July 24, 2014

Trans Women & The New Hypertext

Posted on July 8, 2014 by in Features, Opinion

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Encyclopedia Fuckme and The Case of the Vanishing Entree was one of the first Twine games I ever played. It’s a relatively simple game: the player takes on the role of the titular character and, by making a series of choices throughout the narrative, attempts to avoid becoming her ravenous date’s dinner. It’s funny, smart, hot — everything you probably don’t think of when you think about about videogames. (more…)

Re-Education at the Lesbian Herstory Archives

Posted on June 28, 2014 by in Features, Opinion

American history was never my strong suit. From grade school through those pesky requisite undergrad courses, the subject bored me to tears. Not only were historical narratives presented to us in a predictable, memorization-friendly format (name of notable event, date(s) of notable event, key figures in notable event). In many instances, these narratives were spit-shined, polished so well that colonization, capitalism, and eurocentrism’s smudges went entirely unnoticed. The “facts” written on the page were often half-truths; stories of critical social upheavals and their leaders–often women, often people of color, often queers–glaringly omitted from textbooks and, thus, American consciousness. Because the history of my communities were absent from the textbooks placed in front of me, it was easy to zone out as my Peanuts caricature of a teacher continued emphasizing the importance of the Louisiana Purchase. (more…)

Riley MacLeod on the Writing Trans Genres Conference

Posted on June 25, 2014 by in Features, Opinion

The Writing Trans Genres Conference was a four-day conference (May 22-24, 2014) held at the University of Winnipeg, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and co-hosted by the University’s Women’s and Gender Studies Department and the Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies. The conference brought together scholars, performers, writers and activists to explore, discuss and create new directions in transgender, transexual, two-spirit and genderqueer poetry, literature and performance.

In the following post, writer and Topside Press editor Riley MacLeod provides a detailed snapshot of his time at the conference.

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Reader Meet Author: Personal Advice from Poet R. Erica Doyle

Posted on June 22, 2014 by in Features, Opinion

Do you have problems with your love life? Hate your job? Your social life lacking that certain zing? All questions can be answered through literature—or maybe at least by the people who create it. With that in mind, we here at The Lambda Literary Review have started our very own advice column called “Reader Meet Author.” Think of the column as sort of a “Dear Abby” for the LGBTQ literary set. You can send “Reader Meet Author” questions for publication to ReaderMeetAuthor@lambdaliterary.org. (more…)

Remembering Assotto Saint: A Fierce and Fatal Vision

Posted on June 19, 2014 by in Features, Opinion

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Assotto Saint and I were both finalists for a Lambda Literary Award in 1997. He was up for Gay Biography, I was up for both Lesbian Studies and Fiction Anthologies. Neither of us would win that year, but I would have other chances. Assotto and I had both won before, but in those days, when everything seemed so temporal, the moment was everything. I wanted the win for my political offerings and I wanted it for him for history. I was very ill that year, bedridden and almost unable to move, and Assotto was on my mind a lot–all of them were, the gay men I had loved, who I had lost. (more…)

Mabel Dodge and the Literary Salon of Taos

Posted on June 14, 2014 by in Features, Opinion

Literary Taos has strong ties to the LGBT community that have been nurtured through the 20th century, and continue today.

Northern New Mexico is home to this rich literary community nestled in the Rio Grande Valley of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Taos takes its name from the nearby Native American town of Taos Pueblo, a millennium old UNESCO World Heritage Site. The spiritual energy of the Pueblo has attracted creative types to the small town for well over a hundred years. Artists and writers began setting up colonies at the turn of the 20th century. One of the most influential and popular colonies is that founded by Mabel Dodge Luhan, a bisexual bon vivant, who cultivated a rich creative community of famous artists and writers from her arrival to Taos in 1918. (more…)

When I Call Myself Bisexual

Posted on June 1, 2014 by in Features, Opinion

I wrote this essay six months ago, to be posted online in conjunction with the June 2014 reissue of Bi Any Other Name, the landmark anthology of writings by bisexuals that Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka’ahumanu co-edited almost twenty-five years ago. I had originally intended the piece to serve as a personal statement about my relationships to the books I publish. However, the New York Times Magazine recently ran a cover story titled “Bisexuality Comes Out of the Closet,” an article that opens with “The scientific quest to prove—once and for all—that someone (even a man) can truly be attracted to both a man…and a woman.” With that kind of prelude, I knew the article would be hard going, and it was. There’s a lot of science and data discussed, much talk of “sexual arousal patterns” “genital monitoring,” and “evidence from prior studies.” On the whole the article is balanced and sometimes insightful, owing in no small part to the fact that bisexuals themselves are quoted throughout and important points are raised from their perspectives. I don’t take issue with how the subject matter is presented necessarily but that the Times felt they had to run the article in the first place: As if the jury was still out on whether bisexuals exist, and the Times would step in and hand down the verdict “once and for all.” (more…)

Cheryl Clarke’s ‘Living as a Lesbian’: The Wherewithal to Tell It as It Is

Posted on May 26, 2014 by in Opinion, Poetry

In her introduction to the re-release of Cheryl Clarke’s Living as a Lesbian (1986, 2014), Nancy K. Bereano describes the book as “exhilarating, brilliant, and often outrageous.” Having just read it for the first time, I couldn’t agree more. Clarke is a provocative poet who never asks permission to make her voice heard. Some poems knock politely on the reader’s front door. Some poems tap casually at a side door or enter quietly through the back. Not so with Cheryl Clarke’s poems. These poems don’t care if they’re disturbing you; that’s the point. They break windows. They shatter expectations. They enter a room, a consciousness, and fill that space completely, whether invited or not. And seizing the power to speak on her own terms, Clarke grants other poets permission to do the same—to write until they no longer feel the need to ask may I?, the social obligation to say please. (more…)

On Meeting Harry Hay

Posted on May 1, 2014 by in Features, Opinion

Years ago, right after I’d graduated college, I used to get my hair cut in the home of a “little fairy” (his words) who lived in the Melrose district of Los Angeles. I’d found Tom in the Gay Yellow Pages shortly after coming out, when I felt everything in my life, including my barber, had to be gay. As if I needed to look hard to find a gay hair stylist in Hollywood. His phone number was YES-SIR1, and he answered the phone every time with those exact words, “Yes, sir,” rather than hello. Having never met a leatherman, much less been inside the home of one, I thought at first he was just an exceptionally polite barber; his life as a submissive was soon revealed and I was officially in on the joke. One day as he cut my hair, I noticed an old man across the street wearing a big, floppy sunhat and shoving a push mower across his front lawn. I asked Tom, with a gesture outside, “Who’s the old queen in the crazy hat?” Tom looked across the street and said, “That’s Harry Hay. He started the gay rights movement a million years ago. You ever hear of the Mattachine Society? That was Harry. He comes over and looks at porn on my computer.” Now, you’d think being told that the man behind the push mower had actually started the gay rights movement in the US would have impressed me and maybe even left me in awe, but it didn’t. I was just twenty-four and to me Harry was an “old queen,” something I was afraid of one day becoming. Now that I stand at the threshold of that reality, if in fact I haven’t already crossed it, I no longer am. I’d see “the old queen” again sometimes when I stopped by Tom’s house. There was something about the hat that made me think of Harry comically, even though I saw him wear it just once. I don’t know at what point I realized the magnitude of Harry’s place in history, but I can tell you he no longer represents a comedic “character” to me.

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Death of a Bookstore: Giovanni’s Room Closes in Philadelphia

Posted on April 30, 2014 by in Features, Opinion

I write a lot of obituaries and tribute pieces for Lambda Literary. Recently, all the newly deceased have been octagenarians. They all lived to see a long life, to watch the times change, to do prodigious work. They each left a legacy. Still, never enough for those of us who loved their respective work, but at least there is a less onerous sense of loss when you see the panoply of literary achievement left behind. (more…)