Long time no post – I (Nina Waters, the Press owner) have been away for a couple of weeks, and despite my hopes to keep things active, I wasn’t able to do so. But, I’m back now, and ready to catch up on things I did before or during my trip, and/or things that crop up now!
For starters – right before my departure I received a question in my e-mail. The below is paraphrased from the original ask, and my answer is slightly edited for readability.
Question: What is Duck Prints Press’s stance on the #ownvoices tag?
We don’t use #ownvoices, ever, because what was created as a tag to help highlight creators speaking on their own experiences became a bludgeon to bully people and force them to out themselves. We say publicly that we primarily aim to work with LGBTQIA+ authors to publish LGBTQIA+ stories, but we don’t actually require that our creators be any form of queer, nor do their stories/artwork/creations have to feature LGBTQIA+ characters or themes. No one ever has to disclose more about their identity than they wish to, nor does anyone have to use a real name (outside of contracts, which are of course not shared), link any social media accounts, etc. – since we only share the info our creators explicitly want shared, they can publicize as much or as little as they’d like to about themselves – then can go “full public” and use their actual name to write, share all their social media, etc., or they can deny the public access to them beyond a pen name, or anything in between. We use this approach to protect creators and make sure no one will be forced to out themselves, and while the Press is primarily aimed at LGBTQIA+ themes, we’ll of course apply the same approach to other aspects of author identity – race, ethnicity, religion, etc. In all respects, the creators themselves choose how much to disclose, and we will never share anything beyond what they’ve authorized.
Our views on the #ownvoices tag were primarily formed based on this blog post from We Need Diverse Books.
All that said, since we’re so explicitly a queer-focused Press, there’s always a danger that people will assume our creators are some flavor of queer whether they are or not, but we really can’t help what other people assume, and we never explicitly say that creators MUST be queer (nor do we require it privately – we have worked with creators who aren’t queer). If you’re ever wondering about a specific creator, we encourage you to check out our various author biography pages for our anthologies and the Press as a whole, and see what the creators have, and have not, chosen to share!