interior banner image

Gay Author Receives Pen/Faulkner Fiction Award

Gay Author Receives Pen/Faulkner Fiction Award

Author: Julie Levine

March 22, 2013

Over the years, the Pen/Faulkner Fiction Award, which carries a $15,000 prize, has been given to some of the most well respected novelists, including John Updike, Ha Jin, Philip Roth and E.L. Doctorow. This year’s winner is gay author Benjamin Alire Sáenz for his book of short stories, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club (Cinco Puntos), which combines the cultural history of the U.S.-Mexican borderlands with the deeply personal stories of the habitues of a border town bar.

And on Thursday, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared their support of same-sex marriage, arguing that a legal union between two individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, is in the best interest of children. The academy provided a variety of reasons to back their claim: increased possibilities for children to receive foster care or to be adopted, and the findings of several studies, all of which seem to point to the fact that a child’s psychological and physiological well-being has more to do with the strength of their parents’ relationship and their socio-economic resources than it does their sexual orientation.

As for LGBT children and young adults, a recent admissions decision at Smith College, an institution exclusive to women, calls into question the discrepancy between how the government documents an individual and how an individual documents him or herself. Calliope Wong, a trans* woman applicant, was denied admission to Smith College because her home state, Connecticut, still identifies her as a male—a fact that was manifested in her financial aid application and ultimately discovered by the university. In the rejection letter, the Dean of Admission said,

“Smith is a women’s college, which means that undergraduate applicants must be female at the time of admission.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, however, a change in gender on a birth certificate or Social Security Card usually requires proof of surgery, which is not always possible for an individual because of the cost and health risks.

And last but not least, the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas is notorious for their protests against homosexuals and signs with messages such as “God hates fags.” Recently, Aaron Jackson, co-founder of a nonprofit organization called Planting Peace, which aims to help conserve rainforests, plant trees for the environment, develop orphanages for homeless children, and provide medicine to individuals in poverty-stricken nations, has purchased the house directly across the street from the church and painted it rainbow-colored in support of gay rights. Declared the “Equality House,” the property will be used as a place to lodge volunteers for his organization and garner support for an anti-bullying initiative.

In response, Westboro Church member Shirley Phelps-Roper told Kansas City TV station WDAF that she “loves” the paint job, stating that,

“[It] keeps the eyes of the whole earth on this message. Now everyday all people are thinking about is God will not have same-sex marriage.”

But regardless of how the church feels, there is no denying that this rainbow house is gaining national attention. Since the news of its existence spread throughout the media earlier this week, thousands of people have been driving by every day to take pictures and leave donations in support of equality.




We Need Your Help

In order to continue providing the  most comprehensive LGBT literary site on the planet, we at the Lambda Literary Foundation depend on contributions from donors such as you. Your donations alone make it possible for us to offer the very best coverage of LGBT literature, and we are asking for your support in this effort by making a Tax-Deductible Donation today.

Julie Levine photo

About: Julie Levine

Julie Levine is a poetry MFA candidate at The New School. She received a BA in English and Creative Writing from Emory University. Her work is forthcoming in Tar River Poetry.

Subscribe to our newsletter