Last year, we, the organizers of the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia (HAHAT), loosely pitched an idea that would enlarge the hop in order to reach more people. The idea was to invite the writers of LGBTQ to create affiliate hops under the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia (HAHAT) label. The affiliate hops were planned to span multiple genres (hops for sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, etc.) and different letters of the LGBTQ umbrella (hops for M/M, F/F, Trans*, etc.). However, no one stepped up to volunteer and due to a busy year, the organizers were unable to actively go out and find volunteers.
This year got off to a rocky start. We had initially decided to keep the hop restricted to M/M again, and that decision was based on the overall idea of the hop in the future and where we hope to take it. I’m going to explain this future idea and I’m also going to explain why we changed this year’s hop to include the whole LGBTQ writing community instead of keeping it M/M-only.
So what is this future idea?
The main idea for implementing this hop is to draw in readers and offer them a chance to take part in the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Participants post about the subject on their own blogs and host giveaways that offer a variety of prizes. Last year, many gave books, some gave LGBTQ items, and several donated to a charity in the winner’s name. We’re flexible about what people want to give away and we’re not going to change that. The promise of a prize resulted in a lot of attention and engagement, and the messages on the blogs were seen. All in all, we succeeded in drawing attention to the matter exactly as we had hoped.
The goal for future years is to branch out beyond the LGBTQ writing community, with the idea that writers in other genres* will engage their own readers in the same way we are doing now. In other words, we want writers of mainstream fiction to take part in the future under their respective genres. HAHAT could become huge! It wouldn't have to stop at writers. It could spread to include bloggers and designers, and even separate hops for reviewers and publishers of all genres. It could expand to readers hosting their own hop. We want to bring in other communities to take part in the future, but we can’t do that under one hop, due to a lack of resources, which brings us to…
How would we implement this?
After last year’s hop, we expanded on the idea among ourselves and figured we could make separate hops for each LGBTQ group, all under the same HAHAT badge. There would be M/M Writers Against Homophobia and Transphobia, F/F Writers Against Homophobia and Transphobia, etc., who would draw in and engage their own readers. But we wouldn't stop there. We’d try to go beyond writers of LGBTQ by making hops for genres: Sci-Fi Writers Against Homophobia and Transphobia would introduce the hop through their own channels, drawing in and engaging the sci-fi readers; Paranormal Writers Against Homophobia and Transphobia would draw in their readers; YA Writers Against Homophobia and Transphobia; Horror writers; Historical writers, all joined under the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia badge with their own banner. If you ended up in multiple categories, say, you write lesbian young adult paranormal stories, you'd have the option to sign up for three different hops.
The Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia blog would serve as a parent site for all of these hops (so M/M would be moved off the blog onto another one) with links to each hop, announcements, event advertising and such. The organizers of all the hops would also work together under the same badge to synchronize their hops, announcements, etc, and find new ways to branch out. Each hop would have a lead organizer, who would work with the HAHAT main organizers, and a few co-organizers to make the hop run smoothly. Someone said that this wasn't unlike the Romance Writers of America model, where there are separate chapters for different groups and genres.
This sounds like a huge project, and it is.
We believe the best way to handle the transition to a larger group of hops is in steps. Naturally, this isn’t going to happen over the course of one year. We’d add hops little by little, depending on the number of volunteers. We had planned to create a separate hop for the F/F, Trans*, and Bi writing community for 2013, but up until earlier this week, we had no one to organize it. One of our new organizers expressed interest in coordinating the expansion this last Sunday and we started planning it, but then came the questions from writers: How would that be any different? It would still be “sectioning off” F/F, Trans*, and Bi literature from the big M/M writing community. M/M has a lot of writers, readers, reviewers, and publishers, with lots of events and general attention that the other parts of LGBTQ aren't getting. Some people felt that we were being discriminatory. We're sorry and we understand how we could have been perceived as such, but the intent was never to discriminate. We feel badly about not having set up the other hops, but at the same time, without the explanation of the future idea, we believe that people would’ve been angry if we’d created separate hops. However, future idea or not, we want LBTQ writers to be able to sign up this year and so we’ll be moving forward with the LGBTQ hop under one umbrella in 2013 (and maybe future years, it depends).
What made us hesitant about changing the hop on Sunday was that we don’t want to have to cap participation in the hop. We want all M/M, F/F, Trans, and Bi writers to be able to take part. The M/M part alone will be large and we really don’t know how many of the others we might expect. This year will be a good learning experience. We may keep it under one hop in the future, or we may split it in the future as we had originally planned, depending on how participation from those segments of the community plays out. Needless to say, we are very excited to see how this turns out.
So what now?
For now, we do not plan to cap participation, but we’re keeping the option open and will let you know if the hop looks like it will become unmanageable.
This year, we're also going to be as nonrestrictive as possible. To participate, you’d have to have at least one published LGBTQ title to take part as an author; you’d have to run a review site that reviews LGBTQ lit (exclusively or not) to take part as a reviewer; or you’d have to have published at least one LGBTQ title to take part as a publisher. We’re not restricting participation any further within those restrictions this year.
We're also looking for volunteers! With the new additions we are four strong, but we would like a few more. Volunteers from the F/F, Trans* and Bi writer communities would be wonderful, but if there are others excited to take part (including reviewers and publishers), they’re welcome to contact us and see if there’s a spot for them on the team. A volunteer would have to be available on May 17th and a couple of days before and after (they wouldn't have to sit by the computer all day, just do the assigned jobs). They’d also get to have input on how we organize and run HAHAT. For now, everyone gets a say, but once the hop grows, we’ll make teams and have one member represent each team.
We also need volunteers for future genre hops, so if you’re interested, please contact us :)
If you have any further input or suggestions, please let us know!
Registration will re-open soon, so please watch this page. Also note that if you registered previously, your information was saved, so you won't have to register again.
Finally, on behalf of the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia team, I’d like to offer my sincerest apology to those who were hurt, angered and offended by our original decision. It is my hope you’ll join the hop on a day that means so much to LGBTQ people and their supporters.
* LGBTQ isn't a genre, but it is usually sectioned off on bookshelves and has its own circle of followers just like a genre does.