I’ve been thinking about how to politely word this letter to you about your decision to exclude same-sex books from your chapter’s contest, but the truth is I hope you receive so many e-mails that it’s impossible for you to read them all. I also hope you forward them all to your uncomfortable judges and that you’ll find the courage to ask the same uncomfortable judges to exclude themselves from the judging process.
Here’s the thing: if you’re uncomfortable reading romance, don’t be a romance novel judge.
I took the liberty of having a look at your 2012 MTM Rules & Information page. Three things popped out at me immediately.
“…our only requirement is that they are regular romance readers.”
You know that adage “you get what you pay for?” Clearly, making literacy the only requirement for your judges may not have produced a high caliber pool of volunteers to choose from. I’m guessing you tried to keep it simple to include as many potential judges as possible. Ironic that your attempt at inclusion led to such exclusion, isn’t it?
“They tell us which categories and what “heat” level they prefer to read, so our entrants’ books get into the hands of people who might give them the most favorable rating.”
And when a few of them indicate that they are uncomfortable with same-sex, you go ahead and change your rules to exclude and discriminate, rather than telling the judges that they may not be a good fit for you? I sure hope none of the angry letters you’re no doubt receiving attack these judges for their discomfort level, it is their right to feel as they do, but this is 2012 and we should be above such blatant discrimination. Think of it this way: if your judges said they felt uncomfortable reading about Latinos, would you put “No Hispanics” up on your website?
“Our final round judges are chosen for the diversity of their romance reading interests.”
Diversity? Hmm … Do I even need to go there right now? There’s nothing diverse about “man + woman,” when “woman + woman” and “man + man” are excluded.