Playwright Albee Defends 'Gay Writer' Remarks

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Memnalar's avatar
From linked article: "Edward Albee's recent remarks about being labeled a 'gay writer' sparked controversy within the gay community, but the playwright insists such definitions are 'prejudicial.'"

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batousaijin's avatar
richard dutcher resists being labeled as a "mormon" filmmaker... or should it be mormon-film maker.
Memnalar's avatar
Now I'm going to be thinking about that all day. Thanks. :D
batousaijin's avatar
um, okay? :confused: i thought it was a related subject, but maybe my mind was just confused because of how late i was up...
Memnalar's avatar
I meant the "mormon film-maker" vs. "mormon-film maker" thing.

I'm always confused, no matter how much sleep I've had. :D
batousaijin's avatar
i'm still confused. why will you be thinking about it all day?
Memnalar's avatar
Oh, I was just being facetious, and not doing a very good job of it. :)
AngelSoulSpirit's avatar
Sexuality has nothing to do with talent or art. It's the person, it wouldn't matter what their sexuality is. I get what he's saying and I agree with him. I don't see why we have to bring up our sexualities at all or why it really concerns anybody. It's there accept it move on. :/ There's more to people than that.
davidanaandrake's avatar
I think, by the sounds of it his speech might have been a little inappropriate for the event (it's generally considered polite to not rib those people who give you an award), but I do share his sentiments. I believe a true situation where there is no discrimination in the world is where our differences are a non-event. "So what, I'm pansexual, who cares? I'm also a lot of other things, lets get on with it!" That's my basic attitude. And that's the attitude from which I write about sexuality in my stories. I have gay couples, lesbian couples, I have poly groups, straight couples, asexuals, transgendered folk.. and all variations inbetween, and I treat them all like non-events because that's what it should be: normal.

Discrimination comes from separation, from making an "us and them" motif. The solution is not to increase the separation (though I totally understand the need to separate to protect and nurture those who society likes kicking to the road side - I've been there myself), the end solution in my opinion is to make it all "normal", to desegregate, to unite us somehow in our differences. It should be a non-event, so in my writing I make it a non-event (this is helped, of course, by the fact I write action so any love scenes or partners getting together tend to actually be only a background detail because I focus more on the imminent threat of death rather than the squishy stuff).

So in the future I think I'd probably publicly do a similar thing and say "I'm not a 'gay writer', I am a writer who just happens to be pansexual".

Lucy-Merriman's avatar
I get what he's saying. David Sedaris made a similar point in (I think) Me Talk Pretty One Day in one story that goes into stream-of-consciousness tangent about how much he hates rainbows and the rainbow flag for gay pride, probably for some silly reason. Then goes into how if you're labeled a "gay writer" you'll have a lot of success in a small community, but little success in the broader culture, because you get associated with people who think rainbows are appropriate for adults.

But, yeah. A person should feel unconstrained to write what they want in whatever genre, instead of feeling restricted or scrutinized for having enough minority characters (of their own group) or portraying them in a positive light.
BarbecuedIguana's avatar
Edward Albee being controversial - isn't that a bit like accusing a firecracker of being loud? :D

Back in college I remember a writing professor telling the class that a "friend of his" use to make money in the 1980's by selling gay fiction even though he was "perfectly straight." It wasn't a lecture on sexuality and writing but one of marketing, of how to write and get paid in a world that doesn't actually want to read what you have written.

During the 80's and 90's when the major media outlets were hesitant to go anywhere near anything that might make Barbara Bush Blush, small presses were cashing in on the neglect of ethnic and alternative audiences. The backlash to this was that underlying it all was the notion that if you weren't a cultural warrior fighting on the audience's behalf they probably wouldn't give you the time of day.

And I think that this is where Albee is coming from. He, like all artists, wants to be successful for the simple majesty of his work. He doesn't want to be glorified for the people that he pandered to even though he was perfectly in tune with them. Unfortunately for Albee, I have read a few of his plays and they just aren't that majestic. Whether he likes it or not, Edward will probably go down in history as the cultural warrior that he was.
angeljunkie's avatar
I totally agree with him. I worry about things like that sometimes, which I think is a silly thing to have to worry about. I think there's really only once I deliberately chose to portray a gay couple (though it's a frequent theme because I also very arbitrarily assign gender [or neglect to assign gender] to my characters because I think the things I try to relate aren't specifically male or female or gay or straight and I would like my readers to not get hung up on those technicalities*), whereas there have been several times I've deliberately chosen to portray a straight couple (when the sexuality isn't what's important) so something doesn't get written off as just pertaining to 'gay' issues. Labels like that don't serve any purpose, in my opinion, but at the moment it's just one of many boxes I'm trying not to be slotted into (the 'American' writer being one of them, but hey. It's what I know, and half the time I can barely understand the people around me, let alone write convincingly from their perspective). So good for him.

Yes. I did need a whole paragraph just for that last sentence. :P

*At the moment, for example, I'm working on something where one of the characters happens to be female (because seriously when you get more than one character of the same gender in one scene, and particularly when there's three, it starts to get tiresome because the pronouns don't work so well as identifiers) and I had to stop and consider how to do it so the reader won't automatically presume the two male characters are preying on the defenseless female because that's such a prevalent stereotype (and yes, I know, it does happen more often that way, but it's not always the case).
TheeForsakenOne's avatar
Good man. Reverse discrimination is still discrimination.
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