I got a surprise when I was looking through posts on Goodreads the other day. I saw someone had posted that they were willing to review other author’s works, in exchange for the other author’s commitment to read and review their own work, but they asked not to be sent anything in the erotica genre or with “same sex themes”. (I will decline to say on which discussion this appeared or which user posted this, out of respect for other Goodreads members.)
At first, I was a little taken aback that someone would state specifically that they wouldn’t read anything with characters who are gay or might be gay. That was the first time I’d ever seen such a statement on Goodreads. Then, I got a little angry.
For one thing, I find such a proposition - a review for a review - very distasteful. Some will call it bartering; I call it something else entirely. And then, there is the implied, if not outright, bigotry in the request to not be sent literature with “same sex themes” to read and review.
A minute after the anger came, I realized I needed to take a step back and re-evaluate my reaction. After all, at the center of the recent battles for marriage equality, the core principal has been that despite the differences between gay and straight couples, gay people are still just people, and all people deserve to be treated with dignity and accepted for who they are.
Vis a vis - just because a person in uncomfortable with reading about gay characters or characters who struggle with the idea they might be gay, what right do I have the right to be angry with this person or make angry comments about this person? How would this make me any better than those opponents of gay marriage who claim it attacks their way of life in some way?
In the end, like gay marriage has no real effect on the marriages of straight people, this person’s position on what they will/will not read and review has no real effect on me. I will not suddenly become less literate.
And, while I hope that this person someday loses their narrow reading preferences and is thus able to learn more about the world around them, I thank them for teaching me how to be just a little more tolerant of the intolerant today.