When I went to the book’s Goodreads page to investigate further, I found that I was not the only one who had the same reaction. In the discussion section, another reader had asked, “Who puts the ‘warning: gay romance’ in the description? is that an author or publisher choice? goodreads?” Clearly I was not the only one was bothered by this “warning” for readers. The author had replied, “I put it there(The author) because believe it or not some people enter the giveaway and then are offended about the content after they win it. So this is my way of saying if you are not interested or offended by gay romance then don't enter. It's only in the Goodreads giveaway description and not the original book description.” However, despite the author's explanation, the word choice of "warning" still stuck me as painful. Why should I need to be warned about anyone's love? I can't imagine books about heterosexual lovers having a "warning" label, though in the days of censorship, books like Lady Chatterley's Lover certainly did cause social upheaval because their explicit sexual content.
At that point I navigated away as I was pretty certain the book would be less skillfully crafted that what I prefer in my reading material. The author failed to correctly phrase the book promotional statement so the desired potential readers would not be offended; that was a sure sign the author’s expository prowess was going to be lacking. I completely understand the author’s point: I would bet money that there are people who just go through the offered books, register for them all, and then resell them on another online source, never reading or reviewing them. I also can believe that some people just go through the romance section and register for them all without reading the content information including "warnings." However, if I wanted to make sure potential readers of my novel with homosexual characters didn’t attract those who would be offended by it solely based on the sexual orientation of its characters, I would start the review, “In this erotic romance, potential lovers Craig and Jason….” I would very much omit the “warning” part of the introduction; one could even omit the word gay as Craig and Jason are almost always male names in our culture. It bothers me that someone who is open-minded enough to write a gay romance or erotica would not to realize that labeling it explicitly with the world “warning” might be offensive to potential readers, the ones the author actually wants to attract.
While recent victories like the one in the nominally very Catholic Ireland show that our world is rapidly changing with its attitudes toward gay marriage, there is still a long way to go before equality is reached for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation not to mention their skin color, sex, gender, abilities, and more. Those who are trying to help break down the barriers need to make sure that they are not buying into established paradigms that frame homosexuals or any other minority group in a negative light. Word choices as simple as the one word of “warning” reflect a culture that still needs to grow in many ways before there will be true acceptance for all.
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC