LGBTQIA+ fiction with happy endings
I have some thoughts about the recent catfishing deal. Instead of joining in any of the discussion threads on Facebook or Twitter, I’m going to talk about it on my space. I reserve the right to delete and block commenting on this post—if you don’t agree with me, be civil or comment on your blog/wall/Twitter. Thanks in advance for being cool here.
So. I didn’t know this person, don’t recall ever speaking to/with them directly and only read one of their books. For a little while I did follow them online, because I follow a lot of successful authors to see what they do and how they do it—hoping to learn something that will help me promote my own books and find more for my ever-growing TBR list.
That said, some of the comments I’m seeing today make me sad, and a little afraid—and not only for myself. Just like with past scandals, folks are commenting that they don’t want to support and/or buy books from authors they haven’t met personally. I get why—their trust has been violated, they’re hurting in many different ways. However, that stance only serves to widen the class gap, the gap of privilege, in queer fiction (because, it’s true, the bulk of e-first queer literature is MM).
Consider the author who writes lovely books but makes less than $50K a year (maybe much less) at a day job, is struggling to get by and can’t afford to fly around the country (or the world) to cons. Consider the author who is disabled and for whom trips to cons are painful, exhausting, and may also be cost prohibitive. Consider the author who writes #ownvoices fiction but isn’t out yet (or only partially out).
Another comment I’ve seen over and over is that the books would have stood on their own merit. Maybe they would have. Or maybe they would’ve been dismissed as not #ownvoices and thus less valid. Because we’ve all seen those comments as well—that only authors who can prove their credentials should be writing certain stories. Whether those credentials happen to be “reader favorite”, “bestseller”, or #ownvoices status, the gatekeeping has the same effect: the bulk of stories about queer folx are written by white able cis folks with access to cash.
I’m not suggesting the person in question should be given any kind of pass for what they’ve done. Catfishing and soliciting donations based on fraud and lies is never okay. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. My solution is to be kind. To take a moment before posting a comment that’s classist, sexist, or ableist, and maybe do a little self-care instead. You may not intend to hurt anyone, but words do have power. Please try to wield it gently.
Representing LGBTQ Writers at AWP since 2012
Queer/trans identity. mental health. cats.
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