Knowing who is gay and lesbian at the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) is often a guessing game. And that is exactly how it should be, say some in the book world.
“I don’t think you want to segregate everyone that way,” says author Michael Ondaatje, speaking about the possibility of creating a separate section of authors under an LGBT banner.
IFOA director Geoffrey Taylor agrees.
“We find with a lot of authors that they don’t want to be labelled as such because they want to be at the big table,” Taylor says. “They don’t want to be on a side shelf somewhere.”
Others see a wealth of possibilities in creating an LGBT section or program.
“It would be exciting to see who is in that package,” says author Andrew Pyper. “What are the kinds of showcases? What are the round tables? What are the topics? I would be excited to see that and go to it.”
Despite the lack of an LGBT program at this year’s festival, there are some big name gay and lesbian authors taking part, including Emma Donoghue, Kamal Al-Solaylee and Nancy Richler.
In our video interview below we ask attendees at the IFOA opening party to weigh in on the idea and pick their favourite queer authors and books.