Rainbow Book Reviews is running a Blog Hop this weekend, and I get to participate! <blows whistle!> Here’s the link to the Hop.
As part of this celebration, participants were asked to blog about What Writing GLBTQ Literature Means to Me. Aside for being whole bucketloads of fun, and the way to meet new people and make some kickass friends.
Oh, and there’s a giveaway at the bottom of the post.
So here’s what I have to say on the subject.
What Writing GLBTQ Literature Means to Me
A long, long time ago, in a galaxy… oh, wait, wrong story.
A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile… Nope. Not “American Pie,” either.
Start over. When I was a child (better), my mother used to try and encourage me to become involved in politics. She was—still is—a fighter, a gently fierce woman who defended her children to the death, stood up for what was right, and volunteered her time and energy to helping others. She and my dad and my aunt (who lived with us) all worked at soup kitchens and ran fundraisers for digging wells in Africa and marched in protest of the Vietnam War. All this although she had six kids at home and was, by nature, a shy woman.
I’m not shy, though I am introverted. The idea of being in public terrifies me; the idea of being the center of attention triggers panic attacks. The idea of being in politics? Ludicrous. But my mother firmly believed that people can make a difference, and politicians don’t have to be evil and self-absorbed, but they do have the potential to change the world.
I don’t know about politicians, though I am and always have been a Democrat and a staunch one at that. (Will Rogers once said “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” That pretty much sums up my involvement in politics.) But I do believe that people can make a difference, that people have the potential to change the world.
For a very long time, I was content to let other people handle that, thank you. Oh, yes, I contributed to charities and occasionally got dragged out by my mom or aunt to run bingo games at retirement homes and whatnot. And I supported public television and public radio. But I wasn’t passionate about anything.
And then I started reading m/m. And then I started writing m/m. And then I started reading about m/m, and f/f, and all the other permutations—specifically, the state the world was in regarding GLBTQ . And I was horrified.
We weren’t wealthy when I was growing up—hell, we were barely even middle class—but I was lucky enough to grow up in a suburb that was affluent enough to be mostly liberal. I went to parochial school during the Vatican II years, when the Catholic Church was all about giving, and loving, and “if you want peace, work for justice.” I went to a public high school, where I met my first gay friend, who was as out as one could be in 1974 (really, nobody talked that much about sex then, so while we knew he was gay, we didn’t know anything about any part of it). He never mentioned being hassled at school, at least no more than the rest of us nerds were, so I don’t know if he was ever harassed for being gay.
I was innocent like that for a long time. I thought that people were generally good and that the Catholic Church was a nice religion, and that Bad Things only happened elsewhere.
I still think that people are generally good. I think that most Catholics are nice, and appalled at the way the Church has imploded in recent years. And I’ve never really personally experienced the kind of Bad Things that happen elsewhere.
I have been damned lucky.
Because Bad Things do happen. Appallingly often. And to the friends I don’t know yet, and sometimes will never get to know, because they are taken from us long before their time. It frightens me and horrifies me, and sometimes it lifts me up, when I see things like marriage equality becoming law in state after state, and artists and actors and musicians coming out of the closet, and even things like the garage mechanic in California (I think…) who fixed for free the car of a gay person who had it smashed up in a homophobic attack.
And somehow along the line, I have become political.
I’m still introverted. I still dread public humiliation, and will never be a politician, or even an activist, except in the very edge of activism. But I am aware, and being aware, feel compelled to make other people aware. So I share on Facebook, and Twitter, and talk to people one-on-one on the train platform and at work. I contribute to GLBTQ causes and support Gay Pride, and try as best as I can with my limited ability to communicate the reality of what gay teenagers and young people face. Because the more people know, the more they can change. But they can’t change if they don’t know.
Writing m/m changed me. I’m much more opinionated now on political issues, not just GLBTQ ones, but feminist ones and racial ones and immigrants’ rights one, because they are all interlinked. I look at the news today and dread what is happening to the political process and to society as a whole, with a large number of powerful people seemingly determined to shove us back into the Stone Age—or at least some version of the 1950’s, which anyone who actually lived back then can tell you was not a nice time to live, if you were black, a woman, gay, an immigrant, a blue collar worker, or poor. For every step we take forward—a biracial President, marriage equality, occupational safety laws—there are those who are fighting to shove us backward. Some people—and I can name them, which tells you how much I’ve become more aware—won’t be happy until gays are back in the closet, women are back in the kitchen, immigrants are only hired to pick lettuce, and employers given carte blanche to ignore safety concerns. They talk about a “gay agenda” when their agenda is much more destructive to the fabric of the United States as a whole.
Politicians and pundits nowadays focus on business, but it’s not about business. It isn’t enough to have a job if you can’t provide human dignity. In the words of Jacob Marley: “Mankind was my business!” Mankind is our business.
I frame most of my arguments in terms of gay rights and marriage equality, because those are the issues that brought me to my political stance. I feel that if I can get one person to listen and understand what the situation is all about, and that there are Bad Things happening to Good People, things that they can do something about, then maybe they will find their way to understanding the other issues. And maybe one of them will not be shy, or introverted, or nervous in public places. Maybe one of them will be like my mother and my father and my aunt, willing to help others, willing to take a stand, brave enough to have an opinion and a sense of what is right, and courageous enough to offer their hand to their brothers and sisters. Braver than me.
Because until there is equality, there cannot be justice. And until there is justice, there cannot be peace.
I promised you a giveaway, so here it is. Any commenter on this blog will be entered into a random drawing for one of my ebooks. Drawing will be held at the end of the Blog Hop and winner will be notified on this site, so check back here on Tuesday to see if you won and to pick your prize!