I’m really of two minds on this issue. On the one hand I feel that having a separate genre for gay and lesbian issues, women’s issues and African American issues is makes it easier for persons of that label to find books which feature situations similar to those they have found themselves in. On the other hand I also feel that it perpetuates the dangerous notion of separate but equal. One of the most staggering and common comments I’ve received on the Secrets of Witches trilogy and a piece of my writing when it was available via Authonomy was that it more often than not it was not typically the type of story that reader would read, in no small part because it was an ‘LGBT book’. How many more readers, who would otherwise not be exposed to such literature, are we alienating simply by the nature of calling a book LGBT. Furthermore, simply because a book is written either by a woman/African American/LGBT or about women/African Americans/LGBT is not necessarily indicative that it’s content will reflect issues that all of these groups face. Because everyone has had different experiences in their lives that make them who they are. My life as an LGBT person does not reflect that of other LGBT individuals, solely because we all fit the label of LGBT. Perhaps the larger question at hand is why do we need to call ourselves LGBT at all? Is it more to serve as a beacon for those struggling with their sexuality or gender identity or is it a way for others to make judgements based solely on a label that is thrust upon us?
I think that this, like so many issues is a complex and multifaceted one with no simple answer and perhaps not even just one correct answer. The right answer for you may not be the right answer for someone else… so… here’s how I see it, if you agree with me then fine, if not, find what works for you and go with that.
For me I plan to drop the LGBT title (and hope that if I should decide and be accepted by the traditional publishing world they can respect this wish) for my current and future works, because for me the more people you can expose to gay characters, the more you can get them interested in their lives and realize that we’re just human beings like everyone else, the more allies we have in the LGBT community and hopefully the less prejudiced people will be. More than that, though, true equality comes when we drop the extraneous labels of LGBT American, African American, Hispanic American, etc. And just embrace ourselves as Americans, and beyond that, humans.