Discrimination is still discrimination even if you dress it in magic

Let me tell you a story …

Once upon a time there was a Romance Writers of America Chapter. They called themselves Romance Writers Ink and decided their purpose would be

to promote excellence in romantic fiction, to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy, to provide a general basis of mentorship to any writer who is actively, and seriously striving to become published and thus establish a career in the romance genre, as well as to provide a camaraderie for writers within the romance publishing industry.

They also had one annual contest for published writers, the More than Magic, which had the following categories:

  • First Book
  • Historical
  • Novella
  • Paranormal
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Sensual Contemporary
  • Single Title
  • Sweet Contemporary

Oh wait, and there was yet another category:

  • Erotic Romance

Oh yes! They had a special category for erotic romance! Weren’t they cool? And forward-thinking? (At this point I would like you to think about what’s really hot — pun intended — in erotic romance right now …)

The judges for this contest were recruited not just from the RWI chapter, but various other RWA chapters as well, and naturally, all judges were romance readers. Regular romance readers.

And then in 2012, RWI added a little amendment to their contest rules, namely the following little jewel:

Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.

In other words: gay and lesbian characters need not apply.

Why? you might ask (and you wouldn’t be alone).

Kari Gregg, who writes M/M erotic romances, sent an e-mail to the More than Magic contest coordinator to ask exactly that. The reply she got stated

that RWI chapter members were “uncomfortable” with accepting same-sex contest entries. “Same-sex was just too much.”

So apparently, aliens with interesting appendages, sex-crazed werewolves, vampires with exotic tastes, slutty rakes, zombies, forced seductions, outright rape, vanilla sex, masturbation, anal sex, threesomes, foursomes, orgies are all okay and perfectly acceptable, but two homosexual partners in a loving relationship are too much?

Excuse me?!

To make matters worse, it would seem that at the RWA offices nobody feels inclined to call out such discriminatory behaviour.

And to make matters even more worse, on some RWA loops, some members showed themselves astonished over the uproar and cautioned others to actually use the word “discrimination”.

Would they be as nonchalant if the revised contest rules statet that “MTM will no longer accept entries with African American characters in any category”? Or perhaps, “MTM will no longer accept entries with Jewish characters in any category”? Do we really need to spell out how crass this kind of discrimination is?

The changes that Romance Writers Ink made to their contest rules are discriminatory and unacceptable.

3 thoughts on “Discrimination is still discrimination even if you dress it in magic

  1. Sandra Schwab

    They cancelled it? *head desk*

    Just went to their website and had a look. You gotta love this bit:

    “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.”

    Hello-ho? How come they don’t see that not accepting YA entries is not quite the same thing as not accepting gay & lesbian romances? Argh!

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