http://diversereader.blogspot.com/2015/04/lgbtq-push-back-charity-giveaway.html The LGBTQ Push Back is on! 224 LGBTQ authors, bloggers, and publishers are banding together to offer something special to people who do any little bit they can to give back to charity, raise awareness and push back against hate and bigotry. Instead of spending $5 on a book, over the next two weeks, donate $5 to an LGBTQ charity (there are several excellent ones listed in the DiverseReader blog post, or choose a favorite of your own) and post on DiverseReader when you’ve done it — or, if money’s tight, share an LGBTQ charity’s links on your own social media accounts, help get the word out, and post when you’ve done that — and be entered into a Rafflecopter drawing for a free ebook from one of the participating authors/bloggers/publishers. (Yes, I’m in there, and you can win your choice from my backlist, or if you’re willing to wait until the SoulShares re-release starting the end of May, your choice from that series!) If you’d like to see all the participating authors, here’s a link to the Push Back’s video — enjoy! And let’s show that love and acceptance are a bigger draw than hatred and fear…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBPMEvAEeD8
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It’s an experience I think we’ve all had. Sometimes it happens when you’re feeling stuck, when everything you do feels forced or stale or joyless and you can’t think of anything new to try. Other times it falls on you out of the sky, when you’re totally not expecting it, and sometimes it takes you a while simply to figure out what this odd thing is that’s landed on you and what the heck you’re supposed to do with it. And still other times, you take a deep breath, close your eyes, open yourself up to God or the Universe or karma or your Muse and you say “Hit me, baby, I’m waiting.”
And then it hits, and you open one eye, just a crack, and peer upward or inward and say “Are You/you/y’all really sure about that?”
Every once in a while, in other words, you get a clue.
The last month or so of my life has partaken of all of the above, to a greater or lesser extent. I’ve been feeling very stuck, not so much in my writing, as in my writing career. Due to a whole bunch of circumstances beyond my control, it’s been over a year since I’ve had a new book come out, and it’s going to be another six weeks or so before the first of the reissued SoulShares comes out. And while I write because I love to write, and because at this point in my life I can’t imagine not writing, I’ve always nurtured the hope that I’ll be able to make the writing pay, at least enough to let me go to conventions and get a new laptop when I drive the old one into the ground. So it’s been a l-o-n-g dry spell.
Then a bunch of my friends, in the Rainbow Romance Writers forum and elsewhere, all started talking about the same thing.
Now, if you know me at all, you know that I consider the m-word an honorary four-letter word. Most of this is because I’m not technologically very ept, for all that I work for an Internet information provider and spend all my time at BOTH my jobs on a computer. The time it would take for me to get up to speed on multiple social media platforms, learn marketing techniques on them, and then actually, well, market would add another year on to my dry spell, easily. Not to mention that I was raised never, ever, EVER to blow my own horn. Praise yourself, or ask for praise, and utter disaster will follow. Blowing your own horn just shows that no one else is interested in blowing it for you. If you have to ask for praise, it means you don’t deserve it. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
But as several people kindly put it to me, “Rory, you have to get over that. You have to grow up.”
I still didn’t like it. “I don’t have time to do all that and write, too!”
“You don’t have to do ‘all that’ at once. Start by picking what you want to be known for. What you love best, what you think you do best. What excites you. And start selling that. Not your individual books. Your passion.”
Well, maybe I can do that part, I thought.
And when I gave that part some thought, it wasn’t all that hard to figure out what I love best. Myth, legend, fantasy, fairytale. (All in an m/m context, of course.)
There was a feeling of being trapped, though, that I didn’t much care for. What about contemporary m/m, or historical m/m, or science fiction m/m? I love reading all of those subgenres, even though I don’t write them – do I want to say ‘No, nay, never’ to them?
And then it hit me.
I’m not ‘trapped’ in myth, legend, fairy tale, folk tale.
I’m effing ROCKING them.
And, funny thing, as soon as that dawned on me, doors started opening. In the last eight days, I’ve sat in on three panels at two separate conventions, on the subject of fairy tales as writer fuel. I’ve been able to give copies of one of my novellas to Jane Yolen and Emma Bull, two of my biggest inspirations to write fantasy and urban fantasy. I’ve signed on to blog with Queer Sci Fi on a monthly basis, as both a romance author and a fantasy author. I’ve designed a new logo, one I hope to unveil by the time the SoulShares reissues start, that makes me want to hug myself and giggle because it’s just so gosh darn perfect.
And I’m loving what I’m doing again. I’m excited.
I hope y’all are, too. Because I’m looking forward to giving you a LOT to be excited about.
Speaking of giving… and scheduling… I know I’ve given out a lot of conflicting dates lately, and I’m starting to sound like the Fae Who Cried Wolf. Or something. I do apologize – but this latest delay is for a very good reason. Namely, I want to be able to give you all buy links for the new books when I debut the covers. Which means giving my publisher, Riverdale Avenue Books, a little more time to get everything set up properly so I can have buy links before the books come out. So here’s the schedule, as far as I know it and please God let it be the final one:
May 27: HARD AS STONE reissue
June 3: GALE FORCE reissue
June 10: DEEP PLUNGE reissue
June 17: FIRESTORM reissue
June 24: BLOWING SMOKE – new release!
June 28: My birthday *winks*
And if you just can’t wait until the end of May for more? Check out HEART OF THE OAK, TEMPTED FROM THE OAK, and “Ilya and the Wolf” on Amazon!
HEART — http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Oak-Boys-Will-Book-ebook/dp/B00FBF4XIY/ref=la_B009M8XQP2_1_4_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428797268&sr=1-4
TEMPTED — http://www.amazon.com/Tempted-Oak-Rory-Ni-Coileain-ebook/dp/B00J8N6SY2/ref=la_B009M8XQP2_1_3_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428797333&sr=1-3
Ilya — http://www.amazon.com/Ilya-Wolf-Rory-Ni-Coileain-ebook/dp/B00QEUP9XS/ref=la_B009M8XQP2_1_5_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428797364&sr=1-5
And, finally, if you want to hear from me a little more often than I post here, I invite you to come find me on Facebook – I have an Author page at https://www.facebook.com/Soulshares and a group, Rory’s Three Rs – Rowdies, Ruffians, and Rogues, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/721651487924752/ .
One way or another – see you soon, for more Men, Myths, and Legends! (And, hopefully, a better tag line than that!)
Exciting news! — ever since I found out about the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s “Don’t Read in the Closet” project, this year titled “Love Is an Open Road”, I’ve wanted to get in on it. Readers choose 200 of their favorite photos from the group’s archives, and write prompts – “Dear Author” letters – asking for stories to be told about the pictures. Then the pictures and prompts are posted, to be claimed by authors. The resulting stories are put together into a free anthology, released during the summer. I’ve never been quick enough to snag a story prompt before, but this year I got my act together on time and got exactly the prompt I wanted! So now I have until May 1 to write a story about this compelling male. (Hint: he’s a male of a species I’ve only written as female until now…) Here’s the prompt – are you as excited as I am?
I cry out in pain as my body changes. The muscular power of my body expands and my scales slide off my torso, revealing flesh. What’s happening to me? I don’t know who I am, or why I can smell the heat coming from the man carrying my limp body over his shoulders. He’s strong for such a small being. He cares for me, washing sweat off my brow while the rest of my body changes. Now, I am part of the human world and I need to find out why. But this man, this beautiful man who rescued me from the forest floor touches me sweetly, and I know he is mine.
So for those of you who are keeping track of my schedule for 2015, here’s how things are shaping up:
April 22: Scheduled re-release date for HARD AS STONE, by Riverdale Avenue Books (new cover, and a new Fae-language glossary/phrase book!)
April 29: Scheduled re-release date for GALE FORCE (likewise)
May 6: Scheduled re-release date for DEEP PLUNGE (ditto)
May 13: Scheduled re-release date for FIRESTORM (rinse and repeat)
May 20: Scheduled NEW release – BLOWING SMOKE, SoulShares #5
Sometime between June and September – release of “Obsidian”, my Don’t Read in the Closet/Love Is an Open Road story
July 2-5: CONvergence (SF/F convention, Bloomington, MN) http://www.convergence-con.org/
July 16-19: RainbowCon (QUILTBAG fiction/media convention, Tampa, FL) http://www.rainbowconference.org/default.aspx
October 22-25: Midwestern Book Lovers Unite conference (romance readers and authors, Minneapolis, MN) https://midwesternbookloversunite.wordpress.com/ I’m co-hosting a cosplay party on the night of the 24th – come as your favorite romance novel character, anyone from a genderbent Vishous to Claire Beauchamp Fraser – or a character created by one of the attending authors!
With the upcoming re-issue of the first four SoulShares novels (HARD AS STONE, GALE FORCE, DEEP PLUNGE, and FIRESTORM) and the upcoming release of the fifth (BLOWING SMOKE), and the fact that I’m about to leave on a week-long you’re-going-to-take-a-vacation-whether-you-need-it-or-not, I haven’t had a lot of time to craft a Valentine’s Day story for this year. However… I’m treating this as an opportunity to go back in time a couple of years and bring back one of my favorite Kevin and Tiernan short stories, about the first Valentine’s Day of their married life. (Sorry if that was a spoiler for anyone….!) And a word to the wise, this is definitely a love story for the 18-and-over set…
Kevin eyed the plastic cup in his hand speculatively. Well, kind of a cup. A hollow hand grenade. And the bartender was watching him with an ill-concealed grin. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted it’s my first time in New Orleans. Off to one side, the house band on the small stage was rocking out a zydeco song about what girls in the bayou they will do, won’t do.
Strange choice for Valentine’s Day. But, then, so was the Funky Pirate. Sighing, Kevin raised the cup, saluted the bartender, and took a healthy swig. Then, slowly, he set the cup back down on the bar, fighting the urge to cough. Holy shit.
The bartender laughed. “You let me know when you want another one.”
He moved off down the bar, stopping in front of what looked like a group of friends of the band, and Kevin’s gaze wandered. The front door of the bar stood open, and looked out onto the famous Bourbon Street. The street was closed to traffic, and was fairly crowded with pedestrians, most of them probably bar-hopping, carrying their take-away cups from one bar to the next. Probably nothing like it had been a few days ago, though.
The firm couldn’t have sent me here for Mardi Gras, no, they had to wait for Valentine’s Day. Kevin grimaced and had another go at the cup of death and delirium in his hand. Just let me get this down and I swear I’ll go back to civilized drinks. Nothing wrong with Jack and coke.
Nothing except the fact that he’d be drinking it alone. Damn, he missed Tiernan. Which was silly, because he’d be home in a couple of days. But he’d been looking forward to this Valentine’s Day, the first of his married life.
Almost on the thought, there was a pleasant buzz in his pocket. He pulled out his phone, saw the familiar number, and grinned as he slid the toggle to unlock the screen. “Hey, lanan.” He slipped off the barstool and looked quickly around; the Funky Pirate had a back courtyard, and he headed for it, phone in one hand and drink in the other.
Kevin felt his cheeks flush even as he grinned. Only a Fae would turn ‘Elephant Dick’ into an endearment. “Are you at work?” He sighed with relief as he escaped into the courtyard; there was hardly anyone out here, and even though the music inside was being piped outside, it was a hell of a lot easier to hear.
“Hell, yes. Though I don’t know why, it’s not like there’s anything for me to do here.” Kevin thought he could hear the pounding bass of Purgatory’s sound system behind his husband’s voice. “Where are you? I hear music.”
“I thought I’d try the Funky Pirate. Great music, lethal drinks. I’m out in the courtyard now, though.” Kevin tried another pull at the oddly shaped glass, and this time there was no reason not to cough.
Tiernan’s laugh was pure wickedness. “You’re trying a hand grenade? When I’m not there to take advantage of you afterward?”
“You know the place?” A small staircase in a corner of the courtyard led up to a second story that was gated off; Kevin crossed to it and sat down on the stairs, balancing his drink on his knee.
“Yeah, I’ve been there a few times. I like the music. Though Bourbon Street Blues Company’s better for picking up guys.”
“Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too.” Kevin chuckled, but there was frustration in the sound. “I’d rather be at home right now. Especially considering that I wanted to dress to suit the day, but I don’t own anything pink, and the only red item of clothing I have is my red silk tie.” The tie that was his private signal to his husband that he was in the mood for breath play. Which he was. Damn.
“You don’t say.” The words were slow, drawn-out, and followed by a long silence. Then, just as Kevin was about to ask if the Fae was still there, “You say you’re in the courtyard?”
“Yes.” Puzzled, Kevin took another drink, held the peculiar glass between his knees, and rubbed the back of his neck.
“Send me a picture.”
“Of me?” I am so not unconfused.
Another low chuckle. “No. Of the courtyard. That back corner, by the steps.”
Kevin opened his mouth to ask how Tiernan knew the layout of the courtyard, but one glance at the corner beside where he sat answered that question very nicely, supplying him with all sorts of images of his husband putting the semi-privacy to thorough use with a woman, women, a man, men… All of which thoughts were making him horny as hell. “Hang on.”
Switching the phone to camera setting, he snapped a shot of the corner and texted it off, then returned the phone to his ear. “Was that what you wanted, m’lanan?”
“That was fucking perfect.”
Tiernan’s reply wasn’t coming from the phone.
Kevin’s head snapped around, and his eyes went wide at the sight of the Fae, shirtless under a denim jacket, in jeans so tight they looked like they’d been tattooed on, blond hair curling around his shoulders. And wearing a smirk that brought the lawyer’s cock to instant and rigid attention.
“I needed the reminder.” Then, in a murmur that should have sent up tendrils of smoke, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“Holy shit.” Kevin slammed down the last of his hand grenade, let the cup fall to the ground, and surged to his feet, to be caught up in Tiernan’s arms and turned and pushed back against the vine-covered brickwork, where the Fae’s mouth came down on his in a kiss that left him dizzy.
He felt one of Tiernan’s hands sliding up between their bodies, out of sight; long, strong fingers closed around his tie and slid up the silken length to fist just below the knot. “You weren’t kidding, I see.” Faceted ice-blue eyes held him spellbound, as his husband’s other hand undid his belt buckle, unbuttoned his trousers, and slipped inside to curl around his shaft. “Hold very still, lanan, and let me show you how much I’ve missed you.”
The only answer Kevin could manage was a faint moan, one that Tiernan kissed away before starting to twist the silken tie tight. Kevin’s pulse was like thunder in his ears; his breath came in soft, rapid pants against Tiernan’s lips, and his hips made little, tight jerks of their own volition as his cock was firmly, insistently stroked.
“You are so incredibly fucking hot.” He could feel Tiernan’s lips moving, breathed in his words, and shuddered in ecstasy from his touch. “I can’t get enough of you.” The Fae’s hot tongue traced a path back to his ear, probed; teeth nipped, and the tongue soothed. “Are you close? Are you ready?”
Kevin tried, and failed, to get a breath. And the failure sent liquid heat racing down his spine, to pool in his sac. He felt Tiernan’s hand tighten in anticipation – both hands, the hand twisting the tie as well as the exquisite vise around his cock. He had no voice to whisper with, all he could do was move his lips. “…don’t let me fall…”
Tiernan leaned into him, pinning him to the wall, as his knees buckled with the first thick white jet of his release. His eyes threatened to roll back, his hips jerked forward; darkness started closing in, his vision becoming a tunnel. Tiernan’s hand became slick, and the Fae was moaning now, too, along with him, with every pulse of hot fluid that welled up and spilled over.
And the joy. Oh, Christ, the joy. Pure bliss, the delight of being held, pleasured, cherished.
“Scair-anam,” he whispered, as the last wave of pleasure rippled through his body.
Opening eyes he hadn’t realized he’d closed, he saw his husband nod. “So fucking beautiful you stop my heart.” Tiernan’s lips parted, he leaned in, in a kiss that was as close to gentle as he ever came. “I love you, m’lanan.”
And before Kevin could answer, the faceted blue of the Fae’s eyes heated with a smile. “Let’s go back to your hotel room so I can do it some more.”
Hey, it’s only taken me the first month of 2015 to figure out what I’m doing the rest of the year – not bad!
First, the biggest piece of news I’ve had in a while – the first four SoulShares books, HARD AS STONE, GALE FORCE, DEEP PLUNGE, and FIRESTORM, are temporarily unavailable (except, as of this writing, for the paperback versions still up on Amazon, but those will be coming down shortly). The reason? New editions are coming out through Riverdale Avenue Books, starting in April! With a few additions and corrections (it would have been polite of Conall to inform me that he was a true redhead rather than a strawberry blond sometime before the end of book three, for example), AND a new Fae glossary for each book. AND…. (yes, there’s more!) the fifth book in the series, BLOWING SMOKE, coming out in May! (Follow me on my Amazon page, http://www.amazon.com/Rory-Ni-Coileain/e/B009M8XQP2/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 and you’ll get updates when each one comes out!)
Here’s my publication schedule for the first half of 2015:
April 22: HARD AS STONE (SoulShares #1) – new edition
April 29: GALE FORCE (SoulShares #2) – new edition
May 6: DEEP PLUNGE (SoulShares #3) – new edition
May 13: FIRESTORM (SoulShares #4) – new edition
May 20: BLOWING SMOKE (SoulShares #5) – first time in print!
And while I’m being so gosh darn organized, here’s my schedule of conventions for the year:
CONvergence (Bloomington, MN) – July 2-5 (science fiction/fantasy)
Rainbow Con (Tampa, FL) – July 16-19 (LGBT media)
Midwestern Book Lovers Unite (MBLU) (Minneapolis, MN) – October 22-25 (romance writers/readers)
There’s something there for just about everyone, I think – come visit me! (And the Fae, and the Gille Dubh, and the oboroten’ – we’re a package deal!)
Just a tiny taste (totally unedited, of course) of Chapter 19 of Flight of Fantasy (Broken Pattern #2). Blowing Smoke, Broken Pattern #1, will be coming to a Kindle near you on March 5th….
August 12, 2013
Perry leaned against the tiled wall of the shower and fumbled with the shower valve, wincing as the cold spray hit him and turning the valve as far left as it would go. Even when it warmed up all the way, the water in his apartment was barely tepid, which was a pity.
Hauling himself upright, he filled his palms with coconut-scented soap and started to gently clean his shoulders and upper arms. The bruises were nothing to worry about, they’d fade, but he’d need to be careful with the bites. And no strapless gowns for Falcon for a while.
He laughed, surprised by how normal he sounded. He’d show his marks off with pride tomorrow night. Tonight. Whatever. And then, with any luck, they wouldn’t matter any more.
Once he’d taken care of the ragged marks on his shoulders, he grabbed the shampoo and lathered his hair. He hissed, as much in startlement as in pain, as he ran his palm over the back of his head. Probing the lump with his fingertips made him queasy; he backed into the stream of water from overhead, and stared at the red swirling around his feet.
Lochlann’s going to be pissed. The boss was fine if any of his boys wanted to cater to a rougher trade, but it had to be consensual. He’d been adamant, when he’d hired Perry: he wouldn’t let Big Boy get a reputation as the kind of place where a client could get his rocks off with violence.
“Because then I’d have to deal with them, and I hate the paperwork when I kill a client,” Lochlann had explained. Perry was sure he’d been kidding.
Yeah, he should have put a stop to it when his last customer decided to “take the fight out of” him by throwing him against the wall. He could have.
But he hadn’t wanted to. He’d needed it.
Enjoy this (completely unedited) excerpt from Chapter Two of my work-in-progress, tentatively entitled FLIGHT OF FANTASY!
Perry tried to relax back into the plastic chair. It wasn’t really made for relaxing in, though; the only way to sit in it was to slouch, in a posture that showed off a hell of a lot of leg and pretty much screamed fuck me.
A low chuckle came from across the tiny waiting area. A man who looked like Idris Elba’s younger brother was draped across an identical chair, right under the plasma screen that cycled through the price list for all the forms of massage theoretically offered at Big Boy Massage. Perry knew he could handle the shiatsu and could fake Thai, but in the unlikely event a client wanted anything else on the menu, he was screwed.
Which was, of course, the idea.
“You must be the new guy.” Idris Junior’s voice was even sexier than his smile. “Don’t worry, we don’t stay in the chairs long once things get busy.”
Perry nodded. “Boss explained the system to me yesterday when he hired me.” And what a job interview that had been, with Perry still kitted out as Falcon and carrying his stiletto heels because he hadn’t wanted to run up the stairs from Purgatory in them. “Three boys working at once, max, with the fourth out here to keep an eye on the screen.” Big Boy Massage had four small massage rooms opening off the waiting area, one for the boss’ exclusive use when he was around and three for business, two of which were presently occupied. And each of the massage tables had a kick switch built into one leg that would light up a telltale on the plasma screen if the masseur was in trouble with a client. Lochlann Doran wanted his boys to have each other’s backs.
Safety in numbers. That was how it was supposed to work, right?
Except when the one who has your back is a coward.
Long-Dark-and-Chiseled nodded, then treated Perry to the sight of a luxurious stretch, all the way from fingers interlaced overhead to bare toes pointed and curled hard, the mesh muscle shirt and leather shorts in between doing little to deter speculation about what lay beneath. And leaving Perry feeling decidedly underdeveloped by comparison. Though he doubted his companion could rock a mermaid hemline the way he himself could.
“Relax while you can, baby, pace yourself.” God, Perry could listen to that voice all night. “Something tells me it’s gonna be a long night–”
The street door opened, closed.
Sweet six-pound-nine-ounce baby Jesus.
Perry sat straight up in the loathsome plastic chair, ignoring the way his ass complained, and stared. The newly-arrived client had to be at least six-five. The first things he noticed were eyes that reminded him of pictures he’d seen of glacier ice, an uncanny shade of blue. Looking into those eyes felt like grabbing on to a bare electrical wire, and when the guy shifted his gaze to Idris the Younger, Perry wanted nothing more than to grab the wire again.
But at least now he could look at the rest of the guy without anyone noticing him going slack-jawed and stupid. The client–my client, please God, I promise to be good for as long as I can stand it, just let him pick me–had hair so blond it was almost white, just long enough to show a little wave, and wore a denim jacket over a plain faded blue t-shirt and cutoff shorts.
Now the Adonis in denim was studying the menu. Perry caught himself holding his breath.
“Do you do shiatsu?”
He’s looking at me.
The blond’s smile, and his trace of an Irish accent, combined to make Perry’s shorts feel much too tight. “Anything else?”
“We can talk about that once we get started.” The standard answer. Letting a john comparison shop in the lobby used up valuable time. Besides, Perry wanted to whisper the specials into this guy’s ear.
“Sounds good to me.”
Perry unfolded himself from the torture chair, and grinned as his co-worker gave him a surreptitious thumbs-up. Don’t wait up, he wanted to say.
He turned to oh my GOD he’s tall. His own five-eight was just right for Falcon’s five-inch stilettos, but looking up at six-five without them was going to give him a pain in the neck.
Good thing he wouldn’t be looking up much longer. Unless it was while he was lying on his back. That he could handle.
A New Year’s question was posed in a discussion group on Facebook which I greatly enjoy – namely, how will the fight for marriage equality change things here in the States, and where will all that energy go once we’ve achieved that goal? Well, that question immediately made my lawyer hat fly out of the closet and land on my head, and rather than subject my friends in that group to a legal brief plopped down in the Comments section, I thought I’d do a blog post. *winks*
Basically, I think the next level of the fight has to move away from challenging or passing individual laws, and concentrate on driving a sea change in the way courts look at laws which discriminate against LGBT people under the Equal Protection Clause.
All discrimination isn’t unconstitutional. Laws discriminate against classes of persons all the time – for example, a 12-year-old can’t get a driver’s license, while an 18-year-old can. This is a law that classifies on the basis of age. And when a law that allegedly discriminates is challenged in court, the court applies one of three frameworks to analyze it, depending on the group that’s being discriminated against and the interest served by the law in question.
First, there’s STRICT SCRUTINY; if this standard applies, then in order for the law to be found constitutional, the government is required to show that the challenged classification serves a compelling state interest and that the classification is necessary to serve that interest. In order for strict scrutiny to be applied, the law at issue has to either create a “suspect classification” (remember that one, it’s important and I’ll get back to it eventually) or place a burden on the exercise of a “fundamental right” (also important). The term “suspect classification” is carefully defined in law, and presently includes race, national origin, religion, and alienage; “fundamental rights” include the right to vote, interstate migration, access to the courts, and various other rights. Part of the struggle of the marriage cases that have come before the Supreme Court has been to get a judicial acknowledgement that marriage is one of these “fundamental rights”, such that any law purporting to restrict the right to marry has to pass the strict scrutiny test (serving a COMPELLING state interest, and being NECESSARY to serve that interest).
Second, there’s MIDDLE-TIER SCRUTINY, under which the government is required to show that the challenged classification serves an IMPORTANT state interest (an easier thing to show than a “compelling” interest) and that the classification is at least substantially related to (as opposed to “necessary” to – again, easier for the government to prove) serving that interest. Classifications that fall into this category are referred to as “quasi-suspect classifications”, and presently include gender and illegitimacy. In the marriage cases, specifically in Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated a willingness to include sexual orientation as a quasi-suspect classification, but most analysis has proceeded under the lowest tier of constitutional review, namely:
MINIMUM (OR RATIONAL BASIS) SCRUTINY. In this tier, all the government is required to show in order to defend a discriminatory law is that the challenged classification is rationally related to serving a legitimate state interest. This is where you get all the arguments about the necessity of restricting marriage to heterosexual couples because of the state’s interest in ensuring that accidentally conceived children will be raised by both parents. And when a court uses the rational basis test, it doesn’t even need to care whether the particular justification advanced by the state makes any sense – if there’s ANY rational basis for the law, even one the court comes up with itself, then under rational basis scrutiny, it’s okay.
Now, finally, to my point… there are plenty of arenas in which LGBT people have a long way to go to achieve equality. Taking as just one example, the right to work. In 29 states, you can still be fired for being gay. If you want to challenge the law which allows that in your state, right now all the state has to prove is that the law that lets your employer get away with it is rationally related, somehow, to a state interest the court is prepared to recognize as legitimate. In other words, good luck to you. If you live in a state that includes sexual orientation or gender identity/expression in its list of quasi-suspect classifications, at least the state has to prove that its interest in discriminating against you is important, and that the law is substantially related to that interest. But in order to hold the state to that highest standard, strict scrutiny, you have to either prove that the right burdened by the law is “fundamental” – which was the argument in the marriage cases – or that sexual orientation and gender identity/expression are suspect classifications. The right to work has not been, and is highly unlikely ever to be, classified as a fundamental right. Ditto the right to housing, medical care, or the vast majority of the other rights we’re fighting for. At the very least, we have to get LGBT status included on that list of quasi-suspect classifications; ideally, though, we need to push for the judicial recognition of LGT status as a suspect classification. Once that’s accomplished, once all the discriminatory laws can be held up to strict scrutiny, they’re going to start falling. That won’t be the end of the fight by any means (it certainly wasn’t for African-Americans), but it takes one of the biggest guns out of the fight against us.
Let me just start out by saying that this is NOT the post I wanted to be writing right before Christmas! — but it has the potential to be important…
I read a federal appellate court this morning out of Vermont that contained language I find highly alarming. The case is United States v. (Benjamin H.) Weisinger (2d Circuit 2014). Mr. Weisinger was convicted of producing and receiving child pornography, involving photographs of his girlfriend’s minor daughter. The language in the opinion that I find alarming for people in our line of work is the following:
“Similarly, evidence of Weisinger’s online viewing of erotic incest stories, particularly involving stepfathers and stepdaughters, was probative of his intent to produce and receive pornography involving the minor daughter of his live-in girlfriend. See United States v. Brand, 467 F.3d 179, 197 (2d Cir.2006) (holding that evidence of prior acts is probative of intent to commit charged acts if there is ‘‘similarity or some connection’’ between acts (internal quotation marks omitted)).”
In plain English (or as plain as this lawyer can make it), what this case is holding is that the fact that this defendant searched for and read online fictional erotic incest stories involving stepfathers and stepdaughters constituted evidence of a “prior act” (which is legal shorthand for “prior bad act”, which can be a prior crime or simply a prior “unsavory” act), and that evidence was admissible in court to prove that the defendant committed the crime charged.
Let me repeat: the act of searching for and reading erotic incest fiction online was considered evidence of intent to commit the crime of production of child pornography, where the victim of the crime was in an “incest-like” relationship with the defendant. (I was unable to ascertain whether the particular story cited by the court was a published story, or something on a site such as Literotica.) Sex and pornography offenses involving children have their own separate body of law, so it’s possible that this precedent might eventually be held applicable only to cases involving child sexual abuse and child pornography. But I would venture to say that most of us who write erotic fiction (and definitely those of us who write same-sex, poly, BDSM, kink/fetish, etc.) write about acts considered by some persons, and in some parts of the country, “unsavory acts”. I’m not holding my breath.
With your kind permission, I’d like to reprint an original Purgatory short story I first ran last Veterans’ Day. This young Marine is Mac McAllan; he served in Vietnam with Kevin Almstead’s father Thomas, and now he’s a bartender at Purgatory, where his partner Lucien is the bouncer. I’ll let you learn the rest as you read….
Mac carefully set the brimful pint glass of Smithwick’s in front of the customer who had ordered it, a thin, drawn guy in a faded camo jacket.
“Thanks, what do I owe you?” The man shifted on the bar stool and reached into his hip pocket, pulling out a battered wallet and opening it up, to reveal a wad of what looked like singles, and a very familiar blue identification card.
The man looked startled, but nodded. “Desert Storm, Third Armored.”
Looking the guy up and down, the bartender made a quick decision. “Then you don’t owe me anything. The club’s buying for all veterans tonight.”
“Least we can do.” Hell, yes. Desert Storm was pre-Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell. Which meant that this guy had served most or all of his career at risk of dishonorable discharge, if anyone had discovered the secret that made him one of Purgatory’s customers.
“Did I hear you right?” This from a balding bear in leather shorts and a harness, a couple of stools down the bar. “I did three tours, USMC, last one at Camp Fuji.”
“Semper Fi, what’ll you have?”
A small crowd gathered around the bar, as word started making it around the room that the house was buying for servicemen. Mac was more than a little surprised at the number of Purgatory regulars coming forward to claim drinks. Even Miss Mona, a drag queen who probably hadn’t missed a Monday night at Purgatory in forty years, turned out to have been a pilot in Korea. My paycheck’s going to take a beating this week. Mac laughed to himself. It’s worth it.
He looked up from pouring a martini – and grinned ear-to-ear, he couldn’t help it. “Sarge! – what the hell are you doing here?”
Thomas Almstead grinned back. “You turned down my offer of a beer tonight because you were working.” He glanced around at the men crowding his son-in-law’s bar – business is good, I see – and then reached across the bar to shake the hand of the man who’d saved his ass twice in Vietnam. “So I thought I’d come to you.”
“Did I hear him call you ‘Sarge’?” The speaker was an elderly man in a pink sequined mermaid gown and pink feathered headdress. “Then you can buy a lady a drink.”
Mac grinned at the drag queen. “You need to finish your creamy Sex on the Beach, Miss Mona, then you can pester Sarge for another one.”
Thomas laughed. Two years ago, if anyone had told me I was going to be spending Veterans’ Day 2013 in a gay nightclub run by my son-in-law, I would have… well, I’m not sure what I would have done. Questioning sanity would have been high on the list, though. Then he leaned across the bar, as Mac motioned to him. “Looks like they really needed you tonight,” he commented, before the bartender could speak. From what Thomas remembered from dinner conversations with Tiernan and Kevin, Monday nights were usually fairly quiet at Purgatory. Tonight was, apparently, an exception.
Mac’s gaze swept the group clustered around the bar. “Well, it’s my own fault. I decided to pick up the tab for any vets in the house tonight. Who’d have thought there were so many?”
“You decided to –“
Mac rolled his eyes as a gaggle – there really was no other word for it – of boys who looked barely out of their teens waived at him. “Excuse me just a second, Sarge. I need to go card a few people.”
Thomas frowned in thought as Mac moved off down the bar, a slight spring in one step from the carbon fibre blade prosthetic leg he was sporting, then turned away from the bar and crossed the club, carefully skirting the edge of the pit full of black leather furniture and knocking on the nearly-invisible door on the far side of it.
Tiernan looked up, startled, from the computer monitor displaying his rotation of security cameras. “What the particular fuck?” Most people didn’t know his office door was there, and the ones who did generally didn’t bother to knock. He unfolded himself from behind the desk and went to the door, pushing it open. “Mr. Almstead!”
“I thought we’d agreed on ‘Thomas’, at least.” The human shook his head, chuckling briefly, before turning serious again. “I just wanted to let you know what your bartender’s up to.”
“Mac? Is something wrong?” Tiernan craned his neck to look past Thomas and over to the bar, but he couldn’t see the bartender over the unusual-for-a-Monday-night crowd.
“He’s picking up the tab for all the veterans in the club tonight. Even though he was discharged other than honorably himself.” Thomas shook his head, apparently at Tiernan’s confused expression. “An other than honorable discharge, back in our day, meant no benefits, no retirement, nothing. All because some rat bastard of a second lieutenant saw him holding hands with Lucien, off base, and Mac was too damned honorable to lie about it when they called him on it.”
Tiernan growled under his breath. He tended to do that, when reminded of what Mac had gone through. His husband had grown up on his father’s stories of his Marine Corps friend – hell, Kevin had been named for him, ‘Mac’ McAllan’s given name was Kevin – and the Fae tended to think of the bartender as one of the members of the extended family he’d managed to acquire when he SoulShared with Kevin. “Thanks for letting me know.”
“Mac. Over here.”
Startled, Mac, turned away from the group of just-barely-legals, to find his boss standing behind the bar, drumming the fingers of his gloved hand on the glass surface. “What’s up?”
“I’m told you’re buying for all these gentlemen.”
Mac cleared his throat. “Well, yes. It’s Veterans’ Day. Seemed only right.”
Mac wiped suddenly sweaty palms on his jeans. “It’s my own money –“
“What seems right to me,” Tiernan cut in, his voice raised, “is that your customers know that you served as honorably as any of them, you saved my father-in-law’s life, and you’re fucking well taking the rest of the night off.”
Mac felt himself turning bright red. On the far side of the bar, he caught a glimpse of Sarge, nodding at Tiernan, and customers staring. He’d never talked much about his service. Bartenders were supposed to listen, not talk, and most of the memories were still too painful. But looking into the eyes of one customer after another, he was sorry he’d kept it to himself for so long.
“Go on.” Tiernan made a shooing motion. “I’ve got the bar.”
A little dazed, Mac skirted the far end of the bar and made his way back to where Sarge and the others were waiting for him. He felt hands clapping him on the back and shoulders and Miss Mona tiptoeing to kiss his cheek as he shook Sarge’s hand. “You ratted me out.”
“Guilty.” The former first sergeant didn’t even try to look embarrassed.
“Look, I know this isn’t really your kind of place. If you want to go somewhere else –“
“Hell, no.” Thomas looked around at the men clustered around them. “None of you jarheads have heard any of my stories yet…”