Monday, September 14, 2009

The Outer Alliance

I recently ran across mention of a group called The Outer Alliance, a support and advocacy group for people involved in GLBTQ speculative fiction. Their mission statement is as follows:

As a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.

Pretty basic and definitely something I can get behind, so I joined. I missed their Pride Day, which was on 1 September, but was just in time to see a statement go up Regarding Queer-Unfriendly Markets. The issue specifically concerned the sentiments and opinions of Mr. Jake Freivald, owner of Flash Fiction Online, who'd rejected an advertisement Crossed Genres tried to place (a paid ad, through Project Wonderful) soliciting material for their upcoming LGBTQ issue, on the basis that he didn't accept "sexually themed ads." Click the link above to see the ad in question -- there's nothing sexual about it, unless one has an "Eeek, sex, dirty!" response to the term "LGBTQ" itself.

The Outer Alliance wasn't trying to persuade its members to boycott Mr. Freivald's site, but was merely presenting the facts. The post opened with:

After much discussion within the Outer Alliance, a consensus has been reached that when our writers or publishers encounter a market that is specifically unwelcoming to queer content, that we ought to make sure our membership is aware of it so that they may decide individually whether or not they wish to try to conduct business with such a market.

I think that works. There's certainly a clear implication of what the organization thinks, but nobody is going to be tossed out for publishing with FFO.

In this case, the issue is purely one of principle for me, since I neither read nor write flash fiction. I certainly would want to know, though, whether the owners or people otherwise in control of a market I might be considering submitting to hold homophobic (racist, sexist, whatever) views; not only would I prefer to save my time and effort if the content of my stories might get them rejected off the bat, but I'd just as soon not have my name professionally associated with these kinds of people. Mr. Freivald is free to think whatever he likes, and to run his business likewise, but I and other writers and readers are correspondingly free to respond to his views as we please, and to choose to do business with him or not based on our responses.

If this is the sort of info Outer Alliance will be providing, then it's worth my time to poke around on their site periodically just for that. They're just getting going, though, and I hope to see a wide variety of news and information of interest coming from them. We'll see.

If you're interested, the link at the top is to their blog; becoming an actual member means joining their Google Groups site, which only requires a line or so saying why you want to join.



Anonymous said...

Howdy! I'm collecting commentary here, and am linking to this (if you want me to remove your link, just respond to this comment and tell me so).

Charles Gramlich said...

The ad doesn't seem offensive to me, but I do think there is some sexual suggestiveness about it. I'd have to know more about what other types of ads have been or have not been rejected before I could decide on what attitude underlay the rejection.

Angie said...

Tacithydra -- links are fine. :) In fact, I cross-post everything here to my LiveJournal and my WordPress blog; feel free to add those as well if you like. My WordPress audience rarely comments, but there's been some discussion on the LJ.

Charles -- the gentleman is nothing if not consistent. If you click through to the Outer Alliance discussion and read his response in the comments, and also click through from there to the discussion and comments on the Crossed Genres page he's very up-front about where he's coming from.

In addition to being anti-queer, he's also anti-divorce and anti-contraception, and has stated that FFO has only ever accepted one story which mentions divorce, and in that one the divorced characters were shown in a negative light. Based on that, I'm guessing that a story showing gay people as miserable and misguided might be accepted, but a story showing a gay character (or one who's divorced, or married characters who choose to have sex but not children) as happy and living a fulfilling life would be rejected.

All this would be great for people to know before they submit, but there's nothing in the guidelines about Mr. Freivald's views or how they affect FFO's editorial policy. He's stated that he'd rather not have that sort of information in FFO's guidelines, that he'd rather people send him stories so he can just reject the ones he doesn't care for. Sending out stories and getting rejections back is certainly part of being a writer, but it's not one of the more pleasant parts and I'm just as happy to have this kind of information so I can save myself the frustration of hoping where there's actually no hope.

And that's completely separate from my decision about whether or not I want to support a business whose owner holds these kinds of views, although that's a significant issue as well.

Oh, and he states himself that it's not the artwork he objected to, and that if the ad had been the same but without the "LGBTQ" label, he'd have accepted it. So it's not actually any suggestiveness in the artwork which was the issue, but rather the gay label.


Steve Malley said...

I just. Don't. Get. Homophobia.

More specifically, I don't get that human impulse to try to control behaviour in others that has no bearing whatsoever on their own lives.

That is one room in the human heart that continues to baffle me...

Angie said...

Steve -- seriously, I don't either. I mean, it's one thing to be against rape or arson or theft or murder or littering or something that affects other people and causes demonstrable harm. But how the heck is it anyone's business how two or more consenting adults have sex?

It's like the whole "defense of marriage" campaign against letting gays and lesbians marry one another -- it makes no sense at all. My husband and I have been married for thirteen years, and the forty thousand gay couples who married here in California for those months when it was legal, to say nothing of the hordes of other gay couples who've married and are still marrying in states and countries where it's legal, have had absolutely no effect on my marriage. My "traditional" marriage doesn't need to be protected from gay marriage, and anyone who thinks it does is crazed. [sigh]