(Originally posted April 7, 2016, here.)
On April 4th, the RWA board of directors posted an apology for the survey the RWA did in 2005 to see if the RWA should change the definition of romance to be between one man and one woman.
The apology can be read in its entirety here: https://www.rwa.org/p/bl/ar/blogaid=1483
It’s been eleven years, and yes, that’s a long time. But it’s worth noting that the current BoD is not the 2005 BoD and that they’re working very hard to undo the wrongs of the past when it comes to diversity and inclusivity.
It’s something those of us who are queer have been wanting for a while: for others to understand that who we are and who we love isn’t wrong. Our actual romances are real. Our lives are real and legitimate. We have the capacity for love.
And yes, certainly there are non-queer writers who understand this. But for the BoD of the RWA to apologize for dismissing us as human eleven years ago…it’s a milestone. And a good one.
Can more be done? Sure. But I think the last part of that apology sums thing up what the RWA is moving towards pretty well:
RWA is committed to creating an inclusive, respectful environment where all career-focused romance writers can advance their professional interests, regardless of the happily ever afters they create and celebrate.
I know there were some non-queer writers of queer romance who were upset that the RWA apology didn’t specifically apologize to them since it points out that because of the survey, queer RWA members had to justify their existence and love to other RWA members.
To those allies who are upset by this line: consider whether being marginalized for what you write is more damaging than being marginalized for who you are.
Then please reread the RWA statement. It is directed to all the RWA members. That includes you. Career-focused romance writers. Please think about how you’re reacting to that one line and why.
I’ll be heading off to the RT Booklovers convention in a few days. This will be my third time at RT. The interesting thing last year was the marked difference I saw towards LGBT romance. In 2014, at the big book fair, there were people who veered around my table visibly, as if they might get queer cooties by coming too close. Last year, that wasn’t my experience at all. Mostly it was more “Oh, I don’t read m/m,” in the same tone as “Oh, I don’t read paranormal.” Or science fiction, or whatever.
I’m not sure what this year will bring. Queer romance is becoming more and more visible and accepted. As are queer people. It’s a good evolution and something to cling to these days as we see back-sliding into a world that doesn’t accept queer people as human. Things are getting better over all, even with the last bastion of the old guard swinging wildly about for any little dig they can get in.
We are people, not just characters. Never forget that. And don’t let anyone else forget it, either.