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Dear Story Nurse,
My cousin went through an unusual change during college. Rather than becoming a liberal, fire-breathing, intersectional feminist, she turned to evangelical Christianity and takes heteronormative roles very seriously. It saddens me as a feminist and a bisexual woman that she believes what she does. But she seems very happy in her marriage and life, so I’m not going to say anything.
She’s offered to beta-read my novel. I’m happy that she wants to, free feedback is valuable, but my novel centers around a lesbian. I’m worried that at best, she’ll tell me to tone down the gay stuff (don’t worry, there’s no way in hell am I going to do that) and at worst, she’ll reject me and I’ll be blamed for the ensuing family drama. I don’t see this ending well and I don’t know what to do.
Worried Author (she/her)
Dear Worried Author,
It sounds to me like there are a couple of options here that could save you both a lot of stress:
- Turn her down. “Thanks for your offer, but I’m all set for beta readers.” If she pushes you, repeat yourself: “I really appreciate that, but I’m all set.”
- Tell her that your book is about a lesbian and that you’re not open to any feedback regarding the book’s queer content. Then ask whether she still wants to beta read it, reassuring her that it’s fine to say no.