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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.



( 20 have spoken — Speak )
Sep. 10th, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC)
Sep. 10th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Updated the post.
Sep. 10th, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the tip!
Sep. 11th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
One more - http://catherineldf.livejournal.com/108911.html

And many thanks for posting about Maine too - I sent them some $$.
Sep. 11th, 2009 01:55 am (UTC)
You are AWESOME. I'm going to do another link update first thing in the morning, and will include you there.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 11th, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
Fixed now - sorry about that.
Sep. 11th, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)
thanks for that post. Now i will let out an exasperated sigh. I'm so flummoxed by the "gay people are god's children but what they need to do is deny themselves any sexual contact with anyone they might desire for their entire lives." Isn't it convenient for those people that they happen to want to have sex with the people that god wants them to have sex with so they don't have to make that sacrifice?
Sep. 11th, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC)
So lucky! And why are we being being such sad sacks about not winning the "gets to fall in love" lottery, anyway? Really, we're just sore losers, is all those nice folks are sayin'.

Sep. 11th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
Funny how clergy can choose to make vows of chastity, but for us it's mandatory.
Sep. 11th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
Well yeah. Just our cross to bear. Unless we want to go destroying their idea of society! How ever will they feel special then, unless there is a category of not-special people they can point to?
Sep. 11th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
well put!
Sep. 12th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing the information.
Sep. 13th, 2009 08:02 am (UTC)
Thanks for compiling these
... and here's another one:
Cold, Cross Genres, & Flash homophobia (http://www.henkimaa.com/2009/09/12/cold-crossed-genres-flash-homophobia/)

Melissa S. Green
Sep. 13th, 2009 08:22 am (UTC)
I feel the need to repost this, my response on Crossed Genres' original post. As I say below, I'm a strong supporter of LGBTQ issues, and this whole situation has been deeply upsetting to me:

"I am also on the FFO staff, and have been there since the beginning. I disagree with the decision made regarding the ad and the interpretation of LGBTQ issues. In fact, I have long been a supporter of LGBTQ issues; I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, after all! But I have very strong respect of Jake as a person and as our editor, and I would like to make the point that we have never rejected a story based on any gender, religious, ethnic, or LGBTQ issues. And I’m proud of the diversity of backgrounds represented on our staff."

Just so you all know. And no, I'm not a troll. My picture is still up on the staff page.

With great respect,
Sabrina West
Sep. 13th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
I think the situation has been deeply upsetting to a lot of people, and no, I don't believe you're a troll. I will link to your comment, and to Debra Hoag's comment, in the post above, to decrease the chances you'll be overlooked.

On a personal note, I think it's fantastic that you are supportive of LGBTQ issues - every person counts. However, I would like to point out (and perhaps this was not your intention, anyway), that having members of FFO show up to say that they are pro-LGBTQ, as good as it is to hear, does not actually address the problem.

Freivald shared a lot of information in the email exchange around the rejection of the ad from Crossed Genres.

The assumption that anything - even an innocent picture - associated with "LGBTQ" becomes sexualized. He rejected an ad based on these beliefs.

Putting pedophilia and queer relationships in the same breath. As if they were in any way comparable.

Noting his dislike of divorce, followed by the fact that FFO has published only one story with divorce in it, in which it was dysfunctional.

There was not a hint of this in the guidelines. Even with the additional paragraphs, it is still opaque.
Sep. 13th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, i guess it doesn't address the problem, as much as I would like it too. I think all I meant to say was that from all the stories we've analyzed and discussed publishing, I had no idea of any of these views of his until this blew up. Including the divorce story.

I completly agree with you that the comparison is basically one of the most horrid things possible. It's just weird to be on the other side, to find out this about something I love so much.
Sep. 14th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
That does suck, I'm sorry.

Out of curiosity, with both you and Debra Hoag on record as not agreeing with this stance, is there any likelihood of Flash Fiction Online taking action in response to this, or at least clarifying its submission guidelines page ("stories which show LGBTQ relationships in a positive light will be a harder sell for us", or similar)?
Sep. 14th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)
Honestly, it's hard to say. This is going to seem a total cop-out answer, but I won't know until we get the stories. All staff members read the stories in the first two rounds, and then we discuss all together which should be published. I would like to think we wouldn't reject a story because it included such a relationship. I certainly wouldn't vote that way.

I wish I could make a stronger statement for you, but I'm just one voice on the staff.
Feb. 20th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
Freivald talks to Rachel Swirsky
Jan. 26th, 2011 04:23 pm (UTC)
claim insurance
Amazing, totally awesome. I am just getting into writing articles myself, nothing remotely close to your writing potential (ha!) but I'd love for you to take my stuff someday!
( 20 have spoken — Speak )