I’m going to eat a small dish of crow (best served quickly so it’s still hot), but only a small dish.
There are NO rules in the RITA or Golden Heart contests that explicitly state LGBT fiction cannot be submitted to the contest.
However, the current industry standard is that LGBT romance is only featured in erotica, and while publishers like Kensington are working to change that, it is not widespread. In fact, so many romance authors who want to write LGBT romances have had their manuscripts (their babies- you writers know what I’m talking about) rejected simply because those manuscripts happen to involve a male/male or female/female relationship that many of these authors are afraid to submit unless it is expressly stated by a publishing house that they accept LGBT romance (erotic or otherwise). Erotica is NOT accepted in the RITA or Golden Heart contests. Read this for yourself below, and RWA does not state that the RITA or Golden Heart contests welcome a group of stories to any genre (paranormal, fantasy, contemporary, et cetera) that have been ignored in the past. This is akin to being back in the South during the time of the Jim Crow Laws. So many signs read “whites only” on fountains, bathrooms, etc., that signs had to be actively posted where integration was allowed. Authors of LGBT romance cannot assume welcome just as African Americans could not assume welcome back before the Civil Rights Act. To do so invites anguish, despair, and trampled hopes.
Please read the categories the RITA and Golden Heart Awards accept.
Categories accepted in the 2011 RITA Contest (Copied directly from the website): Contemporary Series Romance, Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure, Contemporary Single Title Romance, Historical Romance, Inspirational Romance, Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, Paranormal Romance, Regency Historical Romance, Romance Novella, Romantic Suspense, Young Adult Romance, Best First Book
Categories accepted in the 2011 Golden Heart Contest (Copied directly from the website): Contemporary Series Romance, Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure, Contemporary Single Title Romance, Historical Romance, Inspirational Romance, Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, Paranormal Romance, Regency Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense, Young Adult Romance
Crow has been almost consumed. One bite left. I apologize to RWA for falsely representing their contest rules. I relied on information given to me by others instead of verifying the information myself directly.
One more thing (the garnish, you might say). Despite my mistake, I still stand by my original belief, modifying the words, not the spirit, to be in line with the correct facts above: RWA needs to add erotica to both contests and actively encourage and assert that LGBT fiction may be written in all genres, including inspirational romance. Gay Christians exist too. This way there will be a truer cross-section of romance in America.