I blogged about this topic a couple of years ago. (You can read the post here ) Seems I wasn't the only one to have noticed that set of Submissions guidelines. Rick Reed posted today about the same thing (read his post here) and if you scroll through the comments, you'll see a lot of people had a lot to say about it, and nothing complimentary.
Now, like I maintain in my first post, every publisher has the right to publish what they like. There are publishers out there who don't publish straight romance, and that's just fine. The issue was in the wording. I had my own non-helpful comments to make, but one intrepid writer took action. (That I know of, anyway)
She contacted the publisher and opened a dialogue. She pointed out the offence, and asked politely that the publisher take another look at her guidelines and maybe see if they couldn't be changed. She received a favourable response, and if you go to the site now, you'll see that the guidelines have been changed. They still don't publish GLBT romance, but they don't lump it in with the dregs of society, either.
Why am I bringing this up, you ask? Well, because. I read all those comments. I read comments from people I respect and like, and my own comment, after the fact of the conversation between writer and publisher that brought about the change, and it saddened me.
So many of us were ready to sit back and bitch. Ready to complain and condemn, but only one of us took action, only one of us extended an olive branch and tried to breach the gap and bring understanding. And please be sure I'm including myself in the bitchers...okay, so that's not a word, but you know what I mean.
So why are we so ready to jump to the conclusion that we are being marginalized? I know. It's happened over and over for so very long, that we no longer expect anything different, and our reaction, perhaps understandably, defaults to defensive. Assume the worst. Protect, circle the wagons. It takes a special person to step outside that protecive circle and try to make a difference.
Some of you will point out that some person, somewhere, wrote those guidelines originally, and they maybe did, or do, believe that homosexuality is as great and terrible a thing as those vices with which it was grouped. You might be right. Maybe they did. Maybe they needed one person to say the right thing, to help them understand, to change their mind. Maybe it was a grave misjudgement, a thoughtlessness that they didn't notice what they were doing, or how it might be perceived, and one person pointing out the problem was enough to make the change. Maybe, they still think what they always thought, and just don't want to be perceived as offending anyone. The point is, we can't know what was or is in anyone else's head unless we ask.
Rather than ask, we all sat back and vented our own anger and frustration. That, my friends, is not communication. That isn't reaching for understanding, or striving for change. Are we immune to the hate and anger we're accusing others of? I don't think so. I know I'm not. There are two things I was reminded of today.
The first, and most important, is that I must be the change I want to see, and the other is that there is only one person whose actions I have any real influence over. Mine.
Let's hope I manage to hold on to my moment of clarity and do better next time. Anyone else have an eye opening moment when they realize they fell into a pattern that wasn't maybe as constructive as it might have been? Tell me about it, please.