Publishing News: Two More Victims of the Straight Agenda

From the Salt Lake Tribune, Cedar Fort Publishing apparently cancelled the release of Woven, a YA fantasy novel by David Powers King and Michael Jensen, because Jensen refused to remove a reference to his boyfriend in his author bio. Cedar Fort is a “predominantly LDS” publisher, but Jensen says he was told his book would not have to conform to strict LDS standards.

Jensen says he was surprised there was a problem because he had submitted the biography five months earlier. He and King discussed their options.

“I was speechless,” says King, who unlike Jensen is a practicing Mormon. “My first reaction was, ‘Is this really happening?’ We decided, what good was it … to omit truths and not be honest with ourselves?”

The article says Cedar Fort has declined to comment on the story. I checked their Facebook page, Twitter account, and blog, and found nothing about King and Jensen.

Does Cedar Fort have the right to kill a book because the author refuses to hide his sexuality? I obviously haven’t seen the contract, but I suspect they do. Utah is one of many states with no employment discrimination laws protecting LGBT employees.

While it pisses me off and makes me said, I’m not overly shocked at a primarily religious publisher pulling a book over something like this. Though it sounds like they were aware of Jensen’s sexuality all along, so I have no clue why they waited until the last minute to pull the plug.

But I find myself wondering, for every publisher, editor, and agent who explicitly rejects someone for their sexual orientation, how many others are doing the same thing without saying why?

I’ve never had to worry about mentioning my family in my author bios, or thanking my wife in the acknowledgements of one of my books. My guess is that most straight authors never give it a second thought.

When people talk about continuing the fight for inclusiveness, diversity, and acceptance in publishing? This is what we’re talking about. It’s one more example of people’s prejudices and bigotry hurting the publishing world. Sometimes it’s explicit. Other times it’s subtle and unstated.

(I loved GenCon, but I can’t help noticing how many all-male and/or all-white panels I was on this past weekend.)

Judging from the number of people I’ve seen talking about this story, my guess is that King and Jensen will come out of this with a better deal in the end, and good for them. But what about the rest of the authors who get pushed aside and kicked down and overlooked because they have the wrong color skin, love the wrong people, or identify as the wrong gender? In many cases, I doubt it’s conscious or deliberate discrimination, but intent doesn’t change the end result.

We’ve got a lot of work left to do…