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The original linkdump on this situation (with background) is here.

Long story short, Jake Freivald at Flash Fiction Online turned down an ad for the LGBTQ issue of Crossed Genres because it was "sexually themed". It turns out this was his way of saying it was an ad for an issue that would likely portray LGBTQ relationships in a positive light, which he did not approve of. At one point during the discussions he justified his stance against "normalizing" gay relationships by comparing them to pedophilia.

So you can tell it was generally an awesome conversation.

Freivald discusses his stance a little further with Rachel Swirsky here.

Although it’s painful to say, and more painful for others to hear, I don’t support the normalization of GLBT relationships in our culture. Marriage is only one aspect of that (albeit the one I tend to focus on these days). The Crossed Genres ad still felt like a gray area because you never know what’s going to show up in a spec fic magazine — and I could feel myself looking for rationalizations to avoid the coming s**tstorm — but ultimately I assumed the Crossed Genres issue would be supportive of GLBT relationships in our culture, and I rejected it.

He also notes:

All things being equal, I wouldn’t avoid a magazine just because it didn’t accept Christian advertising. Failing to support something isn’t the same thing as attacking it.

Of course, this latter comment was on advertising, and not story content.

I'll also note that the guidelines for Flash Fiction Online are still opaque on this point.



( 27 have spoken — Speak )
Mar. 2nd, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
Please update your post: There is a Jim Freivald, but he's my brother.

Thank you,
Jake Freivald
Mar. 2nd, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
Done. I apologize for the mistake.

Do you have any intent to update Flash Fiction Online's submission guideline with a less opaque reference to your beliefs on this issue (i.e., one that that does not obscure the discussion by trying to use the right to bear arms as an example)?

Have you considered adding a line similar to that heavenscalyx suggested below, such as: "Stories which portray gay, lesbian and queer relationships in a positive light are not welcome."

Or, if that is too strong:

"Stories which portray gay, lesbian and queer relationships in a positive light are a hard sell for this magazine."

Or, to cleave more closely to your own words, perhaps:

"Stories that normalize homosexual relationships or polyamory will be a harder sell for this magazine."

I don't know which, or if any, of these phrases apply. On one hand you have said that any story that is not a "message story" is fine. On the other, your description of the Crossed Genres ad as sexual, your easy comparison between LGBTQ relationships and pedophilia, your later explanation that the CG ad was rejected because the issue would likely be "normalizing" of LGBTQ relationships, and your comment that you are generally against divorce and have probably not published any, or many, stories which portray divorce positively do beg the question as to where a story that portrayed gay and lesbian relationships in a positive light crosses the line into a "message story" for you.

While you are admirably open about your beliefs in venues other than the magazine itself, it does seem you are more reticent to clarify on your home ground.

Also, what is your stance on the "normalization" of trans men and women?
Mar. 2nd, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)

I regret to say that I won't be able to respond to these questions today -- I'm at my day job now, today is my go-live date for the magazine, and Lord knows I need the time to be thoughtful about how I respond to questions like yours :) -- but I'll try to get back to it in a few days.
Mar. 3rd, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
I look forward to your reply.
Mar. 8th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
At this point it has been over five days since you said you'd get back to this.
Mar. 10th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, sorry about that, and it's going to be a little longer. I've run into some things that are sucking down a lot of time right now. I haven't forgotten this.
Mar. 2nd, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks for continuing to hold feet appropriately to fire. I ran out of energy.

I will say that if people are interested in testing Frievald's reticence--I'm up for helping to arrange a slush bomb. If he'll take non-message stories with gay characters, let's write them and send them in. If they look at 50 stories from accomplished writers with gay characters and deem them all messages--well, I don't know what kind of message he'll be seeing, but I know what message I'll be seeing.

I would also propose that authors donate the proceeds from the stories, whether they sell to flash fiction online or eventually elsewhere, to Lambda or another organization that helps to strengthen the position of GLBTQI folks in fandom.
Mar. 2nd, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
Rachel, if you sold to Playboy, would you donate the proceeds from it to NOW or a similar organization?
Mar. 2nd, 2010 10:44 pm (UTC)
Are you equating soft-core pornography with the intentional exclusion of 10% of the population?
Mar. 3rd, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
More precisely, I am comparing the systematic, pervasive, in-your-face objectification of 50% of the population with the tacit lack of support for 10% of the population, and observing your stated positions on each. (Not that percentages are the issue.)

You said before that you were willing to be in Playboy for the benefits it confers: "an enormous platform... a staging ground for further audience reach" and "a reputation of publishing the brightest and the best." You didn't mention anything about giving the money to any feminist organization.

When I couple your willingness to keep all of Playboy's ample benefits with your suggestion to give my minimal ones away, it appears that if I could confer the benefits that Playboy does, you'd hold your nose and work to be published in my magazine. I'd love to be disabused of that notion, so if I'm missing something, please say so. For instance, is Playboy's highly influential objectification of women less of an issue for you, a self-professed feminist, than my socially insignificant lack of support for gay marriage?
Mar. 3rd, 2010 02:16 am (UTC)
As generally adorable as your attempts to equate yourself with Playboy are, I'm afraid you've missed some salient points.

*Ordinarily, I'm uninterested in your magazine. The slush bomb proposal is:

*A protest. Protests involve altering certain rules of behavior, such as where one sends, how one sends, what one sends, and yes, what one does with the money. You could consider the proposal:

*A fundraiser for Lambda. Since:

*I was suggesting people donate the proceeds from the fiction wherever it ends up, which would mean donating proceeds even from generally blameless magazines, like, say, Fantasy.

Some other scattered points:

*Playboy does not exist in a small community with me, through which I may influence people by doing things like talking about how fucked up someone's policies are.

*Would I have a greater interest in your magazine if you actually had an enormous audience, offered a large payment, were known for setting literary standards, and carried social heft? Yes. In other news, watching Law & Order is not like watching someone running down the street shouting "I am a policeman!"

*Like many feminists, I'm conflicted about pornography, so whatever black and white positions you think you're assigning to me, stop. However, I am damn fucking sure your position is bigotry.

You seem to be very invested in trying to avoid consequences for your choices. You choose to avoid stories that "normalize" divorce, gay marriage (and hey, birth control too? Wouldn't want to normalize that), I choose to mock, avoid, and possibly organize against you. Why you think your choices should be consequence free is beyond me, but it's pretty typical of responsibility-avoiding conservatives.

My interest in chatting with you has waned. Adieu.
Mar. 3rd, 2010 02:45 am (UTC)
Like many feminists, I'm conflicted about pornography, so whatever black and white positions you think you're assigning to me, stop.

Actually, I'm not assigning positions to you. I'm observing what you're saying, and, in a relatively mild way, identifying why your positions seem contradictory or foreign to me -- in a forum that is far friendlier to you than to me, no less. This is hardly an attack.

You seem to be very invested in trying to avoid consequences for your choices.

I've already discussed the fact that I knew what the consequences were, dislike them, and stand on principle anyway. Whether you agree with the principles is immaterial; saying that I'm "reponsibility-avoiding" is simply false.

Mar. 4th, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC)
Except, of course, that making specious analogies in (aparently) an attempt to poke holes in Rachel's position is a form of responsibility-avoidance.

Her position on Playboy has nothing to do with her position on FFO, since Playboy doesn't refuse to run ads or stories that "normalize" feminism. So in equating yourself with them you're refusing to own your words.
Mar. 2nd, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
I think he's still an asshat, because I think anyone who objects to my legal marriage (or thinks that being gay/lesbian/bi is a bad lifestyle choice one can overcome) is an asshat, but first amendment, freedom of religion/opinion, his sandbox and his toys, blah blah blah.

It would be nice if he clarified his submission guidelines so no one would bother sending him stories that he'd shitcan out of hand. He doesn't need to do a song and dance about being a homophobe, but could just mention that "gay, lesbian, and queer topics are not welcome."

I bet his stance on transgender issues is similar, so a similar clarifier for that would be useful.

Thanks for the update.
Mar. 2nd, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
I wish Swirsky hadn't unconsciously equated "Christianity" with "anti-gay/pro-heterosexuality". But this is a secondary, or possibly tertiary, reaction to the rest of everything else.
Mar. 2nd, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
I agree. There are Christian denominations which are welcoming, or at the very least fighting over whether to be welcoming with combatants on both sides. And there are many Christians disgusted by the anti-equality stance their particular denomination has taken.

It's a pity that some of the greatest amounts of coverage Christian churches are getting these days is in their stances against equality. Which doesn't undercut the fact that the primary source of money and opposition to equal marriage comes from the Catholic and Latter Day Saints churches, and the people who believe their lying rhetoric (or believe that LGBTQ relationships may be just as healthy/secularly valid as straight relationships, but think it doesn't matter because the very lack of opposite-gender genitalia pairings in a relationship means it's classed as a sin, and should therefore be illegal). This is not even to mention the terrible ramifications beyond their anti-marriage stance (the ex-gay camps, higher suicide rates in LGBTQ teens, the ludicrious amounts of job discrimination, particularly as directed toward trans people) that they tend to either explicitly or implicitly support.

But just because most of the anti-equality movement these days is based in religion, doesn't mean all religious people are anti-equality.
Mar. 2nd, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
Having been brought up Catholic and still identifying as such to at least some extent, I get irritated that we've allowed the entire religion to be hijacked by the anti-gay agenda. (Oh, I used the word agenda!)
Mar. 2nd, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I've been thinking a lot lately about what I consider the obligations of group members to effect change within their groups is.

When do you take comfort from someone from the same group that just punched you coming up and saying, "I'm sorry, that person is wrong, and I disagree with them."

And when do you respond with, "Then why the fuck aren't you helping me fight them off?"

This goes for myself as well, as I am certainly on the "upper" half of a bunch of privilege equations, and should be calling out my own.
Mar. 2nd, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
Can't answer the question, since I'm not sure if it's rhetorical, or which side I'm imagining myself on.

But I do suspect that in the case of the Catholics, their struggle to cope with the ongoing exposure of decades of their priests quietly abusing children is making it all too easy for the average Catholic layperson to equate "homosexuality" with "pedophilia."

(Remember back when the Catholic Church's anti-abortion stance had an anti-death penalty stance as its flipside? I never thought I look back on those days as halcyon.)
Mar. 2nd, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I just wrote like five paragraphs in response to you that were entirely off-topic. That'll probably turn into a post at some point.

Long --> short: The question was very rhetorical, and I'm not expecting a response. I was navel-gazing.

My Catholic background may not be as strong as yours. I agree that a lot of Catholic laypeople probably do equate the abuse scandals with "homosexuality", my gut instinct is that the real motivator behind that "confusion" is the fact that historically and today people arguing against equal marriage will mention the legalization of pedophilia in the same breath as gay marriage. But then I see more of the latter arguments, and have less access to casual/personal Catholic conversations in which those comparisons might arise.
Mar. 2nd, 2010 08:04 pm (UTC)
Which line are you objecting to?
Mar. 2nd, 2010 08:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, now you're going to make me go back and look...
Mar. 2nd, 2010 08:15 pm (UTC)
Well, this might not be what bugged you, but maybe you didn't like that I said sort of if you don't run LGBT ads, maybe I shouldn't run Christian ads, which could be seen as opposing teh two.

I apologize for that reading; it wasn't intentional, although I see where it comes across.

However, I think it works as an argument, although perhaps one that needs a caveat. Frievald's particular asshattery appears to originate from his interpretation of Christianity (which also opposes him to contraception, one notes, and thus 98% of the American population, Christian or otherwise). It also seems to be something he cares about deeply. Thus it seemed as though he might be able to have a visceral understanding of what it would be like to be excluded on the basis of being a Christian, and for no other reason, since he doesn't seem to have that visceral understanding about LGBTQI issues.

Of course, it didn't work, and for predictable reasons--Christianity is the dominant religion in the US, and prejudice against dominant groups never has the same power or sting behind it that prejudice against oppressed groups have. The parallel isn't really parallel, and he can (and did) easily shrug it off.
Mar. 4th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
It seems to me that the anti-equality people are currently, in effect, PR for many religions, unfortunate as that is.

I'm not sure that's going to change until those of us who consider ourselves part of a religion a) agitate *as loudly* for equality and acceptance as others are agitating against, and b) call the anti-equality people on their bullshit and draw attention to the disagreement within the ranks.

Till then, I think there's a problem with putting the responsibility for that sort of assumption on the people who are making it. Whether it's a Christian saying "It's a pity people equate Christianity with heteronormative bigotry" or (in my case) "It's a pity people equate Hinduism with anti-Muslim bigotry" or any of the rest. It is a pity, of course, but it's also a call to action.

Because to the extent that we let the bigots have the floor, we're implicitly supporting the assumptions.
Mar. 2nd, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
All things being equal...

Which they're not.
Mar. 2nd, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)
Yes, that struck me as quite the straw man!

Although I also thought the "passing on advertising isn't the same as attacking" line was a bit skewed. Passing on advertising isn't the same as actively keeping a topic out of a magazine, either.
Mar. 2nd, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
i like that point. refusing advertising has definitely become a very effective way to attack and disable a cause or group of people. If you own enough power (eg. clear channel or major magazines with massive readership) you can effectively slant an issue, very effectively, simply by scaring people from representing their true opinions in the things they are advertising. You can silence people; you can muffle dissent. It's not an attack in the sense of switchblade at the throat, but it is an attack in a more strategic and less transparent way. And, we all know, if the ideas you are contributing to the reinforcement of are helping people feeling more comfortable committing violence against groups of people, yes, as a member of that group, i feel somewhat threatened by it. True, if you are an underdog publisher, it is less the case, because the power differential between you and the people who might feel affected by those views is much more level. But, still, that tactic can and often is used as an attack, and as such, i have the right to use that level-ish playing field to fight back.

I also agree it's free speech and the publisher has the right as an individual to say or not say any corrupt ass thing he pleases. We just need to acknowledge that such right brings with it a responsibility to deal with potentially harsh criticisms from people who might be injured by what that publisher (or his policy) says. Telling someone that he is irresponsible for engaging in that kind of tactic (or engaging in direct action targeted at that person, eg. boycotts or information campaigns)is NOT the same as positing that the government, or any other body, should make such behaviors illegal.
( 27 have spoken — Speak )