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:
Here’s the cover that the Peppermill Resort thought was necessary to censor:
For contrast, here is the larger-than-life-size floor cling RIGHT NEXT TO the censored one:
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?
(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!