Jen Volant (tacithydra) wrote,
Jen Volant

Freivald's Flash Fiction Online is a Queer Unfriendly Market


Crossed Genres magazine is doing an LGBTQ issue, and Bart Leib and Kay Holt are advertising it in order to get the widest range of submissions possible. This is the ad:


When Leib submitted the ad to Flash Fiction Online, however, it was rejected for being "sexually themed." Leib inquired further with the editor, Jake Freivald, as to what he meant by those words.

Apparently what Freivald means is that LGBTQ themes or characters are inherently sexual, and thus inappropriate. However:

I would probably not publish stories where the purpose was to justify or condone homosexual relationships, polyamory, and so on — I reject all “message” stories, even those that I agree with — but that doesn’t imply that stories containing those elements will automatically be rejected.

Full context and exchange here: LJ | blog (posts are identical).

Freivald has every right to hold these beliefs. I feel it's shady not to be open with them on the submissions page (as Christian genre magazine Mindflights is), but he has every right to write up the submissions guidelines however he wishes.

However, I think this information is important for those who write queer-themed fiction to know before they submit to FFO.

I also know that, if I ever happened to write something that ended with a queer character being unhappy, or having something unfortunate happen to them, and FFO published that – because it was in line with their policy of not representing queer relationships in a positive light?

I would be sick.

There have already been a number of responses:

The Outer Alliance: Regarding Queer Unfriendly Markets (you can join The Outer Alliance here). Freivald responds in the comments here.
Hal Duncan: Crossed Genres Special Issue
Brandon Bell: The Crossed Flash Affair
Benjamin Solah: Flash Fiction Online Won't Publish Queer Stories
M-Brane SF: Outer Alliance Makes Statement on Queer-unfriendly Markets
Christopher Fletcher: Call me a child molester one more time, and I'll nuke your house and salt the radioactive ruins
K. Tempest Bradford: A Market I Intend to Avoid Right Now
Shaun Duke: Publication Against LGBT Content: Writers Be Aware

Update as of 9:50am:

N. K. Jemisin: Another $%^ing one, what are they, breeding?
Charles Tan: September 10, 2009 Links and Plugs
Aishwarya at Blue Lullaby: cfs and a bit of useful information

Update as of 7:20pm:

Jeff Ford: A Sorry Situation
Martha Wells: September 10, 2009
Mumbling Sage: Curse Principles. They cause nothing but heartbreak.
Lee Thomas: Via Jeff Ford's LJ, via Hal Duncan's blog, via...
Shweta Narayan: Flash Fiction Online is a Queer-unfriendly market.
Arthur D. Hlavaty: It's an online zine...
Haddayr Copley-Woods: I love my LGBT friends and family
Alan Yee: Why I Will Never Submit to Flash Fiction Online
Zack Weinberg: September 9, 2009

Update as of September 11, 7:51am:

Crossed Genres posts some follow up
Sarah Kanning: upcoming LGBTQ issue of Crossed Genres - subs open until Sept 30
Anna Caro: Friday Politics: Queer characters... without the sex
Catherine Lundoff: A market I won't be submitting to any time real soon...
Marshall Payne: Sub withdrawn from Flash Fiction Online
Thomas Bennet: Just a Quick Update
Josh Jasper: How to Become Professionally Dead to Me

Update as of 10am:

Cheryl Morgan: LGBT Rights: the Good and the Bad
Kay Holt (Crossed Genres co-editor with Bart Leib): The Rejection Heard Round the World (well, technically...)
Jessica Reisman: September 11, 2009
Megan Rose Gedris: Call for submissions! (On DeviantArt, On Lesbian Pirates)

Update as of 8:08pm:

Brandon Bell: Fund Drive & Fuss Final Thoughts
Ithiliana: Boosting the Signal: Queer SFF
RavynFyre: September 10, 2009
Brandon Bell: Fund Drive & Fuss Final Thoughts
Michele Lee: Full Disclosure
Shweta Narayan: Followup on FFO

Freivald has updated the Flash Fiction Online submissions guidelines page by adding a few paragraphs at the end. These paragraphs read as:

An aside, speaking for myself, as editor: I have been taken to task for not defining our editorial policy with respect to particular types of characters, claiming that because of my worldview I wouldn’t publish certain types of stories. As long as the stories aren’t message stories (see above), I’ll consider them. After all, I don’t expect every character to have the same beliefs, lead the same lifestyle, or value the same things that I do.

An example (not the one that got me chewed out): I have strong opinions about whether the Second Amendment guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms. I have rejected message stories that have espoused or rejected my view, but I would not automatically reject a story in which one of the characters rejected my view. Most good stories don’t have black-and-white treatments of complex or polarizing issues.

I won’t give more examples because it’s impossible to define every opinion I hold that might possibly color my opinions of a story. I also know of no mainstream publications that do so. If your story isn’t a message story, don’t worry about whether your characters live up to some ideal of mine. (Even I don’t live up to my own ideals, and my ideals have changed over time.) If you’re in doubt, query me or just submit it.

Meanwhile, let’s focus on the stories instead of the politics. Thank you.

This has about as much wrong with it as his original line of reasoning does. The biggest problem I have with it is that I think most people will not understand from this update that a story with a queer person in it who has a healthy relationship will be classed as "a message story."

But the point of these posts isn't to get Freivald to change his mind, anyway. The point is to get the word out to as many people as possible, so folks know what they're dealing with, and can make their own decisions about submitting their work there.

Update as of September 12, 4:10pm:

Delagar: Ow! Ow!
Willow: Oh SciFi Fiction. Can't Stand Anyone Not White Straight (and usually) Male
Suaine: Sep 10, 2009
Bodlon: In which -isms play a part.
Rm: and a few more sundries
Shadesong: Friday

And another email exchange with Freivald, here:

Wood Artist: A day filled with surprises

Update as of September 13, 12:44pm:

Flash Fiction Online staff member Debra Hoag responds.
Flash Fiction Online staff member Sabrina West responds.
Melissa S. Green: Cold, Crossed Genres, & Flash homophobia

Update as of September 14, 8:59am:

Angela Benedetti: The Outer Alliance
Kelly McCullough at Wyrdsmiths: Wyrdsmiths

Update as of March 2

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.

Angry? Looking for something positive to do?

May I suggest helping out Maine, one of the six states with equal marriage, which is under threat from a Prop 8-like measure on their ballot that would take away same sex marriage rights. They're fighting it, but it's going to be close. You can donate here.

We lost Maine.
Tags: attraction

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