A Queer Look At Literature
?October is Queer History Month. To some people it is also known as Gay History Month, while others insist on GLBT History Month, and still others insist on LGBT History Month, there are a host of other names as well, but I prefer the word queer because it is easier than the alphabet soup designations many people in the LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ community seem to insist on.
Actually, the word I really prefer is "gay" because it’s easier to say and more prominently used in the media. Back in the mid-’70s though, some in the lesbian community decided that "gay" only referred to gay men and so we became the gay and lesbian community for a while, then the lesbian and gay community because some women felt slighted and the guys just didn’t care enough to argue about it. The rest of the letters of the alphabet soon followed.
Of course, the fact that the members within our "community" can’t even agree on a name for said community, pretty much sums us up. If we spent half as much time fighting for equality as we spend fighting amongst ourselves and splintering off into smaller and smaller categories, homophobia would be a distant memory. To paraphrase FDR, "the only thing we have to fear," sadly... is ourselves.
Now I know that the protocol for Q-History Month is to ramble on about the Stonewall riots, blah blah blah, Gay Liberation Front, blah blah, Pride, blah blah 1974 vs 1975, blah blah Nicole, blah blah Pride March vs Pride Parade, blah blah rallies, blah blah marriage, blah blah "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," etc... but how many times can that get rehashed year after year before Q-History Month becomes synonymous with the same old articles that make one’s eyes glaze over
Instead, let’s look at our past in a different way. They say that the pen is mightier than a rally at some community center, so let’s examine some of the books and authors who have had an impact on our community and society as a whole.
Books and Literature and Homos, Oh My!
For many of us, the word "book" brings to mind best sellers like The Da Vinci Code, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Harry Potter, or *shudder* even Twilight.
"Literature"on the other hand often invokes the works of DWMs (Dead White Males) such as Shakespeare, Twain, Faulkner, Hemmingway, Oscar Wilde and other sleep-inducing authors we were forced to read in school.
Queer Lit on the other hand, is too often associated with a genre that can be best described as smutty soft/ hard-core porn. At best, these books amount to the trashy romance novels of our community, but the literary history of our community is SO much greater than that and it is both reflective of the changes in society through the years, as well as being a cause of that same change.
It’s All Greek To Me
Back before the Greeks were responsible for Animal House and for destroying the European Union with their ouzo-induced spending sprees, they were best known for their toga parties and their open-minded views on sexuality. The Greeks put the lesbo in lesbian, their gods had sex with anything that moved, and Hermaphrodites became the first gender-bender long before anyone even heard of RuPaul. Sappho and Plato are among some of the "family" authors of the day.