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A dispute between a Utah publisher and a gay author who made a nod to his boyfriend in his biography has gained the attention of Mormons in the publishing community.
As of Saturday morning, 41 Mormon authors had signed a letter asking publishers to base decisions on "content, quality, and commercial viability, not on any other factor." Meanwhile, an Arizona-based LDS author said Cedar Fort just last week published a book of his that contains a significant gay subplot.
The book-flap flap follows a news release earlier this week from "Woven" authors Michael Jensen and David Powers King. They say that Cedar Fort Publishing's national imprint, Sweetwater Books, nixed the young-adult fantasy novel when Jensen demanded that his biography reference the partner with whom he lives in Salt Lake City. Cedar Fort publishing has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
The letter from a contingent of Mormon authors reads, "While publishers have the right to choose what they will and will not publish, we believe books should be accepted or rejected upon the merits of their content, quality, and commercial viability, not on any other factor."
Signee Abel Keogh says that author Braden Bell took the initiative to start the petition. "He said that this isn't right and we need to do something," Keogh said, adding that many of the signatures come from authors who are either under contract with Cedar Fort or have had works published by it previously.
Mormon author Ryan Rapier, whose brother Plan B Theatre Company director Jerry Rapier is openly gay, says that Cedar Fort had no problems with a gay character in his book, "The Reluctant Blogger." In it, the gay character leaves his fiancée at the altar and acknowledges he's gay to his friend, the protagonist. The protagonist "responds badly," Rapier says, but "at the end of the day, the protagonist comes to realize that it doesn't matter."
One chapter ends with a character musing: "Have you ever thought that Kevin's homosexuality isn't a trial for Kevin, it's a trial for us?"
Rapier signed the petition and says that he's particularly miffed by Cedar Fort's problems with "Woven" because his book was OK'd by the LDS-dedicated Bonneville Books, while Sweetwater is not even geared toward a particular audience. Rapier also said he was rejected by another LDS publisher, Covenant Communications, for the stated reason that his book had a gay character. And his acquisitions editor at Cedar Fort, Angie Workman, was the same editor who raised a red flag over Jensen's bio.
"It's very odd," Rapier said, "because they had chosen to take a risk with my book."
LDS authors who have signed the petition
Donna K. Weaver
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
Tanya Parker Mills
Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Josi S. Kilpack
Sarah M. Eden
Carole Thayne Warburton
Mette Ivie Harrison
Julie Coulter Bellon
Brent J. Rowley
Michelle D. Argyle