Geek Girls Rule #161 – Reading a Gay Character Won’t Make You Gay

Guess what I won't be picking up?

Ok, so there’s this young adult anthology scheduled to come out fairly soon.  The theme  of this anthology is dark romance, the name Wicked Pretty Things, and the cover blurb included author Melissa Marr’s name as an example of the sort of thing one could expect in the anthology.

Then one of the authors, Jessica Verday, who had been contracted for a short story on theme with no other qualifications, submitted a short story with a gay romance as the focal point, male/male to be exact.  The editor requested she alter it to a male/female romance, because the editor, Trisha Telep, told her it would be unacceptable to the publishers.  Rather than change it, Jessica pulled out.  Trisha then, apparently, told the publishers that Jessica had pulled out for some other reason, which was cleared up when Jessica spoke to the publishers herself.  While the publishers have stated that they would love the story as is (male/male romance and all), Jessica has decided against allowing it to be published in the anthology as long as Trisha is still attached to the project.

Trisha has since offered an apology, which focused on her belief that the anthology would be light on “alternative” sexuality.  Yeah, it’s not like the characters were fisting each other, Trisha.  They shared some chaste kisses and, it sounds like, a fade to black.

Once again, kind of Fail-y.

The publisher has stated that they stand behind Trisha, and so Jessica and several other authors have pulled out of the anthology, including Seanan McGuire, who had been hoping this would be her YA debut, an area she’s wanted to publish in for some time.

The day this all went down, Melissa Marr asked the publishers to remove her name from the book blurb, in part because of this issue and in part because they hadn’t contacted her about using her name in the first place .  (This was all discussed on her Twitter, and I don’t know how common this practice is.)

Here’s the thing Ms. Telep, you don’t catch teh ghey by reading about teh ghey.  Got it?

Most LGBTQI teens know they’re LGBTQI long before their teen years.  I knew I was bisexual when I was five.  I didn’t have a name for it, but I’ve known I liked boys AND girls from kindergarten on.  You kind of figure these things out when you spend your life, oh, I don’t know, living in it.  And trust me, no one finds out that gheyness exists, having heretofore been completely heterosexual and comfortable and happy with it, and thinks, “Hmmm, the potential for gaybashing, parental disapproval and abuse, societal condemnation and the abrogation of my rights?  Give me some of that!”

Much as with teen sexuality, most people seem to think that if they just pretend it doesn’t exist, the “problem” of LGBTQI teens will go away.

I have news for you, it doesn’t.

What does happen is that LGBTQI teens get bullied, harassed, beaten, and murdered.  They commit suicide at a much higher rate than their heterosexual peers.  Not because being gay makes you depressed, but because the way people treat you when they perceive you as gay makes you depressed.

LGBTQI teens want and need positive role models in society.  They need to see them on tv, in movies, and yes, in escapist fantasy as well.  You have no idea how many LGBTQI SF/F fans speak with love of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series because it was the first place they really encountered remotely positive queer characters.

Ms. Telep, you had a chance to provide that to your YA audience.

And you fucked it up.


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3 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule #161 – Reading a Gay Character Won’t Make You Gay

  1. Yeah, I read up on this on The Sparkle Project, which is a blog based around reviewing YA literature, especially those pointed at young women, and this was a damned deplorable act. It reeks of the kind of attitude I’ve seen in superhero comics and it was sad to see it here.

    What really gets me is the language of Ms. Telep there. ‘Alternative sexuality’? She makes it seem like a fashion or lifestyle choice rather than part of who you are from birth and her casual dismissal of people who are LGBT is frakking annoying.

    It’s all the more maddening because we just recently lost Perry Moore, who not only produced the Narnia movies and was a powerful proponnet of LGBT rights, but who also wrote the YA novel, ‘Hero’ which is about a young gay teenager who comes into his own regarding his status as a superhero and as someone who is gay. I’m a straight white man and I love the hell out of that book and have read it numerous times. The death of Perry Moore is sad and terrible, and not just because we won’t get a sequal to Hero, as he said he was writing.

    I am happy and proud of all those authours who immediately pulled out after hearing what happened to one of their peers, and how they’re not letting go of what happened here either.

    You can see who else pulled out and why here on the Sparkle Project website.

  2. I was really just blown away when I encountered this — especially because my previous exposure to the anthologies of Ms. Telep are such wholesome (not) titles as “The Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance” and “The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance Vol. 2”.

    I was already pretty unimpressed with the quality of those anthologies, but with this move she’s gone straight to my “avoid” list.

  3. On the plus side, we now have YA books like Ash, which could never have been published ten years ago (not as YA, anyway).

    But seriously, people. If reading a gay romance turned you gay, every 13 year-old fantasy-reading girl would be walking around with a rainbow flag after reading Mercedes Lackey.

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