The shorthand: authors were making the rounds submitting a YA manuscript featuring queer characters of color. They were instructed by an agent that the agent would represent them under the condition that they made the character straight.
Suffice to say this caught my attention because well my novel Hollowstone features POC and queer characters. And Empyrea, the YA I’m currently editing, features a queer character of color as it’s primary protagonist.
To be honest, I think I’m more shocked over the fact that agent didn’t attempt to whitewash the characters.
Last night on Twitter, I was speaking with authors Scott Tracey and Rick Lipman and we each came to the same conclusion about the stream of comments from people claiming to be so surprised that such attitudes “still” exist in the 21st century.
And what I said then, still applies now:
Do you honestly think this was an isolated incident or these kind of attitudes are happening in a vacuum?
This is most pervasive of the industry as a whole.
Ask yourself how many novels there are out there in mainstream speculative fiction that feature LGBTQs, particularly gay males, as the primary protagonists? For that matter ask yourselves how many mainstream speculative novels feature POCs, or better yet how many feature queer POCs. And none of that was a clue?
While the agent was being reprehensible, the truth is, they’re being far more upfront in their bigotry than most are.
See many editors and publishers who see a story featuring an LGBTQ or a POC will simply say it’s just not a right fit for what they publish and keep it moving. While they’ll reject it because of racism or homophobia, they’ll hem and haw and use every other lie and excuse to save face.
Do you honestly think it’s random happenstance that there’s a dearth of POC/LGBTQ content. And why does it take an online drama/incident before people (who are in positions of privilege) decide to proactively demand better or raise the issue of diversity?
So until more people decide to get a clue about the realities in which we dwell, much less demand better, don’t expect change to occur. Because the truth is, it’s simply business as usual.