Poster boy

Barbara Vey -- May 12th, 2007

Do you find this poster offensive?  


I don't.  Personally, I'd like a large one for my wall next to my computer, but then I have always been interested in reading.

I received an e-mail from a reader about an incident at the RT convention that I wasn't aware of.  The author is Laura Baumbach, who writes gay erotic romance and fiction (an RWA accepted genre) and you can read her account on her May 1st blog.  Apparently, a business man just walking through and not part of the convention was upset by this display.  He complained to the Hyatt who insisted the display be taken down.  The Hyatt's contention was that the poster was offensive, but when Laura offered to remove the poster only but leave the promo items, she was told  they would be removed again.

The issue isn't whether the material is appropriate or not, it's about the freedom to choose.  We were all adults at the convention and walking down the "freebie" aisle, I noticed people browsing and deciding what went into their bags.  Nothing was forced on anyone.  Personally, I wouldn't want anyone telling me I couldn't look at the  historical romance displays (which had great bodice ripper covers that rivaled this one and my bag was full of them), and I'm sure there were some not interested in that genre, but they didn't complain.

Bottom line:
  This incident is just too Farenheit 451 for me.

29 thoughts on “Poster boy

  1. Kevin A. Lewis

    OK, who weighs more here, one determined hassle-freak who claims to represent a large company, or 500 conventioneers who can’t count themselves and act accordingly? Guess we’ve already got the answer, don’t we?

  2. Terri Pray

    I am both upset and ashamed of the treatment of Laura during the convention. There was nothing offensive about the poster, and I want to know what those business men were doing in a section clearly part of a convention you had a pay a hefty sum to attend?

  3. Kirra Pierce

    I throughly loved the convention and didn’t hear about what happened to Laura until later. It infuriates me that someone can pay good money to attend, to be part of a promotion, to actually obtain the promo materials, follow all the rules, and then get socked in such a way. That’s just wrong. (On top of that, the poster is just cute-how can anyone call it offensive?)

  4. Debi Murray

    I guess since the Hyatt primarily caters to “Business Men”, the right to display and promote the author’s work does not count in the eyes of Hyatt management. I sincerely hope that a letter of censure was written to the Hyatt Corporation from the RT staff and that in the future, the Hyatt chain has lost any hope of getting an RT convention again.

  5. Dakota Cassidy

    It was censorship plain and simple and it stunk. What blew me away is the idea the Hyatt would cater to ONE lone businessman’s complaint when they probably had a million or more complaints about the slow service in the restaurants and the bars. Not a whole lot was done about that, but they jumped on the chance to take a poster down? This must’ve been some businessman to have the Hyatt cater to him that way… Dakota Cassidy :)

  6. Jim Piechota

    I’m curious as to what would have happened had Laura stood up to the Hyatt’s offensive censorship baloney and refused to take her posters and materials down?—and I mean, literally, STOOD UP in front of her poster. Based upon the fact that she paid to have her booth displayed as she wanted, I would have made an incident of it. It would not only have brought more attention to her wonderful writings, but also generated negative press toward the Hyatt establishment as a whole. We all need to stand up and declare our individual rights to free speech and open expressionism as Americans.

  7. Mary Stella

    The poster doesn’t bother me any more than other authors’ promotional material. Some covers are more risque, some are less. I would love to have asked the businessman if he ever buys, reads and looks at the pics in Playboy. *g* Even if he was offended, I thought that raising a stink to hotel management was over the top. He could as easily have shrugged and looked the other way if he chose to walk down Promotion Lane again.

  8. Dolphinover

    This is censorship. That poster was just an excuse. There are many other book covers and promotional material that are much more risque. Laura got a raw deal. It was not right.

  9. Laura Baumbach

    I’d like to thank everyone for their support. I couldn’t believe the entire incident when it was happening and I’m even less understanding of it now weeks later. As yet, the Hyatt hasn’t responded to my emails to several of their head personnel or the written letter I sent to the their CEO Thomas Pritzker, so I’m don’t know what they have to say about the incident. RT representatives have called my house and spoken with my husband to hear his opinion while I’ve either been asleep(I work eve/nights as an ER nurse, at work or out of town, but I haven’t spoken with them personally. I’m still sorting out my feelings on this.

  10. erastes

    I find the whole thing repellent, more so that it’s had the press it’s had and yet no word of an apology or refund has been forthcoming. The RT team have been abrasive and rude – refusing to discuss it with me stating that I was “not there” and therefore not part of the thing when I – and 48 other writers – are part of Manloveromance and therefore were there in our official capacity. I saw some of the other promotional material which was far more risque than this – but no straight businessman (if there even was one, which I doubt) is going to object to a naked woman is he? I wish my voice meant more to this dissent, I wish my withdrawing any support from the Hyatt or RT’s meant anything. I’m just one person but I’ll still complain.

  11. Ally Blue

    I was present at RT, and heard about the incident soon after it happened. Before Laura told me and some of our fellow authors, my roommates and I noticed the MLR poster and much of the promo material was gone, with different promo material in its place, and we wondered. We were blown away when we found out what happened. There is a history between RT and ALL authors of male/male romance, because of RT’s practice of accepting ads (and thus $$) for gay romance books then denying the review which other books (i.e., straight romance) receive. My personal opinion is that this history, and RT’s closed-minded attitude toward GLBT romance, played into this incident. Consider this: apparently, after the Hyatt “realized” (yeah, right) that there was much more explicit material out there on promo lane, they asked for all explicit materials to be removed. RT did not remove them, because it would be unfair to punish their authors. Yet they did not put the MLR stuff back up. There are several things which bug me about this. First off, Laura IS one of “their” authors, since she’s paid to attend. Second, even though I agree that they shouldn’t punish the authors, it is NOT okay to treat Laura (and by extension the rest of us in the Manloveromance group) differently from everyone else. IMO, RT acted the way they did because they are biased against gay romance. Call me crazy, but I can’t think of any other reason for what they did (and, perhaps more importantly, didn’t do). I wonder if they’d talk to me, since I was there? Hmmm… Of course, there’s a reason I don’t generally call people when I’m angry with them. Ally the Tactless

  12. Kiernan Kelly

    As a member of ManLoveRomance, I was, and remain, furious at the treatment Laura, and by extension the rest of the group, received. It seems that as far as RT and the Hyatt are concerned, guests must be catered to and appeased – UNLESS that guest happens to write m/m fiction. In that case, they feel free to run about changing the rules to suit their own narrowminded views and values, regardless of the consequences to the guest. I’ve written to the Hyatt to protest the events at RT and urge everyone who feels strongly that readers should be accorded the right to choose, to do the same. RT’s and the Hyatt’s behavior was outrageous, unethical, insulting, and they must be held accountable for it, if anything is ever going to change. This year m/m erotic romance was under attack. Next time it might interracial erotic romance. Or shapeshifter erotic romance. Or erotic romance, period. Kiernan Kelly

  13. Laura Baumbach

    Now 2 weeks later, RT’s Carol Stacy has been complaining to people that she can’t get hold of me by phone. She has repeatedly called my house. In his opinion, she has been arrogant and demanding to my husband. I work night shift as an ED nurse, have 2 children and was not always present (at work or out of town at Saints and Sinners Book Festival) or not awake to take her calls these last two weeks. It hasn’t been until today that she was civil enough for me to even consider talking to her, but there isn’t a thing I’ll like to say to her. She had 3 days to talk to me in person at RT about this. It occurred on Thursday and I left on Monday. Never once did she or anyone besides their staff representative discuss it with me even though the staffer did call con organizer on the phone in front of me and a witness to tell her I was there with questions and concerns. Instead of talking to me personally, the organizer sent Hyatt Customer Service Manager Lance Barnes to talk me. Neither Carol Stacey nor Jo Carol even attempted to speak with me at that time or any other. I was visible and active for the entire conference, including being a captive audience at the book signing for 3 ½ hours. Talking to me now won’t change how they behaved then. I don’t see the point in it. I’ve relayed the witnessed facts about the incident. I haven’t asked for a single thing from them but to be treated fairly. I never said that the Hyatt Customer Service Manager Lance Barnes said it was because of the M/M content. He also didn’t deny it when I stated I thought it was the reason for the removal when his arguments about the location and appearance of the items were refuted by me with facts. Then he suddenly refused to discuss it anymore, immediately turned his back on me and left. He never denied it, not once. All a witnessed event by another author and the RT staffer. The promo items were placed out of any public area, butted up to all the rest of the promo items. If it was only the location Lance objected to then why was I told I could not return any of it to the promo lane in a new location and if I did it would be removed and taken? That alone tells me it wasn’t the location, but the content as the reason it was removed. When my items were removed, others were put in their place in the exact same spot. I’ve been told that the Hyatt says they would never interfere with a trade show content. Funny, the guy that said he took down my promo had a Hyatt name plate on his suit.

  14. Nathan James

    In my opinion, the onus for this fiasco rests equally upon RT and the Hyatt. RT, in accepting the money Laura and the Manlove group paid to participate in the event, were obliged to give Laura’s items equal and fair showing. The poster Laura displayed–trust me on this–is tame compared to some of the items she could have put up. A couple of my book covers would have really curled that “businessman’s” hair. Also, as many have pointed out, m/m is, in fact, an RWA accepted genre. By treating Laura as it did, RT is derelict in its duty towards Laura, as, after all, it’s the authors the public comes to see. As for the Hyatt, RT and its attendees are paying customers of the hotel, just as much as the “businessman” is. Given that the poster was displayed in an RT-specific area of the hotel (and not, say, in the main lobby), there was no real reason for the “businessman” to complain. If he was wandered into the RT area by mistake, then he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, now was he? In any case, how can the Hyatt claim “offense” when this area was away from the public part of the hotel? In choosing to act as censor, the Hyatt went beyond being the “decency police”. In removing Laura’s promo items, they engaged in restraint of trade. Think about that…

  15. Warrior of Words

    In this day and age, to think that censorship of any kind can still rear its ugly head is sad. The issue of Laura Baumbach at RT this year goes beyond right and wrong, more toward prejudice and ignorance. We can put men on the moon, cure fatal diseases, yet with all these advancements, we still find the undercurrents of personal choice, whatever they may be, taken from us. Ms. Baumbach, being the lady she is, handled herself professionally while in the midst of personal and professional condemnation. This is not the first time Ms. Baumbach has found herself stonewalled by RT. When one stands back and looks at the picture as a whole, a clearly drawn pattern is revealed. One stating RT has taken up a personal stance again gay literature—point. The bottom line, is RT so strong a front that they can manipulate us, the authors, or can the voices of many drown-out the apparently biased? Hopefully in the near future, an individual or group of savvy individuals will see an opportunity on the horizon for another romance magazine that will rival RT. That will approach romance with an open mind, willing to change and evolve with the times…

  16. JAllen

    I had no idea they were so rampantly homophobic over at RT. How shameful that an organization promoting romance proves so cowardly when asked to stand up for ALL types of romance. I read all types and I love them all. I’ll certainly have nothing to do with RT ever again, nor the Hyatt.

  17. Rika

    Poor Laura. What about all the money she spent? And why was she the only one targetted? So many questions. I hope she finds a way to get answers for it and can be a part of RT next year because this type of prejudice sucks!

  18. J'aime

    I have seen more explicit photos on the covers of books on display in my local Borders! The behavior towards Laura is shameful. RT and the Hyatt should refund her money!!

  19. Catt

    it is an outrage that after all the money and time spent that they treat Laura like that. it is a slap in the face and one that i will not forget!

  20. Mary from Milwaukee

    This is horribly homophobic & I intend to write to the Hyatt about this! I follow thru when service etc. is below par & this is certainly an example of that! Thanks Barbara for bringing this to our attention & for all your wonderful “blogs”!

  21. violet

    I thought I had already responded to this but didn’t see my name in the comments/responses. I am outraged & will certainly write to the Hyatt–I hope the convention will find more accommodating & open-minded space next year! Thanks Barb for your wonderful blog!


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