At the Giant Book Signing, which was mind-boggling, I started to notice a group promoting itself called Clean Reads.
I was curious, so I went to their website to find out more about them. They're a publisher and their tagline is "All story. No Guilt." Not a big fan of guilt, so that was good. And I love stories, so that was good. I did wonder--why would anyone feel guilty about reading a book?
I read their "About Us" and found this:
"Clean Reads (formerly Astraea Press) is proud to offer wholesome reading without compromise. We don’t believe a story has to have profanity, sex, or graphic violence to catch a reader’s attention. Our stories – rich and vibrant with life – leap from the page, welcoming readers to a world they’ll remember long after the last words are read. Life doesn’t exist in a single nuance, and neither do we. Clean Reads is excited to celebrate authors and readers of every genre."
Okay. That sounds like a reasonable premise. Not everyone wants "hot" or "steamy" or even profanity in their books. And that's fine; I was actually glad to see that Clean Reads filled a niche.
Then I checked their submissions page and was shocked. Offended. Felt, once again, discriminated against. Out in the cold. Worst of all, I felt "dirty." Because, if you're not "clean", it follows that you're dirty. Here's the part of Clean Reads submission page that had me feeling queasy and bad for myself and everyone else who identified as LGBT:
What? Seriously? No homosexual characters? Why? Can't homosexuals be included in a "clean" story? What if that story doesn't contain explicit sex, profanity, or graphic violence? Just the fact that people are gay (the way God made them, in my opinion) is a good enough reason to keep them far, far away from anything "clean"?
Shame on you, Clean Reads, for perpetuating the idea that gay people are "dirty" and not worthy of being included in your canon of "clean" literature. You perpetuate the mindset that gay people are deserving of discrimination, of being outcast, of being viewed as somehow less worthy than straight people.
Thanks for that.