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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Publication Against LGBT Content: Writers Be Aware

(LGBT = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender)

Notice I said "be aware" in the title. I am not saying you should avoid the publisher mentioned as unfriendly to LGBT in this post over at Crossed Genres. Rather, I'm telling you to be aware of it. What you choose to do with the information presented in the Crossed Genre post is entirely up to you.

However, I will offer my personal perspective on this. Flash Fiction Online, while not a market I can recall submitting to, has made a decision to enact an editorial policy without making such information available to you. Why is this a problem? Well, when you go to a publisher and you look at their guidelines, you get a good sense of what they are looking for and what they are not looking for. Strange Horizons, for example, publishes science fiction and fantasy, not hard cut literary fiction about old people. Likewise, Analog is very specifically a science fiction market, while F&SF is both fantasy and science fiction. None of these magazines, as far as I know, have a policy against certain kinds of literature that is not stated, especially not in the form of a bigoted viewpoint.

But Flash Fiction Online has such a policy that is not indicated to all of you. This is not a publication that says "we do not take stories about LGBT characters," but one that says "submit anything that fits into this (a vague series of non-controversial categories), but secretly we'll reject anything that doesn't fit our narrow and biased view of the world, specifically because we have a religious, fundamentalist, and negative view of LGBT issues." Now, this isn't to say that everyone who works at FFO is necessarily anti-LGBT, but the fellow mentioned in Crossed Genres is.

So, for me, this information tells me that I cannot, in good faith, support such a magazine, not even with a direct link, when its editor so clearly holds a negative, and ignorant, view of LGBT people and issues. Period. There is no negotiation for me. As I wrote in the Outer Alliance when this issue came up:
I will not, under any circumstances, submit my work to or send money to, or read, any magazine or other publication which so obviously disapproves and holds biases against LGBT authors and subject matter. This is my personal bias, and a publication that is so willing to hide such information from the general public is, in my opinion, being disingenuous. They are, as I perceive it, hiding that information from people who might actually act upon such knowledge, precisely because they know, whether consciously or not, that to be forward with an anti-LGBT stance would constitute a loss of a share of their reading market.
I encourage you to read the Crossed Genres post linked above to get a clear picture of what this is all about. This is where I stand. Now it's time for you to decide where you stand.

That is all.

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  1. And on the other side of the fence, you have magazines which will not publish stories unless they fit in with the "mission" of said magazine...

    I'm not sure when and where writing a good story fell out of favor with all of these magazines, but...

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  3. AstonWest: Well, I have nothing against someone publicly being against LGBT stories. I won't support them, but there's nothing wrong with saying "we're biased, but we're open about it." I disagree with the bias, but they have the right to have it. I have a problem with holding such a clear bias against LGBT content/people, but yet not publicly making that clear. That's called being a jackass who wants to manipulate the market.

    Best Show Watch: Send me an email with more details.

  4. Anonymous8:37 PM

    Howdy! I'm collecting commentary here, and am linking to this (if you want me to remove your link, just respond to this comment and tell me so).

  5. That's perfectly fine to link to me :). Thanks very much!

  6. Well I'm holding off on my opinion just yet, as an LGBT writer. The reason for this is I know of at least one extremely pro-gay person involved with the organisation, and I've asked for clarification . . .

    But I have to say, it looks pretty grim for Flash Fiction Online and I'm glad SMD took the time to blog about this and support LGBT rights. It's something some people would prefer to ignore or gloss over.

  7. As I suspected, I spoke to Deb Hoag and she advised me this was Jake's own opinion, not hers. Had she made the decision, the ad would have gone in. It also seems a few others at FFO are in synch with her way of thinking, which means Jake might be in the minority (along with his views). Either way, though, for those views to make it into business decisions seems, well, bad business on his part :P

  8. Adam: Thanks for checking up on that. I realize that not everyone at FFO holds this particular bias, but so long as someone in FFO can make decisions like this without making it clear to the writing public that they don't take LGBT content, then FFO is at fault as a whole. If others at FFO don't hold his opinion, then they are either complicit in the perpetuation of the unspoken ban, or unwilling to do anything about it (or, perhaps, they didn't know it was "this bad").

    I'm not saying they are terrible people, just that so long as this guy has his hands on the advertising/content button, and can exert his version of reality without expressly stating that that is the mission of the magazine, then there's no reason to pretend that FFO is a market that is at all good for LGBT writers or writers who utilize LGBT content.

    As you said, this is bad business on his part. I have no problem with him holding that bias, just with his hiding the bias from potential writers. This is like someone running a business where he doesn't want people without experience, but never says so in the advertisement for the job...

  9. AstonWest, as editor of Expanded Horizons, I feel the need to point out that part of that very mission of ours which you describe is to include more LGBT-themed stories and stories by LGBT authors. We are not the "other side of the fence" here except in that we are explicitly welcoming of LGBT content.

    There is nothing wrong with promoting LGBT voices as part of a magazine's mission and there is nothing wrong with having a magazine narrowly tailored to fit a specific mission. It's done all the time.

  10. Dash: Absolutely, but the problem with FFO is, as has been said, that it doesn't make it known that it is not interested in LGBT content at all, based on a bias. The bias doesn't concern me; the failing to make it clear that it doesn't want that content is, because an LGBT author is essentially wasting his or her time sending work there, even though the editor has already pre-determined whether the work in question will be accepted.

    So, yes, nothing wrong with having a magazine that won't take LGBT (a lot of children's mags generally don't, though more because they want stories that generally make it difficult to have clear LGBT themes--think Boy's Life or Highlights), just with not making it clear that that's not what you want and that such content has no shot.

    But maybe you weren't arguing :P