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.