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Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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What's going on with #yesGayYA
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cleolinda
I have been writing (good) and having health issues (bad), so I've been quieter than I would have liked. However, before I can get to a number of other things, we have a publishing kerfuffle to discuss. Yes, another one. It's gotten pretty bad.

The short overview from the Guardian: YA authors asked to 'straighten' gay characters: Authors say agent offered them book deal conditional on making a character heterosexual.

The long version: Pack a lunch, you'll need itCollapse )



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Thank you for this post; it's a much clearer overview than I've seen.

(I find it hard to believe either of the authors involved would lie/mislead people on this topic, but I've followed at least one of their ljs for a long time--and have stumbled across comments by the other regularly in contexts I respect--so am undeniably biased)

You are super-awesome. Primo internet journalism here.

The points about personal vs institutional prejudice and how the word "homophobia" is making people's brains shut off are SO important and I'm really, really glad you included them the way you did. Thanks so much for this writeup!

Thanks--I was trying really hard to keep that from sliding into derailing-tactic territory. You know, like, "It's not homophobia, that wasn't the intent." It could totally be classified as institutional homophobia if you want, but there's still a need to respond differently to subtle, even unconscious silencing and blatant "dark and scary things" homophobia. One might be well-meaning and open to change; the other one isn't.

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Yeah... I wasn't going to say it. (Thanks.)

Wow, one of my tweets got quoted! :)

Brilliant write up. Danke!

Most people have touched on the other aspects of this, but one of the things that is puzzling me is how many people seem to be saying that the publishing industry is probably one of the least homophobic industries.

That's like saying that one lemon out of the bunch is the least sour. It might be LESS sour but it's still going to pucker your lips. Even in supposedly accepting industries (Hollywood, there are a lot of left-leaning film-makers, actors, etc. after all, comes to mind. And it's still on TV, so it's hollywood-related, but after watching a season of So You Think You Can Dance, I was struck by how homophobic and gender-role specific the dance industry seems to be. Men have to be STRONG, women have to be SEXY, anyone who challenges that, the judges don't know what to do with.)

The numbers are pretty illustrative of trends I think. They are, thankfully, on the rise, but they are still pretty dismal when you look at it, and I'm guessing if you narrowed it down to MAIN characters/heroes, it would look even worse, as Scott Tracey said.

I don't doubt that a lot of these editors/agents don't think of themselves as homophobic, and may be gay/glbt-friendly in their personal lives, which means that they react with a natural sort of horrified hurt when accused of homophobia, but when the idea is that "it won't sell, so we need to cut it" and it's pervasive, then it's silencing, even if they never think of it as such. (And frankly given the fact that the authors stand by their statement that they were SPECIFICALLY told they could have the sexuality revealed later, which the rebuttal seems to ignore and not make any allowance for, I tend to give the authors more credence here.)

This whole thing is bothering the hell out of me, as a reader, not even counting my author aspirations. The rebuttal was SO aggressive, and seemed to be working so hard to paint the pair of them as opportunistic drama-mongers, which seems fairly ridiculous and disingenuous, especially given they never NAMED the publisher. I think that makes it even more grating than Telep's breezy, bizarre wrestling comments.

Forgive me if this makes no sense. But thank you for putting this together, I feel like I've gotten a much better sense of what went down than I had from reading scattered link round ups.

This whole thing is bothering the hell out of me, as a reader, not even counting my author aspirations. The rebuttal was SO aggressive, and seemed to be working so hard to paint the pair of them as opportunistic drama-mongers, which seems fairly ridiculous and disingenuous, especially given they never NAMED the publisher.

Well, and you see why so many people are afraid to say anything, which makes it look even more unlikely when someone does speak up. Even aside from hurt feelings, there were SO MANY people I saw who, as far as I knew, didn't have shit to do with any of it, but felt compelled to insult and dismiss the writers, as if they were relieved to have the status quo back. Or maybe a "hoax" was juicier gossip. I don't know.

And yeah, the "come out later" statement, which had nothing to do with a valid POV critique, strikes me as the most telling issue. Which is probably why the rebuttal didn't address it.

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I seem to recall that during the WPT mess, it was pointed out that school libraries are a major consumer of YA books. And we all know how reactionary some parents get over books that aren't even reasonably objectionable; forget books that actually have (gasp) homosexuals in them. I mean, tons of people challenged Harry Potter, a series about family, friendship, the power of love, and doing the right thing even when it got hard, because there was magic in it. In that light, you see where a certain amount of YA market anxiety comes from. Not that it's laudable, but you see what station the logic train started from.

I need to go take some Advil until I start making sense again.

This is a really heroic post! Thank you for making it, and all the links back to original sources.

I was hoping you'd do a write-up of this! Thanks.

Holy crap, this must have taken forever to put together. I admire the lengths you went to so you could get each side of the story. Thank you for doing that.

Interestingly enough, I've read more YA novels as an adult than I did as a young adult. I read huge scifi novels and murder mysteries—I was that kid on the playground with her nose stuffed in a book and taking up a swing. I started really getting into YA when I started watching the Vlog Brothers on YouTube and realized John Green was the John Green. The one who wrote An Abundance of Katherines. My point is, YA isn't just for young adults. Sometimes we adults like to pick up a YA novel and escape. And I think it would be nice to pick up a YA book and see the main character is a girl who happens to have a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend.


I wonder, though it's not specifically related, obviously, how Orson Scott Card's new Hamlet novella, with its intense homophobic themes, plays into the general marketing-to-hetero-only framework.

Actually, OSC's Hamlet novella is marketed to pinheads.

Wow, what a mess.
Also, thank you for the break down of how certain words like "homophobia" derail the discussion (reminds me of this video, though it's more on race than sexuality). It doesn't matter whether the intention wasn't homophobic; what matters is that it is homophobic. Intent is not magic, etc.

Also, "I'm not homophobic! I just care more about the money of homophobics!" isn't exactly a great step forward, you know? I get the whole "CAPITALISM!" argument and all (I might not agree with it but I get the theory), but I guess what I've seen of Hollywood and other media outlets in general makes me question its sincerity.

Yes, that video is very relevant! I've seen it before, and it's fantastic, but I didn't realise how PRECISELY on point it is to this discussion until just now when I watched it again. Thanks!

Not sure if it'll do any good, but I posted in the Give a Damn Campaign's facebook page about this issue in the hopes that it would at least cause a discussion, or if the mods had any advice on how to advance our cause. I'll let you know if anyone gets back to me with anything interesting/useful :3

Thank you so, so much for making this post and giving people a comprehensive summary of what's going on, in a way that gently but firmly pulls the focus to what we should really be concerned with and how we can engage with the issue without it degenerating into the kind of unproductive circles that bedevil so many call-outs and end up changing nothing.

This has confirmed that I need to make more effort to both write (and try to publish) and buy more stuff with LGBT characters. And I was glad that someone (maybe you, maybe someone else - it's a lot to scroll back through!) mentioned disabled characters above. I grew up treasuring the rare, occasional books I found that addressed disability without being What Katy Did. But even those were issue books.

It really brings home how books about minorities are seen as issue books (and worse yet, moral panic books) when that person you quote above equates gay people to "dark scary things"... how frustrating that some agents and editors are ready to see the whole market as being composed of people like that, even though - to name just one author who writes gay characters who are just gay and not Tormented Because Gay - lots of people are apparently buying Holly Black books happily enough...

on the stampfel-volpe post, this anonymous comment includes an agent's response that is very specific in its objections to teh gay.

Please note that agent compares an urban fantasy manuscript to a book that is most emphatically not urban fantasy.

You can read a sample chapter of the book "Between Mom and Jo" here.

Oh! That's Steven dos Santos' comment, he reposted it on his LJ (I've since added the link).

Perhaps Indie self-publication?

This has to be a most challenging situation for a writer seeking publication. It outlines one of the issues I had with publishing my own work through the traditional mode. Loss of control, and the jumping through hoops.

I elected to go with self-published ebooks, though now I face the daunting challenge of also self-promoting.

Best of luck with your works. Stick to your guns, it is your creation.

You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, the first novel in an exciting new fantasy adventure series. Did you enjoy visiting Middle Earth? Valdemar? Spend some time at the Edge of the World. Come for the view. Stay for the adventure.