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.

So Let’s Talk Morning Shots…

Here’s the thing about the Morning Shots… well and the Evening ones as well… while they’re great to look at, it becomes increasingly difficult to find copyright free material and nice photos to actually discuss. Because honestly, I do choose the shots based on artistic merit. And I never share any personal selfie shots.

But the time has come when I am going to have to stop posting links to the photos. I know I’m going to lose a lot of you here. And for that I am sorry. I will be replacing the shots with more content because damn it, I have to add content and the Facebook page will remain in place. But the blog, I think has to have a shift to a new direction.

I have enough photo links for a few days. But I wanted to talk to all of you about it first. Not just kill it off and leave you cold turkey. I’ll probably be posting a photo every once in a while if I am certain of its origin.

A while back I asked you all what you wanted to see on the blog. You answered and I think I can deliver. If you want to join the Facebook group, please let me know. I probably will be removing the content from the blog after the last official shot.

I’ll be on a plane in a couple of days and then traveling to the outskirts of Bristol but let’s discuss this. I hope you all are okay with replacing photos with blog content. And I’m interested in your opinions.


We Said Goodbye to A Friend Today

My Old Man Dog Jax passed away today while I was driving up to Palm Springs. My sister found him in my bed, snuggled up into my pillows. He’d passed in his sleep which is exactly how I’d want him to go on. He was comfortable and happy. I’d spent an hour with him this morning before I headed up scritching him and he’d had a really good day.

He was quite old. And he’d been a rescue who’d had a horrible life before he moved in with us. After that, it was all cookies, sweaters when it was cold and memory foam mattresses to sleep on. And sunbeams. Food whenever he wanted it and all the clean water he could have. As well as a few beef bones now and then. He had dog brothers to play with and a couple of cats he could roomba into since he’d gone blind. Personally I think he was faking it more than a few times just so he could bump into the cats.

I’m okay. Everyone’s fine. When I’d left him he’d been snoring, in a sunbeam and happy. He had that life for more than fifteen years. And he was a good dog.

So You Write Like A Girl…

The funny thing about being an author in the M/M romance arena you read the oddest things in the genre’s reviews. One of them is: I can tell this was written by a woman…

woolfNow I’ll have to admit, I’ve always found this offensive and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. Mostly because I didn’t toss a lot of brain at it but upon reflection and a bit of discussion with other people, I think I’ve narrowed down why it’s offensive.

It’s kind of like the schoolyard taunt of “You throw like a girl.”

See, it’s a double edged sword. One, that being female means you have less ability and two, that you should thus be ashamed of being female because you are so much less.

Now, I’ve never considered myself an activist but apparently there’s a piece of me that is rather offended by the whole “I should be ashamed I have a vagina” thing. Well, that and apparently it does my writing. I’m not even sure how that works and to be honest, if it’s doing the writing, perhaps it can continue to do so in the middle of the night without my help because really, does it need to sleep?

Rather absurd image, isn’t it?

I’m not sure why this phrase is supposed to be offensive and more importantly, what defines “writing like a woman”?

WildeI could spend time condemning people who say this. I could but honestly, I’m not sure I care that much. Do I write like a woman? I write as a woman but I write as a writer. Not with my gender but with my experiences and my brain. I am not less because of my gender. I am not less of a writer because I write in a style someone might or might not care for. I will not be made to feel ashamed because I don’t have exterior genitalia any more than I would ask someone to be ashamed because he doesn’t have interior bits.

Connecting my writing ability to a dick or vagina won’t change how I write or what I write because the person I am is who does the writing.

So yeah, I write like a girl.

And I’m going to own that shit because that single fact doesn’t define me—any more than my sexual orientation, cultural identity or my love of coffee.

Okay, the coffee probably defines me but hey, I’ll own that shit too.

TJ and Eric Update Dec 21 2013

From TJ:

I am hesitant to write this, only because I haven’t completely wrapped my head around it yet.

We received some very difficult news from the neurologist last night. Our friends and family are aware. This is meant to let you all know what will happen in the near future.

Eric has what is known as a cavernous hemangioma attached to his brain stem. This is a non-cancerous, calcified tumor. He actually has multiple hemangioma’s in his brain, but it is the one on the brain stem causing the issues. He had an operation back in 2005 on the brain stem to remove as much of it as possible. Unfortunately, it grew back. This led to the significant breathing issues he has been having as part of the brain stem controls breathing.

He has two options. The first option is to do nothing. Eventually, and probably quite soon, Eric’s brain stem will be cut off from the rest of his body, causing quadriplegia, and eventually death.

The other option is surgery on the brain stem, and all the risks that come along with it. The neurologist, as blunt as a person could be, basically said the highest hope would be to preserve how Eric is now, with a traech or attached to a ventilator for the rest of his life. The choice is going to be up to Eric.

But since I know my husband to be very well, I know he is going to choose to fight. Because he has so much to fight for. He has done this once before and he can do it again. And I will be damned if I am going to let this be the thing that takes him away from me. He will have the surgery, and it will be next week, hopefully sooner rather than later. If you believe in a higher power, please pray. If you don’t, just keep him in your thoughts. He is the greatest man I’ve ever had the pleasure to know, and the fact that he chose to love me out of everyone in the world is something I don’t know that I deserve. And even if my heart is breaking, I will hold it together for him.

TJ and Eric Update

1470362_263238180496034_20054493_nFrom Abi Roux:
Still in a holding pattern here, so although I know people are clamoring for news, I don’t really have any. We decorated Eric’s room yesterday, while wearing elf and reindeer hats. The nurses told Eric his friends were crazy and he agreed. I’ll try to post pictures of the decorations later, but don’t hold me to that.

As of now there is no place to send cards or gifts, and the reason for that is to lessen the number of balls that are being juggled by those of us here. But please know that comments are being read to Eric to let him know everyone loves him, and donations as gifts are incredibly helpful.

All the money that has been donated has taken care of room and board for Eric’s family to enable them to be near him for as long as they need, and it’s taken a load off everyone’s minds in a trying time. The impact of that money cannot be expressed in words, it truly cannot.

As for Eric and Tj, they are like rocks in a storm. I’ve never seen a more shining example of love and devotion, and I couldn’t be more proud to call them my friends.

The Sins of an Author

20101017_the_seven_deadly_sins__vanity_by_blackeriI’ve actually been kicking around a lot of stuff in my head. So of course in the prime arrogance and ego of my Self, I feel the pretentious need to share it with all of you—like I should be giving anyone advice. I can barely remember to set up my coffee maker before I go to bed but here I am slinging out thoughts like it’s two for one mashed potatoe night at the soup kitchen.

So bear with me.

As some of you know, I separate out the whole writing thing into two functions…two hats really; the Writer and the Author. The Writer is pretty easy going, stewing in his or her own juices and flings words onto a page, hoping for the best. I fret writing. I worry if the story makes sense. I worry if the characters are just cardboard.

The Author however worries about if the book will be received and then commits probably every fucking one of the Seven Sins.

I’m going to talk about a few.

This is probably the most grievous sin an Author commits. I know I do. It kind of goes hand in hand with Wrath but mostly it’s Envy. It’s not that we start off hating other author’s success, it’s just that we wonder why not my book? Especially when the book in question isn’t all that good—in our opinion.

Rationally, the Author knows it’s an apples and kiwi comparison but still, it infuriates the mind. Have I been guilty of this sin? Hell yes. And the thing is, the more you write and isolate yourself in the stew of this Envy, it kind of begins to take you over.

It’s one thing to fret and grouse about another book but quite another thing to start sifting through other authors’ ratings to cackle about them or track how their book is doing on whatever chart you want to follow be it Amazon, Goodreads or the Daily Sheep Plucker.

If you catch yourself doing this, go back to being a Writer for a bit. I’m not saying don’t mutter to your close friends because being sinful is healthy *grins* but ah, don’t air this sin out in public. Remember the difference between public and private face.

Yes, be proud of your work but then at the same time, acknowledge the Writer next to you has just as much right to be wearing that “writer” vest as any of us. Unlike Castle, our Writer vests aren’t bullet proof. Don’t turn your pride into a weapon. We are only as good as our next book. Writing is a cruel thing. It is. What we think is an incredible idea might turn out to be the worst book received by the audience… ever.

7I’m not saying don’t try. Explore doing new things. Expand your boundaries. But at the same time, leave room for someone else to have a happy. Don’t take away from someone else’s happy. Dance with them. Celebrate. Because we’re kind of all in this together.

Basically, when you dance, don’t step on anyone’s toes… not on purpose.

You all know you do this. I do this. Look, something sparkling and pretty! I don’t want to write. Set the time if you need to. Do at least an hour. Get in the habit. Not a nun’s habit… actually no, I take that back. If wearing a nun’s habit helps you write, rock the fuck out of that penguin suit.

This one really goes out to orgies with Envy. It really does. This Sin makes the author do stupid things like rage at one-star reviews or attack a reviewer in a public forum. This is also the Sin that rears its ugly head to drive the Author insane because it actually turns Envy into a destructive weapon. Wrath is pretty much Envy’s power up.

The_Seven_Deadly_Sins__WRATH_by_blackeriEven if you feel your Wrath is justified, I have one small bit of advice.


Just… don’t.

Nothing good ever comes of it. Sure, it might satisfy some anger-masturbatory need inside of you but like all things, Wrath can become an addiction and pretty soon, you’re pissing in everyone’s mouth and jerking off on any person who might have said something mildly off in your general direction.

NOTHING good every comes of this. Nothing good for your soul. It just makes you a puissant bully and really, stains who you are. You’re better than this. It’s hard sometimes. I get it. I wanna fork a bitch with the rest of you but put the utensil down. And walk away.

89-The-Seven-Deadly-Sins-Subway-Edition Don’t Be A Dick
None of this is to say you can’t grouse with your friends but like all things, moderation. As human beings, we get caught up into patterns of behavior, especially if it gives us some kind of opiate response. Pretty soon bad behaviour becomes your personality and really, no one wants to be an asshole.

Well, okay some people like being one but they’re kind of the poster child of fuckery.

Do your best. Be your best. Either as an Author or a Writer. You’ll be okay. Don’t get discouraged.

The effort is as much if not more important than the result. Don’t forget to be the Writer you want to be. Don’t pick up stones to carry to weigh yourself down. Write and then, when you put on the Author mask, be gracious. Even when your fingers want to curl around a fork.

I need to work on it too. I do.