Gatekeepers and Quiet Censorship

Publisher Weekly and their various blogs are  a wonderful resource for writers and readers.  Today  in PW Genreville, I came across a most interesting article written by a couple of co-authors about an agent’s rejection.  This, however, wasn’t the usual “no thanks” letter.  In fact, Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith were offered representation, but only if they would nix the gay character in their novel or make him straight and remove all references to his sexual orientation.  This was a “line drawn in the sand” issue for both authors who declined the offer.  It was a serious enough issue that they decided to take it further with the above mentioned article.  To be clear, these two published authors were not dissing the agent.  After all, agents have to make a living, and their personal tastes did not enter into their offer.  What the authors are saying though, is that this kind of gatekeeping is really not acceptable.

FYI, I’ve posted the comment I left at PW Genreville below.  If you feel as strongly about quiet censorship and gatekeeping as I do, or as strongly as Manija Brown and Smith do, then you may want to weight in too, either here, or at PW Genreville.

I haven’t written anything thus far with gay characters, but I have noticed this kind of silent censorship lately and I find it particularly disturbing.  Kids and teens need to be able to see themselves reflected in literature for a variety of reasons, many of which have been discussed as a result of the sweeping “darkness of young adult literature” generalization that was debated recently re: Wall Street Journal article.  The bizarre need to whitewash literature is nothing new, but what is particularly insidious is that now, books may not even make it to publishers much less onto bookshelves.  I hope you not only find an agent to sell your story, but a publisher who is willing to risk the wrath of a few narrow minded people in order to provide kids and teens with the literature they want and deserve to have access to if they so choose.

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