim originality for all of the ideas expressed here. The snark and slap downs are mine though.

Now, personally I don’t generally care overmuch. Mainly because I don’t pick or choose the books I read based on awards and I have no earthly chance of ever winning any literary award anyway, but I do approve because, as I’ve touched on before (and will likely post more on later), it’s vitally important for marginalised groups to have their own space. In a world that is 99% about straight people, it’s necessary for mental well being, awareness and confidence to have a few corners that are about us. It’s nice to have a place where you aren’t an “other” where you aren’t the odd one, the exception, the anomaly.

The Lambda Awards are one of these spaces and they have taken steps to make sure it stays that way.

Thankfully, most authors - including straight authors of GBLT fiction and m/m romance - have been sensible, respectful and understood fully. I am glad to see that the vast majority of people have brains, decency and grace.

And some people are not happy. In fact, there is a wailing and a gnashing of teeth. And a lot of very ugly straight privilege being waved around that is giving me a headache. Some of the comments are obvious in their stupidity. Since I’ve spent a very unproductive couple of days trying to educate the clueless and venting my spleen on twitter (sorry for falling off the map - I had my righteous anger on) I may as well knock up an LJ post out of it, so let’s look at some whines

1) It’s not about you
This is an award for GBLT authors. That doesn’t mean LLF is saying straight people shouldn’t/cannot/are incapable of writing books with GBLT characters or themes. It’s not saying anything about what straight people can/cannot write - because it’s not about straight people. I can’t emphasis this enough. LLF is not doing this to stop a popular title from winning (seriously, did you buy performance enhancing drugs for your ego?) nor is it doing it to exclude good straight writers because the GBLT writers can’t compete (yeah, see this is when ‘selfish, privileged whining’ crosses the line to active homophobia). LLF is a GBLT award for GBLT authors. it’s not about straight people. Get over yourselves already

2)Unfairness
“It’s Unfair!” Unfair... Seriously? You’re whining at a group of people who are fighting tooth and nail to get basic rights recognised, who are pilloried by major religions and political leaders and who are afraid of openly declaring who we are for fear of physical assault about FAIRNESS because of a BOOK AWARD? How about this? When the straight world gives GBLT people the same rights, privileges and respect as straightness gets THEN you can come and talk about how unfair this book award is.

“It discriminates.” The world discriminates - sadly very much against GBLT people - and that includes GBLT authors. We don’t WANT gay awards. We very much want awards like this NOT to be necessary. We’d love it if the world was equal and we didn’t have to make our own spaces. But it isn’t - and that’s why these awards (and awards that celebrate women authors and POC authors) are so extremely necessary.

3) Prejudice
“The genre I write is marginalised.” This is true - gay romance, m/m fiction, f/f fiction et al is a marginalised genre. Undisputed and we all agree that’s wrong. But why is this LLF’s responsibility to address? It’s about GBLT people not genres (not about you, remember?) This is an attempt to redress very real prejudice against people - and I think I’m not alone in saying that prejudice against GBLT is a wee bit more serious than the marginalisation of a genre.

But yes, it is wrong. But it wasn’t GBLT people who disenfranchised the genre. It is the mainstream (straight) that keeps the genre down - why are you attacking a GBLT organisation and not the mainstream literary awards?

“I’m a woman, so I also face prejudice” agreed. And? The fact you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t have straight and cis privilege any more than my being gay means I don’t have male privilege. Arguing you should be able to enter a GBLT award because you face sexism is as foolish as me saying I should be able to enter a woman’s award because I face homophobia.

4)Petulant Flouncing
“This is anti-straight bigotry! You’re oppressing us.” I’m not even going to dignify that with an intelligent response.

“Well we’ll make our own award for straight authors only!” Ummm, why? To prove to the world you’re homophobic? You don’t need to go to all that effort. Believe me. If the award is about the GENRE then there will be no need to exclude authors. If it is about the AUTHORS then you are implying that straight authors are somehow oppressed or discriminated against and need a safe space. Or it could be that you’re stamping your foot and having a tantrum.

“Fine, I won’t WRITE GBLT EVAH AGAIN!” are you saying that you only wrote GBLT in the hope of winning an LLF award? Really? Well, don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out.

“Then I’ll have to CLOSET myself to enter the award.” You didn’t. You did NOT say that. Really. You did not compare the horrible reality of gay people having to lie and act and hide to desperately survive in the face of homophobia and internalised self hate with you PRETENDING TO BE GAY TO WIN AN AWARD?! You did NOT make that comparison?

“This is like segregation!” Aw c’mon there’s no justification for that amount of ignorance. You cannot seriously compare the attempt to create a GBLT award for MARGINALISED people with the systematic oppression of black people by racist white society. There is so much wrong with this I don’t even know where to begin.

"pink triangles" Uh-huh. First, let me scream "GODWIN!" Then let me just gape in wonder that anyone would think ANYTHING about this is even REMOTELY comparable to the Nazi persecution of homosexuals.

Really I'm in awe at how low this has gone in places and deeply thankful that most responses have been more... moderate

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in a perfect world, the awards *would* be about the genre (pegasus and hugos come to mind)

honestly? for the most part, I like an author for what they write, not who they are outside the pages.

I was mildly surprised to discover that Gael Baudino was gay. I liked her books, her sexuality was like an added bonus but not the overriding factor.

then again, I protest every single year that the premium channels (HBO/Showtime) are allowed to compete for the same awards as network shows.

OF COURSE the Sopranos were sweeping the awards! they had a bigger budget, and didn't have to worry about censoring themselves to appease the sponsors!

it wasn't a level playing field. its apples and oranges and now the oranges are complaining they can't compete in the apple's sandbox?? boo hoo!!

then let GLBT authors compete for the exact same awards as the "straight" but don't make the distinction. until such a time an author is NOT marginalized for WHO they are, only for what they WRITE, there will be different sets of awards.

but hey, progress. At least GLBT *have* awards to strive for!!

Aye and there ARE genre awards. And I'd love love love love there to be no need of GBLT awards - because we'd be equal and as respected and accepted as straight people.

I wish that would happen

TBH I'm much the same - and I don't generally care what awards they've won either. But I see the need for these

...

Sparky, you make me want to kick people. Really folks? Really?

I have been headdesking nearly constantly for days. Every new line and ever new person squawking makes me boggle

...wow. I'd caught some of your comments about this on Twitter, but hadn't realized how deep the #fail was until this explanation.

I mean, sure, any time we're excluded from something we want to be in on, there's an automatic "That's not fair!" But most of us, I would hope, are adult enough to look at context and actually work out whether or not this type of exclusion is serving some purpose a lot more important than the "fairness" of our ability to participate. It's like the people who bitch about Black History Month not having a White History Month equivalent.

The sad thing? I haven't covered half of it. It's so widespread now - a tirade of outrage and fury that these nasty GBLT awards are persecuting poor straight authors. It's GROWING.

i wasn't hearing anything about it outside of your twitter, but there was a ranty post i responded to on my flist today. i don't GET it, sparky. i mean, hell, fine, i'm bi, and i write about bi sidhe, but i married a guy--on the surface, i live a completely hetero-normaltive life. if i ever have a second thought about holding my husband's hand in a public situation, it would be due to thoughts of race issues, not sexual orientation issues. so, rightfully, i would not be eligible for this award. and....this is OMG THE END OF THE WORLD for some reason? shit they're not saying i'm not bi, they're just saying due to the circumstances of my bi, i'm not eligible, and they're absolutely allowed to do that. not to mention--dude, it's who's eligible for a very specific award, not an argument about who gets the last lifeboat off the titanic. =|

It's just been growing steadily and it's beginning to wear me down fighting it. I think my lj posts at least in part serve so I only have to post links and don't have to keep arguing every individual point.

See, it's not even that limiting! LLF has said if you self-identify as openly GBLT (as in, you SAY "I'm Bi") then they don't do any kind of life check or anything. Self-identity is all it would take (which is why all these "genderpolice" snarks we're seeing around are so ignorant and foolish)

I don't understand why people are so outraged. It's not like it's never happened before. It's not like awards for marginalised groups (or even non-marginalised groups!) aren't unknown!

It's this sense of entitlement I don't get - that GBLT people and LLF OWES them this. AND the sense of perspective - people have compared this to segregation, to Hitler's pink triangles. I kid you not, they've reached that level of hysteria. It makes me boggle that they can possibley scream persecution over an AWARD to a group that faces constant rl persecution?

I've considered my response here rather carefully. On the one hand, I definitely don't want to even remotely associate with some of the people you're railing against. 'Pink triangles' boggles my mind.

On the other, I don't generally approve of the concept of separating out a particular social group because it's discriminated against. It is a personal opinion of mine that it's not useful to emphasise our differences. It's very definitely not a perfect world and there are enough people telling GBLT that they are a different species without an award which says that they need to be protected and in a different category to straight people. I realise that that's not the point of the awards, but it does put GBLT as a discrete group from 'normal' people.

Having said that, some of the wah that you've posted is outstanding. I'd like to emphasise again that this is my personal opinion (which you can completely tell me you think is wrong and I won't take offence) and I affiliate myself to none of these lunatics.

PJW

I'd prefer not to emphasise our differences - but, at the same time, invisibility is very much a factor while at the same time playing along with what the dominant majority wants us to be is often very damaging. Being there and aware is very much an important thing for minority - especially one taht is not immediately visible as such. I think it's also important for empowerment purpose to have organisations, bodies et al that do make a point of highlighting our worth and achievements in a world

It's important not to fall into the trap of othering ourselves - but I don't see the awards as doing that. I do see them bringing attention to those who are frequently ignored or marginalised and so very often invisible.

This post has been included in a Linkspam roundup.

Thank you for bringing many links together, not an easy task

I'd like very much if I could friend you, and follow you on Twitter. Do you mind? :)

THANK YOU. This is one of the many times I feel ashamed of being a slasher. I mean, "heterophobia"? "Pink triangles"? Really? Really?

Thank you.

Yes, I was reading the comments with my jaw steadily dropping. Every time I thought there was a limit reached some more would drip through

(Deleted comment)
Thank you.

I think most people see that, which is why it is so stunning how extreme the argument against it was.

“Well we’ll make our own award for straight authors only!” Ummm, why? To prove to the world you’re homophobic? You don’t need to go to all that effort. Believe me.

this post is good and you should feel good. <3

This post is excellent.

I found the debates on this subject very interesting, but I have a couple questions. If they sound ignorant, please forgive me. In many ways, I am ignorant. This is why I ask questions. The biggest one is simply, in what way are GBLT writers discriminated against in book awards? How do the judges know the sexual orientation of the writer? I understand other minorities being discriminated against. When they see a name like Ira Finklestein, or Jesus Lopez or Shaniqua Johnson it's easy to make a snap decision. But how do GBLT writers know that it's discrimination when they don't win? (I do feel justified asking this because I'm really, seriously, visibly disabled, and writing competitions are the one area where I know I'm not being judged by that.)

It does seem, though, like the stories should be judged on their own merit rather than the sexuality of the writer. Isn't the point of recognizing a book or author more or less to recommend it/them to potential readers? So the thing I wonder most about is that if straight people are writing GBLT books that are good enough to be appreciated by GBLT readers, as they must have done if they've won enough awards to make this an issue, then wouldn't the readers want to know about them? In that regard, it almost makes sense for straight writers to start a GBLT genre award, even if they're really doing it for the wrong reasons. I suspect if they actually tried to exclude GBLT writers, it wouldn't last more than one year. Things that ridculous tend to die of their own absurdity pretty fast.

I guess it's just hard to imagine m/m or whatever writers actually being homophobic. It seems like everyone could get together in this one area, the people who write in the genre and those who read it, without anyone being excluded.

Anyway, I hope I haven't said anything offensive here. I've always been a supporter of the GBLT community and I don't think that anything you're saying here is wrong or unfair. I'd just really like to understand this better.

~der Tanzer

I think one thing is you're confusing not being discriminated against with being able to hide marginalisation. I mean, you're saying gay people can avoid discrimination by being closeted - which is problematic in and of itself.

So you can take steps to hide your marginalisation, but that doesn't mean you won't be discriminated against if it is discovered - and comes with more problematic elements inherent in the hiding.


There's also an issue with the m/m genre which I've said here In that a lot of these books are written by and aimed at straight women in a way that marginalises, appropriates and ignores gays entirely. The people who write the genre and read the genre here are straight women. An m/m writer is not inherently an ally - not by any stretch. Just looking at some of the vile responses to the Lambda awards has shown a lot of homophobia and straight privilege.


And while books can be judged on their quality - it is not unknown for a marginalised group to show case their work, to show case their value and worth as a community as well (which is why we have women only awards, black only awards etc). It's not only part of the community but it's also very important for those trying to reach out to their community - ESPECIALLY to gay youth because we aren't BORN into our communities. Kaigou wrote an extremely powerful piece on why this is important.

Remember it's very easy for us to be swamped. If 100% of our quality authors submit and only 11% of straight authors submit - we're still outnumbered on a grand scale. It's very easy for us to be marginalised and overwhelmed even in our own safe spaces


A GBLT genre aware would be a great idea - but starting it for the wrong reasons would taint it badly. Lambda actually HAS awards for genre not just for GBLT writers. I have no problem with such an award - but I see the valueof having a GBLT award as well.

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