Well, the first ever Bisexual Lammy was presented on June 1, 2007. I could write an entire book on the experiences, interchanges, connections made over this weekend. I have a half dozen column ideas in my head about this, but have been stuck with where to start. I finally decided to start with the worst of the weekend; those gaffes that make us look for a time machine, so that we can redo our words.
Sometimes the words themselves are not the problem, but the timing .
I was talking to Clarence Nero at the big bi book event. I adore him and his work. Before the "soon to be described" moment, I had had a verbal hiccup at the lammies (in response to people laughing at his book cover, I blurted "this is a very good book; you should read it", not knowing if the mic even picked it up) and had gushed and got his autograph. Later at the raffle table, I told him "you know, the book would have had better chance (for a lammy) if you used that one 2 letter word". which I planned to follow up with, "but I understand that word isn't used in the culture depicted in the book." My intent being to find out if he saw the character as bi.
Unfortunately, while Mr. Nero was trying to figure out </span>which 2 letter word, another author - a gay man, lammy winner who had been invited to read, heard this part of the exchange, gave me the dirtiest look and said, "isn't that the truth?". I suddenly went from the biggest fan wanting to discuss the conscious decision to not use "b words" into a pushy bi activist trying to increase the number of books who use our "preferred" label.
I desperately tried to figure out how to undo the damage, but was at a loss. I like to think Clarence's public acknowledgment of me helped, but c'est la vie.
A slightly more painful exchange occurred at the post-lammy social. We were all at this table. Two women were having a discussion. And one (who is married to a Jew, and is prominent in the Hollywood scene) teased "The Jews control everything." Just as the words were coming out of her mouth, another woman at the table, who happens to be Jewish, tuned into the conversation. ouch!
She stated her religious affiliation and her offense. The other woman countered with her partner's religious affiliation and tried to explain content, but the damage was done.
A minor "oops" moment occurred at the post Bi Lines dinner. Someone was explaining their reasons for dying her hair with "if I didn't dye it, I'd be all gray." Something we've all heard a zillion times, right? But let me paint you a picture - of the 6 people at the table, everyone else had either reclining of the hairline, of some visible gray hair (the younger set dropping out after hearing out post event celebration was dinner and not club hopping). It's the end of 2 long days of discussing inclusions, slights, offenses - you know, the typical bi/pc topics.
A distinguished white haired man at the table asserts that he is offended and that people like her have been putting him down his whole life, as he began to go gray in high school. I'm pretty sure he was joking, but it was hard to tell, given his dry delivery. There was an awkward pause, after which us touchy feely bi's tried to smooth things over.
We've all had moments like this. For some reason, they seem to happen more at queer social events. Perhaps because we have permission to state our offence; perhaps because we tend to have baggage from dealing with past rudeness.
Worst are those insults that were intended. Like when our first ever bi lammy winner congratulated his fellow Alyson (Press) Lammy winner. His outstretched hand was met with a scoff and "I don't do bisexuals"! For real. Mike was left hanging.
Or when his co-author heard, in response to the announcement of the bi category, a sneer and something like "oh great". From the stage, all I heard were cheers; my experience is definitely the preferred one.