The Write Stuff?

Amazon gives out grants to gay writers. But some say the e-tailer has a questionable gay track record.

Is there such a thing as the Great American (Gay) Novel? Amazon seems to think so. The e-tailer gave Lambda Literary $25,000 to support the gay organization’s annual Writers’ Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices.

In the past, Amazon was accused of being anything but gay friendly when the superstore blocked certain LGBT titles from searches, while allowing all sorts of anti-gay books (namely about reparative therapy) to show up in searches. And among many independent gay bookstores that face a very real threat of closing doors – including Philly’s own Giovanni’s Room – Amazon still leaves a bad taste when it comes to LGBT-friendly business practices.

Ed Hermance, Giovanni’s Room owner, has some harsh words for the big A, saying, “There is great danger that the written word in this country will be controlled by Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble. Is it smart to put publishers, authors and readers utterly at the mercy of these would-be monopolies?”

It seems as though the mega e-tailer is trying to make amends with the gay literary community.

Courtesy of Giovanni’s Room

This year’s retreat is being held Aug. 6-13 on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles. Ever since it was first created four years ago, it’s provided would-be writers one week of instruction from some of the biggest names in the gay literary world. This year’s faculty includes Carla Trujillo, a Lambda winner for “Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About,” and Ellery Washington, a winner of PEN Center West’s Rosenthal Emerging Voices Award, among others.

“The mission of the Writers’ Retreat is to foster the continued vitality of LGBT writers whose work fully explores the LGBT experience,” says Tony Valenzuela, Lambda’s executive director.

Lambda also spends a lot of time spotlighting important writers in the community. Last year, Larry Kramer and Kate Clinton were both honored with awards for their work.

G Philly would like to know: Where do you shop for books these days? Online? At the local bookstore? Or both?