Ten years after Matthew Shepherd and the subsequent institution of much needed anti-hate crime acts that include hate crimes against people in alternative lifestyles and less mainstream religions, it dismays me to hear such outrage against an all-inclusive award like EPIC's. So, what's the gripe? It's fairly simple.
There are two complaints about the new e-book contest guidelines. One is that GLBT has been made inclusive, across the boards. Now, mind you, with the way the committee hopes to handle judging concerns (every judge will have the opportunity to opt out of judging GLBT content), it's not the GLBT community complaining about this. It's those who aren't in the community. Let me explain.
A group of authors who don't write GLBT has decided to try and skewer the contest for allowing GLBT across the boards. Their complaint is specifically that the contest allows GLBT in every category, including children's, YA, and spiritual.
Now, will they get any GLBT entries there? Who knows? My complaint isn't whether or not they would. It's that anyone is so closed-minded as to think it should be excluded, because it's GLBT.
These complainers are apparently of the misconception that GLBT automatically means sex. Of course, it doesn't. Just as an example, take a look at this book on Amazon.
This is a children's book about a little girl with two daddies. The blurb is...
Two Daddies and Me shows a day in the life of one little girl named *Libe. Libe's family is different. She has two dads. Yet, Libe's life is just like any other child, filled with love, laughter and the routine of daily life! Geared towards preschool aged children of gay and lesbian parents, this book provides the perfect opportunity to show the many aspects of the word "family" and what it can mean in today's world. (*pronounced Lî-be)
Are we going to say this book can't enter, because it shows a gay family? Bull pucky. Sorry, but it's true.
And there are more...
This is just a quick look...not even exhaustive. There are whole companies and lines of companies devoted to GLBT children and YA fiction. Are they any less welcome than anyone else is? Are they any less valuable to those who read them? I think not.
The other complaint--predictably, considering the first--is that the new definition of Spiritual/Metaphysical (formerly called Inspirational/Metaphysical) weakens the stance of Christian works by diluting the category and allowing non-Christian works. Non-Christian was always welcome but felt they weren't, because of bad wording. If making the wording clear offends someone, that's lamentable. Since non-Christian works were always welcome, though they may not have realized it, this is no real change.
EPIC has made it a priority not to discriminate, based on locality, age, creed, race, religion, or any other label. In fact, those discussions are not permitted on EPIC lists. Why should the contest discriminate? In short, I don't think it should. Kudos to the committee for making it clear that they don't.