GAY, to be or not to be…


Edward Albee’s recent remarks about being labeled a “gay writer” sparked controversy within the gay community when accepting an honor from Lambda Literary. Albee told the audience, “A writer who happens to be gay or lesbian must be able to transcend self. I am not a gay writer. I am a writer who happens to be gay.”

Okay, but what if, I as a writer, who happens to be gay does not wish to “transcend” and consciously write gay fiction? Am I slighting the writing profession?

Albee’s comment got me thinking about myself and my writing. Yes, he did make a good point that just because a writer is gay/lesbian does not predestine him or her to write gay/lesbian. Look at the myriad of heterosexual women, many of whom are married with families who choose to write m/m romance novels. They write tales for other heterosexual women who enjoy reading about two (or more) men in physical romantic situations. They have transcended beyond their “straight” world to create vivid romantic adventures outside of their lifestyle and reality. Does this mean that writers who are of the gay persuasion should write “straight”?

Finally after thinking about this so hard my brain ached, I came to my own conclusion. A writer’s genre choice should be of their own choosing and their sexual preference should not dictate a particular niche. A writer composes their writing from a story that plays out in their head. That “story”, either consciously or not, occurs in a genre that is of interest to the writer. It’s quite challenging to write something outside your own comfort zone.

So, with that said, I will continue to write GLBTQ fiction. Being a member and a supporter of the gay community for most of my life, it’s my “comfort zone”. I enjoy writing about the community, one I am proud to be a part of. Someday, a story may come to me that may not be related to the GLBTQ community/lifestyle, but until the day that story floats into my head, I will write gay, not because I am gay, but because I consciously choose to do so.

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3 comments on “GAY, to be or not to be…

  1. Kaje Harper says:

    I wonder if Edward Albee was perhaps trying to make a case for seeing writers as a single community as opposed to singling out “gay writers” in the wake of the Lambdas’ decision to give awards not for best GLBTQ writing but only to the best GLBTQ writers. It is a controversial choice on their part. Some gay writers seem to applaud the decision to honor a group who are perhaps still marginalized by mainstream awards. Others are taken aback by the resulting need to state that you are a “gay writer” to be considered for the awards.

  2. I’ve noticed in recent comments regarding Mr. Albee’s statement is a sense of fear among gay authors that the identity of the GLBT Literature is being lost as the “genre” is being lumped into M/M Romance by not only publishers but consumers as well. Something that these authors, as well as the entire GLBTQ community may not realize is that concessions will need to be made, as the GLBTQ community fights for equality. Equality means that our “GAY” identity will be lost in the process, “GAY” will be lost as we move into an accepting main-stream social environment. As a GAY person, I know we can’t have our cake and eat it too. The older GLBTQ generations (mine included) have struggled for the smallest rights, to be treated equally like our straight peers, we have a sense of being different and we celebrate that difference by proudly stating we are “Gay”, rather than crying in our beer. “Gay” to me does not mean, “hey look at me, I like to suck D***, but it represents where we have come as a community since Stonewall. When the day comes that GAYS are equal in society’s eye, the stigma and the term “GAY” will not have the impact it once had. But when that day comes, it will probably be within a generation of GLBTQ’s who don’t understand what that word meant to previous generations who fought so they could have the same rights as their neighbor.

    In February, a local TV station ran an interview with local older African Americans who insisted they be called “Negro” because their generation and generations before them had fought for equality. They were proud to call themselves “Negro” while the newer generations found the word distasteful and politically incorrect. These elders had a pride in who they were and in their heritage. One word symbolized that pride, a word that is now disappearing into history. The same will eventually happen to “GAY” and Mr Albee’s statement may have been upsetting to many, but those are the ones who need to wake up, smell the coffee, read the writing on the wall… “Gay” will eventually fade away along with other words from our past.

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