As a writer, when it comes to submitting your work, you do a lot of slogging through journals, trying to determine where your work will fit. When it comes to poetry and short fiction, I have a constant battle with myself (and publishers). Is this story about a father and a son to be labeled and submitted as “gay” or is it “family”? Are these poems about intimate relationships “love” or “gay”?
And to make it worse, when I go to a publisher of specifically queer literature, I don’t know that my writing is gay enough. I’m not writing about fisting someone for the first time. I’ve never written a coming out story. I’m not writing about how we decided which of us would be the top and which the bottom. I’m not into writing about how many times I’ve been called a faggot at the grocery store, or discrimination or how radically out I am.
Do I write gay enough? I am getting a lot work accepted for publication, so I have to believe I’m doing something right. At the moment I have a chapbook that has been submitted for consideration to a queer publisher. Instead of paying the standard reading fee, they ask you to buy one their books. I ordered a book of poetry entitled, “He Do Gay Man In Different Voices”, by Stephen Mills. It’s marvelous writing, truly it is. And it has sent me straight into the pits of writer-self-doubt.
If you’re a writer, you know what that is; it’s that voice inside that tells you you don’t measure up, that this is the best you will ever do. You do gay man in genderless voice, so no one will publish your swill, because no one will be able to relate to it.
Being the stubborn Scorpio that I am, I of course eventually get on top of those voices and shut them up. But there is still that little whispering, every time I submit any of the intimacy poems or stories with queer characters: is this gay enough??