Let me start by stating that I don’t belong to RWA (Romance Writers of America) or RWI (Romance Writers Ink) or RRW (Rainbow Romance Writers), but I’ve been trying to follow the storm brewing on the internet about same-sex romances being unaccepted in the More Than Magic (MTM) writing conference offered by the RWI chapter of RWA.
In the rules of the MTM contest, it is stated “ Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.” No reason in given in the rules. I have contacted RWI, and here is the information I have received:
On behalf of RWI, a small local chapter of RWA:
After much consideration, RWI regretfully announces the MTM Published Author Contest has been cancelled. All monies received from entrants will be returned as soon as possible. We have heard and understood the issues raised, and will take those concerns into consideration should the chapter elect to hold contests in the future. Please note: our contest coordinator, Jackie, is a chapter member who graciously volunteered to collect entries and sort by category. It is unfortunate that she has become the object of personal ridicule and abuse. We recognize the decision to disallow same-sex entries is highly charged. We also opted not to accept YA entries. We do not condone discrimination against individuals of any sort.
RRW president Heidi Cullinan wrote a passionate blog called “RWA Shouldn’t Be in the Business of Discrimination.” In it she states, “Several members have emailed [RWI] to ask why the change; one member got a reply. She was told it was a hard decision, but some members of the chapter felt “uncomfortable” with same-sex entries.” You can read the entire blog here.
KT Grant published, in her blog, a response from Erin Frye of RWA to Isobel Carr regarding RWA’s stance on individual chapter contests. “Chapter licensing agreements do not dictate the rules for chapter contests, and the idea that RWA can or should police contests run by its 145 chapters is fraught with complications. Following the suggestion logically, how far should RWA go with regulating chapter contests? Should RWA require chapters to only allow entries that would qualify for the RITA competition? If so, that would rule out contests that are open to books that are self published and/or books published by many small presses. Viewing the situation from another perspective, if the Rainbow chapter wished to hold a contest for the best LGBT books, should RWA say that’s not allowed? Personally, I don’t think so. Each chapter is separately incorporated and governed by volunteer leaders who are expected to make decisions in the best interests of the organization they serve. Each chapter is therefore allowed to offer programs and services that reflect the special interests and sensibilities of its members.” You can read the entire blog here.
I see several different issues here. Do individual chapters have the right to choose what they want to allow into their contests? Is it discrimination if they don’t? What if they can’t find readers to judge the contest? Is it their responsibility to find judges if not readily available?
I looked at the RWI website and they appear to be a small group in Tulsa, OK. I also checked out the RRW website and noticed that they didn’t have a contest available on their site. Should RRW be required to have one? And if they did would they accept all types of romance?
Is it up to RWA to police all the contest that are run in all the chapters?
I sure don’t claim to have any of the answers. I know this is a hot button topic. Even though I have read same sex books and we have blurbed about them on the blog, it’s not a topic I normally read. But then there are other genres I don’t necessarily read because they aren’t my cup of tea. These are personal choices of mine, but others may be fine with them and that’s okay. That’s why there are so many choices out there.
Now that you have heard all sides, is this an issue that got bigger than it would have if things weren’t so instantaneous on the internet? Would cooler minds have prevailed if everyone had a chance to have their say? Do you still believe this was a blatant act of discrimination? Or was it just a small chapter working within their means?
Bottom Line: No easy answers here today.
From Mia Marlow: Two chances to win an advance reading copy of Mia Marlowe’s TOUCH OF A ROGUE (one of Publishers Weekly’s Top Ten Romances for Spring 2012!). Leave a comment for Mia at http://www.bravaauthors.com/blog on Monday Feb. 6th and at http://jauntyquills.com/ on Thursday Feb. 9th. Good luck!