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.

NL Gassert

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?



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.

Lee Rowan

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:

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… Read more »
Lee Rowan
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: http://romancewritersink.wordpress.com/the-board/ 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… Read more »

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.

L.C. Chase

Looks like the RWI pulled that page. Surprising, eh. Like hiding is going to help them. *shakes head*

Lee Rowan

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:


It reminds me of Cassie Edward’s husband defending her plagiarism. Sad.


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:


L.C. Chase

Wow, that is sad.

I don’t recognize any of the published authors in that chapter.


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!)

Ethan Stone

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.


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.

LD Madison

Here is the link to the chapter’s website, and their list of published authors.


That link no longer works. Comes up blank and I can’t find a similar link on the site. Maybe they removed it?


Try this:


I saved it in case this happened.


I was wondering if Meg Reid was a member of RWI as she posted in the comments on Suz Brockmann’s post on FB. Thanks Lasha for saving it.


About 70 comments in so I guess they think Same Sex is in the same category as rape and bestiality. 😕 I can see that RWI is probably entrenched.


Yes, Margaret Reid from the RWI and Meg Reid, the one who commented on Suz’s FB are one in the same. It is a shame she would equate rape and same-sex love in the same sentence.

Lee Rowan

These people expose some pretty sleazy, lurid imaginations when they point their fingers at us. Reminds me of an elderly relative of mine who hated Bill Clinton.. but could recite every juicy detail about the Lewinsky episode. I wonder how much m/m erotica they read just so they can be well informed on how awful it is. 🙄


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.

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