|Are we writers or gay writers?|
The twenty-third annual Lambda Literary Awards, LLA, (also known as the "Lammys") took place at New York’s School of the Visual Arts Theatre on May 26. This red carpet event brought out our finest in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) literature and publishing traditions.
Celebrities like Bryan Batt ("Mad Men"), former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, TV icon Stefanie Powers of the TV series "Hart to Hart," Miss New York 2010 winner Claire Buffie, Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally ("Kiss of the Spider Woman") and the event’s master of ceremonies, stand-up comedienne Lea Delaria, all lent their star power in making the evening special.
This year’s LLA pioneers being honored were three-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Edward Albee, 83, and Diamond Dagger Award-winning crime fiction writer Val McDermid, 56.
But as I sat in the audience listening to several speakers querying our present-day utility of the literary niche "gay writer" I wondered in our efforts to overcome heterosexism and to go mainstream in literature and publishing do we eventually want to get rid of our niche.
Were the speakers assimilationists or homophobes?
Or am I a relic stuck in the ghetto of "identity politics"?
"I’m looking forward to the day where it’s not ’gay books,’ it’s just, ’books,’" Lea DeLaria told the audience.
And Stefanie Powers told "Entertainment Weekly" reporter Stephanie Lee that "The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities are in a position where they’re expected to fill a niche, to make a point of themselves," she said. "We all long for the time when nobody has to do that."
In our longing to enter into mainstream society, how far is too far before we not only lose our distinctive cultural identities, but we also potentially lose leverage from our communities and allies in our continued battle for LGBTQ civil rights?