Anyone who follows the Writing tag closely enough, visits io9, or reads Genreville has already heard about the agent who agreed to accept Rachel Brown and Sherwood Smith’s manuscript on one condition – that they eliminate either a gay main character or his gayness. That this happens is not news to me, as a friend of mine received advice from an agent that she alter a lesbian character’s relationships to make the story more ‘palatable’ not even a year ago. It is a sad fact that, while the real world continues to make strides toward the acceptance and integration of queer people, our entertainment remains as white and straight as it can get away with. And we let it get away with a lot.
I view this particular instance as important, as different, simply because I’ve tripped over it several times during unrelated browsing. The internet is a powerful engine of exposure, and exposure is a fine weapon against injustice. There exists a blog with the motto “You fuck up, you get put on display,” and I think that’s accurate to how the wildfire spread of social injustice news on the web works.
True, no names were named, but that isn’t important. Agents who would advise these changes or reject a manuscript based on a character’s LGBTQ status are a symptom of a pop cultural disease, and identifying them individually won’t help. What will help is exposing the problems inherent in an industry that very often operates on mindsets outdated by forty years.