Why Are GBLTQ Writers Paying RWA to Discriminate Against Them?

The most recent and egregious example of discrimination by Romance Writers of America (RWA) against its members was last week when the Oklahoma Chapter declared that GBLTQ entries weren’t welcome, with this brief statement:

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

More Than Magic is a contest hosted by Romance Writers Ink Chapter of RWA.

So a chapter of RWA is allowed to blatantly discriminate against other members without RWA sanctioning them? And the GBLTQ members are paying a hefty annual fee to be treated like third class citizens? What a kick in the balls. I guess their money is good enough for RWA but not their credentials as authors.

This is not the first time that RWA and its affiliates have discriminated against GBLTQ authors. In many competitions GBLTQ entries are given short shrift because RWA “couldn’t find judges to read the entries” What a load of crap! They have a chapter strictly for GBLTQ authors that they could have asked to provide judges, but that would have been too easy and too fair since more entries of GBLTQ books would give the other romance books a run for their money and allow GBLTQ books the opportunity of actually winning some of these competitions that are rigged against them. Last year an M/M book won one of their competitions and RWA immediately implemented it’s NO GAYS rule. This means that any chapter of RWA can discriminate against GBLTQ entries in their competitions by the stroke of a pen.

Is the doubtful “prestige” of belonging to such a discriminatory organization worth the embarrassment of constantly having them spit in GBLTQ authors’ faces? I never understood this desire to be members of an organization with the values that RWA hold dear. It took years before they would accept GBLTQ members and allowed them to set up their own chapter. Heidi Cullinan, president of the Rainbow Romance Writers, wrote a moving piece a couple of days ago decrying the treatment of the chapter’s members, but clearly RWA doesn’t give a damn. All they want are those annual dues and they can’t be bothered by something like the ethical treatment of all their members, not just the ones who write het romance. Why should they care? Clearly Rainbow Romance Writers’ members will continue to fatten RWA’s coffers as they don’t seem to mind the put downs that are constantly meted out by the parent organization.

I could never understand why it’s so important for GBLTQ writers to belong to RWA which treats them so badly. Belonging to the club with the cool kids seems to be a high price to pay in terms of maintaining your self respect. I’m not an author but business organizations should, above all, be professional and ethical, with the same rules for everyone. RWA is not a philanthropic organization – it’s a business, but the board members make their own rules and no one can challenge or question them because they are answerable only to their own hierarchy.

Many authors have commented on Heidi’s post protesting the treatment of GBLTQ authors, but how many of them will revoke their membership and demand their money back? I believe in putting your money where your mouth is and if enough GBLTQ authors resign from RWA and take their money I’ll bet they will change their tune. There is no incentive for RWA to change its policies while GBLTQ writers continue to pay full freight for fringe status. If an organization is not FOR you it’s AGAINST you. Isn’t it time for GBLTQ authors to cease being a sub genre of romance and be their own genre? This latest slap in the face highlights the problem of belonging to an organization with archaic rules and officials – RWA seems to be run by a bunch of women whose sole aim is to maintain the status quo of what “romance” was decades ago and negate anything that smacks of progress and innovation. News flash! The world has changed while they were reading bodice rippers.

One member of RRW who wrote RWA protesting the decision by More Than Magic was told that “some members of the chapter felt ‘uncomfortable’ with same-sex entries.” Lee Brazil, one of the authors who commented on Heidi’s post stated:

“If the judges are uncomfortable reading the entries, then reach out and find judges who aren’t. I mean, what else aren’t they comfortable with? Interracial couples? Oral sex? If you can’t distance yourself and your personal preferences from the equation, you have no business being a judge. Judging is supposed to be impartial, isn’t it?”

Heidi’s post says about RWA, and I quote:

“I think they don’t think for one second saying “no gays” is the same as hanging “whites only” over a toilet.”

I think it’s the same thing.

Heidi is appealing to authors and readers of GBLTQ books to write RWA to protest their decision. Well I’m not going to because I have absolutely no respect for any organization that discriminates against its members. I know what discrimination is like. It’s ugly, it’s bigotry and keeps people in the ghetto. If you would like to join the protest here’s a link to Heidi’s post. There are many eloquent comments on the post in support of GBLTQ writers and I hope that RWA Board members read some of them so that they can understand what a slap in the face their NO GAYS policy is, as well as their support of the Romance Writers Ink Chapter.


I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball


  • Am I the only one who finds the tag line on that website that LC posted a bit … exclusionary. “Smart women read romance, we write it”. http://romancewritersink.wordpress.com

    I know that women are probably 95% of the romance reading community, but smart men do read it, even het stuff. 🙂 And it kind of insinuates that women are also writing it, which is true, but there are men as well, especially in m/m. I guess it just hit me right between the eyes that they would say, our target is women, we are women, our site is hot pink. Thus their decision to exclude men (as protagonists) probably fits with the “image” that particular chapter is giving off.

    I’m not familiar with RWA, so have no clue if that is a national slogan and maybe it’s the PC Canadian in me, but I’d be changing it to “smart people” because people come in all genders and read romance.

    • Romance Writers Ink (RWI) is the group that caused the latest blow up by saying no gay books will be allowed in their competition.

      Of course they are exclusionary!!! No men allowed.

      Romance Writers of America (RWA)
      http://www.rwa.org/ is the big poobah for romance writers. They set the rules about what romance is and is not.

  • Went and signed the petition–one word for it all–despicable–and assholes–okay two words–so sue me!! Oh maybe that was what the Okies chapter had in mind. eh??

  • This is the main reason I wanted to help with GayRomLit. I have no desire to hand over any of my money to any group or organization that has zero intention of doing anything to promote either my work or at the very least, the genre in which I write.

    I stopped begging to be loved and accepted by ignorant assholes well over twenty years ago. Let alone paying them to abuse me. I get that some authors write both Het and M/M, so I see why those individuals might stick it out. For me though, the only way any organization like this one would manage to collect any fees from me would be to pry the money from my cold, dead hands.

    Happy Weekend everyone! : )

    • Hi Other Ethan 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

      It’s amazing that RWA has managed to convince GBLTQ authors that taking it up the you know where and paying for it is good for them.

      I won’t pay anyone to stick it to me.

      I understand that belonging to a professional organization is great for your career but it doesn’t put money in an author’s pocket – the readers do.

    • I’m of two minds right now. I had printed out the RWA form to join last week — before this BS. From Canada its $130 to join RWA and then an additional fee to join the various chapters.

      On the one hand I agree completely. Why the hell should I support an organization that won’t support me? So I tore up my registration form and threw it out. Though now I’m liking the idea of sending the registration form, sans cheque, with a note stating that my $130 went to a supportive organization like It Gets Better (which it will anyway but they don’t need to know that. 😉 )

      On the other hand, by joining the evil empire, I can join the Rainbow chapter and be one more voice in the stand against their bigotry and discrimination, and hopefully help make a difference from the inside. Be proud and professional and make sure that I’m putting my best work and best foot forward.

      If you haven’t seen it, Suzanne Brockmann has written a brilliant post on this, as well as posted part of her letter to the RWA. I don’t do facebook so I can’t “like” it, but for those who are, like it like a madman.

      • LC
        Thanks for the link to Suzanne’s post. It was inspired. I wonder how RWA will respond. I recently reviewed her latest – When Tony Met Adam which is M/M.

        Obviously it’s your decision about whether to join RRW but I would wait until RWA changes its discriminatory NO GAYS policy.

        You have to pay $130 to join because you’re from Canada plus you have to pay to join individual chapters? WOW Hope it’s worth it.

        • Wave,
          Yeah, its a bit hefty a fee to join, which is why I’ve been on the fence so long. I do think I’ll wait and see what they’re going to do — what they’d *better* do — though.

          Sirius, same here!

  • A fellow author posted their letter to the RWA on a publisher loop, and what struck me was how they ended the letter – something along the lines of “I don’t harbor any disrespect.” And all I could think of was…wow. They’re a bigger person than me. I do harbor disrespect against bigots. I haven’t sent a letter because frankly… Yeah. Eloquence in the face of abject hatred isn’t something I’m capable of.

    • Hi DC
      How could a GBLTQ author respect an organization that discriminates against him/her? It’s humiliating that you would respect a body that treats you like you’re worthless.

  • I was also in the process of joining. Boy, am I glad I didn’t. After RWA finally changed its definition of romance, I figured we’d be past this. I guess I underestimated the good people of RWI.

    I did send a letter to RWA and RWI. My main point: if you’re uncomfortable reading romance, don’t be a romance novel judge! These uncomfortable judges should excuse themselves.

    Too easy, right?


    • It’s easier than that, actually. When I read for the Rainbow Awards, I asked Elisa not to send me any yaoi-style stories because I don’t care for the genre. And I had to send back two books, one because a friend wrote it and one because it was from a publisher I work for. RWI had volunteers who were willing to judge GLBT; they rejected them. :curse:

      • Lee

        RWI had volunteers who were willing to judge GLBT; they rejected them.

        So it’s more than being “uncomfortable,” it pure bigotry. What a great bunch of people? 👿 They’re obviously privileged so they have no idea what discrimination is.

    • Yes it is too easy Nadja because it really has nothing to do with the judges. It has everything to do with the small group of writers that run that chapter being “uncomfortable” with having LGBTQ stories in it’s competition. The fact that RWA does not have an nondiscrimination clause in it’s books guiding all it’s chapters also contributes to it as well.

  • I agree good for you Ethan. Heidi and other authors are working from within via the RRW Chapter. Hitting them from outside, via their pocketbook is also good, but unless a writer sends a letter saying “This envelope was going to contain my $85.00 membership fees, BUT I have chosen not to join / renew based on RWA’s discriminatory behavior towards LGBTQ authors and stories” RWA doesn’t know that their policies are causing them to loose membership dollars.

    After reading Larissa Ione’s reply in a blog I thought it was the judges that were uncomfortable. Larissa received a reply from the organizers that stated it was the membership not wanting to be associated with LGBTQ stories, even after some had won previous categories of the MTM awrds in previous years. This is discrimination pure and simple.

    So please sign the petition http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/rwa-shouldnt-be-in-the-business-of-discrimination/ or eMail the organizers at jackie.rwimagic@netscape.com or RWA itself info@rwa.org and let them know you are not happy with their policy of discrimination.

    • Mountie
      Thank you for providing this additional information. I hope that those bloggers who frequent this site will take the opportunity to protest this latest slap in the face by RWA.

      • You are very welcome Wave. I do too.

        The writers that choose to enact change from within need all the support they can from continued pressure from outside. Otherwise RWA may think it is OK to carry on with the “as is” and it’s not. I am a reader, not a blogger nor an author and if all I can do is write an eMail a day to RWA asking if the nondiscrimination policy has written and implemented then that is what I will do.

        • If I can come up with something else to say other than – shame on you the bunch of bigots, I will definitely email them and of course sign the petition, there I dont have to think about being civil oy.

          • I posted a very polite letter on one of my fav het series author’s blog stating that if she continues to support the RWI (she’s a member) then I won’t be buying anymore of her books. I hope she comes out against them. If not, then she can kiss my money good-bye. Discrimination is discrimination and sometimes the only way to change attitudes is to hit people where it counts: their pocketbooks.

            I am giving her a chance to make a statement. If I see silence…in essence that means she agrees with the RWI and I guess for the first time in my life I will be boycotting an author which I find so sad.

            • Thanks Lasha

              If more readers demand that their favourite writers take a stand on this issue I think that RWA will have to state their position categorically and make their chapters toe the line. Right now they are taking the position of plausible deniability.

              • It looks like they are all hiding out hoping this blows over as the RWI web site just pulled its Board Members and Published Authors names off its site.

                Wow, what a bunch of cowards. 🙁

                • The next step – count on it – is that they will be crying about how they had to go into hiding because Teh Ebil Ghey was persecuting them. Because any attempt to object to discrimination is an Attack On Their Faith. :sceptic:

                  • They can cry all they want about us Evel Gheys but I now know what that chapter is all about and so does the rest of the writing world.

  • Wave, your title is exactly the question I keep asking myself. RWA has been changing the goalposts for its “published author” status ever since Ransom first saw print.. and though I qualifed twice, no way am I going to send those beezers a penny.

    Jason, the list of the RWI board members is here:


    The published writers list is here: http://romancewritersink.wordpress.com/our-published-members/

    Looks like the same people, mostly, except one woman’s husband appears to be their “agent.”

    A pretty small group to be pretending to represent all of Oklahoma, I think.

    The Petition Site petition has about half of its target of 1K signatures. You can add your comment or just sign.


    • Hi Lee
      Thank you for providing the information about the Oklahoma group, but the board of RWA is even more to blame for this latest slap in the face because they changed the rules to permit it.

      I can’t understand paying to join an organization that you know from the getgo discriminates against you.

    • Thank you for the list of published authors in that chapter. Marilyn Pappano is a fav het author of mine and I will be writing her a nice e-mail stating if she supports the decision of the RWI, I won’t be buying any more of her books in the future.

      I hate boycotting authors, as it reminds me of book burnings and bannings, but this issue is too important. LGBT is a part of the romance genre and if the RWA wants our money, then discrimination has to go.

        • Yes, hiding is so adult.

          I have a long memory and The WayBack Machine finds everything. 🙂

          It looks like my post to Marilyn Pappano was heard. Guess she on my do-not-buy list.

          I just pre-ordered Suzanne Brockmann’s new book that features a m/m couple (inter-racial too it looks like!)

        • BTW, Marilyn Pappano deleted my comment on her blog. I guess I got my answer, LC. I am very sad because over the last 20 years I have really enjoyed her books.

          But, I reminded her that nothing is ever erased off the Internet. Hence that list is still around:


        • Pulled the “board members,” too. Pappano’s husband was the “agent” for the group.

          Gosh. All they need are some nice white sheets with eyeholes and they’ll be all set.

          Courage of their convictions. Not. They even censor themselves. :hysterics:

  • Wave–I found this to be incredibly shocking. I’d been considering joining the organization because so many of my friends are in it. (Why, yes I would jump off a cliff if they all did.) I sent RWA a short and concise email saying that I was considering joining but had decided it wasn’t going to happen.

    • Good for you Ethan. Fattening their coffers only makes them stronger and believe that what they are doing is right. They are bigots, pure and simple.

      They are getting away with discriminating against their own members. Incredible!!

  • I wonder if there is a way of getting the names of the authors in the chapter that decided to say ‘no gays’. Because it seems to me they probably don’t want our money either and I would love to accommodate them.

  • You know, you raise an interesting point. I saw this post by Heidi couple days ago and now there are few people who had not seen it I would imagine. I wanted to write to them but abandoned the idea because I could not come up with anything civil to say. But while I understand authors wanting to reach to larger audience, as you said if organization clearly discriminates against your stories do you really want to give them money thinking that maybe one day they would be oh so kind to let you participate again? Shakes head.

    • Sirius
      I have too much pride to belong to an organization that takes my money then discriminates against me. I KNOW what discrimination is like which is why I feel so strongly about this. What’s next? GBLTQ writers don’t have any clout within RWA even though they pay the same freight as het authors.


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