Fisking That RWA LTA Speech

by | Jul 23, 2018 | Industry Talk, Just Me | 4 comments

For those of us in the romance community, last week was one of our traditionally big weeks, as the annual Romance Writer’s of America convention was held in Denver. On Thursday evening RWA held the RITAs, which is basically romance’s version of the Oscars or Grammys. In other words, if you’re a romance writer, the RITAs are a big freaking deal.

A part of that big freaking deal is the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, which is pretty much as important as it sounds. This year, the recipient of the LTA was apparently Suzanne Brockmann, who’s a very prolific romance writer and has had a long, successful career.

I admittedly wasn’t that tuned into anything regarding this year’s RWA convention. I honestly barely even knew it was happening last week, and probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t seen several writer friends posting about it on Facebook. We just moved less than a month ago and are still trying to get settled in, and on top of that my husband’s dialysis access decided to learn a cool new trick last week and start clotting off when the tech sticks him to start treatment (the cool new trick part is sarcasm, because it’s really not cool at all). Needless to say, my mind’s been focused on other things.

But Saturday my news feed started blowing up with links to Brockmann’s speech, with fellow romance authors talking about how amazing it was. So I of course had to read it.

And I soon realized that I probably wasn’t going to be falling over with glee like so many of my fellow romance authors. After reading the speech in its entirety—and then waiting 24 hours and rereading it—I honestly felt flabbergasted and kind of angry. So I decided to take a page out of Larry Correia’s book and, well, give it a bit of a Fisking. And then I decided to go ahead and just post it on my blog rather than on my personal Facebook because if I was going to do this, I might as well go all in, right?

all in gif

Now, before I get started, I want to preface this with an explanation of my particular political beliefs. Because, like I said, all in, and even though all the writing marketing experts tell you not to get political, a lot of writers—especially romance writers, it seems—are getting political these days, and if I’m going to address something like this speech it’s only fair for me to clearly state where I stand.

If you’ve read my books (and if you’re here, there’s a good chance you have), you’ve probably been able to at least deduce that in some regards I lean somewhat conservative. I mean, I have a series that’s centered around a hunting ranch and my characters almost all are responsible gun owners. And, yeah, I am a very big proponent of the Second Amendment. And The First. And the whole damned Constitution. If I’m being totally honest, though, my political beliefs are probably best described as Libertarian Conservative, or what some others call Libertarian Constitutionalists, and still others simply call Constitutionalists. TBH, I think this meme probably sums up where I stand in the most simplistic way:

libertarian gay married couples meme

Toss in some “get off my lawn” and a whole lot of “taxation is theft” and you’re pretty much good to go. Basically, IDGAF what anyone else is doing, as long as it’s legal and not hurting anyone else or infringing on anyone’s rights. And most of all, I firmly—FIRMLY—believe in freedom of speech.

Not freedom FROM speech. But freedom OF speech.

And one of the reasons why I decided to Fisk this is because more and more, I feel like speech like this is only serving to silence the voices of those who don’t agree. And as writers, it’s our duty to not only speak, but to also defend the right to speak—even for those who we might disagree with.

So with that being said, here we go. The original text of Brockmann’s speech is in italics, and my comments are in bold.

There’s been a bit of buzz about my RWA LTA acceptance speech…

And I’d hoped the video would be up so you could watch it, but I think that takes a bit of time to do (and the gang over at RWA are a little busy with the rest of the giant conference), so I thought I’d zap you a quick e-newsletter with the contents of my speech.

(And also remind you that the big-ass RWA group book signing in support of literacy programs is TODAY, Saturday, July 21st from 3 to 5 pm at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Denver! I’ll be there! Come say hello!!)

For those of you who are unaware, there’s always a HUGE book signing at RWA that’s in support of literacy programs. It’s a great chance for readers to meet some of their favorite authors and get their books signed, and proceeds go to programs that support literacy. In other words, it’s an awesome event and something romance writers—and readers—look forward to every year.

But… this past Thursday night, I was given the incredible honor of receiving the Romance Writers of America Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, and was given a bit of time to make (ahem) a speech.

I had a few things to say.

But first, my son, Jason T. Gaffney, took the stage and gave me an incredible intro. (There was a slideshow with pictures on the big screen. I’ll figure out a way to post them later when I have more time!!)

Okay, I think it’s kind of cool that her son got to introduce her.

Jason: Before she was a writer, my mom was a musician. She sang in coffeehouses and subway stations, she fronted a rock band, and directed an acappella group.

Since 1993, (I was eight!) she’s written fifty-seven novels, fourteen short stories, and three screenplays. She edits a line of own-voices romance called Suzanne Brockmann Presents.She co-wrote and directed an off-Broadway play, and produced four indie movies. 

Jiminy Christmas! Talk about prolific! Most of us wish we could have that kind of career and longevity in the publishing industry. So for that alone, kudos, Ms. Brockmann.

Here’s the trailer for her latest, a rom-com called ANALYSIS PARALYSIS

Dude, I suffer from Analysis Paralysis on the daily. Turning that into a rom com sounds like a brilliant idea. Just saying.

(We showed our trailer for AP here, on the big screens! So cool! You can watch it on vimeo here: 

https://vimeo.com/271327084 )

ANALYSIS PARALYSIS was Kickstarted with the generous support of the romance community. True story—the romance community is SUPER generous, y’all. It’ll be screening at LGBTQ film festivals and streaming on-line in the near future. In September, we’re filming our nextmovie, a rom-com titled OUT OF BODY—screenplay and novelization both written by my mom. 

But okay, we’re here to talk about books. In romance publishing, my mom is known best for her LGBTQ activism—and for her books about hunky Navy SEALs.

I’m gonna be honest here, I only knew Brockmann as a writer of Navy SEAL romances. I had no clue about her LGBTQ activism, but thats also probably because I admittedly don’t read her books and am not connected with her through any social networks.

Mom’s fascination with SEALs started in 1995 with PRINCE JOE and her Tall, Dark & Dangerouscategory romance series, which exploded her career in more ways than one. 

In 1998, HARVARD’S EDUCATION was Silhouette Intimate Moments book number 884, but only the secondbook in that line with a heroine and hero who were African American. Mom fought for that book, pushing against institutional racism. It opened her eyes to her own privilege, and she vowed to use it to make romance more inclusive. 

For those of you not immersed in Romancelandia, making romance more inclusive has been a huge battle cry over the past few years as there has been a lot of criticism for our books being primarily white. You will find, though, as you read through this speech that there are lot of vows made.

In 2000, Mom launched her second, mainstreamSEAL series with THE UNSUNG HERO, voted RWA’s favorite book of that year. Her Troubleshooters series is set in an inclusive America, where diversity is celebrated and honored. 

I see this often, this idea of “celebrating” diversity, and in my head I get this image of a parade being thrown every time a black person walks down the street, balloons being released any time a Muslim and white person shake hands, and those annoying paper party whistles being blown every time a lesbian walks out of her house. And then I’m like, okay, Aubrey, that’s super weird, because people are people, and I’m sure as hell not going to applaud any time my blind husband does something on his own or I talk to our deaf cousin on the phone. I don’t treat my half-Mexican nieces and nephew any different from my white nieces and nephews. Because people are people. And growing up, I came from a rural area and a small school. My graduating senior class had something like 140 people in it, to give you an idea of how small my high school was. But the people I went to school with were all different shades of human, and while, yes, there were some idiot racist assholes, I remember most of us just getting along and doing our own thing. Basically, this idea that America is racist and not inclusive is mind boggling to me, because that’s not the America I’ve observed and participated in since I was a child. You have assholes EVERYWHERE, but I honestly believe this idea that America is by and large a cesspool of hate is bullshit perpetuated by the media, IMO.

But early 2001 was the year that her most beloved character—out, gay FBI agent Jules Cassidy—first walked onto the pages of THE DEFIANT HERO, and into the heart of Romancelandia.

Jules was the FBI partner of Alyssa Locke, whose romance with Navy SEAL Sam Starrett played out in real time over the course of five books, before they finally won their HEA in 2003’s GONE TOO FAR

         But Jules’s relationship with Sam was just as vital to this series. Sam began his journey a hot mess—ignorantly homophobic. But over time, Sam got to know Jules as a kick-ass, capable, smart, funny, highly-skilled, heroic man. 

         And as Sam began to think of Jules as one of his dearest and most trusted friends, Mom’s readers did, too. 

         In 2004, in HOT TARGET, Mom gave Jules his own romantic subplot and story-arc, in which he meets his future Mr. Right—Hollywood movie star, Robin Chadwick. 

At the time, RT RT=Romantic Times, which used to be THE place to go for romance reviews had a “no gay books” policy in place. Neither my mom, nor her incredibly supportive editor, Shauna Summers, nor anyone else at Ballantine Books knew if HOT TARGET would be accepted by reviewers—or just flatly ignored. 

         But they all wereconvincedthat romance readers were ready for Jules Cassidy to fall in love.

         And they were right—HOT TARGET was Border’s best-selling hardcover romance of the year. (Remember Borders…?)

Thanks for making me feel old.

 HOT TARGET was also the book where my mother—with my approval—publically, capital-O-outed me in a poetically heartfelt two-page dedication, written in the form of a letter.

“To my fabulous son, Jason: <Way to stereotype there…>

Even as a tiny child, your smile could outshine the sun…” 

         She wrote about how I’d always been completely myself, from a very young age, and the way she’d always supported and celebrated what she called “Jason being Jason.”

         But then she wrote: “Years later, when you were fifteen, you still wanted me to tuck you in at night. So I’d stand by your bunk bed and we’d talk a bit about the day. I’d also gather up your dirty clothes…

Dude, at 15 I was having to wash my own damned clothes. Just sayin’.

  She wrote: “One night, you took a deep breath and said to me, “Mom, I think I’m gay.”

         She wrote: “I know that,” I told you, giving you a hug and a kiss. “I love you. I’ll always love you. Where did you put your dirty socks?”

That’s actually a pretty great way to handle that, IMO. So again, bravo, Ms. Brockmann.

****

My mom and I both believed that by sharing this story, we were giving Mom’s readers a recipe for how they might respond if one of theirkids approached them and said, “Mom, I’m gay.”

Love is love is love is love. 

<Agreed>

I know it’s time to get my mother up here to accept her award, but I have one last thing to tell you: 

She wrote ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT—the book where Jules and Robin get legally married in Boston—and gave all of her earnings—advances, sub-rights, royalties in perpetuity—well over a quarter of a million dollars by now—to MassEquality, to help win equal marriage rights in Massachusetts—rights that then spread across this entire nation. 

Good for her. Lots of authors give proceeds from books to charities and causes of their choice. I applaud every single of them for doing so, because charity and donations will always accomplish more than relying upon the government ever will.

And yeah, that’s our mother-son dance from my wedding to my amazing husband Matt, in March of 2016. Mom wanted you to see this—she considers THIS her ultimate lifetime achievement.

Okay, that’s admittedly really sweet, and you can feel the love in this photo.

d49858ea-bb5e-4fd3-9ed3-ee01b4db9ce2.jpeg

Okay. Then it was my turn. (Ahem.)

I took the stage (wearing my Dress. I have one dress, and it’s the same one I wore to Jason’s wedding. So it’s a Very Special Dress). I waited until Jason had returned to our table in the front, and I turned to him and said:

Dear Jason,

In December 1992, when you were seven years old, when things were financially dire for our family, I sold my very first romance novel, and I had my first phone call with my first editor of my very first published book. And it was so weird and cool. As we went down her list of revisions, she said, “Oh! You can’t use penis.” 

gif of Ryan gosling laughing

I said, “I’m sorry, what…?”

gif of Ariana grande snort laughing

She clarified. “You can’t use the word penis. You have to call it something else.”

See, I’d yet to discover RWA, and hadn’t been sent the memo about the 1992-appropriate euphemisms for penis. <If you haven’t been reading romance for long and aren’t familiar with how much things have changed, way back in 1992 using the word penis was in fact verboten. Lots of turgid manhoods and rods and staffs, thicknesses and hardnesses back then. Manroots. Roots. Staffs. Shafts. Etc.> In fact, this editor asked me, later in that same conversation, “Will you be going to RWA?”

And I said, “I’m sorry, what…?”

She told me about the national conference, and suggested that I join.

But it was then, between our discussion of penis and RWA that she gave me a revision note that broke my heart.

Because even though it was gonna be another eight years before you said, “Hey, Mom, I’m gay,” I saw you clearly, Jason, and I knew. You were like that Pink song. Fuckin’ perfect. 

So when my first editor of my first published romance novel told me that I’d have to change my beloved small-town sheriff because he couldn’t appear in my book just casually, openly gay as I’d written him, I laughed. This was a secondary character… 

But she wasn’t laughing, so this time, I said: “I’m sorry, WHAT…?”

She told me that traditional romance readers were very conservative and they did not want to read books that included even the briefest mention of gay people. She said, “You have to make the sheriff straight.”

I said, “You can’t be serious. It’s 1992. The real world is filled with gay people.”

In 1992, I was 11 going on 12, and just discovering romance novels. Now, being in the industry and an adult, yes, traditional romance readers are conservative. I don’t know what the stats were back in 1992, but I do know that today the average romance reader is a conservative woman who lives in middle America. That being said, conservative does not necessarily equal homophobic or anti-gay.

One of them—you were playing with your sister in your bedroom, down the hall.

Serious question, as I don’t have children and I’m straight as they come—do you know that young that you’re gay? Parents, are you aware that your children are gay at that young of an age? Or is it one of those things where you look back and there’s maybe some revisionist history going on?

I argued. How were readers ever going to expand their worldview if they didn’t get to meet characters like my adorable gay sheriff…?

As writers, it’s our job to carry the flame of free speech. It’s not our job to force our readers to “expand their worldview,” though. It’s our job to get facts correct and to be as accurate as possible while still allowing for creative license. It’s our job to write the characters that speak to us, the characters and stories that are in our hearts. It’s our job to expand our OWN worldview. But it’s not our job to expand the worldview of someone else; the onus of that lies completely upon them.

But this was non-negotiable. “We’ll get letters,” she said. I remember that so clearly. She said, “Readers will be offended, and they’ll write angry letters.”

Oh, how things have changed. Today, they just take to Twitter and Facebook and the Internet and resort to Doxxing. *sigh*

I stood there, thinking, This woman absolutely believes that romance readers will be offended by my son’s existence.

I stood there, thinking about you, Jason, thinking, If I make this change, you will never see your reflection in my first book. At the time you were too young to read a romance novel—But I wanted you to read it, someday, and see that little glimmer of a reflection. I wanted you to know that, right from the very start of my romance career, there was always room in my world for you.

I stood there, faced with the choice of doing what was right—pulling that book and finding a different publisher, or… feeding you.

I think we’ve all been in a similar situation a time or two, forced to choose between doing what we believe is right and doing what is responsible. It sucks.

As my silence dragged on, the editor said, “Other publishers won’t let the sheriff be gay, either. That’s just the way it is.”

And that was it. My radioactive spider bite. My origin story.

Because feed you, my child, I would, but I also vowed, <I told you, there would be vows> in that moment, that I would make room for you in the romance genre. Because I would not write books set in a world where gay people—where you—were rendered invisible, where you were erased “because that’s just the way it was.”

Good for you.

It was not by accident that many of my earlier books have a hero or heroine who happens to have a gay brother. He doesn’t appear in the book, can’t offend anybody, he’s only mentioned in passing, but he’s gay and he’s loved. Can I get away with that? I can? Good. Next book, I’ll push harder.

And I pushed and pushed, and eight years later, with the help and support of my brilliant long-time editor Shauna Summers, my most popular character—my out, gay FBI agent, Jules Cassidy—walked onto the pages of The Defiant Hero.

It was shortly after that, Jace, that together with your dad, we got actively involved in the fight for marriage equality.

Wait, there’s a dad and husband? I’m gonna be honest here, this entire time I was thinking Ms. Brockmann was a single mom.

And yes, RWA, that was my real lifetime achievement. I have danced at my son’s legal wedding to his amazing and wonderful Mr. Right.

Some of you have no idea how impossible a dream that might have seemed back in 1992, when I was told to erase the gay sheriff from my first published romance. The obstacles we faced seemed insurmountable.

RWA, you were an obstacle. <Shit just got real, y’all.> In 2008, I was asked to MC the Rita Awards in San Francisco and I was thrilled. 

My book, All Through the Night, had recently come out—a ground-breaking mainstream, New York Times hardcover best-selling romance about two gay men celebrating their love by getting legally married.

My crazy, inclusive, liberal, hopeful, love-embracing brain took RWA’s invitation as approval and acknowledgement that love is love is love.

Can only liberals be love-embracing? Asking for a friend.

But not so fast there, you.

Early on, I’d asked if there’d be time for me to speak briefly—just a few personal words at the start of the ceremony…?

“Of course,” I was told. 

But at the rehearsal in San Francisco, I was asked to “practice” reading the statement I’d prepared. That seemed a little strange, but okay, I had it with me, so I did.

It was a short, joyful comment about California being one of a very few places in the US, at that time, that recognized Jules and Robin’s marriage. 

I was stunned when I was informed that I could not say that. I was told that the issue was divisive and some RWA members would be offended.

Imagine being invited to speak at an RWA event and then being told you could not talk about your most recent hardcover bestselling romance novel or the marriage of your all-time most popular characters, because some members would be offended. 

Wait wait wait. So you mean to tell me RWA was in San Francisco. San. Francisco. The bastion for all things gay. And they were like, “Nope, you can’t talk about your gay characters?” What the actual fuck. But then again, I don’t know that I’m that surprised, because RWA has been very slow to change.

I should’ve walked out. I regret not walking out. 

I should’ve rocked the living fuck out of that boat. Instead, I was nice, instead I went along, and I let Jules and Robin and all that we’d achieved, be erased.

But right here and right now, I’m reclaiming my time.

Okay, hold on a second here. So RWA was all like, “Nope, you can’t talk about your best-selling book because it might offend people” and you were pissed off and yet you stayed and still MC’d the event? But now that RWA’s giving you the LTA you’re “reclaiming” your time? So basically you can stand on principle now that you’ve “made it.” Now that you’ve been able to donate almost a quarter million dollars of proceeds from just one book to a charity, while most authors can’t even pay their electric bill with the proceeds from ALL of their books, you’re rocking the boat and stating your opinion? It’s really, really easy to stand on principle when you’re no longer having to choose between doing what’s right and putting food on the table, isn’t it?

Because that, my second radioactive spider bite, changed me, too. I will never not speak up again. I will never chose nice over right.

More women need to learn this one, TBH.

I know this is a different organization now—I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that. RWA has grown and changed for the better.

To an extent. It still has a way to go.

But those changes do not—and should not—erase the past. And there’s still so much work to be done, to be as inclusive as we should be, as inclusive as we can be. 

RWA, I’ve been watching you grapple as you attempt to deal with the homophobic, racist white supremacy on which our nation and the publishing industry is based. It’s long past time for that to change.

But hear me, writers, when I say: it doesn’t happen if we’re too fucking nice.

(Some of us are allowed to get angry. You know who you are, and you know who we need to support.) (Note: I cut those lines last minute because I needed to shorten the speech and believed they would be understood without my putting voice to them, but oh, how I wish I’d left them in!) 

Apparently I’m not one of those authors because I have no idea who or what she’s talking about here.

It’s time to rock the boat in the name of love and inclusion!

***

You know, even before I made my 2008 vow to stop being so fucking nice, I’d long been labeled as “too political,” because I write books that include gay people and people of color.

That’s not politics. How can equality and equal rights be political? It’s about right versus wrong. It’s about inclusion versus exclusion. It’s about embracing the incredible gift of diversity.

If that’s political, it’s time for YOU to get political, too.

It’s time to open ourselves—as both writers and READERS—to the people and their often harrowing stories that gatekeepers have long made writers erase from their books, for fear of offending the people who hold power.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

….DEEP BREATH….

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Wait. Wait. Hold up. So you’re accusing the publishing industry—one of the most liberal industries in the world—of not being inclusive?

OMG I can’t stop laughing.

Because it’s true and you and none of the other super loud, super left people in the publishing industry even seem to comprehend the utter irony and hypocrisy at play here. Those gatekeepers? They’re typically super liberal folks living in NYC who constantly tweet about how liberal, open-minded, and inclusive they are and want to be, and yet their actions speak louder than their words. The gatekeepers—these liberal folks who are supposedly so openminded—believe that the average romance reader won’t want to read books with diverse characters. So the NYC Literati starts these campaigns pushing for diversity in romance, and yet they continue making assumptions about the people who read romance (that they’re all essentially ignorant bigots), and people get pissed off. Meanwhile, you have indie authors who are just doing their thing—no liberal, “open-minded” NYC gatekeeper in sight—and we’re writing books with all kinds of characters and holy shit people are buying them. Because—spoiler alert—while the majority of romance readers are Christian white women in live in middle America, they’re not ignorant, racist, bigoted assholes, either.

***

So here comes the part of my speech where I get “political.” Oh, yeah, I haven’t gone there yet.

Oh goody.

Be strong, be brave, be courageous and kind,<I think I saw this sign at Hobby Lobby once> be willing to take a risk and open your heart to let in some stranger—some scary “other”—and only then will you win the beautiful gift of love, of connection, in the form of a romantic HEA.

That has been the message of romance since we first began whispering our stories around campfires on cold nights.

This is true.

But somehow, somewhere along the way, someone decided “Not so fast there you. You don’t look like me or think like me. These stories aren’t about you. You don’t belong here.”

The cognitive dissonance is real, y’all.

Some of us intentionally tightened our circle to keep people out.

Well that sounds super inclusive.

And when you grow up in a world where you learn, just from watching, that you are let in, but others are not, you often accept it as your truth. So when you write what you see and what you know and what you have been told to believe, like books set in a town where absolutely no people of color or gay people live…? You are perpetuating exclusion, and the cravenness and fear that’s at its ancient foundation.

You do realize that there ARE super small towns where this is the case, though, right? They’re few and far between, but they do exist.

Yeah, I’m talking to you, white, able, straight, cis, allegedly christian women.

Oh hell no.

Pro tip—when a southern woman says, “oh hell no,” that’s generally not a good thing.

And don’t @ me with Not all white women.

I will sure as hell fucking @ you with “not all white women” because what you’re doing right here is the very epitome of fucking racism. You’re painting an entire group of people—ONE TO WHICH YOU FUCKING BELONG—with a single brush and saying that they’re automatically racist, bigoted, homophobes simply because of their fucking genetics.

You know what my Ancestry.com and 23andme tests have told me?

That I’m like 75% Irish and German.

That I carry the gene that makes cilantro taste like soap (even though I don’t think it tastes like soap.)

That I likely consume more caffeine than the average person (which used to be true).

That I’m genetically pre-disposed to being a night owl.

That odds are I have freckles (do I ever.)

That I have the gene for red hair.

That I carry one of the gene mutations for the same disease that caused my husband’s blindness.

You know what they don’t tell me?

That because of my genetics—because I am, quite honestly 100% white girl—I’m automagically a racist, bigoted, homophobe.

I mean, maybe 23andme will eventually add that to their reports since they’re constantly adding new stuff, but somehow I doubt that, since those behaviors are most certainly nurture over nature.

I can’t change the fact that I’m white. Nor do I want to, because it’s a part of who I am. All that DNA makes up who I am, and I’m a pretty fucking awesome person most of the time. I’m straight. So what. I like men. I’ve never remotely been interested in women—not even your good ol’ college experimentation—because it’s not my thing. But that doesn’t make me a homophobe. It just means I was born this way. And, hey, I’m not blind or deaf, I don’t have any disabilities but I do battle PCOS and chronic migraines. I’m totally able—and capable—thank you very much. And even if I were blind or deaf or in a wheel chair I would still find a way to be able, because that’s just who I am. I cuss like a sailor, have a dirty sense of humor, but I believe in God and am a Christian. That’s a choice I made—after some struggling in high school and college, I might add—but it’s one that’s non-negotiable.

But because I’m a “white, able, straight, cis, allegedly Christian” woman, I’m apparently “perpetuating exclusion.”

My blind husband who taught me to shoot and hunt says, “hi.”

My half-Mexican nieces and nephews say, “hi.”

The trailer I grew up in, the one with a hole in the floor and a possum in my closet says, “hi.”

My Mexican-American heroine and her gay brother from Hair Trigger Heart say, “Hi.”

My black hero from Dallas’ Most Eligible says, “Hi.”

Mostly, I just say, “fuck you” and your assumptions and your bigotry. Also, maybe try some counseling for your self-hatred for something you can’t change (being, y’know, white).

Because 53% of us plunged us into our current living hell.

I’m still trying to figure out what this means. I see people talk about it, but I don’t get it. I’m not a super Trump fan, but people make this statement but then give absolutely NOTHING to back it up. If you’re going to make such a blanket statement, BACK IT THE FUCK UP.

53% of us are racist and some of us don’t even know it!! 

Oh for the love of tits.

Oh, wait, what’s that…? You’re not racist…?

Then do something. Prove it.

bitch please gif

In November, vote these hateful racist traitors OUT.

Wait. Traitors? That’s a pretty heavy accusation you’re leveling there.

If you believe in love, like I do, if you write romance, where the stories we tell are about the courage that it takes to open your heart, it’s time for you to do the same.

Um…hold on…so you can only believe in love and write romance if you believe the same things you do? With all due respect, that’s absolute and utter bullshit, Ms. Brockmann. Bull. Fucking. Shit. You talk about the courage it takes to open your heart, and yet your view is incredibly myopic and biased and you don’t even see it. You—and others like you—are so filled with hate and rage that you can’t remotely see or understand that there are people out there who might disagree with you, but who can still believe in love and romance and hope and courage.

Open your heart and look hard at your political and religious beliefs. Examine all you were taught—usually by white men in power—and try to see exactly who and what they erased from the stories they then labeled truth. 

Since we’re talking about history lessons here, I also suggest you and women like you also stop twisting the words of women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who were two of the greatest women who ever lived and who, I think, would fiercely disapprove of y’all’s behavior here of late as it’s doing absolutely nothing to further the cause of women’s rights.

Look beyond the fences that they claim will keep you safe—fences that are, in fact, your prison walls. Because the diverse, inclusive world that they’ve erased is vibrant and beautiful and filled with hope and joy and boundless love. 

But the sad truth is, we no longer expect anything of you, you 53%. It’s up to the rest of us, including the 99% of all women of color who continue to inspire me and lead the way. 

What about the 3% of black women and 26% of Latinas who voted for Trump? Do they still inspire you every day? My guess is “no,” because they didn’t fall in line with their marching orders.

Stand up. Speak up. Fight. VOTE. Our lives, our rights, our marriages, our love depends on it.

Huh? Y’all realize that there’s a system of checks and balances in place, right? That we live in a Republic and not a dictatorship, right? I mean, y’all haven’t managed to turn the U.S. into Venezuela yet—despite your best efforts. And God forbid that actually does happen, because then all those things really would be at stake because holy shit have you not been paying attention to the fucking news?!

RWA, thank you for this honor. I suspect you’ll never invite me to speak at anything ever again. <Probably not.> But that’s okay. Because it’s now or never. And my idea of an inclusive, diverse, loving, caring America is worth both creating and fighting for—it’s worth EVERYTHING.

*cough*Now that you’ve made it big and can afford to stand on principle and standing up for what you believe is right won’t tank your career.*cough*

Dear Jason, I love you. Love, Mom.

So there it is. I hope RWA posts the video soon so you can see and hear it as well as read my words. 

I sincerely appreciate this enormous honor from an RWA that I’m finally proud to be a part of!

Why? Because they gave you the LTA? RWA still has a long ways to go in regards to supporting its authors and changing with the times, but obviously this is your hill to die on, so…

For the record, no one in RWA heard, read, saw my speech before I gave it on Thursday night. These words and message are entirely mine, but I do believe and hope that they are shared by many in this organization whose purpose is to tell stories about love and hope.

PLEASE REGISTER AND #VoteBlue!!

Yes, do please register to vote, but only vote after doing extensive research on all of the candidates and propositions on each and every single ballot and vote line by line, item by item, candidate by candidate. To straight ticket vote for any party is complete idiocy, as they’re all crooks and liars anyway.

4 Comments

  1. Amber_Wentworth

    OH MY GOOD GAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! This speech was beyond horrid. I’ll never buy another book from her. No, not because she writes about gay characters. Not because I have issues with gays or being gay. Not because I’m racist. I will vote with my money and refuse to read books from nasty, hate filled, racist people like her. Wow. So glad I wasn’t there. I would have been stunned and hopefully had enough bodily ability left to stand up and walk the hell out. Ugh! Your response was dead on!

    Reply
    • Aubrey

      I kind of wish now I’d been at least live-streaming it so I could have seen reactions. Right now, the majority of what I’m seeing publicly online is positive cheerleading, but I wonder how many authors are having private conversations, afraid to speak their minds because they don’t want to tank their burgeoning or mid-list careers? And since this is an author event, it’s being shared by other authors, not readers–and readers are the ultimate gatekeepers, IMO.

      Reply
  2. chanarivkame

    This was not an acceptance speech for an industry award. It was a spleen venting, full of accusations drawn from perceptions and anecdotes. Where are these “hateful, bigoted” industry people? Can they be brought forward to tell their side of the story? As an aside, I always love when white straight cis privileged people call out other white straight cis privileged people, as if they were not the same. Suz can say and do whatever she wants. Free country. But if I had been there, I would have walked out on what was clearly not an acceptance speech, but an opportunity she took to even perceived old scores. Unprofessional, but that was not a point she cared about, apparently. She (and other authors) have chosen this as their “hill to die on”, and the rest of all other people be damned. Okey dokey. What they do not see is that they are setting up a situation where agreement with them has become a condition for their caring or friendship with others, who may in fact agree with them on other common grounds.

    This article was clear and balanced, and I appreciate the honesty. It took guts to write it while the giant wave of “we adore Suz” articles wash over the internet. Suz, you owed RWA something better. RWA is NOT a perfect organization. But it has done tremendous things for those of us both published and unpublished. I say this as a former RWA member and former RWA-PRO member.

    Reply
    • Aubrey

      Thank you for your comment. And yes, I too find it highly amusing when white, straight, cis, privileged women call out other white, straight, cis, privileged women for their own privilege. Like I said, the cognitive dissonance is real. *shrug*

      I often wonder how many authors who have chosen this as their hill to die on have lost readers and completely alienated former fans. It’s so hard to know, especially since casual fans and readers aren’t as plugged in as die-hard fans. But writers are usually also readers, and I do know that there are several authors who used to be auto-buys for me who I no longer read at all because of things they’ve said on social media, usually along the lines of, “If you don’t agree with me, I don’t want you to read my books.”

      A part of me wishes we could go back to when everyone in Romancelandia just got along, but I honestly believe that in order for any real change to take place it might just take blowing the entire thing up. And that’s unfortunate.

      Reply

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