The Amazon Iowan

Blog of Author Heidi Cullinan

RWA Shouldn’t Be in the Business of Discrimination

293 Comments

– Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.

from the contest rules for the More Than Magic contest hosted by Romance Writers Ink Chapter of RWA

It’s taken me several days to be able to write this blog post, and the worst part of it is that my job isn’t done with this. As president of the Rainbow Romance Writers, RWA’s chapter for LGBT chapter, it’s my job to address the situation. I intend to, but I admit, at this point I keep reading that above line and feeling heavy and tired and depressed. I try to tell myself it’s because I’ve been felled by a pretty impressive cold for over a week and that it’s what’s making me tired. It’s a good story, and I wish I could buy it. But the bald truth is that I read that line, and every time it just hurts all over again.

The membership of RRW has been braver than me. Several members have emailed to ask why the change; one member got a reply. She was told it was a hard decision, but some members of the chapter felt “uncomfortable” with same-sex entries. That word keeps resonating too. Uncomfortable.

Well, I have to say, RWI. Discrimination makes me pretty uncomfortable too.

I just can’t get over the balls of stating, right there in black and white on a freaking website, “no same-sex entries.” No Irish need apply. Whites only. Pick your discriminatory phrase and insert it right there, because they all fit. Does that seem harsh? Probably only if you’re not gay or passionate about the rights of LGBT persons.

Here’s the truth. LGBT romance is growing more and more every day, but don’t let anyone try and delude you it’s anywhere but at the more sunlit alleys in the ghetto of the publishing world. Despite our very good sales within our digital-first houses, we aren’t even on the map for most New York publishers. Anyone within the genre knows too that LGBT romance gets plenty of flack from LGBT literary. It’s the same fight mainstream romance has with the mainstream lit fic genre (much like snotty religions, they don’t think they’re a genre, just the True Disciples of Book) except LGBT romance gets some nice kicks in the teeth for having straight women in the room. I’d point out a whole hell of a lot of us are bi, but if you know anything about arguments within the alphabet soup, you know that gets a lot of sneers too.

So it’s nothing short of a fine slice across the hand to be skimming through places LGBT romances might submit entries for contests, trying to get more exposure and out of the ghetto—this one is for published books and last year an m/m novel won—only to find a big fat NO GAYS sign.

When I asked about this, I was told the board made a ruling on same-sex entries in contests and said basically that chapters could make their own judgments based on genre. The heading of the issue was labeled “same-sex entries in contests,” so there’s no question this is the clause that made RWI feel they could pop that line I opened with onto their website, sigh in relief, and move on with their day. Make no mistake. RWA national said this is kosher.

Do you?

I don’t mind someone reading my novel and disliking it. I don’t mind entering a contest and not being chosen. I don’t even mind someone seeing that my books have same-sex romances in them and saying that’s not what they want to read. But I do mind someone discriminating on principle alone. I do mind someone telling me that I’m a genre one can just skip but not recognizing me as a genre for the RITA awards, making me compete against people who have no idea what a ghetto looks like and how hard it is to get out of one. But to say “here you’re a genre, you can’t play” and then “here you’re not, so have fun with your teaspoon while everyone else gets a backhoe” is not fair. And not right.

It hurts. And it’s wearing. I’m supposed to be professional and I’ll get there, but right now I’m just Heidi Cullinan, author and reader and very tired person. You know what, RWA? We write damn good stories. We work very hard. Do we have some stinkers in our midst? Oh yeah. And you know what? So do the m/f books, and you know it. You know what, judges of RWI who are uncomfortable reading about same-sex relationships? I’m uncomfortable with you judging my work like that without reading it. I’m uncomfortable with you pasting RWA on yourself and then saying, with RWA national’s blessing, that you don’t want to read that gay stuff.

What LGBT romance needs are more readers. What we need is exposure and opportunity. We aren’t asking for special treatment, and believe it or not, we aren’t even asking for a genre label. Yeah, it’s hell competing against the full press in the RITAs, but we’re okay with doing it. In fact, we’d rather. We’re willing to work. We’re willing to throw ourselves at the walls of ignorance and nose-wrinkling and discomfort because boys and boys and girls and girls are kissing and wearing each other’s clothes and revealing they’re gender queer. Yeah, we’re in our ghetto alleys, but we are here and determined and ready to work to show you how much we have to bring to the table. And we’re ready to do it over and over and over until people listen.

So give us a chance, eh? You’re “uncomfortable” with our pairings? We’ll work hard to change your mind. But you have to work too. You have to let us play. You have to admit you’re taking our dues and calling us full members, and you need to treat us like them. You need to not hang “no gays” signs on your contest windows. And if you do, you need to be called out on it.

Are you an author of LGBT romances? Are you a reader of them? Are you an advocate of LGBT rights? Please write to RWI’s contest coordinator (jackie.rwimagic@netscape.com). Please write to RWA. Please don’t yell and throw glass. You can be hurt, but please be civil. One little pebble thrown becomes an excuse to call us the bullies. And you know? I don’t even think RWA or RWI are the bullies. I think they’re not thinking. I think they’re thinking of themselves and keeping things quiet and easy. I think they don’t think for one second saying “no gays” is the same as hanging “whites only” over a toilet.

If you know that’s exactly what it is like I do, tell them. Politely. Firmly. Over and over and over again.

RWI, RWA: Let same-sex entries into your contest. Change your policies. Don’t discriminate.

Please.

293 thoughts on “RWA Shouldn’t Be in the Business of Discrimination

  1. Very well written post, Heidi. You highlight several excellent points and I share your heavy, tired, and hurt feeling.

    You also hit a sore nerve with me with this one: “You have to admit you’re taking our dues and calling us full members, and you need to treat us like them..”

  2. Benefits of membership should be equal. one would presume that includes contest entries. If the judges are uncomfortable reading the entries, then reach out and find judges who aren’t. I mean, what else aren’t they comfortable with? Interracial couples? Oral sex? If you can’t distance yourself and your personal preferences from the equation, you have no business being a judge. Judging is supposed to be impartial, isn’t it?

  3. I have to say I quit RWA because of their lack of acceptance. It hasn’t hurt my career at all.

  4. Brava! well done and I will proudly re-post.

  5. Great job, Madame Pres. Here’s the message I sent:

    Dear RWA,

    I’m a proud member of your organization. You are helping me become a better and, I hope one day, a published romance writer. You have fought the fight for all of us who love romance, pointing out what a vital, valid and, most important, money-making part of the book industry romance is. You have a chapter for your members who write LGBT romance, where we can encourage each other in our writing and in the special battles we have to fight against discrimination, like our books only being printed as e-books.

    We all write LGBT for a lot of reasons. We are LGBT. Our loved ones and friends are. We believe that by writing about LGBT romance as if it’s like any romance, which it is, the fact will one day be reality in our society. If our stories belong in any category, it’s simply the category we’re actually writing: historical, paranormal, sci-fi, suspense, etc.

    That’s why I hope you’ll reconsider your decision to let RWA chapters exclude same-sex romances from their contests. It’s discrimination. You know this. Your own statements define a romance as being between two individuals. Our Rainbow Writers RWA Chapter President Heidi Cullinan has written a persuasive column on this issue at http://heidicullinan.wordpress.com/. So has member Kari Gregg, http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4366316.Kari_Gregg/blog.

    Until you fought the good fight for romance, women hid their “bodice-ripper” covers in shame. Now, thanks to you, they know to proudly tell detractors, “You love books? The buying power of romance readers is keeping book publishing alive. Look it up.” Please, please do the same for LGBT romance. We’re just romance by another name.

    Thank you.

    Lisa Reuter
    Member No. —-

  6. I think you have a strong point. I’m not gay and although I’m an author I don’t write LGBT. Someone close to me is gay and when we talked it was pointed out to me that when they were growing up there weren’t many positive role models. It got me to thinking. When I started writing my latest release, Daughter of Deceit, I had her best friend as gay. The story is set in a Regency Romance. When I sent it out, no takers at all. Usually even when I get rejected it doesn’t come nearly as quickly and without a reason…so I published it as an Indie. Even with a secondary character, there is a bias. It will change, but it will take effort. I’ll send in a letter myself for you. RWA should understand the need for change.

  7. I am strictly a reader/reviewer and until the last couple of years I hadn’t read same sex romances. I will tell you some of the best I have read have been by Lee Brazil.

    To me a good story doesn’t matter what the sex of the main characters is, just whether or not the story is told well – was there an emotional connection between the characters, etc. I amy be straight but I will tell you some of these books I’ve read are very hot and I enjoy them.

    I think it is so wrong to discriminate just based on the fact that they don’t agree with the concept. I actually saw a review someone gave a book with a menage that was a very low review because the 2 guys got together and she said “it just wasn’t her thing”.

  8. *adds my applause to Vic’s*
    Beautiful! Passionate! And dead on! I agree 100%. The fee paid to get into RWA isn’t cheap. It’s not unachievable, but it’s my water bill or my phone bill or…You get the idea. If I’m paying my money to be part of “The Cool Crowd”, then what I write, and what I read, should be counted just as strongly as anyone else’s work. No two people in this world are alike…they don’t think alike, they don’t have the same tastes. If you choose to ban one specific thing this time, what is to stop it from becoming two, or three, or all things because no one can agree. Judging should be an impartial business…but this looks like some have forgotten that point.

  9. I echo Lee Brazil’s’ sentiments. All contests should be open to all members, period. Get new judges. But what is most appalling for me about this is that it’s practically censorship…among writers!! How outrageous is that?? I write M/F but I have no wish to censor or discriminate against anyone. All writing should be acceptable. I am disappointed that RWA would take such a backward view toward legitimate writing. All genres should be entered into all contests. Have some integrity. Great post.

  10. I’m fuming, Heidi. I am not a member for just this reason. I write GBLT and I am not gay. It’s what I enjoy reading and what I enjoy writing. When I began asking other RWA members that were GBLT authors, about their experiences with membership, I began hearing horror stories of many that felt excluded or not taken seriously or just feeling flat out discriminated against.

    If I pay dues to an organization, I feel that I should be able to take part in any damn contest that any other dues paying member has access to. Lee’s right, let them find people who are “comfortable” reading and judging a work for what it is. Who the hell are these bigots to tell me what I can read, write or what contests I can enter? Stunning! I hope your column gets more readers than “Harry Potter”. It should be on billboards across America!

  11. I think it’s important to mention that some of us in the Rainbow Romance Chapter *are gay.* The RWI chapter is not only saying it’s uncomfortable with same-sex pairings, it’s saying it’s uncomfortable with *us*, and as a dues-paying member of RWA, that really, really pisses me off.

  12. Let the queer folk pay full freight and dump them in steerage. It’s the American way, isn’t it? Only SEVEN states of 50 have full marriage equality, and all 7 have groups of religious fanatics scheming to roll back those civil rights.

    So some members of RWA are “uncomfortable.” Aww, poor babies. Fifty years ago they were probably uncomfortable with interracial romance. Come to think of it, they probably still are. It’s no different from the attitude when I first found out, six-plus years ago, that same-sex love isn’t considered “real’ romance. They don’t seem to have any intention of changing, even though Harlequin has started sneaking teh gay in by the backdoor – pun intended – in the Carina m/m books.

    If RWA wants to kiss the asses of bigots, let them. I understand the RNA –Romance Novelists Association, based in the UK, does NOT discriminate, and I would be more than happy to help anyone who wants to see if those good folks are interested in a chapter here in the Colonies. http://www.rna-uk.org/

    RWA has been the big fish in the pond so long–and become so encrusted with ladies who are “uncomfortable” with diversity–that I think it’s high time people who don’t agree with this attitude start looking elsewhere. Yes, there’s a seat at the back of the bus, for which they charge full fare. I’m not about to sit in it.

    YES, local chapters are lovely, with wonderful people, etc etc etc. But until those wonderful people are willing to stand up against this kind of discrimination, they’re merely keeping the trouble-children quiet so the bus can drive on, business as usual.

    I have to ask, Heidi — do you really think the Rainbow chapter is doing any good at all? And I don’t count ghetto-status as progress.

    • Those who have established it have laid incredible groundwork. We’re doing our best, but it really is work done with a teaspoon. We’re always looking for more spoon-weilders.

      • I’m more the pickaxe from the outside kind of person. Until RWA is willing to grant equal rights, they’re not getting one penny from me. Once the money’s in their pocket, they have no incentive to change because those dues say m/m writers are willing to be second-class citizens..

      • I forwarded this to Nicki Richards the UK publisher of Total-e-bound and Laura Baumbach of MLR Press. Expect RWA will hear from them!

    • FYI — As soon as our Washington governor signs it into law, we’ll be the 8th state to welcome gay marriage. Both our Senate and House passed bills, but a referendum against it is brewing. Sigh.

      Has anyone informed Suz Brockmann she shouldn’t have written that Christmas book a few years ago centered around gay FBI agent Jule’s wedding?

      I’ve written secondary characters gay/lesbian characters — including a mention of two lesbians in One Summer — who’ve gone to Canada or another state and gotten married, but although I don’t write gay or lesbian romances, I can’t understand why wolves, dragons, vampires, zombies, aliens, and other things that go bump in the night are okay. But love between two humans of the same gender isn’t a “romance.”

      I’ve been a member of RWA since 1982 and love much about the organization, but occasionally it can get a little sidetracked from what I suspect most members see as its main mission.

      • JoAnn, thank you so much for your comment. I saw your name and that you were supportive and it was like a huge hug.

      • Hey, Suzanne Brockman is a WONDERFUL person and writer and I know her personally. She laid the groundwork for writers like me who are trying to get novels published in other genres (YA urban fantasy personally) and have a gay character as the main character. She is a hero and needs to be celebrated as one. Also, The Literary Group International, The Blair Partnership and The Park Literary Group, LLC are all reading my novel and it features two gay couples (the main character and his boyfriend and a secondary character and her girlfriend). It’s because of authors like Suz that I’m able to have such big name agencies look at my novel and consider it for representation.

  13. How depressing that being uncomfortable is a reason to discriminate.

  14. It’s so hard to believe they can get away with this. I will write a letter saying “see, this is the reason I’m not an RWA member,” because they don’t even try to hide their homophobia. They’re uncomfortable? Well, I find m/f romance “uncomfortable” but no one expects my discomfort to make any difference, least of all me. Let them find some judges to judge the m/m stuff who are not uncomfortable. It shouldn’t be difficult.

  15. Not to belabor the point, but it isn’t just m/m that’s affected here. It’s all the letters in the GLBTQ spectrum.

    • Yes, Stacia. Absolutely. F/F needs a higher profile, and trans/queer romances to my knowledge have almost no current publisher/organization going to bat exclusively for that part of the soup. Again, I don’t think the answer is a special category. But if we’re going to be specially singled out for discrimination, we’ll never get anywhere.

  16. Unreal that they would take this stance. Don’t they know that LGBT is growing by leaps and bounds? Well written post. You’re right, there is crap on both sides but to discriminate against one genre because you are “uncomfortable?” RIDICULOUS.

    Another reason why I don’t think RWA is worth the money. :/

    • I think you’re hitting on why this is so depressing for me. I’ve spent the better part of a month trying to rally my chapter and saying that we can do this, that we matter, that RWA will take us seriously. Now I feel rather like a tired fool. I wish I were wrong.

      I’m hoping next week is a new week and I’ve got all my Pollyanna glow back on, but, yeah.

      • I’m hoping Pollyanna returns and keeps on fighting. One thing that worries me – if heaps of us exit RWA, then we’re no longer RRW chapter members, either – and how can we fight it from outside? A few brave people (I wasn’t part of it at the time) put in a lot of effort to create this chapter within RWA. I hope we can stay strong.

      • ((((Heidi)))) Not a RWA member nor a writer BUT a reader and I am so proud the Rainbow Chapter opened. Keep up the good work. Sometimes things like this happen so we have the opportunity to show them how wrong headed they are. As you say, “they are not thinking”. People need to not only ask “How do I feel ?” but also ask “How does my decision effect others?” They obviously didn’t carry the thought process through.

        I’ll be assisting any way I can to help them see the wrong headedness of their decision to exclude LGBTQ stories.

  17. RWA and RWI’s support of discrimination is shameful and disgusting.
    To legitimize the discrimination by citing some members were “uncomfortable” is to state those “some members'” opinions not only outweigh any other member’s opinion, but dictate the direction the organizations’ leadership lead. In this case, it appears that direction is into the cesspool of segregation.

    Leadership requires the courage to sometimes lead where others may not be ready to go. At those times, a real leader then needs to become an educator, or step aside and hand the reins to someone up to the task.

  18. I stood up and applauded because it was all that I could do at the time because I was so angry.

    There was a time in this country when people were “uncomfortable” with Native Americans and so they were forced onto a reservation. Then the time came when people were “uncomfortable” with blacks and so they were enslaved. When those blacks were emancipated, there were some people who were “uncomfortable” with sharing the same water fountains and bathrooms and counters with them. Interracial relationships made people uncomfortable so it was illegal. The schools being integrated made people uncomfortable.

    This country has endured protests, lynchings, violence and riots because people felt “uncomfortable” with something that was “different.” Some ultra conservative, some racist, some bigoted person felt “uncomfortable” so people were denied their unalienable rights to love, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    I am an African American, transgender male homosexual and I am an author of GLBTQ romance. I didn’t join RWA because honestly, I didn’t see blacks in many mainstream romance novels as main characters, and I sure as hell didn’t see any gays in those positions. When I began to see authors sneaking them in I began to have some faith that maybe, just maybe, mainstream romance had recognized that there was nothing “wrong” or “disgusting” or “Immoral” about gay romance. Romance is just romance. Plain and simple. End of story.

    To say that *romance* makes “romance writers” uncomfortable not only baffles my mind, it breaks my heart, because it’s just like *people* saying that other “people” make them uncomfortable.

    The RWA shouldn’t just feel ashamed, they should feel as if they have committed an egregious error not just against members of the GLBTQ community but against all romance readers and people in general.

    Bigotry, discrimination, homophobia in any form is not to be tolerated from anyone. -End of Rant-

    • I’m not a writer, just a reader of any well written GLBTQ romance I can get my hands on.. I’m a straight black woman with many gay friends and some gay family. I’ve been reading all these comments about this issue and was totally going to say something similar about discrimination and not giving up. You said it way better than what I was going to come up with.

      Don’t give up the fight please, whether it be for equal rights in this organization or equal right to marry or whatever it may be. Every issue is important and there are tons of people who think so. Maybe even start a petition…I’d sign it in a heartbeat.

  19. Hi, Heidi!

    I read this with a sinking heart. It sometimes does feel like we’re trying to dig out way out of an avalanche with a fork.

    I applaud this post, and I went to the RWA e-mail and responded, politely. Which was difficult for me, given that I wanted to sling arrows. Anyway, thank you for bringing this to my attention. With your permission, I’d like to post a link at my LJ.

    Diana Copland

  20. I was going to enter the MTM contest until I saw the line about it not accepting same sex entries.

    I won’t enter now.

    I write straight, rather traditional romances, but I love to read good writing. Many of my favorite stories are same-sex romances. Good writing is good writing. There’s no point in entering a contest that descriminates. It’s simply unfair.

    • Thank you, Julie. You just made my day. :)

    • Me too, Julie. I was excited to find another contest for published writers. And then I saw that line. I read it three times to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.

      I’m a huge reader of same-sex romances (love m/m, actually), and I’ve written any number of gay or bi characters. Seeing that prohibition actually made me breathless in that moment. Hearing it’s there because some members are “uncomfortable” makes me sad and just, gobsmacked, really.

      I’m thinking I’d like to join RRW even though that’s not what I primarily write – would that be ok? I’ve got a spoon and I’m not afraid to use it.

  21. I don’t get this uncomfortable thing. Are they saying their judges are uncomfortable? Then get different judges, or at least find a few that aren’t uncomfortable, that have read same sex romances before, trust me there are a lot out there.

    It’s straight up bullshit, is what it is.

    • Perhaps more readers of GLBTQ romances should send their contact information to the contest coordinator(s), volunteering to act as judges. It’s probably too late for this year, but it might help in the future.

      • I just read through some of the info closely, and .. that’s the OKLAHOMA chapter. They aren’t likely to want judges who’d be comfortable with same-sex romance.

  22. RWA should understand the need for change.

    This is the reason why I am no longer a member of RWA. They don’t understand the need for change. And until people and their money leave it in droves, RWA won’t change.
    I had 3 books published last year.
    Without being a member of RWA.

    I don’t read LGBT, but I will stand with you to fight for its right to be pubbed and recognized.
    cmr

  23. just sent this:

    Hi!

    My first romance, Ransom, was published in 2006 with a small indie publisher. I reached PA-eligible status just before you moved the goalposts — you remember, when writers of gay romance started qualifying. A year later, I qualified under your NEW terms.

    But I didn’t join. Because I did not condone RWA’s policy of expecting writers of GLBT fiction to pay full price for second-rate privileges.

    And you are still at it.

    Because the idea of recognizing human rights — the right to love — makes some of your members “uncomfortable.”

    Well, ladies, bigotry makes me more than “uncomfortable.” It makes me angry. And I suppose you’d rather writers of GLBT fiction stayed away, because then you could maintain your homophobic homogeneity.

    I keep hearing from friends in RWA how accepting their local chapters are. I just wish those local chapters would get politically active and oust the bigots who are still in denial that love is love. Because… doesn’t it make anyone “uncomfortable” to know that you are discriminating against good writers–when your stated purpose is to help writers?

    Sometimes a little discomfort is a necessary part of change. It ain’t 1950 anymore, girls.

  24. So the only kind of writing they’ll acknowledge from a gay romance author is their name on the front of a check to the RWA. Yeah….no thanks.

  25. This depresses me because I write not only straight romance, but MM and FF also. I’m writing and publishing more FF romance this year because it sells so well and many readers had expressed interested in reading FF romance.

    The romance literature I read shows that love shows no bounds regardless if the couple who loves and is dedicated to each other is the same gender or not.

    I turn my back on RWA and their “uncomfortable” discrimination and will use my $85 dues elsewhere.

  26. Doing the slow clap for you. Discrimination is discrimination. RWI and RWA should be ashamed.

  27. Reblogged this on Avery Flynn and commented:
    Discrimination is discrimination. RWA and RWI should be ashamed. Please write to RWI’s contest coordinator (jackie.rwimagic@netscape.com). Please write to RWA at info@rwa.org . Urge them not to discriminate against same-sex entries in contests; to change their policies and not to discriminate.

  28. Interesting to read this when I am already considering not renewing my RWA membership in a couple of months.

    Very well stated Heidi. I despise censorship and discrimination in any form.

  29. It’s hard when the organizations who are supposed to provide support and opportunity turn their backs on you. “Oh, yes, you can join the country club, pay your dues like a good little author. Just don’t dare show your face on the golf course. We can’t have that. People might be UNCOMFORTABLE.”

    Jerks.

    • This is very true–it is a Country Club mentality in the RWA. They love the average member’s dues, but they don’t want to invite them to the “party”. I say (in this day and age of bad economy) save your money budding romance writers–forget joining the RWA. When their numbers dwindle to nothing, perhaps they’ll change their elitist attitudes.

  30. As a former president of a local RWA chapter, I don’t really miss the national organization much. I miss the nice people in the local group, but no, the national group was biased first against e-pubs, small press, erotica writers and now we see stuff this… Doesn’t surprise me in the least, but they just tick me off with stunts like this. Sigh!

    Keep up the good fight and continue to sponsor your own same-sex romance contests. When a winner’s same-sex romance book makes onto the NY Times bestseller list, maybe the rest of RWA will wake up and get on board.

    Cynthianna/Celine Chatillon
    http://www.cynthianna.com
    http://www.celinechatillon.com

  31. Wow, this just boggles the mind and pisses me off no end. They are uncomfortable? Get new judges and don’t cater to the asshats!

  32. It’s great that you are speaking up on this. RWA should come out with a blanket LGBT anti-discrimination policy that forbids this sort of bigoted exclusion.

  33. Amen, Heidi. You are my heroine, through and through, for these thoughtful comments. Nobody should have to live in the shadows, and the only way we can make that known is by “using our feet” and walking away. I write erotica, and we also continue to face the same kinds of attitudes, though certainly not as pronounced as this. We just all need to keep putting voices on our sadness over these close-minded viewpoints. brava, my sister; I stand with you.

    • I remember when erotica and inspirational both bloomed in the early 00s. They were neck and neck for the highest subgenre sales. Guess who got (and still has) a subgenre in the RITAs? Guess who didn’t?

      Thanks for the support. And fwiw, you’ve got it right back.

  34. As Stacia said, I just paid my annual dues and guess what? I’m not straight. This sucks major and it makes me really said to know that no matter how hard I work for my local chapter and how well I write RWA and certain chapters won’t recognize it. Some serious food for thought. Thank you for posting this, Heidi.

  35. I wonder if a petition on The Petition Site would be worth doing? Not a very long petition… just “Discrimination Against LGBT Romance Makes Me UNCOMFORTABLE!” I’ll bet we could scare up a lot of signatures between Facebook, Tweeting, and Goodreads.

    • Worth a shot. If you want to spearhead it, I’ll support it. This has certainly sparked a bit of interest. I can’t keep up with my comment replies, and I know I’m not the only place with conversation.

      • I’d rather promote something started by an RWA member – which I am not and never have been. I think it’d have more impact from a member. Ideally, someone who’s going to RWA and could hand over a pile of signatures…

  36. I’m not LGBT. I am a member of RWA. And you know what, I’m gonna stay a member, because someone needs to fight from the inside. Discrimination is unacceptable in our organization and I, along with a lot of other commenters, are, and must be, willing to say so. We CAN affect the change. Yes, it will be a long difficult battle, but worth every tear.
    Today I will be writing to RWA, RWI and I will be joining the Rainbow Romance Writers chapter.
    Thanks for bringing this issue to light (again.)

    • I got your notice for this and your membership app while I was out to dinner. I forgot to sit down for a moment. Thanks. :) You rock.

  37. Thank you for this post.

    The situation sucks. All I can think of to say is that it is RWA’s loss. We (meaning non-straights) will get there eventually.

    I’m not joining RWA, and others who don’t join or who decide to quit should state the reason why. If enough people drop out, RWA will have to reconsider.

  38. I considered letting my membership lapse because of their stance on ebooks, now I know it’s time to leave. RWA does not represent me. I’ll spend my dues on LGBT books.

  39. Heidi,
    Is there a way we (RWA-affiliated or not) can help support the RRW in this? Something like a petition to show our support that can be funneled through the RRW chapter on up to the RWA board?

    My concern is a sudden influx of emails to the head could easily be ignored simply because the person checking that inbox gets overwhelmed.

    ~xxx~

    • They’re sending out a canned letter in response. Pretty fast, too — just over an hour. It’s going to be the same response technique they always use — parrot the party line, refuse to address the issue, and assure everyone that they ARE looking out for “our” interests. Rubbish.

      • They probably already put a filter in place. “If the subject or body contains these keywords, mark as read, send canned reply, and file.” Meaning, even less likelihood of being taken seriously.

        ~xxx~

  40. Wonderful post on the subject. Sorry my love makes ‘em “uncomfortable”. Queen Victoria’s back and badder than ever!

    (Bonus points for bi shout-out. Word <3)

  41. This is why I haven’t even tried to enter the romance game. Sigh.

  42. As a straight author of erotic MF and MMF romances, I’ve felt discrimination in contests where frank language and explicit sex scenes leave a good many judges “uncomfortable”. There seems to be no way around it, as judges evaluate books from their own perspective–other than having separate categories for erotic, GLBT, etc. I’m not in favor of adding more categories, particularly at the level of the RITA, as it tends to dilute the value of a prize when all entries fall into one narrow niche and the number of prizes is increased, sometimes exponentially.

    That said, it’s not right that an author or publisher can’t enter any book that qualifies as a romance in one of the existing categories of any contest, without regard for the genders of the protagonists. On the other hand, it’s realistic to doubt that one’s well-written erotic or GLBT book will final in a contest that lacks a specific category for such books. It’s human nature that judges will consciously or unconsciously bring their own feelings into play if there are sexual situations/activities that fall outside their personal beliefs about what is acceptable.

    I will be writing RWA with my objection to allowing chapter contests to systematically eliminate books with GLBT protagonists.

  43. Maybe they should start being uncomfortable with some of the things that are being published in the romance industry instead of being narrow-minded and prejudiced.

    Because I for one totally don’t want to see another “OMG, he raped me and now he loves me and I’m falling for him and pregnant with his baby” storyline. But, I don’t complain about it because each to their own, and they don’t complain about it because it is a heteronormative fantasy.

    Another idea, instead of closing themselves to a market (which is just silly. What publishing house wants to downsize?) they should hire someone *comfortable* handling those submissions.

    But who am I to make those suggestions?

  44. I had planned to join RWA in the spring, and you know what? I still plan to. I think Amy Denim said what I feel in her reply above. I will add my voice to the list and fight from the inside.

    Heidi, don’t give up. We need people like you too much.

  45. I’m not a writer of romance, LGBT or otherwise, but I just think this stinks. In this day and age, the fact that a section of stories are being disallowed from competing in a competition just because of the sexual orientation of one (or more) characters is baffling.

    And the reason that some judges would feel “uncomfortable” is just stupid. If some of the judges feel that way, then surely they shouldn’t be judging the contest in the first place. Perhaps those judging should be folk who are more ‘open-minded’ about things.

    I’m going to email RWA tomorrow (it’s getting late here in the UK as I type this). Not as a writer or reader of LGBT romances, but as someone who read your post and thought “WTF?”

    I hope the RWA change their policy soon.

  46. Well said, Heidi.
    RWA seems to ask for much and give very little in return. My very first erotic romance story featured a vampire and ghost, and it was a lesbian tale. Because it was e-pubbed, erotic, and worst of all f/f, it was very apparent to me from the outset that RWA was unlikely to welcome someone who wrote such fare with the same open arms as authors of more traditional romance. This, in turn, prevented me from becoming a member at the time (in addition to many of the clauses in the RWA bylaws which struck me as unreasonably restrictive). Now, one year and seven works later, including one m/m and another f/f coming in less than two weeks, I’m still seeing the same biases in play. And this time, it’s more overt, more open, and couched in terms that seem to indicate they would be genuinely surprised if anyone had the nerve to call them on it simply because it’s officially sanctioned.
    RWA needs to get with the times and recognize the realities of the current state of the romance genre, regardless of whether or not those realities make them “uncomfortable.” Until they do, and every author can expect the same voice for the dues they pay, they won’t see a penny of my money. For those who stay and soldier on, I wish you luck. For those who don’t, I don’t blame you a bit.

    Best,

    J.S. Wayne

  47. I can understand a contest having guidelines for submissions, such as “Must be under 5k words” or “Must have a HEA” or “Must have a contemporary setting with no paranormal elements.” In such cases, I wouldn’t feel like there was discrimination going on.

    But this stinks. The link does not work, so I wasn’t able to check out the rules myself.

    My writing sometimes has hetero relationships, sometimes non-hetero. Sometimes it’s Sci-Fi, sometimes not. Sometimes there is a Christian element. Almost always, it ends up excluding someone.

    I was recently invited to a triberr for SciFi + Christian writing. I was eager, then the subject of LGBT came up. The leaders of the tribe were very polite, but said they’d have to make sure they were ONLY sharing the posts without any “offensive” material!

    I’m sure whether I’ll go back to the triberr… but I have the same problem sometimes when I have a story with Christian themes. For some people, it’s the religion that is offensive.

    I wonder what kind of backlash RWA would have if they said “No spiritual elements” in submissions?

  48. Good for you to stand up for what you believe in.

  49. I find these kind of things all running together, such as the gay marriage debate in the US. If someone said no, “no blacks marrying whites” everyone would say “no, no, that’s not nice” but that was what was said not that many years ago. People agreed with it. (Some probably still do, but that’s another story.) What if some judges were uncomfortable reading about interracial? Would they ban it? No, because it’s become un-PC to be racist, however anti-LGBT is still considered okay, you can get away with that and people won’t look at you in shock and outrage. Yet. I keep hoping it will change.

  50. I write both lgbt and het romance and generally ignore all the drama in the publishing and RWA world. This is just another sad footnote on the way to finding our equal niche as authors. Oddly, my juried contest wins have generally been for my m/m romance.

    My RWA membership just expired and I’d decided not to renew and this is as good a reason as any. If their judges are “uncomfortable” they need to put out a call for judges outside their chapter. I’ve done it in the past and would gladly judge again. I’ll offer to judge that particular contest…for what its worth.

    But the “discomfort” isn’t limited to RWA, I bought an ad in RT magazine last year and was surprised that they’d advertise my m/m romance, but not review it, in spite of the fact that purchasing the ad “guaranteed” a review.

    I don’t have any answers…not even suggestions. All I can think is that we have to take it one step at a time, even if we have to take that step over and over again. I’ll write my letters tonight. I’ll send my RWA letter via snailmail, that way someone will have to open it and read it. And I’ll keep writing the best I possibly can.

  51. Unfortunately I believe RWA is a private organization and thus can make their own rules. It’s not right but a few things have to change before LGBT authors get taken seriously.

    1. Ignore the literary. They’re boring and old anyway . Romance is about trust and that trust doesn’t discriminate, especially in romance.
    2. Ride the turbulent wave of publishing and make sure you guide the new authors in with help, time allowing. There is so much crap out there and it’s flooding the market. Too much of that in an already up hill battle will only hurt your cause. I know a few good GLBT authors and will back them the best I can. But they’re fantastic writers and are willing to grow.
    3. Knock off the damn labels. Look outside the box. How many of you write GLBT for the sake of doing it? How many of you write because it’s a genre you’re passionate about AND intend to make money in? If you’re closer to the latter, great. But what I’m saying is what else is going on in your novels? Most people will stop caring about the GLBT thing if they buy a damn good story.

    Fight smart, not hard.

    Best of success to you and your fellow GLBT authors.

  52. It’s okay to be tired, Heidi. One foot in front of the other. Well done.

  53. I remember hearing about my family facing that terrible sign ” Irish Need Not Apply “, of course this was in the old country. We are not in that OLD Country now–are we. Do not wave those “DO NOTs” at us , Please. Annette (Irishlass)

  54. I agree totally with Vivi Anna – get different judges who are more open minded.

    Their decision makes me feel uncomfortable…

  55. Pingback: Heidi Cullinan ~ Discusses RWA | The Naughty Bits

  56. Ditched RWA in 1999 because of their attitude toward epubs.
    Nothing much has changed since.
    It wasn’t a difficult decision either. I didn’t have anything local (I’m in the UK) so there was no chapter involved. I paid horrendous postage on RWR (mandatory) which was out of date the moment it was printed.
    I just asked myself “What do I get for my money” and came up with a big fat “Nothing, and a kick in the teeth.”
    I was sick of supporting the “Elite” who are the only ones getting something out of the membership (or so it appears, at least.), and who then proceeded to sneer at those “lowly epubs”. (Not all, but a lot of them did.)
    I’ve just signed my 4th contract, and RWA had absolutely nothing to do with it, whatsoever.
    If you have a local chapter you’re a member of, you do have some benefit, but if you don’t…
    You can still enter those contests without being an RWA member.
    I didn’t miss it.

  57. Dearest Heidi:

    I applaud your courage for standing up and saying something. But isn’t this just more of the same “no gays” rhetoric infecting our country? The government can take our taxes but we don’t have the same civil rights as straight married couples. What? So RWA can take member dues but not have same-sex entries and evade the issue by saying the decision lies in local chapters? Wow. I’m incensed by that but it also makes me glad I’m not a member.

  58. Eloquent as always, Heidi. Thanks for making sure this issue gets noticed.

  59. I am a reader; I’ve always read romance books. I didn’t even know there was any other kind other then M/F. I was given a Kindle and a gift card and while I was browsing through for books not looking in any particular genre and ended up finding Cut & Run and let’s just say I was hooked I bought all of the C&R series after reading the first book. Over the last year I have read several (over 90 shhh don’t tell my hubby where I’m spending all his money) M/M books and there is A LOT of good ones (special delivery my all time favorite), there are also a lot that weren’t so good but that’s the same with any genre. You LGBT writers are doing a DAMN good job!!!!!!! Keep it up and I promise to keep buying!!! Your hard work does not go unnoticed.

  60. Pingback: Romances by Bren Christopher

  61. Pingback: Sharing a post by Heidi Cullinan | Romances by Bren Christopher

  62. Well written post Heidi. I applaud you standing up. It’s simply unacceptable of RWA.

  63. How very sad, for everyone. Over the years, I’ve thought seriously about spending the bucks and signing up with RWA or RWI, but inside I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, my work would never be accepted. I write lovely sexy gay stories/books about men who love each other or who fall in love in the story. They argue and complain and make up by having sex, just like the rest of the world. How very sad they’ve been relegated to the back of the bus, just like another group of lovely people were not so very long ago. Or, perhaps they’ve been denied the vote, like another section of our race. Must one section of society always make up the rules because they feel ‘uncomfortable’ with the lights on?

    I’m not going to rant. I’m going to try to pull myself together and write a nice letter to those bigots. I shall praise all of the writers who simply want to share the stories of their characters, be they gay, bi, lesbian or straight.

    Hugs
    Jude

  64. Lots of applause from me too.

    Romance Writers of America: We write romance!

  65. I’m feeling so sad. When are people going to get that discrimination of any sort is just plain wrong? Thank you for this beautiful, rational, well-written post. Maybe it will stir enough people to protest and perhaps get it reversed.

  66. I was a founding member of Passionate Ink. It was a long process that they tried to block in every way. In 2008, I was told I was lucky to be in PAN because I was not really a writer. Granted, I had over 20 releases (in less than four years of publication) and was making five figures a year. Because I wrote erotic romance and was only pubbed in ebook, my “fake” earnings made less of an impression than a newbie Harlequin author with their 2500 dollar advance. I knew then, I was done. I hated to leave, but I have to say that I have not missed it.
    They have been discriminatory against anyone who isn’t writing the status quo. So sorry that you all are going through this.

  67. Found this through Twitter and it makes my blood boil. I’m straight, have written over 50 m/f romances over the years, but have friends of all persuasions and value them equally.The comment, “We believe that by writing about LGBT romance as if it’s like any romance, which it is, the fact will one day be reality in our society” gets to the crux of the fear – of the “other” taking over. Australia had it with the “white Australia policy” for years, still has it with the debate over “boat people” – yet I’m one, having arrived by ship as a migrant. And it[s still going with debates over aboriginal sovereignty which I strongly support, and gay marriage. I guess prejudice and fear of the other is human nature, but I hate to see it being entrenched by RW America. That’s one less membership for me to renew when it comes up.

  68. Applauds and whistles! Amen, Sistah!!

    Wonderful wonderful post, Heidi! Thank you for standing up to this. It’s wrong and they know it is.

  69. You know, gays are so accustomed to this sort of treatment that it is really nice to have straight allies that can step up and say ‘no way’. Thank you.

    ~smooches~

  70. We had a guest speaker at a chapter event, who mentioned being uncomfortable as they were getting same-sex subs to their contest. I suggested guest judges to her. Her face made me sad. Several in our group write (and are successful) in writing same-sex romance. Little did I know my 1st sale, would be on a same-sex romance. (2-6-Squee)

    To those that ask me about my book, I say it’s about heroes.

    Excellent post and I will be contacting both RWA and RWI.

    Thanks for bringing this to light.

    D. Dye

  71. Letter written and sent. Thanks for fighting the good fight Heidi. You are one of my heroes. :)

    Dear RWA,
    I am very disappointed to find that the More Than Magic contest hosted by the Romance Writers Ink Chapter of RWA will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category. This discriminatory behavior seems out of place in a genre where love rules the day. Are same-sex relationships not considered romantic enough?
    This action seems disingenuous to the purpose stated on the Romance Writers Ink webpage. To quote: “The purpose of RWI is to promote excellence in romantic fiction, to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy, to provide a general basis of mentorship to any writer who is actively, and seriously striving to become published and thus establish a career in the romance genre, as well as to provide a camaraderie for writers within the romance publishing industry.”
    How does the exclusion of fictional same-sex romantic relationships promote excellence, advocacy, and mentor the writers who work so tirelessly on their craft? Are they lesser because they focus their writing skills on same-sex love and relationships?
    I sincerely hope this discriminatory policy is changed. It saddens me to think that, within an organization that champions romance, an entire population would be excluded.
    Sincerely,
    Jessica Lane
    Writer and Editor

  72. Just when you think you’ve gotten to take a step forward, someone shoves you back a few. I am very thankful to have an accepting local chapter (OCC) who is proud to count me and the other M/M authors as part of the group. This contest thing is like a burr under my saddle though. Definitely will contact RWA and voice my protest.

  73. This is nothing new from RWA. A few years back I was upset by their prejudice against e-pubs in their Golden Heart entry rules, PAN rules, who could and could not present workshops at National, etc. So at the next election (which just happened to coincide with my membership renewal), I voted with my feet, and instead of a check, I sent them a long list of reasons why I was not renewing.

    Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of reconsidering that decision, for the benefit of our authors who are interested in being with an “RWA approved” publisher. But this kind of thing makes me wonder what I was thinking. Who wants to be “approved” by an organization that repeatedly proves that they don’t share my personal and professional values and goals, and clearly has a very different mission?

    I respect the desire for RRW to want to fight for change from within. I understand the need for an organization and the goal of getting out of the “gheto.” But I’m not sure RWA’s the organization to help achieve that.

    Annie

  74. I don’t write same sex romance, but as a romance author I find RWA’s stance reprehensible. Unfortunately, more and more this organization proves it’s living in the past. Unless you’re NY pubbed and writing what they’re “comfortable” with, you’re treated as a second-class citizen. I haven’t renewed my membership, and after this, I’m more sure than ever they don’t deserve my money.

  75. The actions of the Board of the Romance Writers Ink Chapter are indefensible. I hope the members of the chapter demand that the Board reverse this decision.

    Heidi, thank you for speaking up about this.

  76. Pingback: RWA and same-sex romances | Jade Buchanan

  77. Heidi, I’d rewrite the title of your post to read “RWA Shouldn’t Be In Business.”

    For shit’s sake, I wish everybody would stop begging to be part of this anachronistic organization. GLBTQ persons and m/m romance readers and writers shouldn’t have to beg anybody for any damned thing. I say it’s time we started treating them like pariahs. And the best place to start is by refusing to throw money their way.

    • I agree. Every membership check is tacit approval of current policy. And that policy is to take the money and sequester anyone who is too ‘different’ and makes people ‘uncomfortable.’ Because as we all know,the comfort of bigots is the prime directive.

  78. This stuns and saddens me. I hope that the RWA will reverse their decision. I certainly didn’t pay my membership fee to help their discrimination.

  79. Pingback: An Open Letter To RWA « J.S. Wayne

  80. * One woman ovation over here*

  81. For the record, some GLBT fiction makes me uncomfortable. As a romance author, I write mostly F/M and dabble into F/F. That’s my comfort zone as a reader, so it’s no wonder that’s the extent of my writing. But I’m not an opponent to GLBT fiction. Quite the contrary, I’m an ally. While I may read little of it, I support it fully.

    This backward move by the RWA is not a surprise to me. They have always endorsed this stance, albeit in recent years, on the hush-hush. As a male romance author, I still suffer their discrimination for my gender. As an eBook author, I suffer their discrimination. As an indie-pubbed author, I suffer their discrimination… and they wonder why I won’t join!

    I wonder why they want me in the RWA? A token male? Or does it really come down to membership dues? I think the latter is more likely, but who knows. Maybe a bit of both.

    I realize my opposition to the RWA and their discrimination along several avenues, has closed some doors for me. That’s always the price of integrity. But discrimination in any regard is wrong.

    Now, this might piss some people off. I also feel its wrong for the GLBT community of authors to protest heterosexual award categories, but insist on homosexual award categories. That too is discrimination. If there is a Lesbian category, there should be a Gay and a Straight category. Etc.

    Anyway. Hopefully the RWA will reverse this decision, but it doesn’t end there. The problem is that its leadership will still secretly and resentfully prescribe to this notion. They might disguise it, as they have by finally endorsing several epublishers, when it comes to their belief epublishers are second class, but it with still be there as an undertone.

    • I see your point, but in a situation such as this, when ALL the categories are basically ‘heterosexual,’ I don’t see how you consider it discriminatory to ask that LGBT have a category of its own. And in any case, that wasn’t what people were asking — simply that the gender of the protagonists not be a bar to a story being considered in the competition.

      RWA won’t reverse this. This is the Oklahoma chapter, red-state mentality all the way.

      • Well, thanks for bashing all of us in Oklahoma. Kind of unfair to make generalizations, isn’t it?

        • Every state has progressives. But I look at the representatives that OK sends to Congress, and at the politics of its RWA chapter, and I cannot conclude that Oklahoma is a bastion of liberal/progressive equality. I’m not “bashing” anybody. I’m saying that OK does not have a good record on civil rights for GLBT people. That is not slander, it is fact.

      • So you’re saying it’s not discriminatory for you to have “Homosexual Only Award” , but its discriminatory to have “Heterosexual Only Award” … interesting… I disagree with both… As it pertains to romance, The genres are all ready industry defined. There should be an award for the genres the RWA wishes to present awards to, and the books entered, shouldn’t be qualified or disqualified, based on the race, religion, gender, income status, or anything. A contemporary is a contemporary. A regency is a regency. Etc… And just because its an Oklahoma chapter, doesn’t mean they might not listen to reason. You’re showing your own discrimination here.

    • As a member of Rainbow Romance Writers, I will point out that RRW has purposely not asked for a GLBT category. We (the authors) want to fairly compete in every category available – paranormal, erotica, traditional, novella, etc. – along with all of the other stories submitted. In fact, several same-sex romance books have placed or won contests right along with m/f stories – including MTM, which this year, suddenly chooses to exclude same-sex stories.

      What we don’t want is to be discriminated against because our stories feature a same-sex relationship interests instead of ‘one man/one woman’.

  82. I’m a (straight) librarian at a mid-sized suburban public library, and I’m responsible for our romance collection. Last September, I talked my boss and our director into letting me add and promote LGBT romances as part of the collection. The LGBT titles get a slightly different spine label (a rainbow heart instead of a red one), but they’re intershelved with the rest of the romance collection. It’s just a small part of my main collection, but I’m really proud of it. I’m delighted when I see the titles go out.

    My biggest problem has been finding professional reviews (which is what I primarily use in selecting my straight romances)– I’ve been using awards and blog recommendations a lot to help me select my titles. I am so *deeply* disappointed to hear this sort of discrimination coming from RWA– this makes them one less source I can count on to help me do my job.

    You definitely have my support. As long as my little LGBT romance collection keeps circulating, I’m certainly going to keep buying!

  83. Pingback: Predatory Ethics - Pact Arcanum- by Author Arshad Ahsanuddin

    • I’m sure the series is interesting, but I was hoping your post would’ve been about the predatory ethics of taking dues and excluding stories, not a promo.

      • Sorry. This was a post on my own blog that I put up as part of another event. I don’t know how it ended up linked to the reply chain of this one. I certainly didn’t put it here, nor did I intend for it to be seen as squeezing promo into such an important discussion.

  84. Christ, is there no law in the USA that says that discrimination against minorities is illegal? Isn’t RWA doing something illegal here? I’m so glad I didn’t apply. I meant to, but now I won’t. I most certainly will write to them (and try to be polite).

    • No, they’re a private organization, they can set their own rules. We saw the same brouhahaha when Lambda Legal posted its ill-considered and thankfully short-lived rule that all Lammy contestants had to be queer in some way. It’s not illegal to set up a contest for a particular sort of story — say, detective stories — but it is certainly hypocritical to take a writer’s money and then bar them from competition.

    • As far as I’m aware, there is no federal law against GLBT discrimination. Gays are not considered a protected class in the United States. In most of the US, gays can be fired and/or denied housing or service just for being gay. There are some state and local anti-discrimination laws, but nothing national.

      (Not a lawyer, could be wrong)

      • From the EEOC’s guidelines:

        SEXUAL ORIENTATION
        Discrimination based on sexual orientation is directed at persons who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, who are perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender or who associate with persons who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. This may take the form of harassment or treatment that is different than that afforded similarly situated employees or applicants.

        To address sexual orientation discrimination, employees may contact an equal employment opportunity (EEO) counselor. Employees’ right to address sexual orientation discrimination derives from Agency policy, not from Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations which govern other types of discrimination complaints processing. If counseling does not lead to a resolution, complainants will be told in writing of their right to file a formal complaint and given the procedure for doing so. Following an EEO investigation, the

        Associate Commissioner for Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity makes the final Agency decision on the complaint. Unlike complaints based on other forms of discrimination, sexual orientation complainants do not have appeal rights to EEOC.

  85. this is disappointing and wrong. and there are ways to combat this type of censorship – 1. with your pocketbook and 2. with your voice. thank you for letting us know about this development at RWA and RWI.

  86. Pingback: Letter to RWI Contest About Their Discrimination « Muse Ampoule

  87. I think this strikes not just at writers of GLBT but also at those of us who write SFR (science fiction romance). Same gender societies and transgender characters have been part of speculative fiction since the late 19th century. According to this rule, I can’t have a protagonist from a hermaphroditic species.
    I write science-fiction with romantic elements. I’ve got a fictional world with women outnumbering men three to one. It follows logically that such a society will accept and even encourage same gender pairings. Several of my stories feature F/F/F/M quad, in keeping with the demographics of the society.

    • Eve, I also write SciFi romance with a society that encourages a variety of pairings and groups… I’d love to communicate with you if I can find a way to do so outside of this discussion. I tweet as US_Nessie and on google mail my address is USNessie

    • Sci Fi romance is my primary genre and I love the fact that I can throw away all the gender limitations in my worlds. One of the major heroic species in my two Coalition series are a species of hermaphrodite. I’m also got a m2f shapeshifter species in a WIP. This sort of mindset coming from RWA really acts to crush the imagination and creativity.

  88. For the sake of brevity, I’ll simply say that my experience of RWA is that in many ways they are and remain discriminatory [not in the good use of the word], and also remain basically dumb about the current and upcoming trends in romance. THAT IS THE REASON, I am no longer a member. Why get kicked around, ignored because I have chosen my career path and it doesn’t match their idea of a what a proper path is.

    While I personally do not write same-sex romance, not because I’m in any way against those love/sex stories, but because I simply don’t feel it as an author, and couldn’t write an authentic story for the reader. To be honest, given it’s a hot trend, I’d write a manlove story if I could.

    I write paranormal erotic romance/erotic romance menage. I don’t care about a NY contract, or an agent. I prefer being with a good small publisher, and now I’m an Indie author as well, which makes me a black sheep in some people’s book.

  89. Thankyou for your thoughtful blog post and update on the situation Heidi. I am sorry that this discrimination is happening. I thought I would share this lovely video made by an activitist organisation here in Australia in support of same sex marriage. It is a love story without words….
    http://www.getup.org.au/lovestory?t=dXNlcmlkPTc0MDc0LGVtYWlsaWQ9NDgy

    Maybe sharing this link shows people what it is we are on about?

  90. What I have to wonder is what we a GLBT author is “uncomfortable” reading a M/F book? Do they then have to step down as a judge?

    And….don’t these people realize that some of the people they are dissing just might have money to spend on those same “uncomfortable” authors’ books that they won’t be spending now?

    I thought RWA was about romance and writing love stories. I didn’t realize love has rules like that.

  91. Well. This has put me right off joining RWA. I think I’ll stay with just membership to RWAustralia – where authors (and stories) are not discriminated against. Sure, we don’t have the comps or resources of RWA, but we don’t have the bias either. I’m straight, but I enjoy reading same sex stories as much as I enjoy m/f. In my humble opinion a bloody good story is a bloody good story.

  92. Finally the world in general is slowly coming to terms with the whole concept of discrimination. There will always be those who are more ‘comfortable’ holed up in their bunkers of belief. I do not care or give a flying F$%# what they think, until it affects others. Decisions like this banning (Please excuse the Australianism) are complete bullshit and should be told so in terms they understand. IF they looked at this banning from a commercial point of view I am quite sure opinions would change…..so much for belief. My 2 cents. Cheers to all. Bill :)

  93. A-f#cking-men!

    Well, said, Madame Prez! :)

  94. I wasn’t able to read all of the comments, but perhaps an all-out boycott of this particular contest by all RWA members of conscience is in order. I find. So same-sex stories make some of their members feel uncomfortable? Bigotry makes me feel uncomfortable.

  95. Not sure what those two extra disembodied words are doing in my post. Just scratch “I find.” The rest of the post is what I meant to say. I think I need to find my brain. :-/

  96. Just wanted to say good on you Heidi. Keep fighting the good fight.

  97. I’m not American, not gay, but I do write. To me a love story is just that. A Love. Story, be it same sex, same race, same whatever, it’s a story of two people( or three or four) falling in love. I read this and my jaw dropped, then I had some very uncharitable thoughts about the small minded people who decided this.
    I’ve been lucky, my first 2 novels are menage, set in Regency England, and published. I have three gay novels due out, and I have (reasonably) straight work published also. Why can these people dictate who can read what?
    Good luck in your fight, it needs to be won. No one forces anyone to read what we write, neither should anyone stop people having the opportunity to read it.

  98. I’m another writer of GLBT romance who isn’t an RWA member, partly because of their historically horrible attitude toward GLBT characters, and partly because of their more recently horrible attitude toward writers who are digitally published. I’ll be damned if I give money to an organization that spits on me twice.

    I have to say, this isn’t a surprise. How many years has it been — I don’t remember exactly, but not many, maybe five or six? — since RWA tried to officially define a romance as being between one man and one woman? Yeah, this isn’t new. And I also don’t buy that the folks perpetrating this crap don’t “understand” that it’s discrimination. Like hell they don’t. They get it, they mean it, and they fully intend to discriminate, unless the membership rises up and refuses to let them.

    Good people who are RWA members fought the people in charge and made them change the “one man and one woman” definition; clearly the problem isn’t with the RWA membership at large. It’s time for those same good people to force another change.

    I hope they do it. Fully recognizing a book that was successfully published in digital format would be a good next step. I’d be nice if RWA eventually became an organization I want to be a member of.

    Angie

  99. Thank you for bringing this to attention. I am not gay. I have a husband and live int he bible belt. I happen to love all sorts of books including LGBT books. A good portion of my paycheck goes to books in a year. I read about 650 last year. I’m not an author, but the statements above made by RWA or RWI leave me heartbroken for those friends of mine who are authors and any author really. What’s next? Are they going to start saying you can’t submit BDSM entries or interracial entries? I wrote an email to the address provided and hope that it helps. It’s wrong what they are doing and hate that for you and for everyone who is not able to participate. No one should be made to feel inferior and that is exactly what they are doing. A huge hug to you!!

  100. Great post and discussion, if depressing to me as a writer and reader of MM romance fiction.

    One of the strongest feelings that comes to me is that these policies will eventually strangle the RWA itself, not just the writers and readers of romance (in all its contexts). The RWA appears to be withdrawing from a representative body for the industry to a neighbourhood book club, run according to their personal likes. A poor decision for us all. Except the cosy members of the book club, of course.

    Maybe I’m naïve to think that all nationwide organisations can be run on professional terms. I certainly work in a business that has to be – and seen to be – responsive to legislation, anti-discrimination, anti-bullying, supportive of basic human rights for the employees and the people we deal with. Seems RWA doesn’t.

    I think they’re banging the nails into their own coffin. If nothing else, they are short-sighted, ignoring the needs of the expanding reading public (and their money), the growth of e-publishing, the wealth and range of new fiction. Unfortunately, I don’t expect to see the change come any time soon. But if they can’t see the dynamics for themselves, we’ll have to continue to tell them, working from both inside the organisation and also by showing the love for our work. Sometimes it feels like we’re just preaching to the choir.

    I can’t join RRW separately, can I? I seem to remember at one stage I wasn’t even welcome in RWA as a non-US writer, and I’m certainly not joining now. Can you create some kind of independent Ally membership?! :)

    Thanks, Heidi.
    Clare

  101. With you all the way, Heidi. RWA is utterly out of order. I’d like to think we are bit less prejudiced in the UK but I hesitate.

    • I’m a member of the UK’s Romantic Novelists Association, where writers of LGBT romance have been welcomed with open arms and the attitude that romance is romance no matter the genders of the participants. JL Merrow and I have even been asked to speak at their conference next year, so I would definitely say that as far as writers’ associations go, the RNA is a lot less prejudiced. I’m quite happy to give them my money!

  102. Thank you for this posting, and highlighting the issue.

    This is the letter I emailed.

    Dear RWA,
    Tonight I listened to a NRL football match (Australian National Ruby League) between the Indigenous All Stars and NRL All Stars. It is a game that celebrates our Indigenous Australians football abilities in the national arena of Rugby League. All of the players on both teams are current or past players at national level.
    Australia has, like most countries with an indigenous population, a history of discrimination against our indigenous people. We, as a nation are trying to right those wrongs, and change long standing attitudes. I don’t believe that it will finish in my lifetime, maybe not even my children’s lifetime, but I take hope when I see my children acknowledge that a friend has a different culture background than theirs, but beyond that pay no attention to those differences. The strongest comment I have heard from my fair-skinned children is a discussion on how their friend is lucky in having darker skin and consequently not getting sunburnt, but how he still needs to use sunscreen so that he doesn’t get melanomas.
    They (my children and their group of friends) also quite openly and frankly discuss health and weight, religion, politics, having red hair, and sexual preferences in the same manner; with understanding of differences, and the problems those differences might cause, or solve, and with a touch of humor.
    Differences in people exists, no one can deny nor stop that, but being different doesn’t require nor excuse discrimination.
    I note that in the More than Magic contest being held by the Romance Writers Ink Chapter of RWA does not accept same sex romances. Investigation revealed that some contest judges claimed being uncomfortable with same-sex relationships and thus the committee decided to ban all same-sex stories from their contest.
    I understand that it is the Chapter’s right to make the rules for their contest, but I fail to understand the logic since the rules also states
    OUR JUDGES:
    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.
    If the judges can tell the Chapter what “heat” level they prefer to read, can they not also indicate what sexual preference they are comfortable in reading? After all the contest rules state that this requirement means that the entrant’s books get into the hand of those who might give them the most favourable rating.
    Maybe it is the final judges who are uncomfortable with reading same-sex romances. But that seems to be against the requirements for being chosen as a final judge; namely someone who is known for their diversity in reading interests and enjoyment, sense of fair comparison across all categories and having a knowledge of the romance genre.
    So being uncomfortable with same sex relationships in romance cannot be the real reason for the contest rule, excluding a sub-genre from the contest.
    What ever the reason, the rule is discriminatory against a ‘class’ of people; both of writers who produce stories of same-sex couples, and of those who in real life have prefer same sex relationships.
    Whilst I enjoy watching a football game between our Indigenous players and non-indigenous players, whilst I see this as a celebration of different cultural backgrounds, I wish that one day this contest won’t be necessary as a healing process, but as a true celebration of the first culture of this country.
    And one day I hope that LGBT won’t be a sub-genre of Romance, or that a same-sex relationship won’t be something to be discussed as something different, but that both will be a difference, nothing more.
    Unfortunately, based on your contest’s rules, I fear this will be a long time coming.

    • Agreed. In the states Rugby is a bit of a “bastard child” We have American football and well, when your daughter plays rugby you realize that American football is for wimps.
      But to my point. In the states we have this huge far right conservative movement which is stifling our populace. We finally got rid of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. We have more and more people coming out of the closet and some states including New York allow same sex marriages.
      Oklahoma does not surprise me. They are sitting in the heart of the ultra conservative “Bible Belt”. What does surprise me is that RWA is tolerant of this level of prejudice. Less than 20 years ago, romance was called “Bodice Rippers” by those who did not read it. Rape was part of the plot line and the rapist was the hero.l UGH! Now, they are rejecting same sex consenting adult content based on “I’m uncomfortable”? I hope, like you that there will be a time when indigenous populations and those who came after don’t see a line. When color, sex and orientation are not an issue. When we celebrate how our differences made us stronger and better. When as a general population we acknowledge that diversity is what makes us better.

  103. I was a member of RWA for only one year. I refused to renew when I realized how discriminatory they were, not just to GLBT, but to indie and e-publishing in general. It’s sad to say this doesn’t surprise me. RWA won’t listen until writers smarten up and quit renewing/joining. Speak with your dollars.

    My career has flourished without RWA. I tell authors to save their money and use it to do things like go to RT or spend it on a subscription to Writer’s Digest. All I got for my RWA membership was a glossy magazine and a lot of bs as to why “traditional” publishing was superior. Excuse me? I know indie-only authors, who write GLBT, who are making far more than most RWA members.

    Tymber Dalton.

  104. Applauds and supports your position. I considered not renewing my RWA membership based on their discriminatory practices against independent authors and independent small publishers (like myself). But perhaps that is not my best option. Perhaps I should stay so that I might work to effect change in a group that unfortunately has short-sighted policies that facilitate discrimination on many fronts.

    Diane Nelson
    Creative Director
    Pfoxmoor Publishing, PfoxChase Imprint
    Proud author and publisher of GLBT literature

  105. I am a reader of lesbian romance and i find it strange that writing of gay fiction should be excluded because some of the judges are uncomfortable with this type of writing. Their judgment should be on how well a story is written, anything else is censorship and they would be most upset if other types of romance writing would be banned or otherwise excluded.
    Afurther note how could the judges pretend to represent all romance writer when they exclude some

  106. As a brand new author of m/m (my book was only released this Thursday) I was weighing up the pros & cons of joining RWA based on my geographical location. Now I’m beginning to wonder if I should join based on this information.

    It’s hard enough to find acceptance outside of our little niche as it is, if they are happy to accept our yearly dues then they should be happy to accept what we write.

    And as for making the judges ‘uncomfortable’, just because they have the word judge in their title should make them judgemental. Surely it should be the quality of writing they should be interested in, not the sex of the protagonists.

  107. Pingback: RWA Shouldn’t Discriminate

  108. I’m so offended by RWA, I’m speechless. I’m surprised that a group that’s always celebrated creativity and romance would turn out to be a bunch of bigots. Shame of you, RWA.

  109. Heidi, you do a great service for every writer, not just romance, not just LGBTQ. You also do a great service for readers.
    Many years ago, I worked in the AIDS community in Chicago and saw firsthand the unbelievable hatred and fear that are the basis of bigotry. The RWA decision may seem an unemotional one, but it isn’t.
    I don’t write romance. I’m straight. When Eileen Dreyer posted this on Facebook, I couldn’t believe it. So, I have shared your blog with the publisher of Windy City Times here in Chicago, and I hope she’ll shine a light on this terrible injustice. I’ve also shared this on Twitter and will post it on my Facebook page as well. Good luck!

  110. Very disappointed to read about this. Maybe RWA should rename itself to Romance Writers of America as long as it’s between a woman and a man – no werewolves, vamps, gays accepted. It just seems ridiculous to me to take this stance. I absolutely understand that not everyone likes same sex stories but I abhor the idea of discrimination against those that write them – This includes me. I’ve written a number of bi stories and my first MM is out next week. Romance is romance regardless of gender. It’s like saying we’ll accept all thrillers for our thriller competition but not if any women get beaten up. You can’t be an all encompassing organization and then expect everyone to just accept this.

  111. I am so sorry that this has happened. I am not gay. I didn’t know that there’s a Rainbow Chapter. Maybe this incident will raise your profile in the organization. I’ve been writing about respect a lot lately and it is in very short supply for writers everywhere, but I agree with JoAnn that simply because a romance is not traditional, does not disqualify it as a romance. The tastes of readers are diverse, so the offerings available to them should be equally so. And personal preferences are just that, preferences. I don’t read any erotica, but I will defend the writers of those stories, even as they make me ‘uncomfortable’.
    I would like to remind all who are angry here, that THIS incident of discrimination was not perpetrated by RWA, but by a small RWA Chapter in Oklahoma. What their motivation might have been, lack or judges, lack of entries or simple intolerance, I don’t know. But I’m sure your group would not want to be held responsible for some bonehead decision that someone within your group made.
    I have no idea what your chapter’s history with national RWA has been. But I am sorry this has happened. And if I can ever do anything to help you as fellow writers, please call on me.
    Again, I apologize for stupid straight people everywhere.

    • No need to apologize for bigots. You didn’t do it. But the thing is, RWA national permits and condones discrimination by allowing its chapters to arbitrarily ban groups. In that sense, they are responsible.
      Also, this is not an isolated incident; it’s SOP. Some years back, indie/epub authors–many of them m/m–started achieving the income levels that RWA demanded for “published author” status. As soon as some of these writers applied, RWA moved the goalposts, changing the rules within about a week so those writers no longer qualified. That was when the ‘far right’ of RWA tried to make the one man/one woman definition–which was, thankfully, shouted down by the membership at large.
      My guess is that these judges not only felt ‘discomfort,’ they also fear that GLBT romances might start winning awards — as they now do in open competition in the EPIC awards.
      GLBT activists have a slogan: Silence = death. Religious extremists would like to see awareness of same-sex relationships stamped out. Love stories show people that het and gay are not all that different.. and acceptance endangers bigotry.

    • The chapter has made it clear that judging isn’t the issue–the issue is that they do not want same-sex entries in their contest. I guess they had too many GLBT winners in the past and wanted to keep that from happening again.

  112. Heidi – What were they thinking???? Are they going to say chapters can make their own rulings on mixed race romances next??

    I’m appalled!

  113. I’m happy to see some comments mentioning f/f and lesbian romance. Personally, I’m more “comfortable” reading about two women, but the vast majority of romance readers (including those who love m/m) are not.

    My recommendation for those readers, in a contest situation, is to skim the sex scenes, if there are any. Because I can see how same-sex SEX can make people uncomfortable without it automatically being about homophobia. Same-sex love & courtship, however, shouldn’t be an issue.

    Skimming sex scenes isn’t ideal, of course. They’re my favorite part of a romance novel, and should move the relationship forward or provide important character insights, etc. I’m just trying to think of a solution beyond telling people to stop being uncomfortable.

    I also hope that m/m readers who say they are uncomfortable with f/f will think of this post. By my experience, it’s perfectly acceptable to express this feeling toward f/f, but outrage ensues when it’s directed at m/m.

    Thanks for the topic.

  114. RWA National is an organization that has given the Romance genre a voice in the publishing, despite a constant, uphill battle. Romance writers have faced a tremendous amount of bias, if not outright bigotry, and blatant disrespect for their work. It may be one of the best writer organizations around. I suggest you not give up on them, but continue to push them to work with you. It takes a tremendous amount of work to rewrite by-laws. It’s a large enough organization that it takes time to discern between a trend rippling through the genre and an event that will transform the writing industry (i.e., epublishing). I am a volunteer judge for chapter contests so I’ve been exposed to all sorts of unique sub-genre manuscripts. I remember when steampunk was too much for some judges to deal with. And now? It’s mainstream clever and everyone wants to write it. Change is hard, but time is its best friend. Remember, it’s been less than one hundred years since women got the right to vote. yeah. Write on and write well.

  115. Heidi, sending you lots of hugs. You are an amazing woman, and I’m proud of you for staying in the system and working to change it. I don’t write LGBTQ, but I have those characters in my books. My friends are LGBTQ. My family is. You are dead on – discrimination is discrimination.

    Sending MORE hugs!!!

  116. Pingback: RWA What???! Tell me it isn’t so….discrimination is so twentieth century. | elisethroughthelookingglass

  117. Heidi, can you tell us who said the board had made such a ruling? I just received a response from Linda Winstead Jones (current president of RWA) and she says the board has never discussed the issue, that there are no rules in place on a national level governing chapter contest rules, and that this topic will be on the agenda for the March meeting. If it’s in an email, I it would be good to send it to Ms. Jones.

    • It was a policy signed by last year’s board, president Allison Kelley. A member of RRW cc’d her on a letter (and me too) and Kelley reiterated the position as policy. This is the policy cited to me when I questioned it via the liaison, though she was careful to say it was not her policy but what was decided last year.

      • Thanks, Heidi. If you’d be willing to share the specific emails, I’d be very interested in seeing them, as it now appears the new board is not being honest with their response to me.

        izzy@isobelcarr.com

        You’d have thought the nasty fight over the definition of romance would have taught the board that codifying discrimination wasn’t something they should be doing. If we can’t get the org to agree that discrimination of any kind is not allowed, I will be quitting RWA.

      • I asked “So the board did not give this chapter the go-ahead to insert discriminatory rules into their contest rules? Because they told Heidi Cullinan that you did.”

        Current President Linda Winstead Jones responded: “No. The board does not approve or even review chapter contest rules. With 145 chapters and with many of them offering contests for published and unpublished writers, it would be a full time job, and as president I would most certainly be aware of the task. The first I heard of this issue was yesterday.”

        Something is not adding up. I really do think Ms. Jones needs to see a copy of Kelley’s message.

        • I’ll be sure to include that in my letter to them, which our board is working on. Had I known this was going to catch such fire, I’d have approached this all a bit differently. Honestly, I anticipated my usual 80 readers at best to respond…

      • And thank you so much for bringing this to light.

  118. I remember walking into one of our larger grocery stores and finding card board signs saying that these books are for mature audiences only because a church group had gone in picked up all the romance books and told the store to get rid of them because they found them offensive. I am getting the impression that RWA is just as bad. Although I do not read this genera I feel strongly that RWA needs to acknowledge it and judge it. There are a lot of options on reading the material. However to ostracize the entire genera reeks of prejudice and far right wing values. Liberals gave us free speech, women the vote, minorities the vote and I wear that label with honor. I have written RWA and expressed my view, my husband, a GBLT advocate at work will be bringing this issue up at the next meeting. Thank you for sharing and letting the readership know what is happening.

  119. Pingback: RWA and discrimination « Kate McMurray

  120. I’m not a member of RWA but I do write paranormal romance (also traditional mystries) and I’m appalled that they would not only discriminate, but do it so blatantly. I’m of an era where you saw “no women need apply” and I thought we’d managed to get further down the evolutionary road. Good blog Heidi!

  121. Sadly, this does not surprise me. Starting with the PAN guidelines last year, RWA doesn’t seem to want to step into the current industry. They want to keep it status quo, and they are going to restrict themselves out of a job. I do not plan to renew my membership this year.

  122. Just emailed RWA:

    Dear RWA,

    I am very disappointed to find that the More Than Magic contest hosted by the Romance Writers Ink Chapter of RWA will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category, and that their rationale is that some members felt “uncomfortable” judging same-sex stories. I had intended to enter this contest (I do not primarily write GLBT), but upon seeing this prohibition in the rules, I cannot condone such discrimination, not just of a particular romantic subgenre but, implicitly, of GLBT writers working on these stories or GLBT readers looking for characters like themselves in the books they buy and read.

    Moreover, I am distressed to learn that RWA allows its chapters to practice such discriminatory behavior in the administration of their contests.

    Same-sex people love. Same-sex romances are about people who meet, and struggle, and live, and love. Just like all other romantic subgenres. So, why are some romances acceptable and others not? The only answer I can come up with to that question makes *me* very uncomfortable.

    Please advise RWI that discrimination is not okay, and help restore my pride in the RWA as well.

    Sincerely,
    Laura Kaye
    Member # xxxxxx

  123. Reblogged this on P.D. Singer.

  124. I’ve been thinking about joining RWA, and wondering whether it would be worth my time and money. Now I know.

    Thanks for the heads up – this is one writer who won’t be sending dues their way.

  125. Discrimination is not okay. If the issue is that the judges in place don’t want to read it, the simple solution is to find judges who do. If it’s anything else, RWA needs to get over it and join the 21st century.

  126. Discrimination is NOT okay, but this is also a form of censorship and I’m stunned that a writer’s group can look in the mirror and think censoring something because it makes you “uncomfortable” would be all right…

    That’s a VERY dangerous line they’re drawing in the sand… Ugh.

    I’ll be writing a letter to RWA too…

    Great blog!

    Lisa

  127. I’m so sad and outraged by the decision of RWI. Do they not understand that there are those of us who have a passion for same-sex stories? I’m a 50 year old woman, who has been married for 30 years and have 3 grown children and 3 grandchildren and I love m/m romance stories! I’ve said it, all my friends know it. M/M in the last several years has become my “mainstream”

    Does RWI not realize, or do they not care that they are discriminating? And against their own members no less? M/M and F/F genre is growing by leaps and bounds and has an increasing following.

    Myself and many of my friends who share my same passion have emailed our displeasure to RWI and RWA. I pray they see the error of their ways and overturn their disgusting decision.

    Love is love. Period. It doesn’t matter whether shared by a man and a woman, a man and a man, or a woman and a woman.

  128. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t joined RWA. I see far too much discrimination on a daily basis to accept it from a supposedly liberal organisation. Since when do we censor love? And why stop here? Why not exclude BDSM themed stories while they’re at it? After all, it makes people uncomfortable too.

    • That’s exactly what I said in my blog Aimee. BDSM, interracial relationshps, transgenders, gays, some people are uncomfortable with paranormal stories (heard someone say that it was a step above bestiality), where does it stop?

  129. Pingback: Discrimination in Romance is Unacceptable | With A Groan and a Moan

  130. This is not happening in a vacuum. You are focused on this new RWA policy, but last week the Komen Foundation withdrew support from Planned Parenthood because of pressure from the Religious Right. Due to the huge uproar this caused, they have now backed down. (This will not solve their other problems about what they do with the money they collect, see Pink Ribbons, Inc.) Now, LGBT writers and their books are being squeezed out of a professional organization. I smell Religious Right, do you? These people are a minority in this country. Maybe even a small minority. We have the tail wagging the dog here. It strikes me that if everyone is as vocal about this as people have been about the Komen fiasco, there may be a change. Organize, folks. Get the word out. In this world you will get as much shit as you will accept. Don’t accept this laying down.

    • The tail is much like that of the Brontosaurus. There’s a knot of reflexive nerves… knee-jerk reactionaries, if you will .. and they think they re the brain of the organism.

  131. Do you know how difficult it is to find a good Lesbian book. Romance/thriller/murder mystery. If it weren’t for kindle I would not have found Saffina Deforges, SNOW WHITE:book one of the Rose Red Crime Thriller Series. Now it just so happens the protagonist is a Lesbian with a Partner. I was feckin’ over the moon. The writing is brilliant, there are no semi porn love scenes as are found in most romances these days. The romance was secondary. Please give me more Lesbian books like this one. No angsty ‘lit’. no erotica. Just a good story where the book happens to be about Lesbians. We exist, the Pink Dollar/Pound, spends big.
    BTW how many women of colour romances are out there?

  132. Pingback: Authors Behaving Well: Speaking Up and Standing Against Discrimination « Sonomalass's Blog

  133. Here’s a copy of my letter to the RWA:

    ‘While I sympathize with members who may not want to read and judge m/m stories, I think banning such entries sends the wrong message to RWA members and the general public. I’d been considering joining RWA for a year, because I like my local chapter (Desert Rose, in Phoenix).

    I came to write erotic romance from a long stint of reading and writing in mainstream science fiction and fantasy markets. Gay relationships are only one genre of my writing. I’m also interested in m/f and menage, but I insist that emotion and genuine love be a part of any romantic grouping in my fiction – even more than the physical descriptions of such acts. In science fiction and fantasy, discreet direct or non-character m/m and f/f relationships have been on the rise: Lynn Flewelling’s ‘Nightrunner’ series, Judith Tarr’s ‘Avaryan’ books, Scott Lynch’s ‘Gentleman Bastard’ sequence, and Amanda Downum’s ‘Necromancer’ novels, to name just a few.

    SF&F writers have long known that while their writing entertains on the surface, it also has the chance to expose readers to new concepts and broader ways of thinking. Perhaps RWA can learn from this, rather than circling the wagons and joining the modern incarnations of the Moral Majority.

    Until I see RWA softening its stance, I will not be joining anytime soon.’

    Marian Crane

  134. Joining RWA was on my list of things to do this Spring, because I seem to need some mentoring when it comes to my writing. I’ve been waffling, because it seems pretty expensive, and my options are joining an on-line chapter or travelling way too much. This is tilting the scale toward “no”.

    Here’s the email I sent to the MTM contest coordinator:

    I’m certain this is not the first email you’ve received on this issue, but here’s another one. Last year, Mexican Heat deservedly won the MTM contest because it is an excellent, well-written, intriguing, romantic story. This year, it would not be eligible to enter the contest. There’s something very wrong in that.

    There are a great many really good, well-written, and inspiring same-sex romance books out there. They don’t get nearly enough exposure. I didn’t discover them until I purchased an e-reader, shortly followed by the Agency Model debacle with the big 6 publishers. I was forced to go looking for new authors because my tried and true ones were no longer available to me due to geographical restrictions.

    Josh Lanyon, K.A. Mitchell, and Amy Lane have written some of the best romance novels I’ve ever read. To deny them, and others like them, the opportunities that you exist to give to writers betrays your very mission. Instead of facilitating a breakthrough moment in the career of a future superstar, you have become a roadblock.

    I urge you to reconsider your decision to bar same-sex romances from your contest.

  135. Pingback: Romance Writers Association Bans Same-Sex Entries From Contest | Crasstalk

  136. Two things:

    1. I didn’t know about the RWA board ruling, so as a member, I am glad to have that information so that I can write to the board about it.

    2. It is extremely hard for chapters to find enough qualified judges. If RRW members, especially those who are published or trained as judges, could volunteer to judge the contest in future years, perhaps that would help.

  137. I am right there with you. This needs to be repealed. What a horrible decision.

  138. I’m not a writer, but I am a reader, a very avid, open minded reader and of many different styles. I do have a big love of M/M (LGBT in general). n terms of being an LGBT witer this is at lvery east obstructionist to some wonderful writers, obstructionist to careers that should be nutured and assisted. Some of the most beautiful and poignant books I have had the pleasure to read are M/M. This decision is wrong.
    I’m also a therapist of 20 + years standing and for me this represents discrimination, no two ways about it. (Briefly) I am constantly assuaging people’s fears that being gay, lesbian or in same sex couples is wrong, that they are, in fact, perfectly healthy people who love the person or people that are right for them. I also help (far too often) to exorcise some of their peers or authority figures indocrintation and beliefs that they can be “fixed”. Yet this behaviour by RWA is affirming people’s prejudices with this decision. I am sick and tired of people who hide behind group politics and the sensibilities of narrow minded zealots to push their hurtful, uninformed, antiquated agenda. If you’re ‘uncomfortable’ reading this genre then you should not be in a position to judge anything, step aside and allow people with fair minds and open hearts to make decisions. It is 2012 isn’t it? Yet somehow this feels like a step back into a Victorian mindset. RWA hang your head in shame.

  139. I’m no longer an RWA member, since they seem to be discriminating against self-pubbed authors, too – even if we make more than many NY published authors. So I won’t be able to send RWA an complaint. But I just wanted you to know you have my support.

  140. Everything has been said here quite brilliantly so I won’t repeat what has already been said. I just wanted to post a comment in support of your position. No discrimination please. Good for you for writing this blog.

  141. Wonderfully worded. It encouraged me to write, so thank you for the information.
    Prejudice is disgusting. Though I truly believe that our words are promoting equality. We need to continue to do what we are doing and eventually we will be setting the standard.
    Hugs to all!

  142. Thank you for speaking out and bringing this important issue to light. I can’t add much to the already excellent points made, but I can add my support and send emails.

  143. This makes me so angry! Unfortunately it doesn’t surprise me. The RWA needs re-vamping worse than any organization I can think of right now.
    I just Tweeted this info. I hope it will help get the word out.

  144. I fumed about this some more last night…the last year I was a member of RWA I was the contest coordinator for the chapter. We extended the deadline to submit — as many RWA contests do — to get more entries. We needed to have X amount so that the treasury would increase by X amount. I heard a few times that the contest was the “big” money maker for the chapter. That’s why the chapters do them — to make money to bring in speakers and pay for the room rental and other things. Sooooo if they are turning away entries rather than finding judges who aren’t “uncomfortable” with a story, they sure must have a ton of money to spend.

    I’d be embarrased to be a member of that chapter.

  145. What you fail to consider is that a contest is limited by its available judging pool. If as a contrt coordinator, you’re unable to find enough judges willing to read a specific sub genres, isn’t it irresponsible to accept that style/genre/subgenre and assign the entries to a judge who says I don’t want I read fill-in-the-blank… When you take someone’s money, it’s critical that you give them their money’s worth. So what do you do when you realize you CAN’T do their entry justice? is it fair for the entrant to assume it’s discrimination?

    • You can always put a call out for judges — that’s part of being the contest coordinator — to make sure you have enough judges. I’ve judged in the past. I’m not a fan of paranormal or contemporary but am, I believe, able to read 15-20 pages to assess an author’s voice.

    • Generally when there’s a call for judges I volunteer. This chapter had access to other RWA chapters, (including Passionate Ink and Rainbow Writers) and could also have reached out to publishers who have writers and an audience for GLBT. I find it significant that so many same sex romances did exceptionally well in last year’s contest. Obviously there were enough judges for this genre last year.

    • You are so courageous to NOT use your ownname.

      This is a BS excuse. All these people would have to do would be to post a request for judges on 3 review sites: Elisa Rolle’s, Speak Its Name,and Jessewave’s Reviews. Elisa manages to round up a couple dozen of us to judge every year, and the reviewers on the other two sites do critical reviews and have decent standards of evaluation. There are plenty of people out there who would judge these storeis — and in fact gay romances have already won in this contest. This was a move to eliminate good writers because someone was more “uncomfortable” with same-sex love than with bigotry.

    • The chapter has made it clear that the issue WAS NOT lack of judges. The issue WAS that the chapter did not want to be a chapter that allowed same-sex entries in its contest.

    • I know for a fact that RWI had plenty of judges who were more than willing to read same-sex romance books, the same judges who judged them in past years. Lack of judges is not their problem.

  146. In crowdfunding, nobody has to take “you can’t play” for an answer. I’ve listed a bunch of projects with queer romance aspects, and encouraged other folks to join in fun, on the Crowdfunding communities in Dreamwidth and LiveJournal:
    http://crowdfunding.dreamwidth.org/107892.html
    http://crowdfunding.livejournal.com/399848.html

    Take your money and attention away from RWA, and put it in a more affection-friendly venue. And let them know why you did that!

  147. “Well, I have to say, RWI. Discrimination makes me pretty uncomfortable too.”

    Well said!

  148. Pingback: Discrimination doesn’t belong in writing! « Nancy M. Griffis

  149. Let me get this straight (no pun intended) if someone in an RWA chapter finds ‘same-sex’ books make them uncomfortable, they can remove them altogether and deny them to all the members of that group?

    So if I’m a member of a chapter and I’m very uncomfortable with stories about black men and white women, you’ll remove them too? Perhaps I don’t like non-humans, I can get them taken out too.

    Neat. I have so much power to tell other people what can be in your contests and read and judged on. Who knew?

  150. This is just pure ignorance to me. I am a fan of almost all books. I have read same sex fiction and I love it! I may be straight but I love a good love story. I could care less whether it is with a woman and a man, a woman and a woman, and a man with a man. I find what they have done despicable.

  151. This reminds me of the problems the Oscars had when several judges refused to watch Brokeback Mountain, which made a problem for voting. But, at least the Oscars didn’t decide, “Well, no more LGBTQI films up for awards now!” was the right fix.

    If someone is a romance reader, they will always have subgenres they prefer to read or not read. I don’t see why this should preclude entry. But, then, I guess it’s just naive to wish they would see non-m/f stories as “another subgenre” instead of the “zomg-decline-of-civilization!” These days, it seems like society’s taking major steps backwards on a lot of things.

    I’m not a member of RWA, with no plans of being, so perhaps they would say this is none of my concern. But, as a writer, I stand with you.

  152. typically late to the party but i’m with you on this.
    grrr! and double grrr!
    and from a literary and historical standpoint, well, just plain dumb.

  153. As an author, I find this appalling that, first, an organization would take dues from its members then ban them from participating in that organization for whatever dumb reason, but even more so that this is outright discrimination from an organization that came into being for the sole purpose of legitimizing a genre and group of authors who had faced discrimination for their works. This completely lack of self-awareness stuns me. How can RWA even begin to justify this themselves? By stating that “it makes some of our readers uncomfortable?”

    You know something? Not so long ago, equal rights for women and people of other races than white used to make people “uncomfortable.” Sometimes it still does. I worked with a man who had nothing but the utmost disdain for women, simply because they were women. We’re here to make sandwiches and sex, and anything else is just being silly.

    I still face discrimination as a woman. Just a plain, straight vanilla lady. Unequal pay, sexual discrimination, just leave the heavy lifting to the men, please. I cannot imagine how much worse it is for the LGBT community, who not only have the sexism to deal with but also flak from idiots who somehow believe girls kissing other girls and guys doing the same is going to cause the downfall of planet Earth.

    The RWA is an organization that came into being to help writers who faced discrimination gain respect. How in the world can they turn their backs on someone facing the very same issues?

  154. Didn’t see this when reading the comments. Apologies if I missed it. There is a petiton which echoes this blog:

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/rwa-shouldnt-be-in-the-business-of-discrimination/

  155. Pingback: Alex Beecroft – Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction » Blog Archive » Romance Writers of America "uncomfortable" with LGBT romance

  156. Thanks Heidi and everyone for your hard work in getting this noticed. I found your blog linked on my Facebook Feed via Suz Brockmann’s Friends of Jules (and Robin). So the message is getting out. I will send an eMail to RWA and RWI. I have signed the petition. So many good points have been made in this discussion. I am looking forward to the day when LGBTQ is not considered a genre, just like M/F isn’t.

  157. Our published contest created a new category for 2012: GLBT. It was hard to get people in the chapter to accept it, but we created it. I found judges. We got new judges this year who only wanted to read GLBT. And guess what? I didn’t get entries.

    We advertised, I sent out notices that GLBT didn’t have enough entries. We’re a well respected contest – but I got 3 entries. Not enough for it’s own category. I couldn’t have handled dozens of entries, but I wanted so badly to make this viable. Now, I expect the members of my chapter to want to delete this category for next year as we didn’t get enough entries this year.

    This whole thing makes me sad.

    • Too bad it had to be a separate category as though we need to be segregated. Yeah very sad.

      • Well, we have 14 different categories, as we like to try to have like books with like books and the judges we have definite preferences. When we put Inspirational as it’s own category, it’s not segregation, it’s putting those books with readers who like those books.

        • But by creating a LGBT category, you’re ensuring that like books are not with like books.

          LGBT paranormal romance has more in common with paranormal romance than it does with LGBT historical and LGBT contemporary and LGBT erotica and LGBT mystery and suspense. Why should they be judged in the same category just because the two leading characters are of the same sex?

          • I can only assume you’ve never coordinated a contest. We created categories because readers may read romance, but they don’t always cross into other areas from the areas they like.

            We put all inspirational in a category. Historical, contemporary, romantic suspense, mystery. Why? Because if readers like inpirational they may not mind the fact that this is historical and they don’t normally read historicals. Why do writers like it? Because they know that people who don’t read inpirational even if they read historical may not give their book a fair read just because of the inspirational elements.

            Contests create categories to insure that readers get books they like to read. If they don’t like vampires we tell them not to ask for Paranormal as there is no way to just give them the ‘witch’ books. Contests have categories because READERS have categories. I want to give every book a fair chance at finding readers that will love and recommend their books to others and that means not giving books of a paranormal nature to someone who won’t read anything but romantic suspense.

            • HK, I’ve entered and judged several contests over the years. I won the Passionate Plume in the Science Fiction category with a m/m romance. It was judged alongside m/f and menage stories. In the EPIC awards, m/m books are entered into paranormal, sci fi, historical, and so forth. There should not be a GLBTQ category, the book should stand on its own merits within the genre it’s written in. Why should my sci fi be judged against contemporaries or historicals just because of the flavors of the protags? It doesn’t make sense.

              When I’ve judged, I’ve always had the option to choose what I am willing to read and have never had something slip through.

            • You assume wrong. I have coordinated contests, and the GLBT entries went into the appropriate genre, not the “gay ghetto.”

            • I’ve judged contests too, and it’s not a problem judging books with like subgenres and various types of relationships. A romance is a romance, and anyone who can’t judge how well Writer A does with an M/F contemporary romance, compared with Writer B and an M/M contemporary romance, compared with Writer C and an M/M/F contemporary romance, compared with Writer D and an F/F contemporary romance, all judged by the standard of contemporary romances, frankly shouldn’t be judging.

              Judges should be able to set aside their personal preferences and look at the quality of the work. You can give folks an out for true squicks, but in general simply not “preferring” X or Y shouldn’t come into it. I don’t care for F/F and never buy it as a reader, but I can read it and judge it. Someone upthread said that a good judge can read some smallish chunk of a book and get an idea of the writer’s “tone and voice” or something like that — that’s crap. That’s not a good judge, that’s a lazy judge who shouldn’t be associated with the contest. If you’re judging, you should read the whole book, ignore your personal preferences, and score the book by how well written it is, period. If you can’t find enough people in your group to do that, you call for extra help from outside that group. EPIC lets pretty much anyone associated with the e-book industry judge the first round, which is where they really need a pile of judges; only judges for the finals need to be EPIC members, and that works fine.

              The readers can figure out at the end what they want to read; they’re not stupid. And if you publish the entire finalists’ list for each category, most likely every reader will be able to find at least a few books they’ll enjoy, regardless of their personal taste in character match-ups. Reader preferences are no reason to ghettoize GLBT romances.

  158. I am wondering what the new PAN rules are — because years ago I was admitted into PAN after my frist sale to a small press. Much to my chagrin a week before Christmas I received a letter, by UPS, kicking me out due to who my publisher was. I stayed in RWA for a few more years, I loved my chapters, until same small press qualified as a recognized pub. But guess what? RWA immediately changed it’s mind, claiming the size of my pub’s trade paperbacks wasn’t quite the right dimensions to count. I didn’t renew after that. . . .. As for accepting GBLT, I think it’s very unfair for them to discriminate if the stories are otherwise “romances.” I say that, and I write Christian romance. Fair is fair.

  159. Mountie brought this to my attention.
    Judging any writing contest should be about the quality of the writing, not the content of the book. I am appalled and saddened, by the lack of backbone the the RWA has that they have allowed this kind of discrimination to flourish in it’s chapters.
    And yes I do realize that this is the Oklahoma chapter, Bible Belt country, conservative christian, etc….but that’s no excuse. This just makes me sad.
    I’m not a writer, but I am a avid reader of all genres, and a good chunk of my e-library is made up of m/m. In fact I currently have Sean Michael’s “Sold, up on my netbook. I needed a nice comfort read last night and Lara Adrain’s “Deeper Than Midnight” just wasn’t holding my attention. LOL!
    Keep up the good work ladies & gentlemen, I signed the petion and will continue to support your efforts. You write it and I’ll buy it, after all I got to keep my favorite authors in a better quality mac’n cheese. :D

  160. Pingback: Bigotry is a Transitive Noun « The Amazon Iowan

  161. RWA has a long history of discrimination. One might infer, given a large amount of LGBT romance is published first in ebook format, that their ongoing refusal to allow independent ebook publishers full status is de facto discrimination as well.

    I was told some years ago we could probably get accepted–peripherally, at least–as a recognized publisher. I applied, and didn’t receive even the courtesy of a “we’re reviewing your application.” I do now receive the quarterly catalog urging me to purchase member titles from the “real publishers.” Adding insult to injury is apparently part of the RWA philosophy.

  162. Pingback: Why Are GBLTQ Writers Paying RWA to Discriminate Against Them? | Reviews by Jessewave

  163. Pingback: US Romance and Homophobia « Tristram La Roche

  164. Pingback: OMG RWA WTF? : Persimmon Frost

  165. I don’t blame you for being tired. Perhaps the good news is that when something like this happens, when the few (I certainly hope in the romance community that it is only a few) decide that being “uncomfortable” means it’s okay to practice discrimination, then it provides the opportunity for others (that I certainly hope are the majority) to publicly announce once again that discrimination is simply not acceptable. Their personal comfort level with homosexuality is their own business. The public act of discrimination is not.

  166. Pingback: Rainbow Romance Writers Question RWA on Discrimination « Beyond Her Book

  167. Can’t add anything to the excellent comments already posted but want to send thanks for speaking out on this, Heidi. Shared everywhere I can and will be commenting to any who listen at my next chapter meeting.

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  169. So well said. Thank you for providing links. I contacted both the local chapter and the RWA. Sadly, I live in Oklahoma and this kind of discrimination is no surprise to me. It doesn’t make it right. I only hope that shining the light on this kind of institutionalized discrimination will go a long way to doing away with it, or at least making it no longer an ‘approved’ option.

  170. @Lee Rowan– They kicked about a dozen of us out when they decided they’d made a mistake to let small press in. (Other times when they changed rules if you were already a member you were grandfathered in.) I stayed a member until my publisher did qualify–and RWA said the size of the trade paperback wasn’t quite industry standard. And that’s when I left.

    • That’s.. Yeah, that’s clearly Big Mommy RWA making sure writers are protected. Because we ALL KNOW that if your book is half a centimeter out of step with the other trade paperbacks, a writer is DOOMED.

      I can just imagine these ladies surrounded by great stories, knowing they have no legit reason to ban them and allow the Lichtensteinian Millionaire’s Baby’s Virgin Nanny to pass.. and then one of them says, “Wait! They’re not the same size! We’re SAVED!”

      I decided this was not a group I wanted to be part of when they chanced “total earnings” to “advance royalty” to crowd out the ebook publishers. If they have standards… well, so do I. I don’t want to belong to a group that has its head up its ass.

  171. Pingback: After The Storm: RWA/RWI « J.S. Wayne

  172. The exclusionary tactics of RWA (on both the federal and individual chapter levels) is one of the main reason I’ve been reluctant to join this organization.

  173. I received an email today from RWA, by way of their receptionist, that contained a link to view RWA’s clarified position on this matter.

    Those were their words, “this matter.” I was very disappointed in what they had to say, so this is what I sent back to them.
    ******
    I’m sorry, but I find this missive nothing but a bunch of words thrown together to try to placate those who are calling RWI on their disgusting practice of discrimination.

    Does it really work to tell people that RWA cannot intervene in the decisions of individual chapters? Because that would mean that RWA as an entity has no control whatsoever over their chapters. I really find this hard to believe. I belong to the Harley Owners Group and I can tell you for a fact that Harley Davidson has complete control over the dealerships that carry the Harley Davidson name, both national and international and the subsequent chapters that carry their name. They also have full capabilities, and trust me they use them, to put an immediate stop to any activity that may hurt the Harley Davidson name or that Harley deems is not in the best interest of the company and the membership of their dealers and chapters.

    I am sad that RWI chose to cancel the contest, rather than issue a statement righting their wrong by changing the contest rules. If their judges are uncomfortable with the content, there were other ways to handle the situation. RWA, I am very disappointed in you for not taking a stand with your chapters and advising them that discrimination will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form. To wait for a scheduled board meeting to discuss something so important, is in of itself an indication of how little you feel this issue matters.

    • I wish you had included their reply here, instead of skipping it and only sharing your own response.

      Although I agree that it was discriminatory to exclude non-hetero entries, this conversation has devolved into excessive vitriol. Instead of a discussion that brings people together, acknowledging the other side’s points, this has become a forum to bash an organization which has done a lot of good for romance writers.

      • It’s right here: http://www.rwa.org/cs/rwa_clarifies_chapter_contest_position

        In brief: We don’t condone discrimination but we aren’t going to lift a finger to stop it.

        There has been no vitriol thrown that is any worse than the contempt RWA has shown for GLBT human beings and the people — some of us GLBT ourselves — who write about non-heterosexual love.

        If you were black, and this were a matter of racial exclusion, would you not find RWA’s coquetry just a wee bit unsatisfactory by way of a response?

        • Okay guys. I like RWA. I plan to work within it. This is my blog. This is a heated discussion, and I don’t want to stop a forum to discuss it, but no one’s going to fight here. I understand not everyone will like RWA and want to work within it. I do. Those who don’t want to are welcome to do their own thing, but this is not the place to get angry.

          Lee, I respect your frustration and anger. But I agree with AmyBeth that this is not the place to continue to be angry at RWA. Your piece has been said and heard. As the author of this blog, I ask you please to let it end here now.

      • I was remiss in not attaching the link, and for that I apologize. Thank you, Lee, for attaching the URL.
        I tried very hard in both my emails to RWA to be non-combatative and to state my opinion in a calm and concise manner. To beat up on people isn’t my style and is the surest way to put folks on the defensive when an open mind and dialogue are needed.

        I don’t doubt for a second that RWA has done a lot of good for romance writers. That said, their response was still very disappointing.

  174. Heidi, thank you for the insightful post. I sent my email.

  175. I know this might not go over well, but I have to say something….

    I’m a member of RWA – have been for years, witnessed the big general meeting debate with ebooks and publishers in Dallas. I belong to West Houston and to RRW. And I’ll be the first to say the RWA is a flawed organization. But then, most large organizations are flawed. That’s why they must constantly be changing and adapting. And you might not think they are, but RWA is changing and adapting to the new publishing world while still retaining the old publishing model.

    I can also say, I’ve been treated with more than a little disdain, even in my own chapter, at times. But I can also say, I have found wonderful friends who support me and what I’m writing there also. And I’ve seen the group change – seen the interest in e-books and self-publishing – and I’ve been asked to speak about the “alternative” ebook industry. At nearly every meeting, someone asks me about e-publishing. Last month, we had an author speak on self-publishing. It’s changing, one local chapter at a time. It might not at the speed of light, but more like the tortoise. Slow and steady.

    No matter what you may think about RWA – it’s the best place to learn the craft of writing and the people who belong (~10K members) are all striving to make their way thru the maze of the publishing world. Only about 20-25% of the members are published, but all love the act of writing. Kindred spirits.

    Yes, RWA might seem like a dinosaur – but they are changing. They had to change big time – just in the creation of the RRW chapter. It took Passionate Ink a very long time to be recognized (over a year). RWA recognized RRW in around 6 months. That would never have happened five years ago.

    RWA now sponsors MyRWA – a place where you can take classes, discuss matters and it even has forums geared to small press and self-publishing for those interested in learning more. They also have a special interest group for small press and electronic authors. They are embracing us or at least giving it a good shot. Is it perfect? No. But it can come damn close, but not without writers who want to join and become active, moving for change.

    Last year RRW sponsored candidates for board members in all six districts and we came damn close to winning. I’m not sure if we’re doing it this year, but I hope we do. I hope someone in each district will stand up and be counted.

    So if everyone here who swore they’d never join, or had thought about it but now they won’t, or never even knew about RWA until now, joined RWA and then joined the RRW (currently we have over 100 members – 6 joined just yesterday in a show of support) – and/or the Small press/electronic published author chapter – we’d have close to 200 members and probably be the largest chapter (next to Passionate Ink, perhaps?) Can you imagine how much we can change the organization? How we can influence the board? What we can add to the RWA pie? And I’m not talking about the whipped cream and cherry either. Real change.

    Go to twitter (#whyrwa) to see why some authors who are involved in this fiasco (by one chapter) support RWA.
    Yes, we can take our money and go home. Or we can take our money, stake a claim, and demand we be treated fairly. We can open the door to all the other writers who feel they can’t find a home, people to share their love of writing, or reading good books, and a safe place to talk about them.

    Change comes from within. RWA is a great organization and can become even greater but not if we leave and lose our voice.

    Thanks Heidi, for tackling this issue with grace and professionalism, and letting us post on your space.

    • I agree with this. As long as we remain part of RWA, we can demand that all career-focused writers of romance be supported, not just career-focused writers of heterosexual romance. If we leave, we lose that voice.

    • I’ll be joining both the RWA and the RRW this week. I agree with everything you’ve said here, and that’s a change of heart for me. I was so disgusted in the beginning that I was glad I’d never joined. Now, I feel like the only true way to effect change is to join, be respectful, but endeavor to get our voices heard. You are right; change is not easy, and it isn’t quick. But it is important. I look forward to getting to know the members of the RRW, and the RWA, better. To both you and Heidi; I’m a convert, and I look forward to adding my voice to yours.

    • Thank you for speaking up for RWA! That was a risky thing to do here, since many posts are going beyond discussion & argument… resorting to bashing an organization that, although flawed, does a lot of good.

      I just joined RWA last year, and although I haven’t got around yet to joining the various chapters that fit my writing (SciFi, LGBT, Christian… possibly a few other chapters if I look around!) I think it’s about time I did so.

  176. Pingback: Tuesday Tempest | Coffee and Porn in the Morning

  177. Emails are sent.

  178. Talking about living in the ghetto, once again a romance award is announced, The Romance Studios CAPA Awards, and the GBLTcommunity recceives their own category AGAIN and AGAIN Interracial/Multicultural is ignored. Today will be the fourth time I will have to write an email drawing attention to the fact that If you’re going to have a GBLT category you also should have IR/MC. Our books are just as much as a niche market because plenty of “mainstream” readers efuse to read a book featuring a heroine of color. Of course even if these awards seperated us, they wouldn’t have many books to choose from since many sites RARELY review IR/MC. But why should I be surprised, bookstores don’t categorize IR/MC in the mainstream romance section either.

    That’s what you call polite racism, get ready for it:)

  179. Great put up, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite experts of this sector do not realize this. You must continue your writing. I am sure, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!|What’s Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It positively useful and it has aided me out loads. I’m hoping to give a contribution & assist different customers like its aided me. Good job.

  180. Well, I sent an email. Not sure it’ll do any good, or that they’ll even read it, but here’s what I wrote. Hopefully I haven’t shot anyone in the foot. *bites lip*:

    I’m writing to you in order to express my extreme dissatisfaction and disappointment at the RWA/RWI policy of excluding same-sex romances from contests/competitions due to ‘discomfort’ amongst the judges.

    Allow me to be completely honest, in that I am not now (nor will I ever be, as long as this policy remains in effect) an RWA member. Just as I wouldn’t join any other organization that chooses to ignore an entire segment of humanity because it makes someone ‘uncomfortable,’ I will not be supporting your group by paying for the privilege of being told that the genre in which I write is somehow substandard. I will not pay to join a club that doesn’t want me as a member, and that is, effectively, what your organization is has said, in both word and deed.

    Yes, the RWA has a GLBT chapter, but that’s irrelevant. It’s a nice nod to societal pressures, but in the end, it doesn’t matter that you have a GLBT chapter. Even authors who usually write heterosexual romance might want to branch out, after all.

    When it’s acceptable to exclude any entries from authors of same-sex romance because a few judges don’t want to read what some paid members have to offer, it’s not enough to simply HAVE that chapter. It’s also irresponsible, in that it sends the message that our money is good enough for you but WE AREN’T.

    I don’t know whether this means that your judges are far too hidebound to be able to have open minds (which doesn’t seem likely, considering how many heterosexual romances seem to contain elements of bondage, torture of various kinds, angry sex or rape that somehow ends up being ‘okay’ because the heroine somehow ends up in love with her rapist, and even blood-play in some of the paranormal offerings), or if they’re simply prejudiced against other members of the human race. Either way, it looks like — and is — blatant discrimination.

    If you are offering memberships in a club (which is what the RWA/RWI amounts to), AND have accepted a chapter specifically oriented towards GLBT writers (which you did), AND have accepted payment for those memberships (which you have), and you EXCLUDE all writers of same-sex romance, regardless of their chapter, from participating in official, club-wide opportunities and activities, then you are NOT doing your jobs as administrators of this club.

    This is not a situation of separate but equal (this logical fallacy doesn’t truly exist, which I am convinced you already know). This is not a situation of a few disgruntled rejects crying out with mouths pursed tight from sour grapes.

    This is not a minority group crying out for acceptance, either, because when your organization accepted payment from the members who formed the GLBT chapter of the RWA (as well as any other members who might want to explore new areas), you were, in effect, guaranteeing them equal representation within your club. It is entirely unacceptable, both legally and morally, to exclude those members after having allowed them to join with the understanding that ALL members are equal.

    I hope that you and your organization will reconsider allowing the comfort level of your judges to dictate your inclusion of ALL romance stories written by ALL your members. Perhaps it’s time to find other judges.

    Respectfully,

    T.C. Blue

  181. Pingback: RWA Makes a Statement on Equality « The Amazon Iowan

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  184. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox
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