Welcome to my little corner of the Hop for Visibility, Awareness, and Equality (formerly known as the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia)! I’m thrilled with the name change, and the mission change, for reasons I’ll get to in a minute, but a quick introduction first: I’m an author of what I call mythic and legendary m/m erotic romance (I’ve been told by several judges over the years that I’m too mythic/legendary and not enough romance for the RITA Awards, so I figure I’m getting the balance right about where I want it!) And personally, I identify as asexual in casual conversation, autochorissexual if you feel like talking tech. (http://asexuals.wikia.com/wiki/Autochorissexual) I even have it tattooed on my leg. (See above.)
A few housekeeping details, before I get started –
I’m going to see if this works — our tech guru tells me that this ought to be a working link back to the rest of the Hop, to let y’all find (more) wonderful stuff to read! (and if this doesn’t work, there’s a link in the second comment to the blog, down below.)
*crosses fingers tightly*
Also, for every comment at the end of this blog, I’m going to be donating a dollar at the end of the Hop to Lambda Legal, to help with their coordinated response to the flood of “religious liberty” bills we’re currently seeing. Please put me on the hook for as much as possible. Seriously. Feel free.
And finally, every comment will enter you to win an autographed copy of the first edition of HARD AS STONE, the first book in my SoulShares series, if you’re in the US or Canada, or electronic copies of HARD AS STONE and GALE FORCE (SoulShares 1 and 2) if you’re elsewhere.
Now, with that out of the way –
Why I Love the Hop’s Mission Change
I’d like to begin with a very important caveat – in what follows, I am absolutely not purporting to speak for everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community. Or even everyone in that community who wants to make a change in the current political/social climate. There are as many ways to effect change as there are people who want to change things. And no one response to provocation is always the right answer. I’m just making a few observations about the path I’m on. And if anyone finds anything here that resonates, you’re welcome to join me!
It’s very easy, especially in the current, um, highly emotionally charged political climate, to define ourselves in terms of what we’re against, instead of what we’re for. Sometimes, in some contexts, it’s necessary to do that – when you’re standing up to speak out against a specific injustice, for example, or speaking truth to power. But we need to be aware that when we go beyond the needs of the present situation, and turn our opposition into part of what we see ourselves as, into part of our own being, there’s almost always a side effect. Consciously or unconsciously, our world turns into “us vs. them”. And “us” is always better than “them” – if it weren’t, we’d be on the “them” side. And unless we’re very, very careful, we look down on “them”. We turn “them” into “other,” and “less than.” And we turn “them” into a faceless mass, every one of “them” the same. One obstacle to be overcome, a single hateful voice to be silenced.
My native Minnesota was the first state to vote down a “one-man-one-woman” marriage amendment. We didn’t do it through advertising, or fiery speeches, or political rhetoric. We did it mindfully, deliberately, one conversation at a time. And by “conversation,” I mean telling our stories, yes. But also listening to the stories of those we engaged with. Refusing to believe that those who disagreed with us were “other.” Sure, some of our opponents were angry, bitter, hateful people. But a great many weren’t. A great many were genuinely afraid of a changing world they didn’t understand and didn’t feel like a part of. We talked to those people. We put our faces, and the faces of the people we loved, and the faces of the people our opponents loved, on their faceless concept of “them”.
And we made a difference. Not only did Minnesota vote down “one-man-one-woman”, but just a year later we went to the polls and made Minnesota the 12th state in the country to legislate marriage equality.
We don’t need unanimity before we can have equality. Hells to the no. Equality before the law isn’t something that’s up for a popular vote – and believe me, I’m as militant as the next red-haired Irish lawyer when it comes to standing up for the legal rights of the LGBTQIA+ community, and opposing the ridiculous and harmful legislation that seems to be assailing us at every turn these days. But at the same time, genuine equality, the kind we don’t have to be terrified of losing every time the winds of politics sweep another party into power or some demagogue decides to accumulate political capital by playing on a frightened minority’s fear of “the other,” isn’t a destination we can reach as a society by dragging the people who are afraid of it along behind us to some imaginary finish line. As wonderful as it would have been to be able to say the job was done when Obergefell became the law of the land, we still need to be having those conversations. Having the courage to put our faces on the faceless fears of those of our brothers and sisters who will listen. My priest made this point very succinctly in her sermon this Sunday – we need to have these conversations “with those who are willing to have them, and as we are able.” I’ve decided that what I want most give to this fight, even more than my Olympic-caliber snark and occasionally eloquent indignation, is my love. As much as I can, I want to come from a place of love. Because, ultimately, love wins. I truly believe that.
A bit of a P.S. here, as long as I’m revising to add the link back to the Hop — I had an interesting experience the other night, a run-in with one of those folks who apparently ISN’T willing to have the Minnesota Nice conversation. One of my fellow students in an Irish song class, whose business card lists him as “author and Anointed Minister of God,” gave saving my soul the old college try after class. “Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Well, then, surely you understand that — even though I’m sure he loves …homosexuals… you can’t possibly be a Christian and approve of the homosexual lifestyle.” I’m afraid I have a ways to go before I can respond to people like that with the kind of love and patience I hope to achieve. *sighs* At least no one had to bail me out of anyplace…
Here’s a taste of my just-completed (like, yesterday) WIP, UNDERTOW (SoulShares #7). Rhoann Callte, my shape-shifter Fae protagonist for this book (he’s presently a salmon), is something of a rarity among Fae – he’s demisexual. And it’s been a wonderful experience writing him!
The water was full of light. Moonlight, and the strange orange light the humans created and hung from metal poles. For a while, Rhoann used the brightness to explore the boundaries of his new home, gliding along the uneven shore, letting the water from a small waterfall drum on his shining back, diving to test the depth of the water in a double hand of places.
The lake the other Fae had called the Pool was small for a salmon Rhoann’s size, but it would do for now. Just a little larger than a trap.
Aine was wrong. The other Loremasters were wrong. Rhoann swam in circles, in looped figures, out in the deeper center of the lake, his powerful tail sending him speeding through the water and scattering smaller fish. She took me — they took me — they stole me for nothing.
Rhoann dove, seeking cooler water, a clearer head. They were so sure. Two who needed my help, two who would not be whole without me. Bryce, with his stubborn refusal to be helped while there was still help he himself could give; Cuinn, his voice lost to a magick Rhoann could not comprehend.
Maybe Aine was right. Rhoann would have sighed, if this body allowed such. As far as she could see, at least. Maybe they will never be whole without me… so maybe they will never be whole.
The thought made Rhoann sad.
I am not whole, either. Though I am not sure I know what the difference feels like, between whole and not.
He broke out of his circle, swimming parallel to the shore, learning the shape of the lake with his body. Half his soul had left him, somewhere in the agony between two worlds. But was the emptiness he felt the echo of a missing soul? Or simple loneliness?
Loneliness. The word was strange, almost foreign. How could he be lonely, when all he had ever wanted was to be alone?
A massive willow tree arched out over the water, the tips of its branches trailing in the water. There was darkness of a sort in the shelter of the branches, and a gentle flow of cool water from a nearby spring, a human-made thing. Exhausted at last, Rhoann set himself in the flow, fins rippling just enough to keep him in place. His half-Royal magick touched the water, and called darkness into it, true darkness touched only by starlight.
The eyes of his salmon form never closed. But Rhoann the salmon could sleep. He went within himself, and he dreamed.
Dreamed of a lost world, and a lost soul.
And a human, with the hair of an ancient, a leg of bound magick, and eyes overflowing with utterly unFae tears.