Is The Polari Prize Transphobic And Biphobic?
Graunwatch readers will be familiar with Paul Burston’s naff Polari Prize that I tried to enter earlier this year, with catastrophic results. Although Polari the ‘literary salon’ that Burston runs is billed as a ‘gay salon’ and he edits the ‘lesbian and gay’ section in Time Out magazine, the rules for the Polari Prize were clear. On Paul’s Blog it states that anyone can enter the prize if their first book is about the ‘queer experience’:
‘The Prize is for a first book which explores the queer experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction by a writer born or resident in the UK, published in English within the past twelve months [my emphasis].’
And when I entered the prize, though Paul never replied to my emails, his colleague and fellow judge Suzi Feay told me my book was eligible. I only withdrew from the prize because Paul Burston and Julie Bindel outed me, told lies about me and Mark Simpson, and caused people to harass a work colleague of mine.
The longlist for the staggering, unethical, pathetic Polari Prize is going to be announced at an event in July. BUT in the blurb, it now states the prize is only for ‘gay and lesbian literary talent’! So much for the ‘queer experience’:
‘After debuting to great acclaim last year, the Polari First Book Prize is back. This event sees the announcement of the longlist for 2012, which recognises the very best in new gay and lesbian literary talent, alongside a typically eclectic bill of queer fiction, poetry and performance at London’s ’most theatrical salon’ (The New York Times). Hosted by writer and journalist Paul Burston [emphasis mine]‘.
Of course this is no surprise to me, despite his lip-service to trans people and trans issues, Paul Burston is Gay with a capital G and has no interest in the ‘queer experience’ as these tweets show:
The attitude of Paul Burston and other elitist, separatist ‘gay and lesbian’ activists, reminds me of the recent furore over the forthcoming Radical Feminist conference in London. The twitter hashtag for the event #radfem2012 is full of both elitist separatist shit from the rad fems, who are exclusing trans women from their event, and a lot of criticism and challenges to their bigotry. An interesting comment was made on the hashtag which said:
I don’t know if the tweeter was talking about the biphobia inherent in radical feminism, or biphobia in general. But I think in general biphobia goes unnoticed and challenged all the time. It is clear to me that the Polari Prize, by advertising itself as a showcase for ‘gay and lesbian’ literary talent is excluding not only trans writers but also bisexual ones. Where is their prize? Are they assumed to not suffer any discrimination and to have a fair chance in mainstream literary competitions? ORLY?
The #radfem2012 hashtag is depressing reading, as it shows that radical feminism is full of hatred, for men, for trans women, for everyone who does not subscribe to their narrow dogma. Paul Burston in his ‘gay’ ivory tower has also demonstrated a lot of hate, mainly for me as it happens but I am sure I am not the only person he hates. He has said about me (and Mark Simpson his old ‘friend’):
And let’s not forget. Paul Burston outed me with the help of radical feminist and known transphobe Julie Bindel. Bindel also told blatant lies about me supported by Burston:
Of course, the huge irony of all this lesbian and gay elitism on the part of Burston is that once he wrote a chapter in the radical book Anti Gay, edited by Mark Simpson (1996). Simpson, though in some ways a little less radical than he used to be (aren’t we all?), stands by the principles laid out in Anti Gay. In particular he often calls out biphobia where he sees it, which is often in the gay and lesbian community.
I don’t see a huge amount of difference between the ideologies of Polari and those of #radfem2012 I do however see a difference between how people are responding to those elite and quite nasty ‘clubs’.