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Dear Straight Cisgender People Who Are Showing Out

Sometimes it’s just not about us. Really, it’s okay for oppressed and marginalized groups to want to have things that are just for them. I promise you, giving up a teensy bit of space in the world will not kill you. You say this offends you because you consider yourself an ally? Hmm, I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick on the ally concept if you think it means demanding that you be included in everything. In fact being a good ally often involves shutting the fuck up and taking a step back. There’s this curious concept called listening that some folks seem to have left by the wayside. So let me boost the signal a wee bit and point out that when you sound like this person completely ignoring historical and social context in order to bolster your complaints? It is probably a good time to listen to all the people telling you that you’re on the road to Fail. I understand that 2009 seems to be the year where everyone eats their foot, but could we just once not engage in a repeat of the same shitty privileged behavior? I’m starting to feel like we need a “These are asshole moves” bingo board and drinking game for 2010, and that’s a bad thing for my brain and my liver.

No love,

The (mostly) straight woman who would like to stop screaming at the internet.

P.S. Yes, there are certainly some valid criticisms of the way this was handled. And I’m sure there are some valid internal GLBTQ community critiques of the Lambda Awards too. That doesn’t change the fact that this particular critique is built (at best) on privilege and entitlement.

19 thoughts on “Dear Straight Cisgender People Who Are Showing Out”

  1. Sparky says:

    I have been following Lambda drama for a while – and the response to this very reasonable very NORMAL move on their part has left me breathless. The amount of privileged whining has left me in utter shock (I’m actually going to make a bingo card. Seriously, they’ve been compared with the Westboro Baptist Church, mentione pink triangles, compared it to SEGREGATION for crying out loud!)

    “Allies” oh they’re doing it wrong

  2. unusualmusic says:

    I am stunned that this has blown up to such and extent. ANd the PRIVILEGE soaking the the place in its noxious fumes, what the hell!

  3. Karen says:

    This reminds me of omy high school’s “Other Grammys” when the white kids were crying foul because only people of color could get the award. they have everything else. cant they just leave this one thing alone?

    anything we can do?

  4. codalion says:

    Reason #39203523 to stab slash fandom in the face: that

    Seriously though, I don’t mean to say that all slash is like this (having walked that side of the fandom line more often than not), but I am continually and utterly amazed at the level of entitlement straight female writers feel to gay men’s experiences. And how affronted they are if they’re called on it. Oh right, but you’re harshing their squee. Can’t be harshing that squee, you know. Anything but squee-harshing. No. Please. Anything but that.

  5. LDR says:

    I don’t even understand this. Straight people deserve GLBT awards now?

    My pet peeve is people who complain about being labeled “cisgender.”

  6. Dani Atkinson says:

    Just want to note that the Erastes lady (who, um, in a later thread replied to my one sentence comment agreeing with another author’s comment by locking the thread for trolling, which, um, okay, her perogative…) apparently identifies as bi, rather than straight, and she does have some valid concerns about how queer people on points of the continuum between gay and straight will be viewed by the Lambdas (“she’s married! She’s not really gay!” etc.). I do disagree with her on most of the other points, but she shouldn’t be stuck in with the “butthurt straight folk” crowd.

    1. Sparky says:

      But… she’s still making those points long after Lambda answered them. Lambda isn’t going to do a sexuality/gender check – it relies in people self-identifying.

      Will people still complain and whine? Well, yeah. But they do anyway

    2. Josh Jasper says:

      and she does have some valid concerns about how queer people on points of the continuum between gay and straight will be viewed by the Lambdas

      I don’t think she does. The LLA group specifically went out of it’s way to combat the marginalization if bi and trans authors, and Rose Fox, who’s (a) married to me, a man and (b) out and bi has been a Lambda judge.

      A valid concern needs to be based on something like EVIDENCE. Her objection is based on bullshit animosity and biased speculation.

  7. Mel says:

    The Lambdas aren’t just for gay men or works focusing on gay men, and a lot of slashers identify as bisexual. But it doesn’t mean that many of those authors aren’t reacting from a place of heterosexual-passing privilege.

    I’m really disappointed in people, and absolutely disgusted by all the inappropriate analogies to racism.

  8. Lucy says:

    A lot of the rhetoric is bad, it’s hard to see this as a tremendous injustice from any angle. But people get very invested in their hobbies, being shut out never makes anyone feel good, and the response was pretty predictable given the group of people we’re talking about here.

    As opinions go, holding one that the world would be a better place without orientation being considered in contests of skill doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Though there are definitely other equally (or more) reasonable opinions on the subject to my mind.

    Do you (any reader) allege the fail is in the crazy rhetoric or holding that opinion?

    1. Lauren says:

      The FAIL!!! as I see it is definitely the language, as well as the idea that excluding straight writers is a terrible injustice.

      Of course it would be great if there was no need for exclusion of any writer.But as long as mainstream culture doesn’t recognize members of marginalized groups just as much as it recognizes the people who fit into mainsteam categories (really, as long as discrimination and privilege exist), safe spaces are neccessary to make sure that those “minority writers” get at least some of the recognition they deserve.

      And in this case, the save space is for GLBT authors. Because they need one much more than people who are just interested in the topic, but not personally affected by what it means to be GLBT. That’s what this new rule is about, I think.

    2. LDR says:

      As opinions go, holding one that the world would be a better place without orientation being considered in contests of skill doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. . . . Do you (any reader) allege the fail is in the crazy rhetoric or holding that opinion?

      I wonder if it’s actually possible to separate the rhetoric and the opinion in this case. In other words, I don’t think that “the world would be a better place without orientation being considered in contests of skill” is the same opinion as “OMG they’re ignoring my storyyyyy!!!”

  9. Lauren says:

    They are not saying that straight people shouldn’t write about GLBT people. They arenot saying that straight people could not possible write good books about GLBT people. They are not saying that straight writers do not deserve recognition when they write good books.

    They are saying that GLBT people who take an extreme personal risk, outing themselves to the entire world by writing as openly GLBT people about GLBT experiences deserve recognition. And that they want to give them that recognition.

    How could a supposed “ally” think that there is anything wrong with that? How could they not cheer on everyone who gets nominated, and celebrate the winners?

    We need an “but I am an Ally!!!” BINGO – card.

  10. Jarla says:

    I can identify as a Straight, Cisgender African Descended woman who believes
    the Lambda Awards have the right to define and set the terms they wish to acknowledge in writers. So be it. I’m not insulted or upset even though a lot of my work has homoerotic content. As far as I know there are still the Gaylactic Spectrum awards, and if that ever changes, I’m certain there will be an appropriate avenue to recognize any other straight cisgender allies out there.


    Her Tangh-i-ness

  11. brownstocking says:

    the fail wasn’t epic, in only that that would take surprise/shock at the privilege. Every day something moves me closer to the realization that aren’t enough cisgendered people who are real allies. For so many to jump on the failbus, they are fakers, frauds and phonies. And they’d better not claim antiracism alliance, either!

    White Entertainment Television? Hello? Every channel but maybe 5 would be considered WET. Heh. I said wet.

    1. Megan says:

      LOL The social implications of associating FOX news with anything remotely erotic (as in making someone wet) will probably keep me amused for hours. (Yea my day is that boring)

      Seriously though you are SO right. However for most of this country, aka less racially diverse areas than LA or NYC, you may be making an optimistic guess at 5 non-WET channels. And even here in LA most of those seem to be Spanish speaking/Mexican. Meaning that as a non-Spanish speaker I can not often support them as a viewer.(not to say that they should be in english but that they do not reach into the mainstream and are very much consider ‘other’ by whites, and not in a good way. I hope that came out right)

  12. Erin says:

    Thank you for posting this. I have limited exposure to this topic, but it seems to me that many critics of the Lambda decision are contributing to the idea that identifying as a sexual or gender minority is really only about who you sleep with, and has nothing to do with your unique social experiences as a perceived minority, or how those experiences might shape and give texture to your voice as a writer, providing a truly unique contribution to literature (that in my opinion should be nurtured and applauded). It’s disappointing to me that many of the writers that were linked to in this article seem to be stuck on ‘fetishizing’ sexual identities.

  13. Megan says:

    Another thing I found annoying about many of the comments was the repeated assertation that the judging has always been ‘predjudiced’ against non-GLBT writers. This may be true, and in my mind justified. But isn’t it just as likely, if not more so, that while the works of non-GLBT writers are equal in literary quality they do not speak to the GLBT experience as well or accurately as GLBT writers? I have often heard that many writers write from their life experience. And have found that, at least in my own work, conscious or not most art is in some way informed by the artist’s personal experience or emotional worldview.

  14. Audrey P. says:

    Ahhh, thank you. @_@ As a lesbian this is driving me nuts. There are some issues here, like shouldn’t the award celebrate queer people writing anything at all and not just queer people writing fiction about queers? Shouldn’t all queer art perhaps be celebrated? But at the end of the day it’s still a queer award for queers and, oh hi, apparently we can’t throw a party for ourselves unless straight, cisgendered people are on the invitation list?

    I’d hate for them for one minute to suffer from the discrimination against them that’s insidiously written into the legal system and inhibits their access to the mainstream publishing, television, and movie industries. … Oh wait.

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