Aug 292011
 

Dear Lambda Literary:

This is my open letter to you as a queer author, as the editor of a Lammy Finalist book from last year,  a regular reviewer and contributor to Lambda Literary online, and, most importantly, as a reader whose life has been saved by the queer books I read.   This morning, when I awoke to the news that you have finally caved to mainstream pressure and decided to (with the exception of three awards) open the Lammys up to straight writers, I was angry, sad, and heartbroken.

 

Queer books saved my life, again and again. They helped me to imagine a place in the world, and helped me – the scared alone, homeless queer teenager–to believe that I could survive.  Books gave me hope.  Queer books gave me life, and they helped me to believe that I could tell my own story.  I tell everyone in my writing workshops that storytelling is social justice work, that only they are qualified to tell their stories.  Now we have  the most powerful force in LGBTQ literature telling us that our voices don’t matter, that they are not important or special, and that we need to make room for privileged oppressors to write about us- our lives, our community, and our families.  We are supposed to act like this is “progress” – I don’t think so.

 

Call me a queer separatist if you want, but  I am incredibly disappointed to watch Lambda Literary take this conservative step. Lambda has been the place where queer authors have been able to come together, to connect, to have our work recognized from within our own community. It has been the place where we have (theoretically) not had to explain ourselves in the way that so many of us must when we write in interact with straight authors and audiences.   As queer authors, we compete with straight writers every day in Amazon rankings, on bookstore shelves, and in every other literary venue. At the Lambda Literary awards this year, where my book was a finalist, I was horrified by the self-hating and downright offensive remarks made by Pioneer Award recipient Edward Albee. He spoke  about how those of us who write from queer experience are lesser authors–much to the audible anger of many of us in the audience.  I was at the time shocked that  Lambda Literary would have given an award to someone who would say on stage things that seemed to go so against everything the organization stood for. Now, I can’t help but feel like it was an intentional sign of what was to come.

 

I didn’t start writing books to get rich or famous. I started writing to save my life, and to reach out and connect with other queers. That is the root of why I write today, and it is why I will always write. I want to write dangerous stories, complicated stories,  the kinds of stories that show just how queer our world really is, and I want others to have the space to do the same.  We need more queers to write about ourselves and our communities and the last thing we need is to encourage straight folks to write more books about who they think we are, and what they think our world looks like.  This morning on facebook in response to the Lambda news,  Liam Wolf, one of the Kicked Out contributors, said “This is ridiculous. How can a straight writer tell the heartache, frustration and joy of a queer life if they’ve never lived it?”  I couldn’t agree more.

 

These are our stories, our lives, and we are the only ones qualified and capable of truly writing about them.  It is my hope that the straight authors who are truly allies will realize this and not nominate their books for the Lammy awards, knowing that it is not a space they belong.  Since the news broke my phone and email have been filled with emails and texts from other queer writers angry that Lambda would sell us out in this way. Many of us are thinking about ways to speak out and mobilize – the idea of starting our own truly queer literary awards has even seriously been thrown around realizing that the only option might be to take our community back.

Aug 292011
 

 

 

Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter know that I’ve had a lot of things to say this weekend about the ways in which homeless folks were systematically failed this weekend in NYC surrounding Hurricane Irene.  Today I have a guest blog on Bilericoto talk more about what happened on the ground, and how lucky we are the eye of the storm missed the city.

 

Click here to read the full blog

 

Aug 142011
 

This weekend has been a flurry of preparation for the upcoming Butch Voices conference, happening later this week in Oakland.  I’ll be performing twice at the conference, as well as teaching a workshop.  I’m excited to meet and reconnect with butch and other masculine-of-center folks from all over the country.

I’m really looking forward to teaching a workshop as part of the conference.  My workshop is all about butches and testosterone– going on it, going off it, and what the hormone means in our communities.  Just as a result of my post about going off of T, I’ve had some really great conversations about testosterone in the past few weeks, and I hope that teaching this workshop will be an opportunity to expand these conversations.  The conference organizers haven’t released the workshop schedule yet, but I’ll post the time and location for my workshop as soon as I find out what it is.

I will first be performing as part of the Butch Nation performance on Saturday, August 20th at 7pm at the Kaiser Center Lakeside Theatre (300 Lakeside Drive, Oakland CA).  I’m going to be doing an excerpt from Radclyffe, which seems particularly appropriate to me at a conference all about butch and masculine of center identities.  After all, Radclyffe Hall has been called THE prototypical ‘mannish lesbian.’

On Sunday, Sassafras and I will be performing as part of the Spoken Word Brunch.  We’re performing an excerpt from a new piece that we are writing together, titled ‘Flame.’  There are plenty of other great performers at both events, too many of them to list here.  Just trust me– you don’t want to miss it!

There are still props to prepare and bags to pack– so I’ll wrap this up for now.  Hope to see you in Oakland!

Aug 132011
 

This summer I have been privileged to have the opportunity to partner with Queers For Economic Justice to facilitate a writing intensive for folks connected with their shelter program.  We have been gathering every Wednesday to write and last night was the community reading at QEJ to celebrate the power of the stories that have been penned this summer.

Tremendous thanks to Amber Hollibaugh and Jay Toole of QEJ,  all the Queers For Economic Justice volunteers for making the event happen, a special thanks to  everyone who came out to the event, and ESPECIALLY each and every one of the writers who shared some of the most raw and heartfelt work. I am so honored to have been able to work with each of you this summer.

 This is just the beginning of arts programming at QEJ, and I will have a more indepth blog post going up very very soon, but I wanted to share the video recording of the event for everyone who wasn’t able to be here with us:

Aug 112011
 

I’m so excited that I had the chance to be a guest blogger at ‘I’m from driftwood’ today.  The premise of the site is queer folks writing stories about their life, and as part of that owning where they are from.

I was excited to have the opportunity to share part of  my story of being kicked out, family rejection, the building of chosen family, and the way in which being kicked out is a piece of our past that never goes away.    I really love the way the site connects us back to the places we come from — I grew up in an extremely homophobic county and so to discuss in such a public way who I am, what I experienced and to tie that back to where I come from is really powerful for me.  You can read the whole story   here