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The Censoring of LGBT Covers & Posters at #RT18

Hi folks! Cecilia Tan here, reporting from the RT Booklovers Convention in Reno.

If it’s your first time hearing about RT, this is a massive annual convention that brings together thousands of readers with hundreds of authors, mostly in the romance genres but also a lot of YA, fantasy, mystery, and science fiction. (“RT” stands for Romantic Times, the original magazine that founded the conference.)

RT typically has nonstop promo parties thrown by publishers and authors, and every hotel where it takes place (it move around all over, Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, Las Vegas) is usually plastered with giant posters of romance novels. It’s typical to see each elevator door with a massive add on it, for example. Here at the Peppermill much of that type of advertising seems to have been moved to large video screens that rotate through, but there are also floor clings, large ads on the floor as you walk to and from the convention area. Thus far my impression is that there is less advertising than in past years, but I don’t know if that’s because the Peppermill is pickier about what can be displayed, or if fewer ads were bought (romance publishing has suffered some big blows this year), or what.

What I can tell you is that in particular, though, the advertising floor clings purchased by the Rainbow Romance Writers, the chapter of the RWA (Romance Writers of America) that promotes specifically LGBT romances, have been censored. I know because I just heard from a Circlet Press author, Elizabeth Schechter, about this:

Example:
Censoring of LGBT book covers at RT by the Peppermill Resort

Censoring of LGBT book covers at RT by the Peppermill Resort

Detail:

Censoring of LGBT book cover Heart's Master by Elizabeth Schechter

Here’s the cover that the Peppermill Resort thought was necessary to censor:

Heart's Master Elizabeth Schechter

For contrast, here is the larger-than-life-size floor cling RIGHT NEXT TO the censored one:

Leveque floor cling

It’s got all the abs, all the muscled thighs, all the SEE THROUGH CHAIN MAIL, but apparently it’s OK because…? Ropes are too much…? Or is it because they gave gay and lesbian and queer books more scrutiny?

The board of the Rainbow Romance Writers apparently found out yesterday (Tuesday) when the floor clings were being installed that the hotel objected to the images. They had the choice of either censor or pull the clings entirely. These ads were paid for by the authors of the books who each chipped in hard-earned dollars to have their book displayed. I can’t really blame them for making the snap decision to censor the covers rather than risk not having any of the books displayed and losing their money.

But I think the Peppermill Resort had better be prepared to give Elizabeth Schechter and TL Travis back their money. And I think they better be ready to defend their decision to censor these LGBT covers and not any of the heterosexual imagery (at least so far as I’ve heard): that’s what we call anti-LGBT discrimination folks.

(And if it’s the ropes… hello, folks, we are at a casino in RENO not DISNEYLAND? Didn’t 50 Shades of Grey prove that BDSM is mainstream? They sold bondage kits in TARGET for f’s sake…)

Anyway, that’s what’s going on here. If you’d like to show Elizabeth Schechter some love and help us turn lemons into lemonade, please share her censored cover far and wide?

Elizabeth Schechter Heart's Master Too Hot for Reno

(And maybe let the Peppermill Resort know you think censorship is wrong and slightly ridiculous? Did they not know what RT Booklovers is about?)

UPDATE! Edited to add:

The Peppermill Reno has apologized and will be reprinting the ads without the coverups! Text of their tweet:

(1/2) Our sincere apologies for the miscommunication, as the two book covers in questions were never taped over due to their LGBTQ nature. As a family-friendly resort with many guests not here for the convention, we made a mistake in covering the original artwork.

(2/2) We’re now in the process of getting the ad reprinted and replaced, which should be done tomorrow or Thursday at the latest. Again, we’re truly sorry this was ever misconstrued as a bias against the LGBTQ community.

From author Elizabeth Schechter:

According to @RenoPeppermill, the ads are being reprinted and replaced and they’re calling me tomorrow to apologize. I’m satisfied with that and have thanked them.

UPDATED AGAIN: As of Wednesday midday I am happy to report the unexpurgated ad was in place on the floor cling! And I heard from Elizabeth Schechter who spoke with the hotel’s GM to get his personal apology. Thank you, Reno Peppermill!

Fairy Tale Bundle Teasers #5: The Stepmother’s Girl

The final volume of the fairy tale bundle is Like a Queen, lesbian stories based on traditional fairy tales. Today’s excerpt is from “The Stepmother’s Girl” by Quatre Grey:

For weeks I have cooked, cleaned, repaired, tended, mended, answered to the every whim of my stepsisters and of you. I had long since recovered from the aches and soreness of the hard labor but my patience with my step-sisters haughty attitudes and your cold harsh tone is growing thin. I have not received the pleasures of your satisfaction and gratitude at my apt obedience that I had anticipated. I have been given no reward, and am losing the simple joy I once had in servitude.

Tonight my step-sisters are at a party and my father sleeps soundly in the upstairs library. You call me to your personal chamber–you never share a bed with my father–for instructions on another menial task about the estate. Your chamber decorated like your gowns; draped in blacks and reds, midnight shades of purple and blue, like the lair of an ancient vampire. My clothes worn and dirty but as neat as I can make them, I step into your room and shut the door behind me, coming to stand at an easy attention while my eyes adjust to the dim illumination of the oil lamps. I hear you in an adjoining room, one I have never been allowed into and have heard referred to as your painting room. From the door left ajar, your voice beckons me in. I hesitate a moment before stepping to the door and entering.

The light is even dimmer here and yellow flame flickers off polished black leather, metal, wood. Shadows sneak and obscure the structures in the room. You stand by a wall which props up several large paintings and cradles an easel in its corner. These painting supplies and oil-covered canvases are the only objects I can clearly discern here. You glance up from your musings and paralyze me with another of your gazes I am unable to resist. Stepping towards me, slow with the soft rustle of fabric, you continue to hold me in place with nothing but those eyes.

Continue reading Fairy Tale Bundle Teasers #5: The Stepmother’s Girl

Fairy Tale Bundle Teaser #4: The Goose Boy

Volume four of our fairy tale bundle is Like a Prince, a collection of gay male erotic fairy tales. Our excerpt is from “The Goose Boy” by Monique Poirier:

…There was a man standing in the corner, watching him. Watching him very intently.

He was dressed in the clothes of a merchant, and he wore a long cloak with a hood. Giles could see his eyes flashing from within the shadows of it, warmly brown and uncomfortably direct. When they met his own, the hooded man grinned with a flash of white teeth. Giles looked into his cup studiously.

He approached. Giles held his ground; the warning had been brief and maddeningly cryptic, but he wasn’t the sort of man who ran away. The hooded man sat down on the bench beside him, very close. Close enough that Giles could feel the heat of him.

I’m told that you can’t speak,” the man said. His voice was smooth and clear; a young man’s voice – one that demanded attention. Giles shook his head slightly without looking up.

Can’t, or won’t?”

At that Giles did look up, scowling slightly, sighing through his nose. The man who stared back at him was… arresting. The face of an angel gazed at him from the shadows of that hood, framed in dark curls. He’d never seen an angel, painted or otherwise, with so much hunger in its eyes.Giles shuddered, because the intense scrutiny he suddenly faced stirred something low in his belly that was probably best left undisturbed…

Continue reading Fairy Tale Bundle Teaser #4: The Goose Boy

Fairy Tale Bundle Teaser #3: That Wicked Witch

Like a Thorn is an anthology of BDSM fairy tales. Today’s excerpt is a little teaser from Sunny Moraine’s “That Wicked Witch:”

So,” said the woman, and she tossed her long black hair back over one shoulder. Her arms were crossed over her chest, the swells of her breasts hidden under a black suit jacket, and Greta couldn’t stop looking at her. Since she’d walked in Greta and Han attempting to walk out with the last piece of her stereo system, things had been a little awkward.

They were on their knees, hands behind their heads. That was part of why things were awkward.

So,” the woman said again. She raised a hand to her face and tapped an immaculately tapered fingernail against her chin, looking coolly thoughtful. “I should probably call the police, now. Shouldn’t I?”

Continue reading Fairy Tale Bundle Teaser #3: That Wicked Witch

Fairy Tale Bundle Teaser #2

The second volume of the Fairy Tale Bundle is Lambda Literary Award-nominated Charming, edited by Jen Levine, an anthology of gay fairy tale erotica in contemporary settings.

This excerpt is from “A Day in the Life of a Magic Prince” by NCN:

…The old man led me through a maze of marble-topped counters, polished hardwood floors, and massive oil paintings. They might have tipped me more than a musket ball, I remember thinking crossly, until I began to look at the paintings—and was mesmerized by the bizarre and vivid creatures they depicted. In one, a giant multi-headed wolf rose gleaming from a stream while a long, snake-like leopard watched with silver eyes from a tree above. In another I caught a glimpse of scales, but I had to hurry to catch up to the old man, who’d rounded another corner.

At last I peered down a narrow hallway, lined with antiquated books but curiously absent of exits. This especially bothered me as I actually did have to pee. I stood there for a minute, pondering the weirdness of my situation. I realized I had subconsciously interpreted Uncle Mink’s command as an invite to some sort of transcendental sex party. But now I wasn’t so sure.

Continue reading Fairy Tale Bundle Teaser #2

Wired Hard Bundle Teasers #5

The fifth and final volume of the Wired Hard series appeared in 2013 and was edited by Joy Crelin.

Our excerpt is from The Amnesiaphiliac by Benji Bright.

It started with a single man and spun so far out that no one could have planned it, could have wanted it to go so wrong. My name is Nathaniel Underwood, and if you’re reading this then that’s good. That means you know how to read, and that’s a good sign. There’s no way for me to know whether you acquired the skill to parse this text from the act of picking it up or if you came to it already able. That’s how bad things got. So bad that I had to imbue each word with a desperation to be understood. I can’t rely on memory, it’s like a shifting sand that tilts everything standing above it. So understand these words and make of them what you will. I’ll try to keep this brief.

Apsis is our revolving city. When the first of the terrible earthquakes rocked the area, our engineers and best logicians decided that it would be best to unroot it. The girders were removed and the city floated away, tethered to the earth only by its memory of once being shackled. So we watched from the sky as the ground trembled and spat dust, thinking how lucky we were to have escaped such a miserable fate. And we were miserable too, having willfully divorced our home, but the human capacity for misery stretches only so far. We moved on in part because Apsis moved on. As the city drifted away from the site of our untethering, we could no longer see the scars of the earth, and we started forgetting what it had been like to dwell on land.

Continue reading Wired Hard Bundle Teasers #5

Wired Hard Bundle Teasers #4

For Volume 4, Cecilia shared editorial duties with Lauren Burka. It features an introduction by writer Xan West, and the first appearance of female names in the TOC.

This excerpt is from The Succession of Knoorikios Khnum, by Zachary Jernigan:

Tonight I will get what I want, surely.

In anticipation, I perfume my loins. I dress, sans underwear. I drink a cocktail of aphrodisiacs and insert an oil suppository laced with nerve stimulants. I shave my testicles and legs. As I walk to the Ambassador’s Gala, I am turned on by the hypersensitive skin of my thighs rubbing together, the bounce of my hairless balls against them, the head of my cock brushing softly against my silk pants, the tight oiled skin of my anus compressed and tingling between my legs. The dusk breezes are warm and dry, filled with the sweet scents of the court gardens. Gooseflies, fat with spring nectar, buzz barely aloft in the fig trees.

I arrive late. The court is a riot of color and sound, hectic with dignitaries local and foreign, human and animal and alien. I am recognized and hailed by voice, olfactory chemical and touch. I wave politely and move on, mumbling excuses. My attention is elsewhere. I have a mission. Despite the temptation to excuse myself, to find a chamber to pleasure myself (yes, I am one great erogenous zone by now), I will not be distracted.

I have waited two years. I can wait a bit longer.

Continue reading Wired Hard Bundle Teasers #4

Wired Hard Bundle Teaser #3

Wired Hard 3 was the first volume of the series to come out in the 21st century.

Today’ excerpt is from Zoner, by Michael Barnette:

“You have a visitor, sir,” the voice of the front desk security officer said. “Your, visuals are out, is there a problem, sir?”

“No, no problem. I’m not dressed for a pubic appearance. You understand.”

There was a slight pause, then the guard replied, “Of course, sir.”

Jessman wondered what the man was thinking then. If the person he’d requested was all he had been led to believe he or she was…well then maybe the guard was jealous. Or maybe not.

“Do I let him in or not, sir?”

Him. A man then. He shivered a bit in anticipation. Jessman hadn’t been with another man in a good many months, not since before his arrival at NeuroTech, and the thought of another man sent a thrill of eagerness through him.

Continue reading Wired Hard Bundle Teaser #3

Wired Hard Bundle Teaser #2

The second volume of the Wired Hard series came out in 1997 and included stories from writers who went on to become Circlet stalwarts such as M. Christian, Eric Del Carlo, and David Laurents.

Ultimate Wired Hard
Spanning two decades and five volumes, this massive omnibus edition features forty-four hot and creative short stories from an incredible range of writers! The complete text of the ground-breaking gay male SF erotica anthology series, now in one convenient ebook.

Today’s excerpt is from “The Hetarai Turncoat” by Karl-Rene Moore. Fun fact: surprisingly few Circlet stories feature sex with aliens. This is one of the exceptions to that rule:

Dieter’s body gleamed with a steaming mixture of sweat and sauna condensation as he emerged, balls bouncing low in his scrotum against the taut, defined adductor muscles in his thighs, surmounted by his semi-erect fock … which immediately began to salute me when Dieter noticed me standing near the sauna door, bottle of spiced oil in one hand, and his favorite carved jade cock ring in the other.

Pausing in the doorway, so that the steam rose off his powerful shoulders and bulging, smoothly rounded pectoralis majors, and briefly screened his blunt, yet archly refined features, so that only his icy blue-grey eyes shone through clearly … and there was a certain look in those glacial orbs that warned: The usual won’t be enough tonight, Gustav. Not enough at all …

Continue reading Wired Hard Bundle Teaser #2