Saturday, November 27, 2010

Guest Post & Giveaway: What makes a movie gay?

Today's guest post and giveaway comes from Nikola at Nikola's Book Blog. Thanks for being with us Nikola!

To label a motion picture as a gay movie seems like an easy thing to do. However, if one thinks about it, it gets much harder deciding on a gay (or, for that part, lesbian or transgender) movie. What parameters should one take into account? Sure, there are a lot of romantic comedies where there's a gay best friend featured. However, does this make a movie gay? Since mainstream comedies (as well as other genres) rarely deal with the issues their gay characters face, they shouldn't be regarded as gay movies.

So, for the debate's sake, I'd like to propose that we divide what we would label gay movies – movies where gay characters/issues are central to the story – into two groups: "straight gay" movies and "gay gay" movies.

This might seem silly, but go along with my theory and then judge for yourself. I’m sure you've seen Brokeback Mountain. The whole world has seen Brokeback Mountain and cried over the faiths of the two protagonists. However, when the Academy Awards rolled around, guess what movie won? Crash. Obviously, there was a strong public response, many people accusing the Academy of being homophobic. But here's the thing: Brokeback Mountain is a straight man's gay movie. Why do you think almost everyone embraced it? The gay sex in the movie is almost implied and apart from some kissing, the two cowboys barely seem intimate. Furthermore, as the movie is set in the early 1960's, it is further dislocated from us, tackling few contemporary problems. Crash, on the other hand, with its explicit depictions of racism in L.A. is a much bigger challenge to the movie-goer.

On the other hand, there are movies aimed squarely at the GLBT community, which are usually much more upfront about the issues they explore. A great example would be the Showtime TV series Queer as Folk, a personal favorite of mine. Often called a gay man's Sex and the City, it was one of the few really queer productions to be embraced in the mainstream. Other such titles include The L Word, A Single Man and A Home at the End of the World.

Other than these popular flicks, there's a great number of low-budget, arthouse and indie productions that are honest and made with passion. A good place to look would be TLAVideo, an online retailer that specializes in gay cinema – everything from porn to high culture (don’t worry, it's work safe and you don't have to browse porn if you don't want to). It is like a goldmine for lesser-known gay movies. And why should you, for example, see Were the World Mine, a gay musical retelling of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream? Or Eating Out, a hilarious comedy of mistaken identity? Because they are honest and unafraid to tackle issues not usually touched by big studio movies. Try and watch one of these and I'm sure your perception of the gay community and art will change drastically.

What was your movie pick for the month of November? Visit my blog for a TLA video DVD giveaway.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Guest Post: The Benefits of Segregation

Today's guest post comes from author L.E. Harvey, who blogs at The Writings and Ramblings of a Philadelphian. Thanks for being with us!

As an LGBT author, and an LGBT person, I often find myself contemplating the separation of LGBT writing from the mainstream. Why is it that we have our own category? Our own book stores? Is my writing, or that of any other GLBT author, that different that it must be separated?

To be perfectly honest, I don’t like segregation. I don’t believe that I, or my work, need(s) to be separated from everyone else. Why is it that my colleague, Collin Kelley, an incredible poet, must be considered an incredible LGBT poet?

Yet, the American society tells us that we must wear this label, just like homosexuals had to wear the up-side-down triangle during the Holocaust.

If LGBT writers must be separated from their straight counterparts, we must look to see if there are any advantages to this segregation. Can it benefit any LGBT writer to be branded as such?

I’m normally not an advocate for labeling people or dividing literature into categories based on social labels. However, since I must be labeled as such, I will find a way that it may actually behoove me to label my work as LGBT fiction.

One positive factor in labeling my work as LGBT, is that it bears the same power as coming out of the closet held. I am boldly stating to readers everywhere that this is who I am, and this is what I write about. Separation of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, cinema, and the like tells the world that we are not going to shy away or run back into the closet with our writing. Instead, we are standing out, holding our work for all the world to see, and to truly know (and understand) the subject matter. It says, “this is who I am. I am not ashamed of it. Instead, I am putting my heart and my writing on the line for you to discover.” As a writer, I’m acting boldly to bear my soul to you in my writing. As an LGBT writer, I am acting even more boldly.

Labeling LGBT writing for what it is also helps to draw in an audience that not every writer is able to acquire: a sympathetic audience. The LGBT community and our straight allies will know that my work (or that of any other LGBT author) will reach them. It will be the kind of writing they can genuinely understand and appreciate. It will speak to them because it is written about them and it is written for them. I can market and sell my work to such readers and watch it spread like wildfire throughout the community. LGBT readers (and our straight allies) will specifically seek out LGBT writing of all genres. Knowing that their work is being selected because of what it is, rather than some great marketing ploy, is one of the greatest feelings a writer can experience. Because then, the sale is genuine. It’s not because the media tells them it’s a must read, it’s because the reader wants to read that particular book, article, poem, editorial, etc.

Genuine readership also creates a great word of mouth. If a person loves a book, they will recommend it to their friends. And each of those friends will recommend it to more friends and so the wild fire will spread. What writer doesn’t want to see their work spread like that? At that point, it doesn’t matter that it’s LGBT literature. It’s just good literature.

So, if the world I live in tells me that I must place LGBT Fiction on my books, I will. I will use that label as a bold statement of who I am as a person and a writer. And I will know that my work will be sought after by the type of readers I want. And those readers will place my books in more readers’ hands. Perhaps segregation of LGBT literature can actually behoove LGBT writers.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Guest Post: Independent Literature Awards

Today's guest post comes from Amy at Amy Reads - thanks for being with us, Amy!

Hello all GLBTQ challenge participants!

We want to tell you about another blogger initiative which, like the GLBT Challenge, is helping to promote GLBTQ literature: the Independent Literature Awards was started by Wallace of Unputdownables to fill the void of a book blogger-nominated, book blogger-awarded honors by genre, including adult and YA fiction and non-fiction. Any book blogger can nominate one book in each of the five categories: literary fiction, mystery, non-fiction, speculative fiction, and GLBTQ books. The only other rule is that the book had to have been published in 2010.

We hope that you will take a look at the books that you’ve read this year for the challenge and nominate one of them. Some examples of books that count:
  • Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman
  • Missed Her by Ivan Coyote
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
  • Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
  • Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
  • Rhythm and Blues by Jill Murray
  • Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde
  • London Triptych by Jonathan Kemp
  • The Right to Be Out by Stuart Biegel
  • Queer Questions, Straight Talk by Abby Dees
This of course is only a partial list containing some of the most nominated books and some of our favorites. ANY book with GLBTQ characters (or, if non-fiction, about GLBTQ issues) published in 2010 is eligible for the category and we would LOVE to see more titles nominated! To nominate, simply go to the Independent Literary Awards website and leave a comment on the individual genre page.

Thank you for reading and thank you for nominating! We look forward to reading your submissions.

- GLBTQ Judge Cass of Bonjour, Cass and GLBTQ panelist Amy of Amy Reads

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November Mini-Challenge

The November mini-challenge here at the Challenge That Dare Not Speak Its Name asks you to watch a GLBT-related movie and post about it. This can be fiction or nonfiction. We welcome all links on GLBT movies in the Mr. Linky below.

If anyone would like to volunteer to do a guest post on GLBT-related movies, please contact us - our emails are in the sidebar!