Through Dangers Untold and Hardships Unnumbered

file9841262998453I’m going to be honest here.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of fighting.

I’m tired of struggling to ensure rights are respected, tired of the battle against a tsunami of hatred and loathing and ignorance. I’m worn out.

You see, I’ve been fighting this battle since I was about twelve, almost thirteen. I can tell you the exact moment when it struck me that it was wrong to deny someone the right to love another human being because they are the same gender.

It was the day my father said something about one of my friends… a fourteen year old boy. A scrawny, happy, smiling fourteen year old boy named Stewart.

He said, “I hope that fucking faggot dies. I hope someone kicks his ass and he fucking dies.”

A fourteen year old boy.

My father was a police officer at the time, untouchable, arrogant, and armed. He is a violent man. I’m not going to say was because I believe in the depths of my soul, that violence is still there, regardless of the years that have gone by. I won’t go into the violence he perpetuated on my mother and me. We are not the story here but suffice it to say, I had no trouble believing this man would kill someone. Not could. Anyone could kill someone. But rather, would.

I was made to be afraid for my friend.

Because I was scared my father would do to him what he did to me. And maybe go even further.

My second epiphany came a few months later when my father found a Playboy magazine one of my guy friends stashed in our garage. I have no idea why Harley didn’t stash it in his own bedroom but I recognized it because he’d been showing it off to the other kids. No idea how it even ended up in our garage but there it was.

And apparently, it was a problem.

My father called me a lesbian and a few other choice terms—not for the last time in my life—but this time, he fractured my jaw and broke my left orbital. I couldn’t stay at that house anymore. He would kill me before too long. Ironically, I’m not gay but in that moment—or really any moment—it didn’t matter. Actually, it shouldn’t have mattered. Because in that moment, I truly believed my father was going to kill me for something as stupid as a Playboy magazine.

So I got the fuck out.

And I found my voice. And my anger. Because the hatred was wrong. Even if it didn’t “affect” me, it was wrong. I knew that before I could even vote someone into office.

Over the years, the battle was bloody and we lost a hell of a lot of people to violence, disease and fear. There were men who wasted away before our eyes, friends who were left alone on deserted wards and handled with gloves because everyone was scared and we had no idea what was going on. We’ve been called to pick up friends from the ER because of a boyfriend slamming them into a wall or getting jumped by a bunch of guys who might have seen a hip wiggle when someone walked by. There have been women who’ve been beaten to death because they are too masculine or someone found out they still had a penis, even though they were living their lives as the woman they were meant to be.

We’ve just had so much damned death, hatred and violence since…forever and I’m so fricking tired.

I’m sure many of you are too.

So why do we push on? And how do we find the strength to go forward and fight still?

Because there are people out there who forget how hard we fought to just get to where we are and no idea how damned far we have left to go.

I know we have to keep pushing because I read a someone write, “Gays can’t be monogamous. It’s just not our nature.”

You’re wrong, love. We fight so men who want to be monogamous have the right to do so alongside any other adult couple. We fight for their…and your… relationship choice. Not just who anyone loves but how they love. We fight for choice. We fight for others’ hearts and souls.

I know we have to keep pushing when someone tells me, “You should write mainstream. You’re good enough to write mainstream.”

To that I say, I do write mainstream. My characters just happen to be gay. And I’m fighting for the day when my books… or really anyone else’s LGBTQ books are placed on the shelves alongside others in our genre, regardless of the characters’ gender, sexual preference or ethnicity. Because this gay man, this lesbian, this bisexual, this transgender character exists in the same world, same genres as heterosexual characters. They shouldn’t be sitting in the back of the bookcase because of their sexuality.

I know we have to keep pushing when I hear a teenager say, “Who cares if I get AIDS? They can just fix it.”

Oh sweetie, there’s no shame in being HIV+ and many people who have HIV live fantastic, full lives but we have to find a cure, just like we need one for cancer, heart disease and everything else. We’ve lost too many people…too many brilliant, talented and loving people to a disease that ran unchecked through our friends and family because it was okay if those people died. We owe it to those people we lost. We do. .

I know we can’t rest. I know we all have more battles to wage. God, look at the see-saw we’re in now as we fight off the last few heads of a legal hydra in various states. Every time we think ah, it will be okay, something else comes to savage us apart.

That’s right…I said us. Because, none of us are alone here. We are all in this together. Whether or not you are gay, lesbian, het, bi, asexual or anything in between, if we don’t stand for one another than our humanity—our very existence—is damned.

There are victories. We cannot forget our victories. Marriage, a big damned victory which came on the heels of striking down anti-sodomy laws. We use a rainbow now to show inclusion but let us not forget the pink triangle we took up in solidarity for those who died a horrible death for simply falling in love… or wanting to fall in love. We cannot forget the dead but neither can we forget those who will follow us because we need to make this a better world for them to inherit.

I don’t have a rousing speech to end this. I don’t have a this day will live in infamy moment. But you know what I’d love? I’d love for one day…hopefully soon… some kid will look at a history book and say; “None of this makes sense. Why would they do these things just because of someone’s skin colour or sexuality? That’s just wrong.” I’m fighting for that day when no kid gets beaten and / or kicked out of their house because they brought home the wrong person to love. I’m fighting for the day when I’m not explaining to someone I write mysteries with a gay character, just in case they might not want to read it. I’m fighting for the day when the only reason someone should fear the person next to them while wearing a rainbow jacket and carrying cupcakes is because that person really just wants those cupcakes.

So as damned tired as I get, that’s the day I’m fighting for. The day we’re all fighting for. Not just for tomorrow but for then.

I hope you all stick with it…and me…and us. It’s not over…not yet… but it will be.

118 thoughts on “Through Dangers Untold and Hardships Unnumbered

  1. Geraldine

    Oh my goodness, the strength in you! I cannot tell you the respect I have for you, and all the abuse survivors I work with, for not only living through but using your experiences to benefit others. Thank you for fighting, Rhys, and your wonderful stories, and being the funny, interesting, strong woman you are!

    1. I’m doing okay. Life’s… interesting. And a bit skewed sometimes but I’ve got fabulous experiences, friends and well, a fine love of good coffee. *HUGS*

  2. Tamika

    That made me treat up. My husband’s cousin is 16 and came out gay last year to his family. It wasn’t physical but verbal that sliced his soul. His own mother for her religious beliefs couldn’t fathom why the sickness found her son. His father who had been so amazing has stood by his son. We’ve gone to so many LGBT events for teenagers this last year and learned so many things. I’m so happy you were strong enough to leave and one day we’ll cross that road together into the sunshine. Thank you Rhys for your beautiful words and kind heart.

  3. Gina Boisse

    Keep fighting the good fight Rhys, and know that we stand together so that when one of us becomes tired and heartsick over the seemingly endless tide, our brothers and sisters in arms are here to keep fighting until we are refreshed and renewed. If one life is saves, it’s worth it. 😊

  4. Patricia

    You expressed yourself so well and why your characters are gay in the stories you write. Thanks for being able to say what many feel. It’s true, we are all brothers and sisters, we are in this together. Stand!

  5. Elf Vinson

    I have so much respect for your strength and determination. It’s people like you that give me hope for the future. /hugs

  6. Diana Hernandez

    We can do this and we will my friend! Thinking of you, thinking of all of us and that soon to come day!

    In the meantime… was listening to “All You Need is Love” a little too loudly on the bus yesterday and smiled when a young boy with painted nails and an older man from financial district started randomly mouthing the words together. I’m not sure they noticed but when the boy started swaying, so did the man and so did I…it’s a start. xoxo

  7. MissWallE

    Dear Rhys
    Come the day when working as a health care worker that I don’t see young people turning that hatred on themselves and coming to our emergency department following attempted suicides and other forms of self harm.
    We are all precious whatever shape or form we come in and more of us need to see this. Different from me does not mean that the other is wrong.
    Your thoughts remind me our fight is worthwhile.

  8. Sadonna

    Quoting Glennon Doyle Melton (Momastery) here but your words remind me of hers. “Together we can do hard things.” This. Just this. We do have to keep fighting. It’s been obvious with the erosion of women’s reproductive rights (and my idiot state leads the lunacy right now) and these obnoxious (and unconstitutional) “bathroom” laws that this is the wrath of the right because the didn’t get their way. And they way will lead to nothing but hell for too many of our brothers and sisters. Amen to your call here. Beautifully written. {{hugs}} 😘

  9. A powerful and emotional post, Rhys! I feel you, and stand along side you. I lost my brother to HIV/AIDS 16 years ago. May he RIP. <3

  10. Thank you for the reminder of why we have to keep fighting, and what we’re fighting for. It is exhausting, but I truly believe we can and do make a difference. A beautiful post by a beautiful woman who I greatly love, respect, and admire. ❤️

    1. I dunno about those… I still can never remember how to spell thief and I’ve been told I’m a monster for taking the frosting off of cupcakes. 😀

  11. The battles continue every day and probably always will because predjudice doesn’t just “go away”. But of the many battles I’ve fought in my life, this is one that I will never stop participating in.

  12. Ella from Germany

    25 Years ago when I was a teenage girl, the father of my girlfriend tried to smash my head in with a piece of firewood, just because I loved her and she loved me. Since then a lot of things changed here in germany. We have openly gay politicians, mayors and actors. Storys about gay people run on TV, if you want a book about gays the bookstore gets it for you the next day and nobody frowns upon it. The right to be who you are, and to love who you want to love, is anchored in our laws. If a gay teenager gets bullied in school, the teachers will interfere and the bully will face the consequences. If a family can´t accept a kid is gay, there are people who will and can help. In germany, two guys can hold hands in public, and nobody has the right to be offended.
    OK, no country is perfect. Gay couples can be registered as a civil partnership, but they can´t marry (we´re working on it, and soon we will succeed!) And people are not perfect. There will always be someone who opens his ugly trap and says ugly things. But there are a lot more people here who accept gay and transgender people, drag queens and every other color of the rainbow as a natural part of our society.
    In Germany people can be gay and out and proud. It was a long way, and there is still a mile to go. But every step makes a better world.

  13. I find that we all go through peaks and troughs in life in supporting freedom to be ourselves. When one of us is getting tired, others come to rouse the spirit of truth inside.

  14. marygrz3

    I’ve always had mad respect for you but this is beyond… We keep going because of one of my fave quotes.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
    Edmund Burke

    Of course it’s hard, but it’s harder to do nothing, stand by and watch it happen. This is fighting the “good fight”.

    Big (((hugs)))

  15. Val

    Rhys you are not alone. There are those out here who speak out against the injustice and stupidity of others BECAUSE it is wrong. We support our friends and co workers who are part of the LGBT community. We show our support by inserting ourselves into narrow minded conversations at restaurants and gas stations to support people we don’t personally know but accepted because humanity should fight for what we believe in even when we aren’t immediately affected by the conversation. And when we get tired we read blurbs from others that reenergized us to speak up and speak out. You are not alone. None of us are.

  16. Farmwifetwo

    That same fight goes on in autism land except we fight those who don’t want us and adults with normal lives that want us silenced. Even though it removed myself and the eldest from the spectrum I did a happy dance the day the V came out. Nobody speaks for my 14 you old…. especially those who claim they do.

    Best of luck. My fight has created health issues. But, for him, I would do anything.

    Even though it’s been 10yrs or so now the LGBT discussion doesn’t end. Most ignore it. Hate laws protect it. But as the make up of countries change, so can those who on make decisions. Start at home first…. not literally but your spere. The ripples happen. If you make yourself ill, who will speak up?

  17. This post makes me really angry and not for the reason intended. I know what it’s like to be brutalized by someone you’re supposed to trust. But, as you mentioned, that wasn’t the focus, so….to those post itself, I have only two things to say:
    1. I love you.
    2. Thank you for standing up for us – not only as a genre, but as those who people seem to fear. I am a big ol bisexual mermaid, and I am terrifying. <3

  18. tweetybyrd

    Such a powerful post. My state is responsible for HB2 & many companies, recording artists, & municipalities are fighting for its repeal. So wonderful but as long as narrow minded & bigoted legislators are in office sadly such laws will continue to be enacted. So in this election year let your voice be heard & get out the vote. Ok, off my soapbox now.

    1. I am proud of the people in your state for rising up and supporting the companies, entertainers and others who are rallying for others’ rights. I hope you guys win your battles quickly and firmly. xoxox <3

  19. Pingback: Through Dangers Untold and Hardships Unnumbered – Author Susan Mac Nicol

  20. Sandra

    Growing up, I heard many derogatory remarks about gay men and women. Remarks made by my father, my uncles, and many of the men and young adult males around me. I remember the emerging AIDS crisis, Rock Hudson dying from this terrible disease, the fear-mongering, the unanswered questions. I remember hateful comments about people with skin darker than my own, about people from Asia, about people who believed in a different deity. I remember the distrust displayed on people’s faces and in their words when it came to others different from them, for one reason or another. And still I questioned why someone would hate another simply for whom they were born to love, for being born with a different skin color, for being born into a different belief system. I never understood it, nor will I ever understand.

    In your post, I can hear your pain and your weariness. I think a lot of us are weary, tired, and many of my friends have been hurt over the years by careless words and outright hatefulness.

    But we must keep fighting. We must. Fight until there’s no more hate, no more distrust, until humanity as a whole recognizes that we are all human beings, no matter whom we love, no matter the color of our skin, no matter our differences, and that we are all worthy of love and friendship and support. We must keep teaching our children and grandchildren that hate is not okay, that hate begets nothing but more hate, and that the only way forward is to love each other for who we are.

    Keep fighting, Rhys. It’ll be worth it.

    Thank you for this post. <3

    1. We SO much need to keep going. Even as tired as we are. Because for some of us…it has been DECADES… but the end…that DAY…will be worth everything. <3

  21. I’m sitting in the waiting room of the eye doctor with tears streaming down my face. One of the other patients asked if I was okay. When I explained what I just read, they had tears in their eyes too. “This world is not a fair place, and we live with so much hatred surrounding us. But if we keep fighting, one day that dream will be realized. Evil won’t win, in the end.” This, from a tough, grizzly, grouchy Vietnam veteran.

    We won’t give up the fight.

    1. Evil will NOT win. It won’t. We won’t let it. Some battles are fought not on the fields or in the streets but in our hearts…and those are the battles we can’t afford to lose. *hugs*

      Someday. 😀

  22. Kai Lowell

    This was beautiful.

    As a trans male, thank you for standing up for me and my brothers and sisters.

    1. I want you to have the chance to love and be loved, without fear, without regret, without having to worry about anything other than did one of you pick up milk that afternoon and whose parents’ house are you going to for Thanksgiving. *hugs* You deserve all of that.

  23. Pingback: A powerful and though provoking post. Through Dangers Untold and Hardships Unnumbered — Rhys Ford | Books,Coffee & Captured Moments

  24. Katie

    I am from a different generation but I remember when I brought home the wrong boy. His skin was too dark. Later when I married a man with dark skin I was abandoned by my mother. I don’t know if we will win against people who choose evil but I know we can’t stop fighting.

    1. I’m pretty sure when I was born, my existence was illegal in a few states because I’m multi-racial. *grins*

      heh. Love is love <3

  25. janice

    Hugs. You rock! Love you so much. (I’ve talked myself out of saying any number of things that have flashed through my mind, cause words really aren’t my strong suit.)

  26. Paula

    I can’t hardly speak right now, I am so choked up. Yes to everything you said, just yes. I firmly believe that hate is a learned behavior and one of the ways to fight that it to stop teaching it, especially to the next generation. If we teach our children that they are loved and everyone should be loved and accepted regardless then the world will begin to become a better place as they grow up. What we teach them they will hopefully pass to their children. That is one of the biggest things I think as a parent it is my job to achieve.

    1. Valeria Taylor

      I heartily agree with every word you said. Hate IS a learned behavior. I am an 83 year old woman who never learned to hate. In my childhood I heard nothing about gays but plenty of hate for black people. Not in my home but in that area of the South, it seemed obligatory to demean, and even consider ‘ less than human’ anyone who was not white. If people looked different from you, they were suspect. I thank God for my parents, especially my Mother, who taught Love. They were simple farm folk who understood Christianity to Mean what Jesus taught. Love your neighbor as yourself.

      1. Pretty much that, yes. Okay if you neighbour is up at 3 am playing drums in his garage, it’s okay to hate him a little bit 😀

  27. The strength you have Rhys, humbles me and astounds me. I am hugging you so tight and am right alongside you as the fight continues onward. So happy you are my friend. 🙂

  28. edga

    When some people discover that I read mm they’re sometimes shocked and I’m sure that they think I’m some sort of pervert. I just tell them to…well I can’t repeat what I tell them to do. But I usually accompany it with a roll of my eyes and tell ’em that it’s no different from any other genre. They’re books. Informative, interesting, entertaining etc….they do pee me off though :/ and yes…to everything you said…. 😉

  29. Amen. To everything you said. And just a little more…

    Let’s step back a decade or so. And look at women. And ethnic minorities (of all races and nationalities). It’s a fight about EQUALITY, the one thing all Americans are proud their country is–or at least what Americans in the past SAID they all believed the country was. Until we really looked at it and discovered, no, actually, America isn’t the home of the free. Equality only extended to white men, and not the rest of us.

    So while it’s discouraging to look back and see how many decades, I’ve been fighting, it’s even more discouraging to see how many generations after me have taken up the same basic fight and how many decades before me landed on this soil hoping to hone a little peace and an abuse-less home.

    I too have no snappy media-friendly jingle-ready ending line. My only hope is that my life will end in a country where more equality reigns than when I entered it. And maybe a little of that is because I fought.

    1. Heh… I look at a brown woman in the mirror every day. *grins*

      I don’t think equality given only to white males. I don’t. I think rights are suppressed for many people, for racial, gender and economic reasons. Many of us are fighting to better ourselves while others truly believe that poverty is all they can hope for. Equal access to opportunity and education is a must in our country. Equal rights and freedom to practice religion, lifestyles and etc without intent to harm or oppress is so necessary and so worth fighting for.

      1. I agree with you completely. That’s why the current political climate scares me. I don’t agree that equality is only for white men and didn’t mean for it to seem I did. I’m just adding that equality should extend to all men and women, all “they.” Here in California where whites are about to (or maybe even have) become a minority, and we had to decide twice for same sex marriage, the struggles seem to be getting more vocal and polarizing which is frightening since California has always been one of the more liberal states. So, yes, I too am weary in the fight. But what choice do we have? Once we stop fighting, what will happen? I shudder to find out.

  30. I am blown away by this for several reasons. On one hand I wish people understood how not fun it is to be gay.
    I mean, really understood it. And sometimes because of our circumstances, we can’t fully understand what it’s like to be someone else. But then again, I don’t think I would wish it on anyone. I wouldn’t wish the hurt, the isolation, the struggle to navigate through the world alone without the guidance of people who’ve gone before you. Most people follow someone’s footsteps.
    Gay people, I think, have had those footsteps erased by the world. So everytime someone comes out, they have to reinvent the wheel- so to speak. They have to find their way. And it’s so exhausting in the process and rubs you so raw that even the slightest wind that blows- when it runs across the raw nerve- cause pain.
    There is sort of a velvet rage- to coin a term used by a gay therapist whose book I read recently, that leads gay people to a world of drugs, alcohol, abuse etc. and the world sort of points at them and says, “look, do you really want to be like that?” As if the world didn’t have it’s hand in it – shaping these people to be the way they are by simply cutting them off from the world. And it’s a bitter pill to swallow to know that you’re going to be hated not for anything you’ve done, but for simply existing inside of your own skin.
    This also sort of shames me. But Its a shame that I deserve. It’s easy sometimes to assume that there are people out there who don’t know what it’s like or who can’t be empathic to you. And I think that’s a product of being isolated so long- that when someone actually shows up on your little island out in the midst of the sea- you sort of panic because your not used to seeing someone else there.
    There is so much static out in the world right now. So much noise. That it’s hard to filter through it and figure out who is friend and who is foe- or worse- a foe in friend’s clothing. I can count three times when I’ve lost friends because I figured out that they only wanted to be MY friend to appear cosmopolitan and my place was to be the token queer who they would be okay with me dying first if we had somehow found ourselves in the midst of a Wes Craven film.
    To say gay people aren’t tough, is bullshit.
    It takes a hardness to be gay. It takes a toughness. A personal resolve and to be honest, it isn’t something I would wish on anyone. Because once someone gets a whiff of it, whether they heard you confirm it, or hear a rumor, it’s game on.

    I wished people understood.
    And I found out you did.
    And for that….I’m sorry.

    1. Shit happens. Seriously, fucking shit happens. I…and many others… have to commit ourselves to making sure it doesn’t happen to others. It’s not just who you love, its the colour of your skin and the name of your God. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. But the fight is worth it. Because there will be people who will never know what it’s like to fear.

      And even if I’m dead before that happens, it’s worth fighting for.

    1. My teachers were all British. DSP goes through and “Americanizes” all of my documents… I’m sure my first editor would like to stab me with a chopstick.

  31. From one abuse survivor to another: Hugs. The kind that last forever from someone who gets ‘it.’ From someone who still has nightmares of her childhood and still fears her now ex step father will show up on her doorstep and shoot her.

    From an advocate to another: Thank you. We can never have too many voices pointing out the wrongs, speaking up for the silent, and saying enough.

    From the wife of someone employed in NC and mother of a medically fragile child: I’m horrified this passed and the pearl clutching fools fail to realize the implications of their bigotry. I wait every day to be told my husband lost his job courtesy of this law and we can’t fight it as the law prevents suing in state court. How will we care for our child if this happens in the midst of fighting back?

    I’ve been biting my tongue as to not start an all out war on my FB. Thank you for saying what I can not.

    Just thank you.

  32. This is beautifully written. You speak for so many without even being aware of it. Those of us who try and fight the injustice that has been and continues to go on. To those of us abused by life by family by a lot of things we dare not mention. I am so very happy to see you have carried on in your beliefs. That you got out, got away from the evil that was your father. Bravo to you and keep up the good fight. We all will, in our own ways in our large or small towns. Fight with those who can and those who cannot fight for themselves. One day..please God one day we will all be equal. One day all the haters will be as the dinosaur. It cannot even be attributed to a certain age either. I hear young people spout hate and it makes me so angry. Then there is my dad who at 87 doesn’t understand how parents can throw their children out, beat them, humiliate them simply for being themselves.

  33. Lois B

    Powerfully said. The good news is that we keep taking steps forward and my children and their friends do not understand what all the fuss is about. There will always be mean and judgmental people, but our kids are going to take over the world and teach their children that love is love and friendship is friendship and the rest of it is not important.

  34. Marilyn Adam

    Wonderful comments and I avidly read your books, which help me to understand. I also really appreciate that you responded in some way to each and every comment made here. You are a remarkable human. Thank you.

    1. For these kinds of posts, I think it’s important to reach out to those leaving comments because we’re sort of in a sharing circle. *hugs* And I am glad you all are here 😀

  35. Ree Dee

    Thank you for the moving post today! I still cannot believe all the parents who throwaway their children or any child and reject people simply for who they love. I don’t understand people who think that coming out suddenly changes the person that they have known.

    Please keep up the good work!

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