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Should International Festival of Authors have an LGBT section?

Arts & Entertainment

Should International Festival of Authors have an LGBT section?

Authors weigh in on the proposal
Knowing who is gay and lesbian at the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) is often a guessing game. And that is exactly how it should be, say some in the book world.
“I don’t think you want to segregate everyone that way,” says author Michael Ondaatje, speaking about the possibility of creating a separate section of authors under an LGBT banner.

IFOA director Geoffrey Taylor agrees. 
“We find with a lot of authors that they don’t want to be labelled as such because they want to be at the big table,” Taylor says. “They don’t want to be on a side shelf somewhere.”
Others see a wealth of possibilities in creating an LGBT section or program.
“It would be exciting to see who is in that package,” says author Andrew Pyper. “What are the kinds of showcases? What are the round tables? What are the topics? I would be excited to see that and go to it.”
Despite the lack of an LGBT program at this year's festival, there are some big name gay and lesbian authors taking part, including Emma Donoghue, Kamal Al-Solaylee and Nancy Richler.
In our video interview below we ask attendees at the IFOA opening party to weigh in on the idea and pick their favourite queer authors and books.
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Am I alone
I am tired of gay men putting each other down and generalizing the whole group. Gay men do read novels. I like the idea of a seperate LGBT section so I can easily find books relevant to my life.
Yes, conventiional wisdom says to play down the gay, hide it, go more mainstream and blend in. You'll sell more books.
Well fuck that. Art is not about sales and people can be as gay as they want.
Or trans. Or black. Or womyn! Or Palestinian womyn who are trans and black and cross-addicted! The possibilities are endless. Only good can come of this. Good fiction reaches across boundaries of identity. Always has. For fuck's sake, it transcends time, and very little does that. Stop with the identity fixation and focus on the story-telling. Nobody cares anymore.
Leaving the ghetto
If a gay author writes yet another depressing novel about a gay man trying to find a relationship (and failing to do so), it's likely that only gay men will read it (and, sad to say, most gay men do not read novels on a regular basis). On the other hand, if someone writes an interesting crime novel featuring a clever detective who happens to be gay, the novel will have a broader audience. Similarly, if someone bills themselves as a gay author, they will have a limited audience. Yet, if they bill themselves as a crime writer, a romance writer, a science fiction writer, etc. who is gay, they will likely have a broader audience.
Good or not
What real benefit would be served by segregating the LGBT authors? Shouldn't the only question be whether they are a good writer or not?
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