I’ve gotten a lot of emails this weekend (because somehow folks think I’m some sort of RWA spokesperson?) about the current kerfuffle over some RWA chapter I’ve never heard of prohibiting homosexual romances in their published novel contest (a contest I think I may have heard of once or twice, but honestly, I don’t keep track of regional published author contests and have never entered one myself).
I am not a member of this chapter. I am a member of the chapters WRW — my local DC chapter — and TARA, which is the Tampa chapter, and which I’m still a member of for nostalgic reasons. (I’m not even a member of YARWA, because 2 RWA chapters is already too many for me.) The only thing I know about this kerfuffle is what I have read on the internet and on the private RWA loops discussing the issue.
Because things on the internet are sometimes completely inaccurate, it has been erroneously reported that this is an RWA National stance. Which is not true. Here is a link to the rules of the RWA national published author contest,w which is called the RITA awards. I am currently judging this contest.
Other things that have been left out of a lot of reports:
- RWA has many members who write LGBT romances. In fact, there’s even an LGBT special interest chapter of RWA. Here is a list of its members. Go buy some of their books.
- This all blew up on the internet on Friday. This is Monday. Just because there has been no official statement from the all-volunteer board of RWA yet does not mean there will not be one.
- My understanding is that RWA National doesn’t have a lot of control over the chapter contests, and if it did, that would be globally bad for the contests for a myriad of reasons relating to the way contests have freedom to make up their own rules (for instance, about what constitutes “published”) that RWA doesn’t necessarily agree with. I don’t know what will happen now, but as it stands, even if RWA National wanted to do something, they might not have jurisdiction.
- The contest has been canceled.
- This small regional contest that hardly anyone ever heard of before Friday had at least one winner last year (I was told two, but I can’t seem to find it) that was a gay romance. The book, called MORE by Sloan Parker, won the award for best first book. Go buy it.
This last point is probably the most relevant of all. Because here’s what I’ve noticed about a lot of these kerfuffles, is that there’s a lot of outcry, but not a lot of follow up. The people on the internet like to pounce and loudly complain about discrimination and threaten boycotts of every book written by every RWA member (no, seriously, that was one email I got this weekend), or boycotts of every book by every RWA member in the chapter in question (another suggestion, to which I say — the only reason I actually know the rules of the contests of the chapters I’m a member of is because I went and looked them up this weekend, given that I am not on the boards, nor on the contest committees, and wouldn’t be entering them myself, so why in the world would I know?), but they aren’t saying, “Hey, you know what? This contest awarded an LGBT romance last year, let’s go buy it and show our support for what they say is an excellent LGBT romance and how it was brought to our attention as such by the judges of this contest.”
Or, hey! Let’s make a list of the people who were GOING to enter their LGBT romances in this contest and read them.
There is an outcry, but there isn’t a lot of follow up.
Last year, there was an outcry over a YA anthology that was prohibiting same-sex stories. There were a LOT of posts about it on the internet. There were a lot of authors who got up in arms and dropped out of not only that anthology, but an anthology being edited by the same editor, an anthology that I was writing for.
In the end, what ended up happening was that the anthology lost half its line up and the editor was removed from the project. We got a new editor, and a new line-up (an AMAZING line up, if I say so myself), and the publisher pledged to donate the proceeds to a homeless shelter for LGBT youth. The new anthology includes several LGBT stories. I’ve read them, they’re great.
And the internet? Is silent. I haven’t seen ONE blog review of this anthology. I haven’t seen ONE comment about the fact that there’s this great new anthology out there with all these LGBT-friendly YA stories in it. About how hey, look at the GOOD we did, by getting all kerfuffly on the internet. It gets better, guys! We complained about discrimination, and there was a response, and now there’s a book out there that would not have existed before, and it’s helping gay homeless youth, and it’s helping gay youth in general, because it’s representing them, and there’s really not enough of that out there.
But hey. Maybe that’s not as fun as being outraged.
You can ask Sailor Boy, I love me some righteous indignation. But I think, if we really want to make things better out there, the best way to do it is to make the fact that there great gay romances out there more visible. I haven’t read More, but I know it beat out debut books in every other genre in that RWA chapter contest in 2011, so that’s a pretty strong recommendation. And I personally think the Brave New Love anthology is fantastic, though I am biased, given that I am in it (though not financially biased, because it could sell a million copies, and I wouldn’t see a penny, being that it was a flat fee).
But don’t take my word for it. Read it yourself. Go out and buy it, knowing that your dollars will be donated to help homeless youth, or enter to win it in the giveaway contest on this very post.
That’s right. Giveaway. Leave a comment in this post, and enter to win your very own copy of Brave New Love. Contest goes until Friday. Since i have two copies to give away, THERE WILL BE TWO WINNERS.
ETA: Hello to everyone here from tumblr. Thank you for coming. I hope you enjoy the post.
ETA2: I have blogged about my story in the anthology (which is not, just to be clear, an LGBT story) and my inspiration for it.