Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's The Deal With 'Stone The Gays'? #brunei #gay #lgbtrights



Some of you have probably heard about a few preemptive celebrity boycotts because of Brunei's new anti-gay law. It was passed but then put on hold for several weeks while the Sultan thought it over. He announced today that the time for contemplation has ended and it will go into effect starting May 1st.


Read the full story here on Pink News



As terrible as that title sounds, this isn't the same situation as Nigeria, Russia, and Uganda. Here's why. First, this isn't really a 'stone the gays' law. That's just the title the press picked because it sells. This is a 'stone everybody' law. It's aimed at a wide variety of people who break laws written by an ultra-conservative branch of the Muslim faith. It's what the U.S. would be if we allowed the Tea Party to rewrite the constitution. It targets rape (which in most Muslim countries means the victim is the one punished), adultery (where only the women are prosecuted), murder, blasphemy, and sodomy. That's where the gays come in.

Second, the government isn't planning to have militia driving around in trucks full of rocks stoning people this week. The law is going to be enforced in phases starting with fines and imprisonment. The final phase where death is the penalty won't happen for two more years. That gives us time to do something better than boycott and rant. We have the opportunity for diplomacy and finesse and when you're trying to change minds that is always the preferred method since nobody responds well to screaming.

What can you do now? Support the gay community in Brunei. Let them know we're out here and we're watching. Follow Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on FB and twitter. Boycott if it makes you feel better but only if you actually frequent the Dorchester Collection Hotel chain. Otherwise, it's a nice gesture but ultimately an empty one.











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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fast Your Way to a Traditional America #equality #gay


I have seen an array of responses from the Christian community about marriage equality during the past couple of years. They range from acceptance to anger and confusion over how same-sex couples decide who gets to be the bride. That last part seems to be of considerable importance.




Yesterday I saw an article highlighting a reaction to the marriage equality chaos that I've never seen before. A group in Virginia (in concert with other ultra conservative Christian groups) is planning a forty-day fast and prayer vigil to save their state from the inevitable ruling that equality trumps religion. The title of the article is a little inflammatory but once I started reading, what I found was actually a refreshing change.

The group plans to spend part of the summer praying and fasting for what they consider a positive outcome. Personally, I like this idea. I prefer prayer to hateful ranting. I'd much rather have them turn their energy in a less destructive, hurtful direction even if only for a few weeks. If they're focused on praying the problem away rather than ranting it away that means the rest of us can live in peace.

I can see how some people might be annoyed by the thought of others asking god for an intervention that would mean they don't get the same rights everyone else has but personally I've never been intimidated by prayer. It can be a productive means of soul searching but other than that, it's about as harmful as yoga. I have yet to see anyone successfully cursed by vengeful yoga. Besides, the extended fast guarantees the conservatives' thoughts are going to be muddled, unfocused and continually wandering toward pizza and jelly donuts. Mine certainly would be.

As the article's author says, the plan might turn out to have unintended benefits because Virginia has a well-documented problem with obesity. When it's over I doubt they'll hold onto their current elitist laws about who is and isn't worthy of marriage but maybe they'll be a bit thinner so everybody wins, right?

Rock on, Virginia. I hope all the prayer and fasting brings a little clarity of heart and a decrease in cholesterol. 






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Friday, April 18, 2014

What Would You Risk? #gay #lgbtrights


Gay rights activist, Bisi Alimi, did a recent interview with the Washington Post about his past in Nigeria and the LGBT community's future there. It's a moving and inspiring story of a man willing to risk everything to live out loud. He talks about the impact that first interview had on his life and the resulting harassment by police:


"When I was in London I was on BBC Network Africa, and I granted an interview about HIV, corruption, and many other things in Nigeria. So when I got back, I was arrested at the airport, and I was released two days later. This was in March. Between March and April I was in and out of police cells, and I did not commit any crimes: The only crime I committed was because of my sexuality. I've been telling the Nigerian government, up until today, to come out with any security evidence of any crime I may have committed. On April 9, my house was broken into. I was with my then-boyfriend and we were tied up and beaten. I thought I was going to be killed. That was the first time I saw a gun ever in my life."

Read the rest of the article here.

We all know what we risk coming out in North America. For some it's not much and we walk out of the closet into open arms. For others it's harder. We lose friends, family, emotional support, a place to live, a source of income, and even the promise of relative safety. As ugly as that can sometimes be it's even worse in Nigeria. 

They risk police beatings and imprisonment in places that make our prisons seem like a luxury five-star hotel. Communities have been known to rise up en masse and attack them as well as any family members and friends who don't publicly condemn their sexuality. Suspected gay men are arrested and tortured into revealing the names of other gay men so the cycle can continue.

In many countries, being out of the closet is rapidly becoming a right. In less evolved ones it's still treated as a privilege, one the Nigerian LGBT community doesn't have. Take a minute to imagine yourself in Bisi's place. What would you risk to be with the person you love when a few precious hours puts both your lives in danger? How far would you go to live in the open when fleeing the country isn't a guaranteed option and you may spend the rest of your life trapped right where you are?


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Weekly Gift Card Winner!


Congratulations to this week's winner of the $5 gift card:  Bogusia!





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You do what you have to
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Monday, April 14, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour #gay #romance


Welcome to my stop on the Writing Process Blog Tour. Let's get started!

1 - What am I working on?

I just finished writing the sixth book in the Saving Liam series and have started editing the second book to get it ready for release this summer.


2 - How does my work differ from others in the Gay/MM Romance genre?

My favorite genre has always been suspense (and many of it's sub-genres). I like a story that grabs you with the first scene and won't let go until the very last sentence. I try to write my stories the same way. They are intense, character-driven tales of men who have survived harsh and heartbreaking events and are putting their lives back together. 


3 - Why do I write what I do?

I am a gay rights activist who happens to write gay romance and my stories come from that place. I spend every day battling for the rights of people who are abused, hunted, imprisoned, and sometimes outright murdered because of their sexuality. There are a lot of happy stories about gay couples living peaceful and open lives but the statistics prove those couples are a minority in the LGBT community. My goal is to dig below the surface of the gay stereotype and show the reality underneath. 

Domestic violence is prevalent in the gay community. So is poverty. There are LGBT kids on the street even in accepting cities like Seattle and San Francisco. People end up in conversion therapy (also known as 'gay cure') every day in a misguided attempt to fix something that cannot be and doesn't need to be fixed. Suicide is a common theme. So is low self-esteem. It's not pretty but it's the truth.


4 - How does my writing process work?

When I get an idea for a story the first step is to flesh out the basics of a realistic plot. I jot down the opening scene and then four major turning points in the story that lead to a final climax. I write working my way from one turning point to the next letting the details of the story unfold on their own. Since a majority of the story happens without an outline it often goes in a different direction than what I had originally thought. 

When the first draft is finished I edit the whole thing beginning to end. I let it sit for a couple of weeks while I work on something else and then came back to it with fresh eyes for another edit. After that it goes to beta readers and my critique partners for comment. When it comes back I do a final edit based on their feedback and kick it out the door.


Thank you to the lovely Blak Rayne who invited me to participate in the tour.









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Friday, April 11, 2014

Release Day: SAVING LIAM is here!


Saving Liam, book one of my new series is here and available all over the place! Get your copy today!



BUY IT NOW


You do what you have to do to survive. For eighteen-year-old Liam Newman that means living the life of a gay porn star, a job he loathes. He isn't a star. He's a prisoner and his warden is the man who saved him from the cold Vancouver streets.

Justin has been Liam's next-door neighbor for two years and has had a crush on him for just as long. Oblivious to Liam's porn career, he's content to mind his own business about Liam's turbulent relationship until the truth stumbles drunk into his apartment one night and he realizes something must be done.

When Liam's boyfriend turned producer decides rent boys make more money than porn stars Liam's nightmare takes a horrible turn. Justin must find a way to rescue him before it's too late. 




25% of royalties go to support Trevor Project.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hate Or Educate: The Battle Continues


I had the opportunity last weekend of speaking with several members of the LGBT Nation’s upcoming generation of leaders. They are some truly amazing kids already doing astounding work in the LGBT community, some from within the confines of oppressive religious high schools. They not only inspired me to work harder but also helped me see things in a new light.




It was no surprise that one of the group discussions revolved around hate. Most of us trip over blind hatred for LGBTs on a regular basis online. As an activist, I see it literally every day. They hate us. We hate them back. The days of batting a hand at the trolls, telling them to “be nice” and going on with our lives belongs to the 1980’s. For better or worse, we have a voice now and we’re using it.

Today an anti-gay statement lights a match and both sides go up with the intensity of an exploding gas station. They say they’re being good Christians. We say they’re being bigots and the screaming continues until something highlights part of the issue neither side saw in the beginning…like how the inciting incident was a hoax perpetrated by someone looking for their fifteen minutes of internet fame.

That, my friends, is the problem and I’ve been just as guilty of it as everyone else has. We scream but we don’t listen. There is no attempt to reach a point of understanding or have a moment of education to sweep away some of the stereotypes. We just hate, each waving our logic around like a protest sign without taking the time to consider where the other side is coming from.

I’ll admit it’s easy to get swept up in the drama because some of us bear the scars of past battles from our quest to be who we are. Every negative statement about LGBTs is a trigger that turns a general condemnation into a personal attack. It doesn't matter that the person doing the screaming doesn't actually possess the authority to banish anyone to hell. We lash out from a place of unhealed pain without considering the source of the vitriol. 




Who are these people insisting we don't deserve love or respect? Most of them have spent their lives being told gay is evil and it's possible they’ve never had a reason to question it until now. Forty years (or more) of misinformation is a lot to overcome. They feel they’re on a holy crusade to save the country from this evil thing called “gay” or “transgender” or a bucket of other terms they don’t understand. 

Some of us grew up in harsh, fundamentalist religions that taught “gay is evil” and know exactly where our opponents are coming from even if we don’t agree with them. We had to fight our way out of that tangle of deception to get where we are. For some it’s a continuing struggle to lay that theology aside but we have a compelling reason to do so. They don’t and that’s why one-third of adults in the U.S. honestly believe gay is curable. They’ve been told by con men that it’s possible, much like the good old days when peddlers traveled town-to-town selling elixirs guaranteed to “cure what ails ya!”

Reparative therapy is a billion-dollar industry full of spokespeople who are paid a salary to tell the world they’ve been cured and people believe it because it’s easy. It allows them to reconcile gay with their theology and avoid that disturbing moment where they realize their religion is wrong about some very vital things. It also allows gays who desperately do not want to be gay a few years of false hope before the truth sets in. It allows devout parents of gay children to exorcise the guilt of raising a “defective” child by dragging them to a person who claims to be able to fix them like a faith healer in a roadside tent revival.

I’ll admit, it’s difficult to find compassion for people who insist LGBTs don’t need rights as much as they need medication and electroshock therapy but the truth is we can’t expect compassion from them when we refuse to give it. They’re poor misled bastards who believe the lies they’ve been told because they don’t know any better.

I’m not talking about the ones screaming in the news or running over to Russia and Uganda exporting hate to other countries. Those guys are only in this battle for the publicity. They don’t care that their rhetoric is killing people. I'm talking about the ones more concerned with the state of someone's soul than their mental and emotional well being as a human, the ones comparing gays to pedophiles without comprehending how that makes their closeted friends and children feel. From our perspective they seem cold and harsh. What is it like from their side?

The book “Prayers for Bobby” gives a brief glimpse. If you haven't read it you should. It’s an eye opening and heartbreaking story about one of those devout families. They were convinced God could cure gay and spent years trying to pray and preach their son straight without realizing the cost until he committed suicide leaving behind a diary full of self-loathing. The mother’s feelings of confusion and betrayal are startlingly palpable as she realizes her church lied to her and cost her the life of her child.




That’s reality for many anti-gay people. They simply don’t understand because they tune out everything but the sound of their pastor’s voice. It takes a life-shattering slap to get their attention. Even then, some cling to denial rather than admit the church they devoted their life to might be wrong.

Just like being gay, there is no miracle cure for this current climate of hate. It’s a normal phase of changing the status quo (‘because the status is NOT quo…’. Sorry, couldn’t resist) and we have to slog through it. If we can do so without damaging our own image as much as the conservatives have damaged theirs that would be ideal.

The conversations that finally bring about real understanding and mutual respect won’t happen until we figure out how to walk away from the hate fest. Until then, the less hostility we pour into the mix the better. Canada is a decade ahead of the U.S. in this and they are still fighting pockets of ignorance, anti-gay politicians, and bullying in schools. We’re going to be at this a while. We should probably pace ourselves.














Coming soon!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Weekly Giveaway Winner!


Happy Wednesday, everybody! As promised, this week is the first in a weekly drawing for a $5 gift card. 






This week's winner is Carolyn B! Congratulations, Carolyn!

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4/11/14

Friday, April 4, 2014

Saving Liam Excerpt #GayRomance #NewRelease


Only seven days until the release of Saving Liam! 





Blurb

You do what you have to do to survive. For eighteen-year-old Liam Newman that means living the life of a gay porn star, a job he loathes. He isn't a star. He's a prisoner and his warden is the man who saved him from the cold Vancouver streets. 

Justin has been Liam's next-door neighbor for two years and has had a crush on him for just as long. Oblivious to Liam's porn career, he's content to mind his own business about Liam's turbulent relationship until the truth stumbles drunk into his apartment one night and he realizes something must be done.

When Liam's boyfriend turned producer decides rent boys make more money than porn stars Liam's nightmare takes a horrible turn. Justin must find a way to rescue him before it's too late. 



Excerpt

He hated Tuesdays. Hated them beyond mere loathing, but he didn’t have a word for what came after loathing. Despised seemed far too civilized.
Liam stood in the bedroom with his back to the mirrored closet doors so he wouldn’t have to look at himself and ignored the brush of heavy terrycloth against his skin. That robe represented everything he hated about his life. His stomach churned with resentment that made it tempting to lock himself in the bathroom. Too bad that wouldn’t do any good.
He heard the dreaded knock at the front door on the far side of the apartment and the knot in his stomach pulled tight. There had been a time when that sound had made him want to hurl chunks. He supposed the lack of terror was an improvement of sorts.
“You ready, Babe?” Cord called from the living room.
“Yeah,” he called back, “why the hell not,” he muttered to himself.
He padded out of the room struggling to feel something besides annoyance as Cord opened the front door to welcome the man he’d be sharing a bed with for the next eight hours. He was compact and bulky with short-cropped bottle-blonde hair, and a tan he obviously hadn’t gotten from the Vancouver sun.
Liam flopped into a chair near the kitchen and pretended to be engrossed in one of Cord’s trade magazines. He saw no reason to acknowledge the rented cock of the day until absolutely necessary. Instead, he flipped pages while Cord talked about positions and emotion in a lecture he didn’t need to hear. He’d been doing this twice a week every week for years. He knew the routine. It didn't matter that a hundred shoots a year wasn't the industry standard. It was Cord's standard.
He ignored Bulky Blonde as the actor stripped out of his clothes to give Cord a look at what he had to work with that afternoon. There was nothing new on that body. They all looked the same: tan, toned, and tattooed. He didn’t need to see it. He’d get a very good look over the course of the day.
He stifled a sigh he knew would sound petulant and turned another page without seeing anything on it. Cord hated it when he pouted. He could be angry and resentful as long as he did what he was told. Pouting would just get him a pep talk full of lies. Those weren’t new either.
He saw Bulky Blonde step to him out of the corner of his eye and pasted on his best smile before looking up to meet his gaze. Being difficult and aloof with the rented cocks only dragged out the torment. When they were tense, they did things wrong and the more they got wrong the more time he had to spend with them. He stood up and tossed the magazine in the chair before shaking Bulky Blonde’s hand.
“I’ve seen a few of your videos,” Bulky Blonde told him. “I like your work.”
“Thanks.”
He couldn’t say the same and he wasn’t in the mood to lie.
Introductions were over, which meant it was time to get to work. The knot in his stomach pulled tight as the buzz of anxiety spiked, thundering through him loud enough to make him shudder. He scrunched his toes into the carpet, relaxed them and scrunched them again in a rhythmic exercise that gave him something to concentrate on so he wouldn’t scream. He blocked out the sound of Cord fiddling with the tripod across the room and shoved the stabbing, biting resentment into a far corner of his mind. He was going to do this without crying like a baby or begging Cord to call it off. None of that ever worked, and if he wanted to get this over with in less than twelve hours, he needed to suck it up.





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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Weekly Giveaway! Enter to win.


Starting this month I'm giving away a free ebook every week! Actually, it's a free $5 gift card but that covers most ebooks. It also means you can buy any genre, any title, any author. 





Winners will be chosen at random from people subscribed to my newsletter. Sign up once and you're automatically entered in every weekly drawing through the end of the year. Winners will be chosen every Wednesday. The first drawing will be held on April 9th. No purchase necessary to play. National and international e-mail addresses welcome. You must be subscribed to the newsletter to win.

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Coming Soon!