Congratulations, gays! There’s yet another organization out there who doesn’t find find your feelings, romances, and relationships legit. Or at least that’s the message the Romance Writers of Association–an organization of romance writers with over 10,000 members–sent this week when they sanctioned their Romance Writers, Ink.’s chapter’s posting of the rules for their “More Than Magic” contest, which explicitly states “MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.” Why? According to erotic romance writer Kari Gregg, who e-mailed the organization to ask and whose post on the subject can be found here, it was because chapter members were “uncomfortable” with same-sex entries.
It’s almost difficult to pick out the worst part of all of this. For one thing, the idea that that people’s “discomfort” should be able to dictate what’s allowed in a contest, rather than simply finding judges who are open-minded enough to judge all entries equally, is asinine. That’s like hiring me to judge a cooking contest and then my not allowing cilantro, liver, raw onion, walnuts, or cheese, because those are things I don’t like eating. You know what I shouldn’t do because there are foods I strongly dislike? JUDGE A COOKING CONTEST.
Of course, that pales in comparison to the fact that this sort of discrimination is being allowed at all. A romance consists of two people falling in love, or lust, or like. It’s a romance whether the people involved in said relationship have the same genitals or different ones. To tell gays that their stories of romance don’t qualify is basically telling gays… well, that their stories of romance don’t qualify. It’s like going to a wedding and asking every couple there how they got together except the gay ones. The idea that this organization that celebrates love and the written word is closing itself off to celebrate only certain, acceptable kinds of love is nothing short of discriminatory, homophobic, and frankly, disgusting.
Your judges don’t want to read same-sex stories? Their loss. Find new judges. Chalk it up to it not being their genre and move on. But don’t let your entire organization Komen itself because of ignorance. Same-sex romance is out there, and it’s every bit as legit, and special, and beautiful. And you don’t have to have grown up surrounded by it to feel that way. I grew up and still am a practicing Orthodox Jew; I didn’t have an openly gay friend until my twenties. I also copy edit romance novels for a living, both for a m/m romance publisher and an erotica publisher. I get to enjoy everyone’s stories because I’ve chosen to enjoy everyone’s stories. The sooner the rest of the world catches up, the sooner we’ll all finally get the meaning of this “love” thing down.
(You can read more from Heidi Cullinan, the president if Rainbow Romance Writers, RWA’s LGBT chapter, here.)