Friday, April 27, 2012

The International Day Againt Homophobia and Transphobia isn't a Marketing Tool

'929' photo (c) 2009, Sarah Murray - license:


Often in the writing blogosphere we see various forms of Blog Hops and blog tours and similar promotions to draw attention to authors, their books and let readers connect with authors who may interest them.

One upcoming blog hop is Hop against Homophobia

This is a blog hop of authors of the M/M genre. It allows writers in the m/m genre to gain attention to their M/M books and offer M/M prizes. The site itself explains its purpose:

the purpose is to get readers to a) see your name b) see your books and c) have the option to follow your blog to get to know you as an author and to be kept up to date about your future work.

And to start it off they’re going to set things rolling on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

So, what is The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia? Well, it’s pretty much exactly what it says. It is a day where we fight against the damage these bigotries do. It is a day when we look at the damage these bigotries do.

And let us never underestimate the power of this bigotry. There are still a horrendous number of countries out there where being GBLT is a crime. In some of them you will be tortured or executed. Others will imprison you for years and, of course, should you serve your sentence you face being returned to prison since, of course, people don’t stop being GBLT.

People are killed for being GBLT. People lose their jobs for being GBLT (often without any recourse in law). People lose their homes for being GBLT. People are denied any legal partnership rights for being GBLT, people are denied medical care for being GBLT, people are vilified and attacked and destroyed for being GBLT. People turn to drugs and alcohol because of anti-GBLT bigotry and countless GBLT people are driven to suicide every year by anti-GBLT bigotry.

In short, homophobia and transphobia are devastating forces out there and any campaign to battle them (Including this day) is vital and precious and very very important (though we can have debates about the effectiveness of individual days, that is a different discussion).

And these authors have decided to use this day to shill their books. They’re using this day about bigotry against GBLT people for marketing. Worse, not only are they appropriating this day for marketing, the actual purpose of the day they are using does not even remotely have to be involved

From the site itself:
- Talk about the International Day Against Homophobia in your May 17th blog entry (as little as just a mention – your choice).
--- Add the colorful Hop Against Homophobia image to your blog/website with a link to the official hop site:

There, you don’t have to actually do anything about homophobia or transphobia or talk about the day or what it actually aims for – don’t let silly things like that put you off. Don’t let the actual purpose of the day get in the way of your marketing. No, so long as you mention the name (all the better to appropriate it properly) and then you’ll get a giant anti-homophobia rainbow banner as well! Sure you don’t actually have to do anything about homophobia or transphobia, but you get the banner. I wonder if it comes with cookies?

Let me repeat this so we can be abundantly clear – no part of this blog hop requires acting or speaking against homophobia or transphobia, nor does it require being a GBLT member or ally (and no, being part of the M/M genre is not synonymous with allydom. Using us does not make you an ally, writing these books does not grant automatic status as a supporter - far from it). It is not about GBLT rights –it is about advertising, marketing and giving away free M/M stuff to attract more readers and followers

It isn’t fighting homophobia and transphobia – it’s using it. It’s appropriating the struggle for GBLT rights for its own purposes. I cannot begin to describe how utterly disrespectful, appropriative – and downright homophobic and transphobic this is.

This would be terrible anywhere, but sits even more poorly coming from the M/M genre which already has severe problems with fetishisation, appropriation, people claiming the identity of gay men who are not; and general disrespect for and appropriation of gay men. I have written several pieces about this in the past:

Pretending to be part of a Marginalised Community when you’re not (including pretending to be a gay man and writing M/M Fiction)
Fetishisation is not a good thing and certainly not the same as support
Considerable amounts of homophobia on display from many writers - and it being defended and ignored in the genre, which constantly comes up
Dismissal of criticisms of homophobia (and dismissing the critics as well)
As well as the constant derail and utter unwillingness to consider homophobia
The extreme privilege and prejudice displayed during the debate about the Lambda Awards
And yet more homophobia in the M/M genre over the Lambda Awards

This is not a genre and community that has a great record or has come close to earning the benefit of the doubt when it comes to appropriation and general disrespect for gay men.
And I’ll take the opportunity as well to criticise the conflation of M/M genre and GBLT fiction. They are not the same. GBLT literature - like any marginalised literature (woman’s literature, Black literature etc) comes from the marginalised group in question. That has never been an issue with M/M fiction.

Homophobia and transphobia are life and death issues. This is not hyperbole. This is literal truth – people die because of this bigotry – this is why we fight, why we campaign and why we struggle.

It is not about you selling your books.

GBLT rights are not your advertisements.

Homophobia and transphobia are real - they’re not things for you to use and play with, they’re not just tropes and themes in your books.

Fighting Homophobia and Transphobia isn’t a marketing tool. It’s not about selling your books, it’s not about getting you followers, it’s not about making you money. I cannot even begin to express my disgust over this - to take an event like this, to use an event like this shows a level of arrogance and contempt that I can’t even put words about it. I am honestly at a loss that anyone thought this kind of appropriation was ok. Show some bloody respect, for crying out loud.

And if you’re going to use the words “against homophobia” and have a big banner proclaiming that, then actually do something against homophobia - don’t encourage it by showing how little you respect GBLT rights - because that’s all I’m seeing from this callous appropriation - disrespect and contempt. Don’t try and make money off our oppression and our dead bodies. What more needs to be said? And why do we even have to say it at all!