September’s prompt is ESCAPE. I’m going non-fiction this month, opting to tell you about what’s on my mind. Last week, a certain writing challenge I look forward to every year opened their tenth annual competition. I was so excited that I immediately hit “share” on the post. The challenge is hosted by a non-profit, a charity organization that supports a cause I believe in and am impacted by daily. Those who follow my goal updates on this blog might know that the same place recently offered me a monthly column in their newsletter. I was going to accept it if I could come up with a year’s worth of ideas.
I’m grateful now that I never sent the email accepting the offer.
After sharing the contest on my social media sites, I went to the page to look at the details for this year. The theme is simple, nothing very specific. But then, in the rules, was this:
NO profanity, sexual scenes, violence, diverse characters, etc.
It doesn’t actually say diverse characters. But it DOES call out and exclude certain groups who are part of the Diverse Books movement. And it just throws them in that grouping of what makes a book not a “clean” read. That really ripped me to shreds.
* The diverse book movement recognizes all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. https://diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks
The person who offered me the monthly column must know I support Diverse Books. It’s right there on my Facebook profile image, which is the social site where we most often chat. My Twitter feed is loaded with the diverse books hashtag. And, oh yeah, I AM A DIVERSE AUTHOR. Something she ought to know from my bio and my stories. (Last year, this same organization published a story I wrote about a Native American lesbian, her (spoiler) surrogate daughter, and a half Indian half Hispanic female scientist. I will grant you that the words “lesbian, Native American, Indian, Hispanic, or female” didn’t appear in the story. It was, however, heavily implied.)
So, to see that the organization now excludes part of the diverse experience makes me want to ESCAPE from this world. Yes, I’ve been hated before. I’m not new to prejudice. There are plenty of scars on my body to remind me every day just how hateful and horrible people can be. This really broke me though. I need to escape the hate.
I’ve helped raise money for a place that now discriminates against people like me. My very existence is “unclean” to them.
Obviously, I’m not accepting the offer for a column. And I’m not entering the contest.
I don’t know what to do about the fact that I have other stories published with them in the past. Back before I was tossed in with profanity, sex, and violence. I don’t know if I should point out how this person, who I use to think of as almost a friend, how she has made me feel. Would she even care? Does it even matter?
There is no escape from these feelings. I do feel betrayed, and like I’m viewed as less than a person. Neither of which are new to me by any means.
I’m here. I exist. And I’m not going away.
I was put here. I was made in the same manner as the rest of the humans of this world. And people who decide to hate me for existing, I hope they can’t escape the fact that I do, in fact exist. I breathe the same air and drink the same water. I am here, I am human, and that truth is one from which you should stop trying to escape.