When I first started publishing romance in 2005, one of the initial questions my husband asked me was, "Are you joining RWA?"
My answer was an emphatic, "No."
Back then, RWA didn't recognize digital sales. E-publishing was consigned to a special corner and ignored in a lot of ways. If there was one thing I refuse to be, it's a hyprocrite. I could not in any good conscience support an organization that denied the existence of a large number of its membership (except to take their money, of course).
As digital took off, that changed. It was great for e-published writers. Then Rainbow Romance Writers was formed as a special interest chapter within RWA, so more positive steps forward.
But I have a confession. I still hated it. I hated that RWA still used a lot of exclusionary language in so many different ways. I hated that LGBT writers still had to be relegated to a special group. Very persuasive people pitched that the only way to change RWA was from within, and while I most whole-heartedly support those willing to fight that fight, I am not that person. I fight with the consumer dollar. I don't provide business to those who practice intolerance (which kills me when I see how huge our local Hobby Lobby is, lol). RWA was going to be no different.
It's now 2014. RWA has taken strides to move past their prejudices and exclusionary practices. Is it perfect? No, but my definition is a strict one, I'll admit that (there would be no need for any special interest groups at all, if I had my say). People I respect are excited about the organization again, and that's enough to get me thinking.
Am I ready to join up? Not yet. But I don't have a kneejerk, "Oh, hell, no!" reaction when the discussion gets raised anymore. I'm going to start looking at some of my local chapters to see what they provide, if I can get value from being a member. I don't know how that'll turn out.
But times, they are a-changing. Thankfully.