Love, Crank, and Complexity: Queer Writers on Gay Marriage, Black Cool, and the Staying Power of Sex Writing and Indie Presses

Ah, Valentine’s Day: for some, a corporate take-over, intended to fleece and shame. For others, a singularly depressing reminder of love lost. For the less jaded and the young, today is a fun day of crafts, sweets, and generosity. And then there are those of us who use this day to justify subjugating everything to a “love” theme.

That’s easy for this round-up, what with California’s Supreme Court overturning of Prop 8 and the legalization of gay marriage in my new home state: (cold, rainy-ass) Washington. Then of course there was the JC Penny/ One Million Moms brouhaha over Ellen Degeneres (Seriously…I’m Kidding) and a JC Penny catalog featuring a gay couple on a wedding cake (which culminated most recently with a gay-day flashmob in New York). For many, these last couple weeks brought a string of heart-warming victories.

But not everyone counts the crawl towards legal marriage a victory. Jack Halberstam’s recent LLF interview with Sinclair Sexsmith outlined some of the in-community tensions around gay marriage, naming legal exclusion as a unique opportunity for the queer community to define our own ideas about love, relationships, and priorities. Against Equality, an “online archive, publishing, and arts collective focused on critiquing mainstream gay and lesbian politics”, lists a number of queer authors and organizations, including The Audre Lorde Project, Kate Bornstein (A Queer and Pleasant Danger), Dean Spade (Normal Life), Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?), Yasmin Nair (Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage), and Eric Stanley, (Captive Genders), speaking to the complexities of gay marriage.

Speaking of Against Equality; they have a call for submissions for their new anthology, Fuck Equality: Erotica for Rowdy Queers. AE is looking for unpublished “naughty tales of queer debauchery and gender terrorism” between 1500 – 2000 words that “incorporate [a] political agenda of challenging mainstream gay and lesbian politics (ie. marriage, military service, and hate crimes legislation) into the storyline.” Submissions due May 15, contributors paid in copies.

Further proof that erotica and literature can sustain us: Brandon White of Atlanta was violently gay-bashed last Saturday by a gang in southwest Atlanta. In a recent interview with the GA Voice, White named reading E Lynn and Zane as part of what gets him through.

Bitter? Lonely? Just in the mood for a dark and exquisite read? Try esteemed Taiwanese queer novelist Qiu Miaojin’s Notes of a Crocodile , recently translated to English by Bonnie Huie (The Mountain of Signs) on InTranslation.

Or, if you happen to be in Zagreb, Croatia, try touring the Museum of Broken Relationships, complete with artifacts and explanatory notes. Today is apparently a popular day to attend.

If you’re hiding out today, consider this for tomorrow: New York City’s McNalley-Jackson Bookstore is hosting Rebecca Walker, Margo Jefferson, and Miles Marshall Lewis to discuss Walker’s recently released anthology, Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness. 52 Prince Street, 7 PM, February 15, downstairs; more info here. Check out two recent interviews with Walker on Black Cool at The Daily Beast and The Grio. The anthology includes a foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and articles by Staceyann Chin, Michaela Angela Davis, Kara Walker, and bell hooks.

And in the meantime: indie presses, feel the love. Even the NY Times noticed: this is a good time to be a small press.