Saturday, September 20, 2014

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

I try my best to always look for the best in the people that I know. Most of the time it
works. I enjoy what I like about the people passing through my strange, chaotic life and
ignore things that I don’t like about them. If you look for perfection, you doom yourself to
disappointment and life’s too short for that. I do have a couple of hot buttons though, things
that make that small pessimistic harpy slumbering inside me wake up and start ravaging the
countryside. Sometimes she really needs to be gagged and wing-clipped.

A prime example: Last weekend my local RWA chapter offered up a critique session.
We each submitted a 3,000 word piece of our current WIP and filled out a critique form on
everyone else’s work. We are a very diverse group in terms of what we write but I am the only
one writing m/m romance. (I say the only one; even though Shannen is my co-author and is
technically a member of the chapter, she lives in another city and isn’t around for most chapter
activities.) I’ve seen a few raised eyebrows in the group and I suspect there are a few who are
uncomfortable with the very idea of two men together in a romance novel.

That nasty, judgmental little harpy was already stirring when I walked in there. I fully
expected to have a couple of people decline to review my work because it’s m/m or to criticize
it harshly for that reason. I especially expected censure because my young gay hero is a child
care worker in a preschool. I walked in there with my defenses up and my arguments marshaled
and my harpy muscles pre-flexed. Sure enough, the one major fault the group found in my piece
was the profession of my hero. One very nice woman spoke up and told me that she had a real
problem with my guy working as a babysitter.

Oh no she didn’t! Harpy-woman sat up and took notice. I gritted my teeth, sucked down my
righteous indignation only a little and told her in no uncertain terms that being attracted to one’s
own sex had nothing to do with being sexually attracted to children of either sex and that there
was no reason on earth why a gay man shouldn’t care for children.


My fellow author blinked at me for a minute and responded with commendable calm. “Of
course. I only wonder why he isn’t a kindergarten teacher or someone who would make better
money. How can he afford his own apartment in Spokane on what his job would bring in?”

Oh man. While I sat there trying to extract my foot from my mouth, it went around the table
and several others expressed the same concern. The fact that he was gay didn’t even deserve a

Let that teach me to be so wary of being judged by others that I beat them to the punch and
judge them first. There is enough real bigotry in the world without me going out and looking
for it where it doesn’t exist. My thanks to my critique group for pointing out something I hadn’t
considered. My sweet boy will remain a preschool teacher. I’ll just have to address why he’d
want to work in what is clearly an undervalued profession and to remember that he’s broke. He
can let his studly love interest pay for dinner.

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