Saturday, February 27, 2010

Publisher Lumps Homosexuality in with Rape and Pedophilia

In the course of my communications with other writers and publishers, I came across recently the submission guidelines for Wild Rose Press. The guidelines were pretty typical, until I came to this:

"Please note the elements that we do not accept within any of our lines:
No depraved or illegal acts
Hero and Heroine should not be already married to one another except in certain circumstances such as marriage of convenience.
Heroine and Hero should not be married to other people when they begin their relationship.
No bestiality
No degradation of women (rape)
No pedophilia* (no sex involving underage characters)
No homosexuality** (our romances celebrate heterosexual monogamous relationships)"

Now, publishers are a private entity and have every right to publish the books they want to publish. What I object to is lumping homosexuals in with child molesters, people who have sex with animals, rapists, and others who engage in "depraved or illegal acts".

That's just bad manners. And it's wholesale categorizing like this that makes it difficult for gay people to get the equality they deserve. So, while I am not advocating Wild Rose Press begin accepting GLBT submissions, I am encouraging them to modify their guidelines to remove the implication that gay people belong in the same category as the lowest members of society. Perhaps they could simply state that they want romance stories that involve heterosexual couples and that do not include adultery, rape, beastiality, or pedophilia. That way, they don't even have to bring "us" up at all.

Nix Winter, a writer of just the kind of stories that Wild Rose Press, would shun, said it better than I ever could: 

I looked at their guidelines... they don't want homosexual stories, so
pretty much everything I write is a poor fit for them.

I'm gender queer, sexually queer, probably queer in other ways...

and so are my characters.

I really just hate... it totally gets under my skin when guidelines are like

No Rape
No Bestiality
No Pedophilia
No Homosexuality

That's like...

No Murder
No Plague
No Human Sacrifice
No Freckles

It's not like they could take their ignorant selves and be like

No Blacks
No Retards
No Chinks
No Fags

That would obviously be wrong... offensive, but other wise 'nice' little
people feel it perfectly fine to lump who I am in with rapists, pedophiles
and dog humpers.


I had to applaud Nix, who voiced my own thoughts better than I ever could.
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  1. Interestingly, if you re-read those guidelines, they are also lumping traditional marriage and heterosexual adultery in with all of those things as well.... because the hero and heroine cannot be married to each other unless it was a marriage of "convenience". Apparently, they and their readers believe its impossible for romance to exist in a traditional marriage.

  2. I'll join your applause, Rick. I ran across these guidelines a few years back and had a few things to say. I was not as eliquently clear as Nix. She does know how to turna phrase, doesn't she?

  3. She does indeed. No freckles...I love it.

  4. Oh, and I have freckles. So do my characters sometimes. I too found this offensive and ill thought out. Like Rick pointed out, it would have been just as easy for them to say 'all we publish are male/female relationships' and not even use the word homosexual. At it stands, I can't help but think they are nasty bigots.

  5. I have freckles too! And I checked out TWRP's submission guidelines at the end of 2008 when I first started subbing... I'm afraid they ended up on my list of pubs that I won't sub to for a number of reasons including this one. I remember seeing that and being startled by how they listed it, but at the time I just moved on and didn't bring it anyone's attention. Of course, at the time, I didn't have a M/M book out yet either.

  6. Frankly, I'm stunned. Could it be that their guidelines were written without any regard for placement of their criteia? Or can they be that...what's the word? Oh, you know what it is....

  7. I'm with you and Nix on this, Rick. The way they worded this is simply unacceptabe in today's day and age. You would think. It's sad to see that attitudes like that are still so prevalent. I will send them a comment, maybe it will get them to think if enough of us speak up.

  8. I'm sure they are not concerned with what we "homosexuals" find offensive. We are probably not seen as a significant piece of their customer demographic. But these folks are often shocked to discover that their hetero readers who have gay family and friends also find such an attitude abhorrent. Let's hope they hear from a few of our straight allies.

  9. Wow, unbelievable. I took a look at their books when I first started buying ebooks and was...well, bored. Glad now I never bought anything from them. What a terrible way to list their criteria! Go Rick and Nix...many applauds for your pointing this out.

  10. Like Baby Moose, I find it interesting that happily married people are listed among the dog-humpers and the slime who prey on kids. Maybe it's just "a horse designed by a committee"?

  11. Nix definitely has a way with words, a fantastic way. I applaud both you and her for standing up and speaking out. Although, I am a heterosexual woman I do understand what it's like to be condemned by the ignorance of others. I've been told I will burn in Hell because I'm Pagan and asked what's wrong with me for writing gay fiction. I take offense to the fact that sexual orientation would be lumped in with such things as pedophilia.

    It's this type of thinking that continues the twisted stereotypes that prevail in this society. Ignorance is not an excuse. No one is demanding they support the GLBTQ community, but rather not to insult other human beings simply because of who they love.

    Kudos to you and Nix both.

  12. I remember reading those guidelines and thinking HOW ODD. I figured not only would I never write for them, I'd never read anything from them either and then moved on. Even my het wouldn't fit.

    You're right, it's tremendously insulting.

    They're simply not my cup of tea.

  13. Thank you for letting readers like myself know - I am definately stunned as well......

    Nice way of putting it Nix..


  14. I remember reading those guides a couple of years ago and shaking my head then. Publishers definitely have the right to chose what they wish to publish, but you'd think they also had the tact to post their desired submission guides so they don't offend such an enormous portion of society. I'd no more buy a book from them than dive head first off a high-rise. I would imagine a great many people agree with me on that. At least I would hope so.

    Ya know, I write all manner of genre, and I can't think of one of my books or short stories that would fit there. THANK HEAVEN!


  15. I am not a writer, so I don't know too much about the publishing process, but I just don't understand how something like this can still be legal in print.

    So they don't publish same-sex couples ... ok, there are a lot of publishers that do ... but to actually promote their prejudice in writing is beyond me. Whoever decided the phrasing of their guidelines must have left his brain at home that day.

    My guess is that whoever had the idea to limit the submissions in the first place wouldn't give two squats about insulting the actual people who read, write, and represent both the gay community and/or traditionally married folks ... although, why they don't want married couples is bizarre to me as well.

  16. This isn't the only publisher I find offensive. For me it's also more than the obvious. It's completely tailored to romance. Like Maurya said, boring. On the flip side, some people just need to be sure they only get what they want no surprises.

  17. "No freckles"--LOL. I can't believe a modern publisher would lump homosexuality in with such horrific acts. Also, don't people read romance in order to escape from the mundane--not delve head first into it?

  18. They changed the guidelines!!!

  19. Well done, Nix! Action at it's finest. It's one thing we all sit here and bitch about it. (and I'm guilty, too.) Completely 'nuther story when someone takes ation, and speaks *out* Not only is she eloquent, but she's effective, too. Thanks for standing up for all of us. I'm inspired to be more pro active in future. :)

  20. Well since 99.9 percent of my stories are GLBT in pairing I wouldn't fit in with their guidelines anyway. I understand all publishers have the right to decide what they will or won't publish but to state it like this just makes me ill. Once agin we've taken two steps forward and ten back.

  21. Fascinating - they must have had several complaints - I emailed them this morning as I'm sure many others of you did. And note -- they added 'at this time' to their exclusion of gay romance

  22. I don't care if they don't want to publish me. *snickers* They might not be alone in that... but I don't want them calling me a pedophile!

    I'm so happy they changed it!

  23. Their attitude reminds me a bit of an email I got a couple of years back. A new publisher sent a glowing email praising me and my work and inviting me to submit.

    Then I went to their website and saw that they did not accept homosexual pairings (written in much the same way as the above, actually). Oops, guess they didn't know my work after all. Needless to say I haven't subbed to them, and I never will--not even if I decide to write a het romance.

  24. It was, at least, nice to see they heard and were willing to listen enough to change their guidelines. Thanks to everyone who spoke up!

  25. Wow, seriously? This is on a publisher website? If they don't want gay fiction, they could have done it in a more professional manner. This comes off as an insult, comparing homosexuality to pedophilia.

  26. They don't want genre fiction, but publish "paranormal". These people have no idea what the hell they want.

  27. UPDATE: Due to my blog, the efforts of author Nix Winters and several other people who wrote to the publisher to complain. As of yesterday, they changed their guidelines to the following (a small improvement, but still some progress and it does go to show that speaking out can sometimes get results):
    Please note the following Special Submission Requirements which are for all lines in the company:

    "-We publish stories between a man and a woman - (we do not, at this time, take submissions with homosexual romance).
    -Hero and Heroine should not be already married to one another except in certain circumstances such as marriage of convenience.
    -Heroine and Hero can not be married to other people when they begin their relationship (no adultry).
    -Must include the hero and heroine's pov. No third pov's except in very specific circumstances (ie: villian's in Crimson Rose, etc.) We will review a manuscript written only in first person but its not our preference.
    -Although we do accept stories containing explicit sex in most of our lines, it must occur between consenting adults."

    Baby steps...but at least homosexuals are no longer grouped with pedophiles, rapists, and people who cavort with donkeys.

  28. Good job, your now an activist.

  29. Re: "UPDATE: Due to my blog"

    Excellent news! That is a far better choice of wording.

  30. Yay!! A little progress can lead to a big change. Even so, I know I won't be querying them, their focus is way too narrow.Great job to Rick, Nix and everyone who spoke out. You all rock!