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


  • Thanks for commenting everyone. It is my understanding that Heidi is working on a number of programs for RRW members (in addition to those that currently exist). Let’s hope that the reaction from readers and authors (GBLTQ and straight) will make RWA Board change their policies that allow chapters to discriminate. RWA National has a board meeting in March and I know that the authors are looking forward to any new policies that will clarify their position.

  • At the end of a reasoned blog from someone who reviews ebooks, the first comment was that the outcry was INTIMIDATION and BULLYING (her capitals). Normally, I wouldn’t say anything, but I did point out how completely ironic that statement was.

    • Hi Sue

      It is amazing how bullies can’t see their own shadows. Many people feel, like this person does, that GBLTQ authors and people who support anyone who is not straight should just shut up and go away.

  • Amber Green told me about this right after Heidi’s post went live.

    Years ago, I joined RWA. For one year only, that was all it took. Really less than one year. I had heard that they were so helpful and useful to romance authors. Sure they have some wonderful people there but not being close to a local chapter it was useless for me. The few conferences I did attend were full of NY authors looking down on little old me. Nope, didn’t like that. I am an author. No one will take that away from me. I also write M/M and F/F. I knew when I started to write in these genres that RWA would look down their noses at me the same way they did at those conferences. Does this make me feel bad? No, it doesn’t. My Mom always told me when someone rejects me, turn around and walk away. It’s up to them to come to me. Will RWA and their chapters change now? I doubt it very seriously. Honestly, I wonder if they believe they so far above everyone else that they aren’t accountable for their actions. They are. This kind of discrimination is atrocious and needs to stop. Good God, we’re in the 21st century. We should have moved passed 🙁 the narrow mindedness of the past to see that it doesn’t matter what your race, sex, job or whatever is. The characters in the GBLTQ books have feelings and emotions no less than in a M/F book.

    I hope they are ashamed of themselves but I don’t count on it.

    • Hi Jadette

      I hope they are ashamed of themselves but I don’t count on it.

      I think you’re right. They don’t seem to be at all concerned, going by their latest press release which basically maintains the status quo that they believe it’s okay to discriminate.

      • Right. I really didn’t expect anything different from them. It’s discouraging and depressing. This group was founded on the principle to help romance authors and look what it’s come to. Really pitiful if you think about it :againstit: .

  • I saw this on Goodreads and immediately signed the petition yesterday. Plus wrote an e-mail asking what other exclusions they had mandated and that it made their chapter less inviting, credible, and basically “incomplete”.

    It’s too bad the RWI volunteer, Jackie, received person ridicule/abuse in e-mails sent to her (if that’s true-call me a cynic). 😕

    • “Abuse” to a bigot means pointing out the bigotry.

      If their “clarification” — we don’t condone it but we will not interfere — had been posted in reference to racial discrimination, or banning inspirational romances .. no one would be satisfied with such a wishy-washy evasion.

      The more I hear from conciliatory RWA members, the more I think “Stockholm Syndrome.”

  • :my2cents: I would not want any LGTQB (what ever order you like) person to pay dues and be subjected to this. This is the time for Het allies to step-up, stay in the game, and fight the battle. Someone needs to pressure a RWA vote.

    The LGBQT community fights every day. I think this fight needs to be fought by the Allied Campaigne. So I hope some people pay their dues inorder to retain battle positions.

    Every battle by a minority pop has needed back-up from the ranks in the majority position. Let’s not have eveeryone abandon this field. This is not the KKK. It is an institution with KKK-like members in it. There is support in the ranks. It needs to be brought into the allied ranks and harnessed by someone.

    Heidi and others from the rainbow chapter seem to be trying to do this. My deep admiration and respect to them. Some good ideas seem to be coming up. I hope they can be seen through all the high, justified emotion. After the smoke clears, please let us know if there is anyway we can support the rainbow chapter.

    • Reggie
      Heidi is working very hard to keep the chapter going but this latest blow from within RWA makes it extremely difficult to maintain its credibility.

      I believe that professional organizations are essential to the education and growth of their members. I belong to a few of them. However it’s hard to keep your head up in a shit storm like the latest from RWA.


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