Friday, 8 April 2016

Definition of Romance

I haven't been an M/F romance reader since my mum died in 1985. Yes, yes, I am Old! You don't have to say it. I stopped reading romance because that was part of my life with her.

However, I have been part of the M/M Romance genre for a while and one thing that I've really noticed is the growing acceptance from the romance community for our genre. I remember at the beginning the number of romance reviews sites that refused gay romance books. I know that publishers like Dreamspinner, and all the authors that have gone to cons like RT and carved out a space for us - you pioneered the way for our genre. 

Since I've been part of the genre I've always wondered about joining Romance Writers of America. I never have because a) money, b) not in America, c) there was a brouhaha a few years ago where one chapter was holding a contest and specifically excluded LGBT books which left a nasty taste in my mouth, d) money again... However, I still follow many writers who do belong so I'm interested enough to see what is happening.

Unless you've been under a rock in the romance community you might have seen this post from the RWA. Important Message Regarding 2005 "Definition of Romance" Survey

At the November 2015 Board of Directors meeting, one of the issues discussed was an RWA survey conducted in 2005. Though this occurred eleven years ago, the ill effects of that survey still linger for many members. The survey was included in the Romance Writers Report and asked RWA members to vote on whether romance should be redefined as being between one man and one woman. The survey responses were never acted upon, and RWA’s definition of romance was not changed.
Here's a post from All About Romance's Blog with links to posts from 2005 with more information about what actually happened. I know from the posts I've read many authors left the RWA that year.

Not being around then, I was kind of shocked, but then again, not really. If you understand that word salad of a sentence, you'll appreciate that 2005 was a completely different era to 2016 in terms of LGBT acceptance. Then again, you only have to look at the so-called religious attitudes to same-sex marriage and maybe nothing has changed at all. However I look at the TV shows from that time and the casual homophobia and transphobia is rife. Think early NCIS. 

Defining romance by excluding LGBT people is shocking, but sadly not surprising. Many people still think love and marriage is between one man and one woman. They're wrong, of course. Completely and utterly wrong. 

Anyway, back to the apology from the RWA. Even the thought of that definition made me a little stabby and I'm a little shocked it took eleven years to apologise but it is welcome. Authors have in the most part been positive, although there is still the issue of poly romance.

From my perspective, I want to say thank you, and maybe open up the current definition of romance to include more than two. It really isn't a slippery slope.

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