Friday, March 25, 2011 | By: Jessica Verday

Wicked Pretty Things - Running Press and Constable & Robinson Respond

For the first part of this blog post, I'd just like to say how proud you all have made me - from those who have tweeted about this issue, emailed me personally, commented on the blog post, forwarded it along to someone else, or taken the time to write about your thoughts and feelings on the matter - I thank you. You are bold and courageous and everything that I still strive so hard to be. (My original "Gay is Okay" blog post)

My heart breaks for those of you who worry that your stories will be turned down by agents or publishers due to their LGBTQ content, and for those of you who have been disheartened by everything that's happened here. Don't give up. Don't stop writing. (Keep writing. Please, please, PLEASE keep writing.) Things are changing. Things will keep changing. The world needs you and your stories and your poems and your plays. We need you. I need you.
Don't give up.

Now, to answer a couple of quick questions -

What type of content did my story have? Was there explicit sexual content? Is that the real reason why it was not included in the anthology?
- No. My story does not have explicit content. There are a total of 3 kisses and sexually, it's G-rated. Please note, there are some macabre/horror aspects to the story and one use of the word F*ck. (Not used in a sexual manner) I was not told that I would have to remove the horror elements or tone down the language.

Did you know what type of story you had to write for the anthology before you wrote it?
- My contract didn't state anything in regards to what type of story I was supposed to write, and the only information I was given was when I was initially contacted by Trisha Telep and she pitched it as "a collection of dark fairy YA stories (with a bit of a romantic edge)."

Would you include your story if the publisher let you keep it as an m/m story?
- I have been asked by the publisher if I would reconsider including it in the anthology due to the fact that they would be perfectly okay with accepting it as-is (meaning m/m, not m/f), but I have said no. I was informed that Trisha Telep would still be the editor for the anthology (and considered the "author"), and due to her preconceived notions, I can't support any of the royalties from this project going to her.

Will I get to read the story elsewhere?
- Yes. I'm still finalizing details, but in the near future you will be able to read it. I'll link here when it's available.

Has the publisher commented on the matter?
- Yes, they have. On Wednesday, I spoke to Lisa Cheng, the editor at Running Press Kids, at her invitation after receiving an email from her. Although I can't speak for Running Press, and can only tell my side of the story, I will say that Lisa was misinformed as to why I pulled out of the anthology and I corrected that, and although she apologized profusely over the "misunderstandings on all sides," she told me that they have worked with Trisha many times before and stand behind her.


On Thursday, I received a private email from Duncan Proudfoot at Constable & Robinson to clarify their position, and then received notice from Pete Duncan at Constable & Robinson, that a joint statement from Constable & Robinson and their co-publishing partner Running Press had been posted in the comments section. I am pasting that comment (unedited and in its entirety) below at their request. 


Final thoughts on the matter?
- As I made  known to Lisa Cheng, I'm very disappointed that they are choosing to go forward with this anthology with Trisha Telep as the editor. It is my personal opinion, that that's the wrong thing to do, the wrong message to send, and when I'm told that Running Press stands behind Trisha Telep, that feels to melike they are standing behind her wrongly preconceived notions. I also find their statement troubling to say  that "Running Press has no direct association with Trisha Telep, the editor of the anthology" (which, as Lisa Cheng at Running Press repeated numerous times to me, they have worked with Trisha again and again and they stand behind her 100%). My contract clearly spells out in paragraph 1 that it was being made between the editor (Trisha), the publisher (Constable & Robinson), and Running Press. Considering all of this, it seems a bit contradictory to say that Running Press has no direct association with Trisha Telep.




STATEMENT FROM CONSTABLE & ROBINSON:
Constable Robinson said...
The young adult anthology Wicked Pretty Things, due to be co-published in the United States by Running Press, was commissioned by Constable & Robinson Ltd, which is wholly responsible for its content. Running Press has no direct association with Trisha Telep, the editor of the anthology.


The misunderstanding which has led to Jessica Verday’s story, ‘Flesh Which Is Not Flesh’, being excluded from this anthology, ostensibly on the grounds that it concerns a m/m relationship, is entirely regrettable and something we have sought to correct. Constable & Robinson Ltd remains fully supportive of LGBTQ writing, and apologises unreservedly for any offence caused.

STATEMENT FROM RUNNING PRESS:
Running Press said...

Running Press Teens deeply regrets any offensive comments recently made by Trisha Telep, anthologist for Wicked Pretty Things. At no point were we consulted in Trisha’s decision to reject Jessica Verday’s story as submitted. Opinions expressed by Ms. Telep do not reflect our publishing philosophy. As publishers of quality Young Adult literature, we proudly support the LGBT community and are deeply committed to publishing diverse authors and subject matters. We have since approached Ms. Verday to reconsider including her original m/m story in the anthology. Even though we respect her decision to decline, we have a responsibility to all of the talented writers that have contributed to Wicked Pretty Things, and therefore intend to move forward with publication.

I sincerely regret the sequence of events which has led to Jessica Verday’s story ‘Flesh Which Is Not Flesh’ being excluded from the forthcoming anthology Wicked Pretty Things. This has been the result of a misunderstanding on my part which is entirely regrettable. Along with publishers Constable & Robinson Ltd, who commissioned the anthology, and Running Press, who are due to co-publish the book in the United States, I fully support LGBTQ issues. I apologise wholeheartedly for any offence that I have caused and offer the assurance that I would not in future reject any story on the grounds that it included a gay (or any LGBTQ) relationship.

Trisha Telep

53 comments:

geekgirl said...

Thanks so much for keeping us updated on this! I'm sorry you've had to go through all this.

I for one, can't wait to read your story, and am anxiously awaiting the promised link!

-geekgirl
http://geekgirlsbookblog.blogspot.com

scarlettspace said...

"I'd just like to say how proud you all have made me" Right back at you = ) I've linked your posts to my FB and Twitter account and look forward to reading the story. I think you've made a bold statement that will not soon be forgotten. Rah for you Ms. Verday!

Melissa said...

Thanks a lot for speaking about this issue again on your blog in general and for tweeting the post to me in particular. I might not have seen it otherwise, and I would have deeply regretted missing it.

I think bloggers and authors, whether gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, or queer, have a responsibility to speak out about injustices and prejudices of this nature. Thanks for being brave enough, not only to write something about m/m love, but also for speaking out about it.

Phoebe said...

You are incredibly awesome, and have gained a reader. Thank you for having the courage to stand by your convictions.

Liz said...

You know, Ms. Verday, you are a star. It really breaks my heart that this had to happen though. However, I am incredibly pleased that we will get the chance to read your short story in another anthology and look forward to doing so.

Liz for Team My Favourite Books in the UK

Susie Day said...

Thanks for the update! I was so gobsmacked by Telep's casual and offensive dismissal of the situation I didn't comment again (that's a good thing, it would've been v sweary) but I've been looking forward to more news - and now I see you aren't alone in pulling out of the anthology.

Thanks so much for not letting this one slip away quietly.

Corinne said...

So basically the editor claimed she wasn't homophobic but the publisher might be, and now the publisher is saying they're not homophobic but their editor was... and neither of them are taking a stand against what happened.

That's incredibly disappointing.

Thanks for the update, though, and I'm glad you've found another place for the story. I can't wait to read it!

kourtneyheintz said...

I think you made the best decision given the circumstances. And I think it took tremendous courage to bring this to light and stand by your decision. I look forward to reading your story!

Krista D. Ball said...

Jessica, you inspired me to do my own blog post, giving out a future "heads up" to any future agents or publishers who might say this to me. It was a big ol' no.

I encourage others to do this. It's the time for authors to stand up for their rights and, even more importantly, their ethics.

Ceilidh said...

Thanks again for your guts and sticking to your guns. It's been so heartwarming to see great authors sticking up for what's right and making the tough decision to drop out of the anthology. I can't wait to read your story, you've definitely earned another reader out of this all.

Maria Lima said...

Jessica - I'm utterly appalled and dismayed - yet so glad you shared your story.

I had a story placed in a future anthology (ed. Trisha Telep) and I've just requested to cancel that contract. I'm in no way interested in being a part of any anthology she edits.

So sorry you had to go through this. :(

S.F. Robertson said...

I can only say that I am disappointed to hear that this all occurred. I cannot wait to read your story, wherever it winds up. I know you have the support of so many on this.

Lauracea said...

I want to read your story so much!
Your previous blog made such an impression on me - and hit home on several points - that I blogged about you and the subject today (with link to you).
Excellent work.

Puffy Bird said...

I think it's fantastic that you're sticking to your guns and staying out of this publication. It says so much about your character, and I really respect that. I can't wait to read this story!

Jessica said...

What a mess. What's really sad is, as someone already stated, is that no one, no one! is admitting fault, that no one is acknowledging that they are not accepting the story because of it's m/m content and that is so ludacris! It's horrible and I'm glad to hear your story will be available elsewhere. Once again, thank you for sticking to your guns and I applaud both you and the other authors that are supporting you. :)

Anonymous said...

isn't this what editors do? you write something, they read it and ask for changes? isn't this part of the normal process of writing? why is it an issue?

MoonbeamDancer said...

I don't blame you for still saying no, I would too, if I were you. I found the editor's "reply" to be crass and careless and because of that, I won't be buying this book, I don't want to support someone like that.

That being said, I do look forward to seeing your story whenever it's ready.

kaysi said...

What a wonderful thing it is to know that there are people like you in the world Jessica!!
Not only would some people have actually changed their story just to get published, but others who would not have changed their story may have accepted the second offer to be published. It is great to see people with integrity!!!
I refuse to buy this book. I will not allow any of my hard earned money go to anyone, or any company, who has displayed homophobic behaviour (directly or indirectly).
As a "straight" female, I eagerly wait to read your story, and I really hope that any plans with Melissa Marr are successful!!! This would certainly be the silver lining for such an unfortuate situation!

Anonymous said...

First -- I agree 100% with your original decision to pull out of the anthology. Second -- I agree 100% with you not wanting to put it back in.

But there is something I disagree with. I'm going to post this anonymously, but please rest assured that I have no connections to Trisha Telep. Please also realize that now *I* am going against the grain, since everyone has been 100% in support of your decisions. Even if you disagree with me, I hope you will at least give some thought to the sentiments.

I saw Trisha's response to your decision, and while she may very well have been backpedaling, she did come forward and state that she was wrong. Whether it was because she was making assumptions (as she stated) or because she herself is uncomfortable with m/m stories, the fact remains that she did say she was wrong, and, I thought, with nice humor.

So what do I disagree with? I disagree with your personally going after her, to the point that other people are now pulling out of non-related anthologies she is editing/authoring. She made a mistake, Jessica. And she admitted she was wrong. You refusing to give her even an inch says makes you look as stubborn and ignorant as someone who disapproves of the GLBTQ community. You may think fighting fire with fire is admirable, but all that leaves anyone with at the end of the day is ashes.

The GLBTQ community is making enormous strides, and I dream of a day when people won't even blink at basic rights like gay marriage. But for us to reach that day, people have to change. People have to admit they are mistaken in their (sometimes long-lived and deep-seated) beliefs. You can be proud that you made someone -- probably a large number of someones -- question old beliefs and assumptions. But if you can't even give someone credit for admitting she was wrong, then you're spitting in the face of change...and change is what we need.

I appreciate that you are fortunate enough to have grown up with family and friends who are GLBTQ, and thanks to that, you're enlightened. Guess what? Many if not most people haven't had that privilege. So rather than hating on the folks who have had to work to change the beliefs that were pounded into them by society, how about a little credit? Change is HARD.

If you want to see acceptance, Jessica -- and everyone else who's reading along -- you have to be accepting of the people who are fighting old teachings, not just of those who are already in your camp.

Jessica Verday said...

I won't comment on the 'anonymous' ID as that speaks for itself, but I would like to set the record straight on a couple of erroneous points.

First, I think my posts have been clear that this has never been a personal attack on Trisha (Or Running Press. Or Constable & Robinson.) and I accept their apologies.

Second, I'm not sure who told you that I "was fortunate enough to have grown up with family and friends who are GLBTQ" (your words), but that is erroneous information. I stated that I have gay fans (as of 2009, when my first book was published), gay friends (as of 1997 when I met a friend of my husband's), and gay family members (as of 1998 when I married into my husband's family), but I was not fortunate enough to have "grown up" around that enlightened environment.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

I was raised in a strict religious environment where I was taught that "God" wanted us to hate gays and lesbians and hate filled radio speeches were commonplace. As I grew older, I decided to choose my religion and my beliefs for myself. Which meant going in the opposite direction of everything that I had been taught.

So I know exactly what change you're talking about. I've lived it.

Michelle said...

I'd like to second the sentiments of Anonymous, though s/he did get some information wrong. While it was obviously not intentional, it has turned into a bit of a witch hunt.

It is wonderful that the YA and writing communities are so supportive of GBLTQ people and issues, but I fear that attacks on people who grew up in similar situations to Jess and who haven't—for whatever reason—changed their opinions yet, will only further alienate those same individuals. They may well become allies in the near future, but shutting them out of the conversation makes that so much less likely.

As someone who grew up in a similar conservative situation, it's very difficult to change a lifetime of bias. Instead of name-calling (and yes, telling someone they are a hateful bigot is name-calling and unproductive), I'd rather see understanding that changing opinions is incredibly difficult and takes time.

I applaud your decision to stand up for what you believe, but there are so many who aren't sure what they believe or how to investigate those feelings. All I'm saying is that kindness in the face of adversity is more productive—and infinitely more difficult—than strongly proving a point.

As for the use of anonymous, I understand why someone would choose to do so while expressing a dissenting opinion. As I mentioned at the beginning, it has turned into a bit of a witch hunt, and any who disagree are shunned as well. In this I would suggest kindness as well. Dialogue produces results, but someone must feel comfortable expressing an unpopular opinion in order to discuss such things. All I ask is that Jess' fans and readers don't attack those who are still figuring out who they are and what they believe.

Whiner said...

I feel a bit of sympathy for the editor if she honestly did just make a mistake, because I find myself needing a good kick in the pants sometimes when it comes to avoiding the urge to self-censor.

I worry sometimes that people will be upset if I include things, even though I want other people to include them in their own work, and I tread very carefully on LGBTQ relationships despite being bi myself. And then I feel foolish, when fans who have come to expect a certain level from me start asking where the lesbians are hiding in the next game.

However, if all the editor has done so far to make up for her 'mistake' is a brief 'oops' comment, she can do a lot better than that. :)

Fae Sutherland said...

@ Michelle

Yes, let's be gentle with the bigots, wouldn't want to hurt their feelings, would we?

The use of the word bigot isn't name-calling. It is accurate. It is fact. Trisha's response to this makes that clear. The publisher's response of "standing behind her 100%' makes that clear about them as well.

I'm so proud of all the authors standing up and pulling their stories to get the point across that this is not the world we once lived in where bigotry is catered to and 'just how they were raised'. As a M/M author, I hope one day that the doors of NY publishing won't be shut to us and our stories any longer. And authors willing to stand up and say NO when it happens is one more step toward true equality.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous and Michelle. I read and embrace M/M literature and hate bigotry and homophobia, but I feel there has to be some room for a person to apologize, to make reparations and move forward, lesson learned. I would ask, what has to happen to Telep and the publisher to make this right? What do we want from them? How do we make this a win for the GLBT community? Where can we go from here that doesn't create deeper divisions and more hate? Couldn't that be our conversation?

What they did and said was wrong, but personally I want to see people given the opporutnity to grow and learn from their mistakes and maybe even have a positive influence on others. That is my hope.

At their worst, bigots vilify others. Is vilifying bigots (and Michele is right, bigotry is often an issue of education rather than inherent evil) really the way to correct this situation?

Forgiveness and the room for atonement and character transformation is the stuff of the greatest stories in our genre, and I wish it was more present in the community. Yeah, I'm signing myself anonymous too.

Nicole Peeler said...

I absolutely agree that this should not turn into a witch hunt, and that there needs to be room for both dialogue and forgiveness when people do make mistakes and apologize.

My problem with the "apologies" issued is that they're not really substantive nor do they address the issue in any substantive way.

I can't see much learning coming out of an "oops, my bad" and some finger pointing.

Dharma Kurlind said...

I completely understand and applaud your decision to pull the story from the anthology and for refusing to change it to a more conventional m/f romance.

Even so, a part of me feels that having your m/m story in Wicked Pretty Things would be an even better way of getting that core message of tolerance - that love is never wrong - out to a wider audience among teens. The editor's response seems like her request, although without a doubt offensive, was more a product of thoughtlessness and a misconception on what's popular than out of homophobia. In other words, ignorance, not hatred. Especially now that there's a lot of buzz and talk over what happened, having an alternative YA romance in a popular anthology seems like it would be a victory for the GLBT community then for the anthology to go forward with only conventional stories.

Either way, I'm behind by your decision 100%. It's wonderful to see authors standing by their principles.

Phoebe said...

I read and embrace M/M literature and hate bigotry and homophobia, but I feel there has to be some room for a person to apologize, to make reparations and move forward, lesson learned.

Perhaps there would be room for the authors involved to move forward had any substantial apologies been made on the part of the editor, or if any reparations had been made by either her actions or the actions of her publisher.

As it stands, though the publishers have issued an apology, the editor in question hasn't--and stands to profit (literally, profit) from the inclusion of Jessica's story, or the stories of the other writers.

Trisha Telep might be a good person, but her actions were homophobic, and her apology, rather than working to reach understanding of why such actions deeply hurt real readers and writers, constituted little more than a digging-in of her heels and reiteration of prejudicial attitudes (her equation of alternative sexualities with cursing or explicit sex; her tweets that she has an old fashioned notion of romance).

I haven't seen Jess call for anyone else to pull out of the anthology--it seems to me that these authors did that independently, and it's certainly their choice as to whether their work and their income should benefit people who aren't inclusive in their publishing practices. Sweeping the reality of homophobic practices under the rug has been the way that homophobia has, broadly, been able to perpetuate in our society for hundreds of years. That these writers feel empowered enough to act in solidarity--that they'd bravely risk their own careers in favor of speaking out--shows how the seas have changed. If you act in a way that's bigoted, there are now repercussions for your actions. With the way that GTLBQ individuals have had to be closeted or face very real risks of career death or violence, I can only think that this is a step in the right direction.

Peter Eng said...

"I feel there has to be some room for a person to apologize, to make reparations and move forward, lesson learned." - Anonymous commenter.

If there is anything Ms. Telep has said that resembles an apology, I don't see it. Perhaps her comment on the previous post was intended as an apology. If so, I'd say she could use an editor. I don't get "apology" in anything said there.

As far as reparations go, that is between Ms. Verday and the publisher. Perhaps they offered to restore her story to the anthology, essentially unchanged. Maybe she accepted. Maybe she refused.

Or, perhaps they haven't even made an attempt to make reparations, and they're getting exactly what they deserve for their lack of action in that direction.

Moving forward depends on where people try to steer the Car of Interaction. At the moment, this one seems to be headed straight off the Cliff of Internet Anger. (And I think I just stretched that metaphor too far.)

Erin Millar said...

I'm so proud that you're standing by your beliefs and not backing down. You're an inspiration for all of us.

I can't wait to read your story and thanks for sharing all of this with us!

Tasha said...

@anonymous and Michelle; Had the editor actually apologized, I might agree with you. But she didn't. What she did was to offer an excuse (I didn't think YA were allowed to read that sort of thing) and the now-standard "but I like gay people!" clause, in this case, "By the way: if you want to see a you tube video of me wrestling a gay man in Glasgow, and losing, please let me know)."

I'm sorry, but that's offensive. She did NOT apologize for anything, but watching her wrestle a gay man is supposed to make things better? Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm not seeing anything in the way of an actual apology here.

Kate Davies said...

My 12 and 10 year olds are fans of your books - and were thrilled to hear of your decision. Both are ardent supporters of equal rights for all, and were appalled that you were asked to change your story. Your books are now at the top of their to-buy lists. Thanks for being such a great role model for them.

MadGastronomer said...

I had not heard of you until all of this came out, and various author acquaintances of mine started commenting on it. But as someone who came out in her teens, I really appreciate not only that you wrote the story, but that you have stood by it and up for it, and I will be showing my appreciation in the best way I can: I will be buying your books and (assuming I like them, of course) recommending them to others.

Jaimie said...

"You refusing to give her even an inch says makes you look as stubborn and ignorant as someone who disapproves of the GLBTQ community."

Too true, Anonymous. I don't mind putting my name and face up here and saying I agree with you. (Although I understand the need to hide... sheesh!)

And I, while not gay, am I writer of m/m fiction.

Jaimie said...

Oh let me add, Jessica, I respect your decision in this matter. I was more concerned with how hypocritical some commenters have been. Your story sounds like something I would enjoy reading.

filkertom said...

Got here by way of Seanan McGuire. You rock, very hard. If they had asked for specific relationship types, if they had rejected the story outright, if they had said No Icky Gay, the circumstances would be different. Approving the story, and then having you change something as fundamental as the characters, as if swapping pronouns for one of them would suffice, is ludicrous. Many good thoughts and much good luck.

Keira Andrews said...

@anonymous and Michelle; Had the editor actually apologized, I might agree with you. But she didn't. What she did was to offer an excuse (I didn't think YA were allowed to read that sort of thing) and the now-standard "but I like gay people!" clause"

Exactly, Tasha. I was shocked by the cavalier tone of Telep's comment.

Jessica, thank you for speaking out! I applaud you.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe there are people who are holding Jessica responsible for other author's actions.

FACT: It's Jessica's creative work. She gets to do with it what she wants to. She's under no obligation whatsoever to submit her work to that editor.

FACT: Those other authors who are pulling their work? That work is their's. Telep's homophobic actions are just as offensive to others as they are to Jessica, and THEY aren't obligated to submit THEIR work to an editor they don't want to, either.

FACT: Jessica has ABSOLUTELY ZERO POWER over what those other authors are doing.

If you think that the response to this was acceptable, you are more than free to support the editor and publishers and buy their books. No one's stopping you. Those of us who found it unacceptable still have the right to NOT support the editor and publishers.

Lisa Padol said...

What would the appropriate response from the publisher have been? Was there anything the publisher could have done that did not include not using the editor?

What would the appropriate response from the editor have been?

I understand where you're coming from, and I believe that you know how to read an email, listen to a phone call, whatever, and understand the intent and what is and is not being said, so I am not asking questions about what did happen. It's a difficult situation. It's a sucky situation, and I support your position.

What I am asking is: what, given the initial FUBAR, if anything, might have happened that might have resulted in agreeing to keep the story in? Is any recovery possible when something this wrong happens?

I'm not unbiased here -- it's... so, I'm human; therefore, it is a given that I have prejudices. More and more, this means I'm afraid to open my mouth. I am aware that there are differences of scale, and that the scale of Wrong here is like giant neon letters where the lights chase each other round and round and burn their image on the brain.

I've heard statements expressing hope that the publisher and editor will learn from this, and I hope so, too. If they do, how do they demonstrate that they have learned? What needs to happen before any of us -- because, yes, for all that I am uneasy at the idea of the editor never being able to find work again, of the publisher going under (I am NOT uneasy about hurting their feelings), I find that I cannot, in good conscience, buy this book -- decide that we can work with this editor or publisher, can buy books edited or published by them?

boosette said...

So I had no idea who you were before a friend of mine linked to your blog post, but I wanted to say that it's so nice to find a writer who will stand behind their principles* that I'm going to go out and pick up one of your books from the store.


*Awesome principles <3. That the principles are awesome is important.

Anonymous said...

"What would the appropriate response from the editor have been?"

The appropriate response should have been "I screwed up. I'm so sorry, and I apologize to Jessica Verday as well as our readers. I really dropped the ball on this one."

If people think that Ms. Telep is being judged harshly, perhaps they need to step back and remember how our GLBTQ youth, or those who are perceived to be gay regardless of their actual orientation, are being judged every day.

Perhaps they need to remember that these children are four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers, and three times more likely to be bullied. 90% of gay, or perceived to be gay, youth have been harassed or physically assaulted because of their orientation. Why does this still happen, in this day and age? Because of people with ignorant viewpoints, and because people who may not share those views but are too afraid to call out the bigotry they are witnessing.

Women did not get the right to vote by being understanding of those who would hold them back. People of color did not gain the right to desegregated education by being gently accepting of the old guard. Change does not come from a gentle pat on the back for the bigots who resist it, it comes from people who stand up and use hard words in hard tones and let people know that we will NOT take our family and friends being marginalized, dismissed, and oppressed. YES, this is just a little story in a little book...but that stand has to start somewhere and if this "kerfluffle", as Ms. Telep dubbed it, starts one person thinking, then it will be worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

Litmus test moment. Would it be okay to ask someone to change the race of their characters since the general populace might not be okay with marriage across racial lines? Why is this expected to be acceptable with sexual orientation when it is clearly unacceptable with other bigotry?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing this. I agree with your stance, and am deeply disappointed with the publishers that they would continue to work with the editor in question. This sort of bigotry is not acceptable.

Kitten Likkens said...

Hmmm...this is very curious because I happen to know for a fact that the Publisher at Running Press is gay. Big whoop...I'm gay too. I met him in San Francisco over a decade ago and let me tell you, sweetie, he is very out and proud of it. He himself published anthologies of gay fiction when he lived in SF...so I really don't think he or RP had anything to do with the rejection of the story. Geez, do a simple search of the Running Press site and you'll see a long list of gay titles. As for the editor of the anthology, I don't know her at all...but it sounds like she made some mistakes which will probably have some repercussions on her career. Oh, snap! Hey, maybe the story just wasn't all that and she didn't have the heart to just say it...and instead (poorly) chose some other excuse that she thought would soften the blow?...Anyhow, I've got to applaud you Jessica because now you are going to blow this story out at retail, honey. Rake in the BUCKS! I see several new pairs of Louboutins and maybe even a Birkin bag in your future...WORK GIRL!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm the original Anonymous who started the fireworks, and I do apologize for getting some of the facts wrong. I don't regret the gist of my stance, however, which remains -- If we want to see change, don't we have to be willing to accept change?

And maybe even smaller changes than we'd like to see initially, as we push for bigger changes? We gotta start somewhere, folks. Let's start by working with people who are coming our direction a bit.

>>>>Second, I'm not sure who told you that I "was fortunate enough to have grown up with family and friends who are GLBTQ" (your words), but that is erroneous information. <<<<<<<

Actually, I was making an assumption based on other things you've written, and you know what happens when one does the old assuming thing!

If that's the worst thing you found wrong with my argument, though -- maybe I made an impact. I seem to have made one on other readers, giving them implicit permission to disagree with your hard line. Because what's a great discussion without someone to play a little Devil's Advocate?

@ Michelle and others who have been braver than me in putting their names out there -- THANK YOU

@ The Anon who put out all the FACTs:

I'm not holding Jess responsible for other authors' actions -- I am, however, asking her to remember that she has a lot of clout here, and to use that power for good, and not just to make a Very Big Impact. And absolutely, other authors can decide to pull their works -- but let's do it because we're thinking for ourselves, please.

People, what makes Jess's original stance so awesome is that she took a stand based on what she believes. I just think she was teetering on taking it too far. The stance was beginning to feel rigid and disrespectful of people who need some room to change.

I do think people have made some excellent points about how the editor didn't make a real apology, and neither did the publisher. That makes sense to me. (I am not an unreasonable person. I was stating an opinion. I am certainly open to considering yours, and as I say, these were excellent points.)

In any case, this is how change happens. Through taking a stand. Through talking about things. And through being willing to accept the change when it really does happen.

As for me remaining Anonymous...I wasn't surprised to be tossed some disparagement for that choice, though I was a little disappointed in Jess to see her doing the tossing.

XM said...

I would have done the same. Your integrity is stunning, not just because of the queer/het reference but the integrity of your manuscript in the first place. Cheers to you.

Tim Dedopulos said...

Thanks for the updates, Jessica. As many people have said, you really are an inspiration in this.

Anyway, I'm mainly posting because I wanted to say that in regards to your updates, how saddened and disgusted am I that everyone concerned has reacted by getting lawyers to have you put weasel-words on your post. That really seems to me the greatest symptom of the rottenness at the heart of our society. The fact that vile opinions exist is tragic, but human. The cowardice required to not stand behind them as soon as someone starts getting some attention is just despicable.

Sending you lots of good vibes.

T.

Michael said...

I had initially agreed to submit a story for this anthology, then I realized I'd forgotten an entire book I had to write. So I bailed.

And now, as the bullet goes whizzing harmlessly past my head . . .

I'm reluctant to come down too hard on Ms. Telep. She probably thought she was making the safe conflict-avoiding choice. The funny thing is that the world has changed and now the safe, conflict-avoiding choice would be to include gay stories.

Here's what bothers me: why would anyone who wanted to avoid trouble call me up? I am not safe, dammit. I refuse to be safer than a G-rated gay romance. More tame than GLEE? I won't have it.

So, fair warning: any romance short stories I write in the future will involve a gay orgy scene and people just randomly shouting out f-bombs. Also product placement for condoms. And a horrifying misuse of a 3 Musketeers bar.
-- Michael Grant

Katie said...

It's possible to sense a bit of desperation in those press relases where the publishers and the editor constantly mention that they fully support the LGBTQ community. Somehow, it's difficult to believe that when the actions of the editor (whose views they don't necessarily share!) have spoken so loudly against that alleged support.

Thanks for sharing your story and for clearly explaining the reasons behind your decision. I'll be checking back to see when we'll be able to read the story in question, because I think it sounds absolutely fascinating.

Anonymous said...

@ "going too far" anon

I'm still trying to figure out how speaking out when a pretty piece of absolutely blatant and shameless homophobia crosses one's desk is "taking it too far". That's literally all she's doing. Talking. How in the world is talking about it "going too far"?

I hope she keeps talking. I hope she doesn't just shut up, as your comment implies she should do. As for me? As a member of the LGBT community who was discriminated against at his job THIS WEEK and was told to keep his mouth shut, you better believe I'll keep talking. I don't care if you think it's "going too far."

Anonymous said...

@ Devil's Advocate Anony
If we want to see change, don't we have to be willing to accept change?

Idk, I think that Jessica can accept the apology in good faith while still refusing to work with someone whose first reaction with encountering a PG-13 m/m teenage romance was to think of it as "alternative" and obscene.


It's weird how stuff is okay as long as it remains in the world of words and rants, but as soon as the are consequences then it's gone too far. And some people keep talking about how she apologized, as if that was some kind of fix it. Maybe it's the way I was brought up, but in my house saying "I'm sorry" was but the first step.

I don't get why consequences shouldn't be part of what happens after someone makes a "mistake." Why do some people start talking about witchhunts when there's some kind of fall out?

This is --fortunately imo-- one of the results of doing/saying bigoted stuff, people may not want to associate with you. At least for at least a while until they see actions speaking louder than apologies. ;D

I also wanted to add that it's kind of offensive to assume that these other authors are not thinking for themselves when they refuse to work with this editor. Everybody has their own reasons for doing things, and as you said, we want to see change. This is one way to change things, by making it clear that bigotry is unacceptable.

Filomena

Kate said...

Stumbled here from FLB's facebook page.. I'm so sorry you've gone through this, but so glad to see you take such a strong stand. I'm not familiar with your work, but I plan on becoming so! Take care!

Jonquil said...

I have been struck by the grace and courtesy with which you have handled this entire situation. You have been careful to give time to the publisher's and editor's responses, and you have consistently characterized the behavior rather than the person.

Demanding that you "straight-wash" a gay couple was completely unacceptable; the way you have responded has been honest, dignified, and courteous. Well done.

Cy said...

I absolutely adore your work, and fully support you in your stand :) Sorry that this came quite late, but support always helps somehow right? :) Keep up the good work and keep writing!

I'll definitely be waiting to read your third book (I live in Malaysia, hence I'll only be able to read it in 2012 *sobs*) and Flesh Which Is Not Flesh (eagerly awaiting promised link!) :D