Cross-posted from lgbtSr
The boards are buzzing. In a move revealing what many have speculated about the last 15 years, gay mystery writer Josh Lanyon has officially come out as a woman. While this is not that great a surprise to the many who participated in this “open secret” (Lanyon has no available photograph anywhere online and has demurred when asked directly about his/her gender), it has launched a conversation about appropriation. You see, Lanyon isn’t just another housewife writing steamy MM romance … she was, until last Friday, the most successful writer in the gay mystery genre presenting as a gay man.
I have no real horse in this race. Lanyon graciously granted me an interview for lgbtSr last year, and she is obviously talented, persistent and quite shrewd. But pretending to be from a culture one is not from (think of Michael Derrick Hudson who recently got published in a poetry anthology by using a Chinese pseudonym, Rachel Dolezal insisting she’s black, or even comedian Steve Rannazzisi lying about surviving the 9/11 attack) belongs on a different level. Lots of women write MM (male/male) romance and in fact dominate the sub-genre, but few of them pretend to be gay men. Likewise, I knew a male writer years ago who made his living writing romance novels under a woman’s name, but he did not, as far as I know, give interviews and otherwise present himself as a woman. It’s a conversation long overdue.
As the dust slowly settles, I wish Lanyon (Diana Killian?) well. I doubt it will hurt her sales much. But in this age of “stop appropriating my culture” let’s be clear that gay male culture is distinct, with its own history, triumphs and enormous tragedies. We’re not just men who have sex with other men. May transparency soon become the order of the day. You can read an interview conducted with Lanyon yesterday in which she explains herself HERE.