Monday, February 6, 2012

More Than Magic? Less Than Fair (or cool)

Romance writing contests have many purposes. They provide exposure and opportunity to aspiring authors, they get unpublished manuscripts in front of agents and editors, they give published authors a wider audience (and bragging rights, let's be honest here). And for RWA chapters who sponsor contests, they're often the year's biggest fundraisers.

Like many RWA chapters, RWI (Romance Writers, Ink, based in Tulsa, OK) sponsors a couple of contests. They have one for unpublished authors, and one for published authors. The More Than Magic contest, for published authors, is now accepting entries - with one big exception. For the first time, according to their rules, " – Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category."

Key phrase there? "No longer." Same-sex romances have won awards in that contest in the past. But now, according to reports, the chapter has decided that the majority of members are "uncomfortable" with accepting same-sex romances in their contest.

They've been offered judges willing to evaluate same-sex romances. They've been inundated with negative responses, so much so that apparently they've disabled the pingback function on their contest page because it was full of links to outraged blog posts. And still, they're choosing to double down on their (in my opinion) bigoted and offensive choice.

On the positive side, the larger romance community is up in arms over it, and not just those who write GLBT romance. Writers from newbies to New York Times bestselling authors are standing up for equality, stating unequivocally "this is not right. This is not who we are, as romance writers. And love is love."

Is there disagreement? Of course. With 10,000 members in RWA, and far more than that in the larger romance community, there are people arguing the other side as well, insisting that the chapter has every right to limit their own contest, which is true.

It is also true that we have the right to challenge that limitation, and refuse to participate in activities that condone it. Courtney Milan, among others, encouraged people to boycott the contest, and let the chapter know why.

And by the end of the day Sunday, the contest had been cancelled.

Does this fix everything? Sadly, no. But I'm heartened to realize, once again, I'm surrounded by awesome people, people who support equality, and non-discrimination, and love. Above all else, love.

Because for me, that's what it's all about.


Meg Benjamin said...

It was a tumultuous weekend. Unfortunately, I'm not sure anyone's opinions were changed, but at least now the issue has been clearly stated.

Kelly Jamieson said...

The issue with the contest was disturbing enough, but I wish that it could have been dealt with professionally. There were so many unfounded accusations and assumptions flying around from people who didn't know the fact, like the assumption that it was because the chapter couldn't find judges, when they'd already told people that wasn't the issue, it was their membership who were uncomfortable with including same sex romances.

Kate Davies said...

I agree, there's been a lot of sound and fury surrounding this whole issue. But in the end, I'm proud of the people I've chosen to surround myself with, and think y'all rock. :)