Queer Literature

a study of sexuality in literature

Month: May, 2013

Like Son

by gwenwillis

While I enjoyed reading Like Son, I had wished that the author, Felicia Luna Lemus, had talked more about Frank’s experience being transgender. For example, with Frank and Nathalie’s relationship, the fact that he is transgender is never brought up except for when they talk about having kids. While I know that book isn’t necessarily about him being trans, I thought it could have been talked about more because that might shape his experience being and living as male. However, maybe it was good that the subject was somewhat bypassed (the beginning of the book talked most about being trans when he had a short-lived relationship with his father). I’m not transgender so I don’t really know how much it affects your experience and outlook on life.

I was curious about the author so I googled her. I found an interview from when Like Son was published in 2007. A couple of the questions were-


In your book you not only write as the opposite sex but as the trans-sex. What was the impetus behind that decision?

For me, trans-characters are part of the world, and trans-people are part of the world. I really, truly just wanted to write a story where I have a protagonist that can be transgendered, like Frank is, where it wouldn’t be about his transgenderism, where it would be about his life. It’s just a story about a person who is transgendered, and the fact that he was born a baby girl and now goes through the world as a man, of course that’s going to influence the way he sees and perceives things and the way he moves through the world and his interactions, but I wanted it to be first and foremost about the person. I think there’s value in coming-out stories and coming-of-age stories, but that just wasn’t what I was interested in doing.

It seems like every time someone writes an LGBTQ character, it’s about their sexuality or their coming-out or their sex.

Yeah, very often. I’m not so much interested in trying to normalize it or make it invisible. Someone paid me a huge compliment and said that, in their opinion, Like Son is a post-trans novel. In a way, it’s like a post-queer novel where, of course, it’s a central part of the book, but it’s moved further out.

 She later went on to talk about her partner, T. Cooper. I was curious about him too so I googled his name. It turns out that he is transgender and wrote a book “about the experience of being born a woman and living as a man, Real Man Adventures (McSweeney’s) is not the standard “trans narrative we know from TV and films,” says Cooper. For one thing: it’s not a memoir.”

 So she does have more insight into the transgender experience then maybe initially thought.






“Mom as primary breadwinner is bad for children’s health”

by twrshelton

“Mom as primary breadwinner is bad for children’s health”

So… at first I thought this video was fake. Basically it’s all about gender roles and focuses on a group of wealthy white men talking about how the social order is being threatened by the fact that men are no longer always the primary breadwinner in families. It goes as far as to say that women who are the primary breadwinner in the family causes marriages to disintegrate and that they are hurting our children. Thoughts?

The Ownership of A Story

by ungvarj

The discussion about the ownership of a story was fascinating. I think that one of the most overlooked facts is that Stephen Crane who wrote the Red Badge of Courage (a classic novel often read in high school) had never in fact been to war. If society feels the need to hinder an artist’s/author’s perspective, then what is the purpose of literature in general? There is something to be said about the possibility of an offensive piece from an author trying to walk in another’s shoes. However, who is to say that you cannot write as a man when you are a woman, to write as a straight woman when you are a lesbian, etc. Art Spiegelman wrote the comic Maus about his father’s struggle and the horror of the Holocaust, which he never experienced. Jonathan Safran Foer wrote Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close from the perspective of a young boy who lost his father in 9/11, when he had not. By telling an author that they cannot attempt to tell the story of another is a violation of the First Amendment itself. Authors are allowed creative freedom…as you are allowed the freedom to judge the accuracy of the story they tell..By undertaking a different perspective, author’s are allowed to venture out into another’s shoes. As they write, they take the audience along with them. I believe that taking on the perspective of another is a common practice in literature/books and as long as they pay respect to those they are trying to write about…it is their story to tell.

Owning a Sexuality

by elliotk4

On Tuesday we discussed if the author of Like Son could write in a transgender point of view due to the fact that she is not a transgender woman. Some bloggers felt that only transgenders own that sexuality and others who aren’t transgender shouldn’t write about them because they don’t know what they go through or how they feel. With that being said, I think that is complete bogus. 

The big response to this topic would be the fact that why the hell are we actually discussing if we can write about something we aren’t? If a lesbian woman can’t write about a transgender because she isn’t one, then why can a man write about women, or vise verse? Why do we have a final where students can write their own GLBT story if some of the students aren’t of the community? I myself am not a GLBT student, yet I love creative writing and fully plan on writing a short story. If we were limited to writing about our own sexuality and experiences, and not allowed to write fiction, then there would hardly be any writing, and let alone it would be completely boring. I think that as long as someone is respectful of the sex and represents it in a way that has been fully researched or there is some personal connection to, then writing about something you are not is completely acceptable. 

–Kendra Elliott

BNV Finals: Asheville Offering (Slam Poem about being excluded from places because of queerness or race)

by flintn

This piece titled “Civil Rights” is a commentary on how exclusionary movements can be if your identity will “complicate” their agenda, as well as a demand for intersectionality while tackling complicated issues like queerness and race. I think a really powerful aspect of this video that it acknowledges the misplaced conflicts within communities that are often caused by external forces.

The Issue of Writing for Underrepresented Demographics

by flintn

There were several things I would like to address about the discussion we had in class on Tuesday (5/28/2013) about authors writing about communities to which they don’t belong. The first thing I would like to say is that fiction and art don’t exist in this intellectual vacuum where the identities and situations they’re depicting aren’t affected by their representation. The excuse that “it’s just art” or it’s “fiction” ignores the cultural and social impact s that authors and artists have, which glosses over the important role that creators of art play in our society, as well as silences the voices of marginalized communities who see themselves continuously stereotyped, dehumanized, and vilified. For example, Twilight which incorporated the Quileute Nation (Jacob’s tribe). Besides the fact that the majority of the non-white characters are animals, barbarians, or evil, Stephenie Meyer clearly had only done rudimentary research about the Nation and misrepresented their beliefs and practices, while continuing to play up the “noble savage” stereotype.  With the launch of Twilight into the spotlight, there was a surge of interest among fans to visit Quileute land as though it’s a tourist destination and not the site of people’s history, traditions, and homes. Here is an excerpt from the Burke Museum in collaboration with the Quileute Nation:

The phenomena of the Twilight series has had vast economic benefits for Summit Entertainment, Stephenie Meyer, the tiny town of Forks, Washington, and even Nordstrom department stores, but the Tribe whose culture was represented for background fodder in the teenage love story, has seen little benefit. In addition to shedding light on the appropriation of Quileute culture, we wish to expose how the Twilight saga has presented a skewed version of modern Native American life and to offer visitors to this site an alternative perspective with links to resources for a more meaningful understanding of Indians in the modern era.

If you’re taking it upon yourself to write about lives that are rarely represented outside of the dominant narrative that has been placed upon their existence, then your authorial and artistic integrity should require you to learn from people within these demographics. Not just statistics and media. You should also take into account the fact that your voice is more likely to be heard than those within these communities who are and have been talking about the issues they are facing. No matter the fact that YAY there’s a person of color in this piece of media, that excitement shouldn’t end in disappointment when the same ignorant B.S. is being reiterated. Black women aren’t only prostitutes, “crack whores”, mammies (you know those characters who are just there to comfort the white main character with her wisdom), “ghetto” (not even going to touch the amount of classist crap that comes with this, and the erasure of Jewish history), but those are the only roles we are assigned. People of Asian descent aren’t all desexualized techies with “funny” accents, unfeeling robots, punching bags for dominant expectations about masculinity, or fodder for gross “love me long time” fantasies. Native peoples have varied complex identities as well as HUNDREDs of tribes with differing practices and beliefs. So yes, representation MATTERS whether or not the mode is fictional.This is a rule that should be applied to writing about queerness, and especially so for trans* identities that are already so misunderstood and ignored. And if you’re too lazy to actually do the legwork required, you should consider not writing that bestseller that will reinforce societal beliefs that are largely inaccurate and lead to the mistreatment of already marginalized peoples. Think about WHO is benefitting from your product and the discourse that will evolve as a reaction to it. And, you know, give a shout-out to the people who already said what you’re writing about but will most likely never get the same recognition.

And if you need more proof of how important representation matters:


Cindy Jackson: A Real Life Barbie

by veronikajhets

After browsing Cindy Jackson’s website, I kept contemplating on the idea of perfecting oneself to the beliefs of society. As we all know, beauty comes from within oneself and shouldn’t be subjected to a certain stereotype. I do believe there are certain circumstances where plastic surgery is necessary, especially when it concerns health factors.


What puzzled me about Cindy’s website was that she promoted different creams, lotions and serums. I thought her whole motto was that she only relied on plastic surgery and that was her trick to staying young and “beautiful”. I guess that proves the fact that even surgery can’t keep up with the idea of staying perfect and young.


I believe that when it comes to transsexual surgery, it’s up to the person who is willing to get it. It is their decision and if that’s what makes them feel more like themselves, they should go ahead and do it.  Nobody has the right to tell them otherwise. But then the problem of everyone going under the knife arises. Everyone then would have to protest and say that maybe they want to feel better too. I just think there is a big difference when it comes to conforming to society’s vision of beautiful and trying to feel like themselves. 


Post by Veronika Zaporojhets

“trans/national” by Janani

by fabelnightin

I found this really fascinating, especially after reading Like Son and seeing the presentation on “Boys Don’t Cry.” It offers another point of view on what else it could mean to be a trans man, a man, and a person of color.

Butch Voices Conference 2009

by 17rains

I thought this was interesting. It made me think of how present the heterosexual binary (masculine and feminine) exist amongst lesbians. We talked about this briefly in class in relation to the presentation about the Audre Lorde book. One of the women being interviewed is the director of Boy’s Don’t Cry, Kimberly pierce.

What It Feels Like For A Girl, The Cement Garden

by masonc4

Yesterday in class the point of “it’s okay for girls to dress as boys, but boys can not dress as girls” came up. This is a scene taken from the film The Cement Garden which highlights that boys can’t be girls because it is considered degrading. I’ve never seen the movie, but part of this clip is used in the introduction for the popular song “What it feels like for a Girl” by Madonna. I believe the Garber article touch on this, as well as one of the group presentations on “Boys Don’t cry”. Why is it so degrading to be a women, but not to be a man? Thoughts?