Romance Writers Ink and the Gay/Lesbian Romance

There’s been a bunch of political / social crap going through life over this past week. From the Komen disaster to the latest debacle of a Romance Writers of America Chapter, The Romance Writers Ink (RWI), refusing to include same-sex romances in their annual contest, it’s been a shit-shoveling on the brain kind of week.

I keep telling people; I’m not an activist. A lot of my friends disagree with this statement but hear me out. I don’t have the energy to be an activist. And I sure as hell don’t have the emotional energy to be a hardcore activist.

What I do believe I can do without sacrificing what little sanity I do have? Communicate the issues to others. And voice an opinion. Both in words and with money. I boycott the Boy Scouts’ fundraisers because of their policies on homosexuality and endorse the Girl Scouts for their support of a transgender scout. I will no longer support the Komen foundation’s fundraising…and that saddens me because thousands of women have dedicated so much of their energy towards promoting a worthwhile cause…but see, I believe they were betrayed by the very organization they put their faith into.

I do not endorse PETA. I feel their tactics are terroristic in nature and their practices are hypocritical. I also like eating meat. I wear leather but do not own a fur coat. I would want the animals that provide me sustenance and clothing to be treated ethically. My mother’s family comes from a rural community. I’ve participated in the dismembering of pigs for sausage and plucking chickens for dinner. I have fished my food out of the sea and have cleaned that catch. I don’t make apologies for my food choices but I do demand that the food sources are treated with some decency.

Sadly, I know that my conservation efforts where animals are concerned are driven by the fuzzy cuteness of things. I am horrified that people continue to eat dog or even capybara, a species I for some reason have a special love for. I wouldn’t eat a guinea pig although I know it is eaten widely in parts of South America and rabbit is a standard food source for many… I also have a bunny fetish.

So, I have to balance my beliefs with the knowledge that I can’t … shouldn’t… shape the world using my viewpoints. It’s wrong to do so. In doing so, I negate any compassion and understanding of other cultures and beliefs. That’s just plain wrong.

So what to think about the Romance Writers Ink contest and their banning of same-sex romances?

I think it’s fucked up.

I’ve thought about it. I’ve thought about the reason given for excluding same-sex romances; they feel uncomfortable reading the content.

Fucked. Up.

I want to say…deal with it. Fix this! We have so many damned walls between us as it is, why create more? Why keep adding bricks to these walls?

But it all comes down to one thing… the Romance Writers Ink contest depends on people entering and paying an entrance fee. Want to make a difference? Ask your fellow authors to boycott the contest. Spread the word and ask people to deny funding for the contest and the chapter. Explain why you’re boycotting but do so reasonably. Send RWI a letter stating your disappointment in them and that you will be acting accordingly. Contact their “mother” organization the Romance Writers of America and do the same, express your disappointment in their child chapter.

I hope our voices are heard. We don’t want special treatment.

Just equal treatment.

Contacting Romance Writers Ink:
Vice President Kathlyn Smith:
Membership Officer Susan Shay:
Contest Contact:

Contacting Romance Writers America:
Romance Writers of America
14615 Benfer Road
Houston, TX 77069

Phone: 832-717-5200
Fax: 832-717-5201


13 thoughts on “Romance Writers Ink and the Gay/Lesbian Romance

  1. Patricia

    Everyone of us is unique. Sometimes that means we’re “different” from the mainstream. Well the mainstream is starting to look a lot more diverse from where I stand. Afterthought: my French grandpa raised bunnies for food for his family, and also ate pigeons, pheasants….but everything my uncles shot to eat (boar, deer) was treated fairly and it wasn’t some crazed animal slaughter…Fanaticism in any form is to be avoided. It’s so easy to fall into…..
    By the way I have taken a lot of flak since 9-11 about my maternal French ancestry. So cruelly ignorant. My mother never ate a single frog’s leg until she arrived in Indonesia.

    1. I am so very sorry you caught crap for your culture and ancestry. That to me is just… intolerable. In all forms. :::hugs:::

      And yes, mainstream should be more… diverse than cookie cutter suburbia. I really believe that the best way to fight intolerance is to communicate and share… even if that sharing is a bit unpleasant or alien to your culture.

      You know, I’ve never been fond of frog legs… but then, I’ve also not ever cared for sea cucumber and a LOT of my relatives think it’s lovely. I’m all… :::shudders::: blech. 😀

      Don’t kill what you can’t eat. And feed the person next to you. I think that’s pretty much what life is about 😀

  2. Unfortunately from what I can see, RWA as a whole is allowed to get away with this because the majority of the members don’t kick up enough of a fuss.

    If the majority of members told them, we don’t want discrimination and homophobia in our organisation, and if you continue to support it, I will no longer be a member therefore you don’t get my money, who wants a bet that RWA will change their official stance pretty quick.

    I’m also surprised that this is legal. Aren’t there discrimination laws in the US?

    1. I don’t know enough to say legally if this is possible. I’d imagine they can because they’re …in essence.. a private organization and they aren’t discriminating against members, per se.

      Now if they banned gay writers or gay members, then that’s a maybe but LAMBDA did that and got away with it… they banned heterosexual writers from their awards. Christopher Rice quit as one of the heads over it. They’ve backpedaled over the past few years I think but it was met with a sort of a shrug.

      Under both RWI and LAMBDA review standards, I can’t or couldn’t submit my work for an award.

      Do I intend to stand at the back of the bus? Hell no. I’m not going to pay to ride 😀 I’d rather march.

    2. I stand still… sighing in frustration at LAMBDA Literary.

      LGBT authors will be recognized with three awards given annually during the Lambda Literary Awards ceremony (each to a male-identified and female-identified individual) marking stages of a writer’s career: the Debut Fiction Award (to one queer man and one queer woman), the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize (to one male-identified and one female-identified author), and the Pioneer Award (to one male-identified and one female-identified individual or group).

      So I could not submit Dirty Kiss for Debut Fiction.

  3. PD Singer

    Thank you for sharing the local officers’ contact information. I had already written an open letter to the RWA national office protesting the contest’s rules, and have forwarded it now to these folks.

    A generation ago this fight was about interracial stories.

    1. I fully believe that the best way to protest is to rationally and firmly raise your voice. :::nods:::

      I understand what they are saying. I just disagree with it. If they are uncomfortable with the material, then find a judge who is or… explore and challenge the discomfort.

      Sometimes things that go bump in the night need a little light shed on them so you can just see it’s the cat. 😀

  4. Sent my email to RWA today, as I’m still catching up. It’s been a firestorm of posts at the Rainbow Romance Writer’s yahoo group.

    I don’t know if you know the answer to this or not, but does one have to be a member of RWA in order to enter chapter-sponsored contests? I almost want to say, “If they want to be dinosaurs, let them go extinct” and just help organize a boycott of the contest. But if being able to enter that contest is a benefit of being in RWA, but you can’t enter because your contemporary/paranormal/whatever novel has two guys canoodling, then yeah, RWA probably needs to step in to protect its dues-paying members.

    And FWIW, I decided about 5 years ago that ALL animals were too cute for me to eat. Makes it hard to go to sports bars (heh, I typed “barfs” — Freudian slip?).

    1. Ah, I don’t have an answer for the RWA question. Sorry. I was debating if I should actually join. I’m not much of a joiner. Rather I tend to wander off on my own and then say… shit? was I supposed to pay attention back there?

      Yes, I think it’s a boycott needed there. I do feel for their discomfort. I in no way want to “force” m/m or f/f onto people. It’s a hard line to cross. And what point do we cross the line over into zealot? My preference would be for them to find an alternate judge or three who does read that genre. But then I’m assuming RWA is equal to all. I can’t say that either.

      I want to point out that Lambda Literary isn’t either… as far as sexuality of the author for the Debut Novel award. Only gay and lesbian authors are considered.

      Guidelines state: “The Debut Fiction Award (to one queer man and one queer woman).”

      So, where does that leave us? I don’t know. I know what my gut says… of course I also say there shouldn’t be a m/m or f/f genre and we should all be tossed into the same “fiction” pot but well…. that day isn’t here :::grins::: Hell, I’d like it if we weren’t all tossed into the “romance/erotica” pot together.

      Baby steps. Baby steps.

  5. What?!? You don’t know every by-law of the RWA? Get off of my screen!!!


    I really need to ask RRW or even my local chapter about the contests. It would be good to know. And you should consider joining RWA, because then you could join RRW, and we’re awesome! 😀 But seriously, you could help us effect change from within, even if all you do is join. Strength in numbers, etc.

    Lambda Literary — I read about the controversy, but I figured it wouldn’t apply to me because my writing will never, ever be up for any kind of award. 🙂 But it’s kind of crazy to think that they’re giving awards for sexuality (I know, a good book has to be in there somewhere, but still….) So could a bisexual woman win the award? Does she have to prove her bisexuality? If you don’t want to actually kiss a girl, there’s always photoshop. 😉

    The big “fiction” pot: I’ve been tossing around the idea of leaving “m/m” off of my writer business cards, off of my bio sheets for contests. Because if it’s all romance, then we’re all romance writers. But as a reader, I like to know what I’m getting into. Of course, readers could always just read the back cover blurb (or in the case of query letters, the synopsis) and figure it out.

    1. I have considered this weekend joining RWA and then RRW. But ah, as far as affecting a change, I’m not a “name” or a loud enough voice. I do tend to wander off. It’s horrible! Short Attention Span Theatre. :::grins:::

      It’s a surprise I can finish writing a book.

      I haven’t decided if I write romance. 😀 I might. Heh. Labels! So many!

      And yes, I guess you have to provide a sex tape to prove your sexuality. Perhaps notarized statements?

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