I’ve been following the Gay YA debacle for a few days now and I have to admit that I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth. For those who aren’t aware of the kerfuffle that’s been raging, Cleolinda has a fabulous run-down of it on her LJ. It’s very long with lots of links, but she does a great job of breaking it down. YA Highway also does a great job of explaining the situation.
What I’ve come away feeling is that both sides have handled this badly. If I were the authors and I was trying to shed some light on the fact that the publishing industry as a whole isn’t as YA-friendly as they claim, I would have left out that individual and very specific incident and just made a general statement about what went on. The publishing industry is so incestuous and gossipy, they had to have known that the identity of the agent in question would get out at some point.
It came across, to me, as very passive aggressive. “Here’s this horrible thing that happened to us. We won’t name names ,but we know the name will get out sooner or later, so nyah!” I deal with that sort of childish behavior on my personal Facebook page. I sort of expected better of professional business people.
Joanna Stampfel-Volpe’s rebuttal and Colleen Lindsay’s note were an example of what NOT to do. They turned an already contentious issue into a mud-slinging fest complete with unverified assumptions and baseless accusations.
I don’t think either side had malicious intent at any point in this debacle. It seems to me that it’s just one huge misunderstanding wrapped with a giant bow of hurt.
What I think everybody involved can agree on (and, in truth, it was the main issue of Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown’s original post) is that there need to be more QUILTBAG characters in not only YA, but in literature of all shapes and sizes.
But, and here’s the rub, publishers aren’t going to publish something unless there’s a market for it. Publishing companies are businesses, they’re in this to make money not bring about societal change. Although books are instrumental in societal change, it’s not a publisher’s first concern. Nor should it be.
If books with QUILTBAG characters don’t sell, then publishers won’t publish them. It’s the same as with sparkly vampires, if they don’t sell they don’t get published. So, if you want more books with QUILTBAG characters (I know I do!), then get out there and buy the ones that are already out there. Email publishing companies asking them for more books with QUILTBAG characters. Make your preferences known!