This is something which I came across last week and I decided that I wanted to give my opinion on the matter. During the Camp Nanowrimo meeting this past Friday I started to work on this blog. Anyway I didn’t get to finish it and I decided that I would work on it some more during the weekend. However by the time Saturday or Sunday rolled around the matter had been resolved as posted on the website by the person who this happened to and therefore I wasn’t sure if I should post it or not. But I decided for me this is something I want to write about it. This is a topic that matters to me. And not just me, but a lot of like-minded people around me.
One thing though, because this matter has been resolved I’ve decided to remove the link to the initial blog.
Every now and then you come across something either by coincidence or maybe by sheer accident which you just can’t scroll past. You have to read it and in this case even give my opinion. It’s not something I do often but this is something I want to say something about because I think that I have something to say.
Ever since I’ve been writing at least ninety percent of what I write is LGBTQ related. A mere ten percent if even that – is either heterosexual or has nothing at all to do with romance. For that reason I consider myself a LGBTQ writer, just like I consider myself bisexual. The reason why I couldn’t scroll past this particular post has to do with both of those facts. I came across a post on a Facebook page which referred to a blog post – when I followed the link it brought me to a personal blog of two writers. No. I won’t be posting the link. Since the matter has been resolved I don’t feel that it is necessary to link to that blog or the writing contest website this is about.
The original post was dated on the thirteenth – and by now there has been made an apology by the organization behind the writing contest – but still it’s something I want to write about because it’s ridiculous especially in this day and age. In 2016 we should be able to live our lives the way we want to without being judged but apparently that is still a long way off.
The person who wrote this blog post participated in a competition with a story – a gay inspirational story which she entered into the Inspirational Romance category. Sounds logical right? Well apparently it wasn’t all that logical. If the criteria only state that it should be a romantic novel which features a religious or spiritual belief system. And assuming that those criteria are met I think that a novel featuring a gay couple, or a transgender person involved in a romantic relationship shouldn’t be a problem. At least there is nothing in the rules which excludes stories. Which is probably why the author was so surprised when she received the request by the website to move her story to a different category. Which she refused because they wanted to send the story to a none romantic story category. Reason was that none of the judges wanted to read the story because it contained a gay relationship.
Apparently you still can’t be a spiritual or religious person while also being gay. I myself am not a very religious person though I’m a Catholic – I was baptized, did my first communion and even my confirmation. While my religion might not be very important to me, I do consider myself to be a very spiritual person. Anyway that’s besides the point.
This person was asked to move their story to a different category, which she refused with good reason since the book meets the criteria. If your story doesn’t meet the criteria and you’re asked to move it to a different category I would say that it’s their good right to ask and author to move the story. But the reason here seemed to be that the judges were unwilling to read a gay romantic story. Well, the problem doesn’t lay with the story! It’s with the judges!!! What kind of a judge are you if you’re unwilling to read stories because it’s not the type of ‘romance’ you consider to be normal?
In my eyes – love is love. It’s as simple as those three little words. Love is love. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s shouldn’t matter what kind of romance story it is as long as it is well-written romance. Whether it’s F/M, M/M or F/F romance shouldn’t matter it should be about the romance. But that is just my humble opinion.
They always say don’t judge a book by it’s cover – clearly that is what they did here. They didn’t read the story they just noticed the word ‘gay’ and decided that they didn’t want to read the story, that it wasn’t worth their time.
I would like to add don’t judge a story by it’s category. When you read an LGBTQ story it doesn’t mean that gay romance is thrown at you on every bend. It could just be the fact that there is an mention of a gay relationship or even simply the fact that someone is gay and that could literally be all there is too it. Romance can be all about the courting, sex might not be part of that storyline.
Besides that, had they added a rule where they stated that only heterosexual stories were allowed for submission. An author of LGBTQ stories might not have liked that, I know I wouldn’t have but they wouldn’t have entered their story either. I have entered my fanfiction stories into challenges and sometimes they included the no gay or lesbian stories rule and while lots of people didn’t agree with it they did respect it. I always try to see it as someone saying they like scary stories but no gore. You can have scary stories but you don’t need the gore to make it scary. If you state beforehand that you don’t want something it won’t come back to haunt you.
The fact that they never stated anything in the rules and the way they handled the situation screams close minded and bigoted. Even while the end result might be the same, it feels completely different.
I applaud that the person who this happened to because she spoke up, she told her story and it’s good that she publicly shared it on her blog. The fact that she did so in the way she did is even more reason to applaud her.
Whenever I wrote a story involving lesbian romance I would warn people before they started reading it. I’m talking about fanfiction here, where warnings before a story or a chapter are very common. And I still got flamed every now and then and it has always annoyed me to no end that bigoted close-minded people ignore warnings and are judgemental when they haven’t read a single word. And this really reminded me of that situation but in my opinion in this case it’s even worse since these judges should have remained professional.
As I stated at the top of the page the issue has apparently been resolved and a sincere apology has been made by the organization of the contest. Which I think is the right thing to do of course. But it’s sad to see that even in this modern time in the year 2016 these things still happen.
Camp Nanowrimo mini-update
I guess it took me long enough to get this post finished already but I decided to add a small Camp Nanowrimo update as well. Like I said before I had no idea what I was going to write when I arrived at the meeting, but after reading this story the choice was easily made.