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.