The chaos over the Lambda Literary Awards has surprised me, to say the least. I try to stay firmly entrenched on the periphery of these things so as not to be caught in the crossfire by hoards of angry, angry people, but I feel like I need to clarify why I'm staying in the periphery on this one. It's not that the issues being raised aren't important or worrying, and I say issues because it has branched from one issue, that of the Lambda Literary Awards, into several separate ones. It's simply that there are so many things going on here, it's taken me an hour to organize my thoughts!
First of all, the vitriol and anger and, in some cases, downright stupidity being spouted in response to these issues is astounding. I'm not talking about people's gut reactions. Those are yours and you're entitled to them. But the way in which these reactions are materializing is frightening and ugly. People are ripping each other apart over this, and it's going to leave some epic scars.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I urge you to check these links and form your own opinions before reading further:
Ask Nicola Blog: Guidelines Clarification. If you have certain authors in the GLBT community that you respect and like, please be warned that you may come across their names on comments in response to this post that may or may not be unflattering, but I refuse to take responsibility if your opinions are altered!
Victor J. Banis sums it up in his own way and in so doing brings up more loosely related issues.
 An impressive collection of links to various and sundry posts about this topic has been brought to my attention. Same warnings apply about the risk of coming across names and being ashamed you were once a fan.
The breakdown, as far as I can tell, is as follows:
Issue #1: The Lambda Literary Foundation changed its nominations guidelines for 2009.
· In determining whether a book should be submitted for consideration, it should be noted that the Lambda Literary Awards are based principally on the LGBT content, the gender orientation/identity of the author and the literary merit of the work.
That, to me, looks like three separate qualifications. I myself meet one, possibly two of them if it's a good book. I am a straight woman, therefore I do not meet the third, and that is that.
And that's fine with me. This is an award I don't qualify for. Just like awards given to black authors, British authors, works of non-fiction, or any number of other restrictions that are put on literary awards. That's life, folks.
Do I think it's a mistake to make the gender orientation/identity a qualifying factor? I don't know. This passage is from the Lamda site as well:
Our books are taken from the shelves of libraries all over the country and even from the website of Amazon.com this year. It is more difficult to be an LGBT writer now than it has been in many decades, more difficult to make any income from our written words, much less a living. Publishers have closed, stores have closed, the markets seem to be shrinking with each passing day. It seems more urgent than ever that LLF be as active and supportive a service organization as we possibly can be for our own writers, and that's what we're working on...
I'd like to make the point that just because I'm not a GLBT individual, does not mean my books sell better. If that is their reasoning, then it's flawed. They risk losing the support of all the many people they've pissed off, and I think that's a mistake they will soon regret when the coffers start running dry. The waters get muddied when they start trying to explain how they plan to ensure the writers nominated are indeed GLBT individuals. My opinion is that it's going to be a mess for them, one I'm glad I'm not involved with.
Issue #2: People start screaming reverse discrimination.
I am now confused. If the Lammies want to be awards for GLBT individuals, and you are not one... grow up. Just because you write science fiction does not mean the Martians are going to give you their awards.
 People who are now comparing this change of guidelines to racism, the Holocaust, violence against GLBT folks, ect. are horrifying and despicable. You're entitled to your hurt feelings or your disappointment or your anger, but Jesus Christ, people, use your common sense here. It's a literary award! It's not going to kill you if you're not eligible for it!
A growing realization that there are hard feelings within the writing community. From Banis' post.
I also got a really vicious letter from a well known gay male writer whose name again I won’t divulge. He said in part:
"…I don’t appreciate a bunch of homophobic straight women who fetishize gay sex for the titillation of other straight women trashing the work of LGBT writers, editors and publishers, or our history. I don’t appreciate those same women pretending that gay fiction did not exist until they started writing it....And I’m sorry,” this writer goes on to say, “I will fight till my dying day to keep homophobes from winning awards from us.”
That saddens and confuses me. If this is how some people in the community see me and other straight female writers, there's not much I can do to change that. I can see how this might be a reaction to a straight female writer who is screaming reverse discrimination at ridiculous volume. Even so, it's a blanket that covers a lot of people who have nothing but the best of intentions and the sentiment hurts.
In the end, I guess I don't know what to think. It's a very surreal set of arguments, and I don't really feel that I am involved in any of them. I never anticipated being nominated for awards, so I don't feel that loss at all. I'm not homophobic or particularly worried about what people think of me in general, so those opinions are no great loss to me either. What I have lost is a lot of respect for the people who are handling this the wrong way.
Personally, I'll stick with entertainment. I'll stick with receiving e-mails from readers instead of awards, telling me they liked what they read or were even touched by it. I'll stick with enjoying what I'm doing, thank you,.