So the Arch & Bruce Brown Foundation is open again for its competitions for short fiction, play-writing and novels. These are the only online awards (that I know of – would be happy to be corrected) for Gay Historical Fiction and as such deserves attention from this blog.
However, I was mildly confused by the guidelines, namely: -
All works submitted must present the gay and lesbian lifestyle in a positive manner and be based on, or inspired by, a historic person, culture, event, or work of art.
All works must be Gay-Lesbian positive and concern:
1. A historical person known, in fact, to be lesbian or gay.
2. An actual historical person for whom a lesbian or gay identity is invented (with some specific intent) by the writer.
3. A period in history which the writer populates with lesbian and/or gay characters to show the effects of that time or culture on GLBT life..
4. A historical event or events that have lesbian/gay resonance. (The characters in the story may or may not have actually existed.)
5. A historical event or events that have general significance, showing those events’ impact on lesbian and/or gay characters (either real people or fictional).
6. A historic work of art and it’s inspiration, or effect, on gay lives (real or fictional).
7. We are not interested in biographies of persons or direct retelling of events. We want your individual take on that person or event that makes your submission a creative work of art.
So Gehayi wrote and asked them what they meant, because:
“Now, I can think of lots of stories that would fit the six categories, and many ways to make the gay character or characters both believable and sympathetic. It’s the “gay-lesbian positive” requirement that perplexes me. How do you write about history accurately and find a way to make being gay or lesbian a positive thing? For much of history, it wasn’t positive, socially or legally, and I dislike the idea of ignoring or contradicting facts.
“Could you please tell me what you mean by “gay-lesbian positive”? If it’s simply a question of depicting GBLT people as believable, sympathetic human beings, then I would have no difficulty doing so. If it involves spinning history to make it look better than it truly was…I would have some problems with that.”
And she received this reply:
Positive can be shown, or at least glimmer, in negative stories.
We don’t say you have to write “history accurately”. In fact, a story detailing a time or person, as in biography, is exactly what we don’t want.
Yes, there was an Inquisition, but might one judge been conflicted? Could 2 lovers have been stoned together? We want fiction, not history.
To say I’m more confused would be putting it mildly. They seem to contradict themselves at every turn. They don’t want history? Bwhuh? Surely that’s the whole point of the competition? And to say “you don’t have to write history accurately” just makes my blood BOIL, to be honest. No wonder historians turn they noses up at historical romances.
I’m going to write to them myself because although they list a lot of winners, there is no place where one can read excerpts and I’d certainly like to see how they portrayed previous themes.
Other competitions/resources (as always if you know of others, let me know) most of these are Historical, no emphasis on the Gay – but the only way to get them to accept the genre is to submit to them, of course.
I’ll make a larger list and add a “Markets” page eventually.