(This is a response to an article by Mario Lopez-Cordero, "Beyond Will & Grace")
I think gay literature needs less coming out stories, and above all, needs less stories about handsome white gay guys who seems to have it all–great job, great friends, great looks, etc. But then don’t really; their problem is they can’t find true love. Sure, this is “writing something specifically for them,” “them” being the imagined demography of a white gay public, (ignoring gays of color and lower classes and genders [there are gay FtMs...]), but I find such literature cliched and weak.
What I think gay literature needs are voices of people who are not found at Fire Island or P-Town or San Francisco. These stories have been told and continually sold because publishers believe they’ve found the model consumer. Instead, we need stories with people who have no way of ever getting to these gay “meccas,” or rural queers who have to get up in the morning to work, or that ugly guy on Manhunt who just knows he’ll end up alone no matter what he does, or that gay FtM who is afraid of walking alone in city at night, or that gay guy who’s afraid to go home because he’s afraid his boyfriend might hit him again, or maybe (as Brad mentions), the lives of people who happen to be gay, their stories focusing on other stuff, like class, race, ethnicity, citizenship, etc. There are too many stories to focus on being gay and finding love.
This article, I felt, should not have been about gay as a literary fad, the way an agent might say that you shouldn’t write gay because it doesn’t sell. Instead, it should have commented on the need for gay literature to change in order not to be cuckolded into literature for just gay people.
What gay lit needs the most is more voices. We need less template stories, those fairy tales with happy endings. We need to kill the gay novel–if the gay novel means white gay men having sex and finding true love at the end. Perhaps we’re afraid to write anything else because we’re afraid people will say–”See? Being gay is not fun!” something along the lines of early gay novels in which publishers had to force a suicide at the end to make it acceptable. I understand the reluctance. But the result is a redundancy in gay literature, the silence of minority voices, and in the end, not a very exciting literary scene. We need to move on beyond Will and Grace, beyond just being happy and gay. And while, as you said, we’re not “standing up to a cop while clad in wig and three-inch heels or handcuffing oneself to the White House gate in the name of millions dead” anymore, but now do we wanna get stuck just being gay? Gay doesn’t sell because the story is the same; gay will sell if it will tell other stories because gay or straight we all want compelling reads.
All I’m saying is: post-gay.