My Take on the Cedar Fort Gay Author Fiasco - Part 1
I think it's fair to say that the LDS publishing world has recently been rocked by a scandal involving Cedar Fort (who published my fourth book, Honeymoon Heist) and a single word in a bio. You can read the full story in the author's own words via this link, but in a nutshell Cedar Fort agreed to publish a book, edited it, designed the cover, started promoting it, scheduled it, and then dropped it when the authors refused to take the word "partner" out of one of the bios, thus indicating that one of the co-authors is gay.
They've been widely condemned by the LDS community for this decision. Their reasoning was that the large church-owned bookstore chains (Deseret Book and Seagull Book, primarily) who are their main marketplace would not carry a book by a gay author, and they could damage their important relationship with these shops. That is, sadly, probably true. However, I should add that this is a national market sci-fi book, not a specifically LDS book.
I'm sure there are still some Mormons who would see buying a book by a gay author as somehow endorsing, encouraging or enabling that lifestyle. They may therefore choose not to buy the book. I hope they also check, when they eat at a restaurant, that the chef isn't gay, and when they buy their groceries that the checkout operator isn't living with a same-sex partner. Doubtless they want to be quite sure that their money is not in any way supporting a homosexual lifestyle.
We shouldn't be surprised that there are still people like this. Homosexuality was illegal in England until 1967, in Scotland until 1980, and in some US states until as recently at 2003. Naturally the older generation will have a hard time coming to terms with accepting something which was taboo for much of their lives, especially if you add religion into the mix.
Where this case loses me, however, is when publishers and bookstores discriminate against someone in order to pander to these prejudices.
I'm fortunate enough to be heterosexual, which is lucky because I'm a Mormon and homosexual behaviour is considered sinful in LDS teaching (as is any sexual behaviour outside marriage). My religion also forbids me from drinking coffee (which is OK by me as I never liked coffee anyway). However, most people don't share my views--many don't believe in God at all--and they are therefore free to drink coffee, or even, should the mood take them, to engage in homosexual behaviour.
When buying books, I don't stop for a moment to wonder whether the author drinks coffee.
Next week - How this has happened before.