Friday, February 3, 2012

RWA, RWI: "No Same-Sex Entries" in MTM

Evidently, MTM is not taking same-sex entries anymore. It's stated right here in the rules and regulations on the RWI page, in bold black letters: Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.

For those who don't know, MTM is the More than Magic contest. The More than Magic contest is conducted by RWI, which is a chapter of RWA. RWI means Romance Writers Ink. I think we all know what RWA is by now.

Frankly, I knew nothing about this until I read about it here, in this very eloquent blog post, which was posted by someone I don't know, Heidi Cullinan. Before I write anything else I'd like to thank Heidi for being so kind and so honest.

Heidi nails it with these lines alone:

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.

She brings a huge reality check to all writers of M/M Romance with this:

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.

Part of the reason I didn't find out about this until now is because I don't belong to RWA, nor do I follow any contests or anyone affiliated with RWA. I've been writing (and getting published) for over twenty years, without the help of RWA, RWI, or MTM. I don't think my m/m romance readers care about RWA. I'm not being snide about this; I just know where I'm not welcome and I'm being realistic. As an openly gay man I've suffered far worse than this. Until now I've never seen it posted on a web site, in actual words and letters, for the entire world to see.

In the grand scheme of my life, this doesn't bother me too much. It won't touch the quality of my life, nor will it stop me from writing as many m/m romances as I want to write. I doubt it will touch the quality of my readers lives much either. Those who love to read M/M Romance, which is growing daily in numbers, probably don't even know what RWA is.

In the end of Heidi's post, which I recommend reading in its entirety, she says this:

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 ( 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 are so inclined, by all means send out an e-mail to the address above in protest.

I have to think about this for a while. I'm not as kind as Heidi and I have zero tolerance for this. And I have no inclination to deal with people who would post something that offensive, in public, without thinking twice about it. I'd rather dismiss them completely, as being thoughtless, unkind, and irrelevant. I think most people would feel the same way if they were gay and they were treated this way by people who aren't significant enough to waste time on. Sometimes total dismissal works best.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but it's just a contest. Build a bridge and get over it. If anyone would take me seriously, I would sponsor my own contest to pick up the slack. The group running the contest has the 100% right to decide the parameters and people are free to feel how they feel but feelings are not fact nor are they reliable. Is it disappointing that it's limited? I think so. Is this a heinous breach of civil rights? Hardly! Will this be trumped up as such? Most decidedly! Someone else can pick up the slack. And yes, I assume there will be shrill responses, but I have to ask, why be shrill? Why not just move on?

Matthew Darringer

Leaundra said...

I agree with you Ryan and honestly if I were a writer and even if they changed their policy I wouldn't want to be with them anyways. If you have to write and plead with someone to take your work then I couldn't be with them knowing they didn't want my work in the first place. I could care less about these groups because I will still buy m/m regardless. I don't like being anywhere where I'm not wanted. I'm tired of the hate!

ryan field said...

@ Matt...I really don't care. As I stated: total dismissal. I do think Heidi's heart is in the right place. A lot of authors will be hurt by this. Empathy is an interesting emotion.

@ Leaundra...Thanks...I don't think most readers care.

Jadette said...

Was a member of RWA a long time ago. Took me about two months to realize they were shortsighted and narrowminded beeotches unless you were pubbed with a NY pub. Never renewed my dues and have no intention of ever doing so.

Andi Anderson said...

I feel the same way you do. I'm not a member there, nor will I be. I'm saddened and disappointed for those M/M writers who are members with them. I hate discrimination in any shape or form and it's pathetic that there is still so much homophobia out there, even in the publishing world.

ryan field said...

I feel for the authors who will be hurt by this.

Sue Brown said...

I don't agree, Ryan. It's one contest, sure, for an organisation that doesn't affect you.

But it does have clout, and it does send out a message that it's okay to discriminate. Other chapters will see that and maybe follow the same rules. Then the RWA is back to the way it was previously.

Going backwards is not the way to go.

ryan field said...

"I don't agree, Ryan. It's one contest, sure, for an organisation that doesn't affect you."

It's their decision/opinion and they have the freedom to do as they wish.

When Anita Bryant pulled something like this, it destroyed her. History often repeats itself.

ryan field said...

@Sue...I'd like to add one more thing. I do feel bad for the authors who take this seriously. My heart really does go out to them. I've talked to a few and I know how upset/disappointed they are.

Maybe it's time to start something new? Like an LGBTQ organization for authors of m/m romance that can build as much clout? If you know anyone interested, let me know.

Allyn said...

It seems the chapters that don't want RWA to tell them what to do, also want RWA to tell others what they can't do. Different sides of the same coin.

Flame wars on Facebook and blogs won't solve a thing. Politicians and religious pundits haven't figured that one out yet either. Sitting down calmly and talking across the table generally is more successful. However in this instance, it's moot. It goes back to the tell you what to do/tell you what you can't do issue. Old Abe got it right when he said you can't please all of the people all of the time.

Write your books. Find another contest. Keep writing until you are too big to ignore (can we say e-books and self-publishing???).

And this time next month we'll all be dealing with a different problem.


Sue Brown said...

Hi Ryan,

The Rainbow chapter within the RWA would be that group.

I just wonder if marginalisation is the way to go.

For a single organisation based on one genre to get the same clout seems a backwards step, when in theory the RWA covers all.

I don't know.

ryan field said...

It is a backward step. But my mom's a therapist, and one thing she's always telling clients is that sometimes you have to take two steps backward to go one step forward.

It's a thought. And I do think m/m romance is going to continue to grow. What we're doing right now will probably someday be some younger blogger's nostaligic posts about m/m romance in the early days.