I’ve never been a member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), simply because I’m a) not American and b) I didn’t think a membership would do much for me as an author of gay romance. There is now an LGBT chapter, Rainbow Romance Writers (RRW), that I’ve considered joining.
However, this weekend it’s come to light that an RWA-sanctioned writing contest run by one of its member chapters is barring same-sex romance entries. From the More than Magic contest rules:
– Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.
Why not, you may ask? It seems the “majority” of chapter members are “uncomfortable” with same-sex romances. Author Courtney Milan provides a summary of the issue, and RRW president Heidi Cullinan weighs in and later has thoughts on bigotry and a few suggestions on what we can all do to fight it in regards to RWA and the romance industry.
What if this edict had been decreed about interracial romances? In the year 2012 how is it considered acceptable to discriminate so freely? LGBT authors pay the same RWA dues, and should be eligible for all contests and RWA activities. Again from the MTM contest rules:
Our judges are all romance readers. Within that group are RWI chapter members and members of other RWA chapters. We recruit judges nationwide and even worldwide (for e-books) and our only requirement is that they are regular romance readers.
They tell us which categories and what “heat” level they prefer to read, so our entrants’ books get into the hands of people who might give them the most favorable rating.
Our final round judges are chosen for the diversity of their romance reading interests and enjoyment, sense of fair comparison across all categories, and knowledge of the romance genre.
I don’t think “diversity” means what they think it means.
Surely somewhere on the planet Earth they could find romance readers willing to judge same-sex entries? Well, apparently that’s not the issue. Author Larissa Ione offered to judge, and shares her correspondence with the MTM contest coordinator:
“Thank you, Larissa, but it was never a lack of judges that made our determination. It was that the majority of our members were uncomfortable with being a contest that takes same-sex entries.”
Too bad they seem perfectly comfortable with bigotry. I, for one, will not be giving RWA a red penny to join any of its chapters until all members — and all romances — are treated equally.
ETA: As you can see, the contest was just cancelled. A shame that they pulled the plug instead of simply allowing all romances to be considered equally!