Thursday, August 3, 2017

Remembering Chester #RIP

Two weeks ago, my friend Chester took his life. 

Most of you know the story. You've read it online, maybe heard it on the news, the world speculating on what led him to make the choice he did and what that decision says about him as a person. Bloggers and fans have been reading the lyrics of his last few albums like tea leaves, looking for the exact moment when he decided he'd had enough of this world, trying to make sense of something that seems to defy logic.

This post isn't to join in that conversation because I already know why he died. I might not have the specific details of what was in his head that morning, but anyone who spends time in the badlands of depression and misery knows why he took his life. Chester had an abundance of love and success, but that level of depression turns everything black. It doesn't matter how brilliant your life is. You can't see anything but darkness, can't feel anything but pain.

Chester told me once that his mind was a dangerous place, a battleground of self-doubt, demons, and bad habits he'd struggled with most of his life. The way he survived was by being present in other people's lives, staying out of his head. 

2017 was a difficult year for him and it's not hard to piece together the path that took him from being okay to being trapped in that battleground, lost to the darkness. Too lost to even ask for help.

I still can't put most of what I'm feeling about his death into words. The emotion's too big for that, so, for now, I'm focusing on the other side of Chester. The side that made him such a cherished friend.

Chester Bennington
1976 - 2017

Chester loved to laugh. That's what I remember the most and what I'll miss the most. He was a funny, crazy, bouncy guy with an unabashed coffee addiction, something we bonded over, siblings in the bean! He had a thousand different voices, a new character for each random moment.

Despite his success, he was an unassuming, generous guy and among all the darkness in his head, harbored an incredible capacity for love. Chester loved his friends like family, adopting their problems, absorbing their pain. 

I'll remember Chester as silly and sweet, troubled yet determined, a man who tried to give hope to others even when he couldn't find enough scraps of the stuff to keep his own head above water. He was always painting pictures of their bright future but had trouble seeing one for himself anywhere other than in the studio. 

I'll miss the random texts that made me smile and chats about life and music. I'll miss the way his face lit up when he talked about his kids, and the tales of his critters. I'll miss the inspiration I used to get from those rare moments spent watching such an impossibly talented artist at work. I'm honored to have known him, and I like to think he's still out there somewhere, dancing through the leaves on the trees, singing with the birds, screaming with the wild cats.

I'll miss you, Cheeto.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Remember When... #LGBTQ #IDAHOT2017

So far, I can sum up 2017 with three little letters: 


It's been everything I feared would come of putting such a disturbed man in office. Still, as hard as it's been for me, it's taken a bigger toll on the Millennials and iGens. I'm in awe of the way they've risen to the challenge despite the world turning upside down overnight.

This post is for you fearless and inspiring sprouts who are determined to fix what we've so  gloriously fucked up.

You might not realize it, but the pre-Obama era in our fight for equality looked exactly like this. I wish I could say the familiarity is comforting. In a way, maybe it is because I know we've done this before. We can do it again. 

For decades the Rainbow Community fought and suffered in obscurity. We've always been our own biggest defender and our most determined ally, and we've done it alone. Despite closeted, self-hating politicians and religious leaders. Despite unjust laws, public humiliation, and police raids. Despite those who labeled us degenerate, sick, depraved. We clawed our way to a point where we became impossible to ignore.

That visibility has always been our greatest resource. 45's administration is highlighting why it still is. We can't afford to be silent and allow legislators to believe they can erase us. 

It's time to pick up where our predecessors left off and be what our enemies have never had the balls to be: BRAVE. Our history is full of people who ran illegal gay bars in the 50's, risking jail time to give gay men a sense of community. People who got fed up with the constant police harassment in NY and made their stand one night at Stonewall. Those who formed national organizations to support each other during the AIDS epidemic long before social media or even email. Back when America's opinion of gays was that they weren't worth saving -- an opinion shared by the man occupying the oval office at the time.

We have thousands of unnamed heroes in our past who risked everything to make sure the Rainbow Community wouldn't be extinguished. Now it's our turn to carry the torch.

My hope for 2017 is to see people continue to fly out of the closet. It's not always easy. Like many of us, I've spent my life the target of an endless string of bullies. Living out loud isn't where I'm comfortable, but we need more voices, more stories, more LGBTQs showing the world that we're not soulless monsters. We're people just like they are. With jobs and dreams and rights that shouldn't have to be legislated.

So get out there and be brave, people! Dance your way through a pride parade or two. Take so many selfies you run out of memory on your cell. Splatter it from one end of social media to the other. Tell the world who and what you are. If you can do it safely, it's time to lend your voice to the movement and become part of history!

Friday, March 24, 2017

It's a pre-release #giveaway! Check out Stealing Blue and enter to win! #gayrom

All is fair in love and war. Let the battle begin!

From award-winning author, D.P. Denman comes the continuing story of Brady and Blue! A hot new rock star shows up in Vancouver, and Blue Atkins’ career turns out to be more explosive than anyone imagined. His first shot at producing traps him between the kid determined to have him and the boyfriend determined to blame him.

The young singer’s desperate antics crank up Brady’s jealousy and drive Blue out of both their lives into new opportunities and the arms of another man. Read this exciting new installment in the Blue Series and find out if Brady can bring him home before he loses Blue to a sparkling new life in Los Angeles.


Palms pressed into the mattress on either side of Brady's broad shoulders, Blue looked down at him.

"Do you trust me?"

"This isn't about not trusting you." Brady rested his hands on Blue's thighs. "I don't trust him."

"What do you think would happen if he tried to fuck me without permission?"

"You'd break his neck."

Blue was halfway to his third dan black belt in karate. Brady wasn't kidding. Though, if it came to that, Blue would leave it at a sprain that served as a lingering reminder to C.K. to develop some self-control.

"And what could a kid like that possibly offer to make me willingly betray you?" Blue asked.

"A finished album and producer credits."

“I already have a contract for that.”

“Unless he refuses to cooperate.”

"Blackmail? Fuck him, or he won’t sing?"

"Something like that."

"He'd have to come up with one hell of a story to convince Freeman to kill the album."

"Or lie and say he wanted to quit because you were the one doing the seducing."

He scowled at the scenario more detailed than a spontaneous conversation should have been. Blue leaned close and kissed him, removing the words from his tongue. "Freeman can fire me. I don't care. C.K. doesn't have anything I want."

"Even if he strips naked and climbs in your lap — and don't pretend he hasn't thought about it." 

"Not even if he breaks out a dildo and fucks himself as a demonstration. Besides, I doubt he and I like the same games. Two seconds after he got his clothes off I'd have scared him so bad he'd beg me to leave him alone."

Blue liked rough sex, the kind that walked the edge of abusive. C.K. struck him as the pedestrian type. Careful. Tender. Boring.

Brady didn't look reassured.

"I'm kidding. I'd never let him take it that far."

"This is the wrong time, Cub," Brady said.

Brady had christened him with that nickname long before their first kiss, labeling him a feisty cougar kit, hostile, fragile and desperately in need of mothering. He hadn't been wrong.

"Sorry," he said. "The point is I love you, not him. Right?"

"Yeah." Brady nodded.

"He's just a horny kid. You have nothing to worry about.I guarantee you won't come home to anything more alarming than what usually happens around here: the recycle bin overflowing with beer bottles and an empty refrigerator." He rested his head on Brady's chest and heard a sigh rush through him, a wordless confession of fear and resignation.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Stealing Blue has a cover! Enter to #WIN! #giveaway #gayrom #coverreveal

Introducing Book Four of the Blue Series
Stealing Blue

Cover art by AJ Corza

All is fair in love and war. Let the battle begin!

When a hot new rock star shows up in Vancouver, Blue Atkins’ career turns out to be more explosive than anyone imagined. His first shot at producing traps him between the kid determined to have him and the boyfriend determined to blame him.

The young singer’s desperate antics crank up Brady’s jealousy and drive Blue out of both their lives into new opportunities and the arms of another man. With the battle for Blue’s affection on, Brady must find a way to bring him home or lose him to a sparkling new life in Los Angeles.



Enter to win!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Care and Feeding of an Activist Soul #bethechange #LGBTQ

In this final installment of the activism series, we'll talk about keeping your head in a world that's gone crazy.

It's no secret that fighting for change is a tough job.

Real activism goes beyond signing online petitions and sharing stories on Facebook. It's an arduous battle against ignorance and stagnation that can take decades to win. For some issues, a lifetime. That's a long time to stay plugged in, monitoring emails and headlines, attending non-profit meetings and conferences, looking for new ways to get the attention of an often apathetic public.

It's no wonder depression and burnout are so common in the activist community!

If you're new to activism (or even if you aren't) here are three simple tips for managing the frustration, depression, and anger that often come with the job.

Cardio is your friend. I can testify that a good workout is a great way to manage stress and burn off frustration. My daily cardio habit plays a huge role in maintaining my sanity. Without it, all the emotion gets tangled up inside and my temper redlines. (It's not great for my blood pressure either!) Walk, bike, run, kickbox, or bounce around the house to your favorite songs. Whatever gets your blood moving!

Stockpile happiness. For me, this goes hand-in-hand with cardio. I have a playlist of happy songs and fight songs that I listen to every day, brightening my mood while I'm burning off negativity. It's a chance to readjust my perspective and remember why I'm fighting.

When that isn't enough, I have a backup playlist of funny videos on YouTube, things guaranteed to make me smile if not outright laugh.

Self-care is as important as fighting for the cause. Without it, you won't last long before burnout or depression cripples you. Find things that make you happy and regularly inject them into your schedule. 

Take breaks. Equality is a lengthy battle. It always has been. Even before POTUS, the numbers were bad. 90% of LGBTQ kids report being bullied and harassed at school. The percentage of LGBTQs among the population of homeless youth is now up to 40%, twice what it was just a few years ago. We have a tremendous amount of work to do so pace yourself! 

When you start to get that hopeless, frustrated sensation that says you're about to smack face first into burnout, take a break. Give yourself a vacation from headlines, meetings, and social media and focus on something else. Hang out with your squad. Freebase things on Netflix. Lie in the sun and read a book. Whatever makes you happy and come back to the front lines recharged and ready to go. 

Take care of yourself, stay strong, and I'll see you in the trenches!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Activism v. Bullying: Where's the line? #bethechange #LGBTQ

Have you noticed it's increasingly difficult to tell the online activists from the bullies? People on both sides of every issue are screaming and hurling threats, driven by anger and a sense of injustice. The result is a massive stinging swarm.

The reason it's hard to tell the difference is because that's not activism. 

That swarm is a side effect of the tug-o'-war between progress and the comforting illusion of 'the good old days.' Every time something like this happens (at least once a generation), you get riots and death threats and screeching, leading to a backlash of counter riots and death threats and screeching. The problem is, none of that creates change and change is what activism is about.

For those of you just getting started, I'd like to offer a few simple tips to help you identify the line where advocating for a better world becomes a pointless tantrum.

Keep it positive. You're fighting for a cause, whatever that might be. The moment your focus shifts from standing up for something to standing against the other guy, you're over the line. 

POTUS is a divisive character. You either agree with his opinions, or you loathe him. For a few weeks, there was a patch of middle ground inhabited by those who wanted to see if an actual human being emerged from under the hateful campaign rhetoric. To no one's surprise, it didn't. Hair dye and a dozen different kinds of ignorance. That's all there is to this guy.

It can be tempting to turn your passion for a cause into an anti-POTUS campaign, but the minute you do, your crusade mutates into something ugly. Follow that a few steps down the path, and you end up with a life devoted to hatred. We can all name several groups like that and, let's be honest. That's not much of a life.

Focus on what you're fighting FOR not who you're fighting against.

That brings us to the second point...

Don't make it personal. There's a difference between calling out the new administration on their lies and harmful policies and engaging in an online cat fight. POTUS is a perfect example. His Twitter feed is a non-stop display of what you don't want to do. Name calling isn't activism and engaging in that kind of behavior ruins your credibility as a serious activist. 

Read some of the statements coming from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the ACLU. That's activism! They're as pissed as we are, but they stick to the issue. They make rational, factual statements. Meanwhile, POTUS' camp counters with sniveling and name calling. Who looks more credible when the conversation ends?

That brings me to the final and most important concept...   

Be aware of the consequences. Not everyone will brush off what you say during a rant as inconsequential. Especially when your comments are directed at a public figure. Libel is a real thing (as several people have discovered over the past few years). When you call someone a bigot or homophobe online, you'd better have evidence to back it up. Otherwise, you could be looking at a defamation lawsuit. It happens. Ask Frank Ocean! It may sound silly, but there's nothing laughable about the legal fees it will take to defend yourself.

It's not always easy to keep your cool as an activist. I've lost it more than once. You will, too, but over time you'll learn to recognize that point where the only thing you have left is angry rants. When you reach it, that's the signal to log off and cool off.

Stay tuned for next week's post on what to do when you end up sliding into a meltdown, or worse, burnout.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Want to Be an Activist? #LGBTQ #bethechange

Last week I promised you a blog post about plugging into the activist network, and here it is!

What Is Activism?

Let's talk about what activism is and what it isn't. In the case of the LGBTQ+ community, the ultimate goal is to educate the public and create legislation that secures rights we don't yet have or protects the ones we do. Activists stand on the front line, representing the cause.

We want to get people on our side. Protests are one way to gain attention. So is speaking out against injustice. Bullying isn't. I'll talk about this more next week, but for now, it's enough to say trolling the online trolls and hating on the haters doesn't help the cause. An online platform of name-calling and threats isn't activism. It's pointless harassment.

How Do You Do It?

As members of the LGBTQ+ community, activism is our heritage. People have been fighting for our rights for decades. As a result, we already have a large network of non-profit organizations in place. Getting involved is as easy as picking your passion and contacting one of those organizations.

I talked last week about focusing your passion. Here is why that's important. The current regime is attacking the LGBTQ+ community from multiple angles. Women's rights. Immigration rights. POC rights. Trans rights. Healthcare. We're affected by all of that so if you decide to stand against everything that touches us, prepare to be inundated. 

A tight focus also means you can block out half the online screaming and ranting without missing something important.

My advice is to start small. Basic LGBTQ+ rights involve fighting 'religious freedom' bills, reparative therapy, marriage equality (still unsettled in several states), adoption rights, making schools safe for our kids, and employment rights. (It's legal in 13 states to fire someone for being LGBTQ+). Even that much should keep us busy because all of those are on the current administration's docket. 

Your focus may shift over time, and that's okay. I didn't start out as an LGBTQ+ activist. My journey began with homeless and abused kids. Years later, here I am.

Start by signing up for alerts from your favorite LGBTQ+ organization. Send them an email and let them know you want to volunteer. Most of them have numerous events during the year and are always looking for people to hang out at their booths and hand out literature, gather petition signatures, etc. It's a great way to meet others who share your passion.

What if I live in the middle of nowhere?

Rural communities can make activism challenging. At the same time, it provides great opportunities. Many organizations are looking to expand their footprint this year. Contact your preferred non-profit and ask if they need volunteers in your area. You might be surprised by the response!

At the very least, you can use their email alerts to contact politicians about major legislation. Don't worry if you're in a state that doesn't support equality. Many federal bills have to pass through a committee before they go anywhere else for a vote. You can voice your opinion with the committee members regardless of your state of residence.

Above all else, stay connected! Breaks are important (I'll take about that in part four), but so is knowing what's happening with our rights. As POTUS demonstrated last week, things can happen fast. Being plugged in means the difference between helping to block a dangerous bill and being left behind to complain about it when it's too late to do anything but bitch on Facebook.

Here's a list of some of the largest LGBTQ+ non-profits in the US. Feel free to do a search for your state to see what else is available.

Do you have questions I didn't answer? Leave them in the comments below.

Next week - Bullying versus activism: where to draw the line.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Baby Steps Reboot - Fixing A Messy World #bethechange #LGBT

As most of you know, I'm a vocal, bossy, and sometimes obstinate LGBT rights activist. 

A couple of years ago I did a series on how to change the world in five easy steps. In light of the new era, I think it's time for a reboot! 20+ years as a grassroots activist has taught me a few things I'm happy to pass on to a new generation. One so hurt and pissed off they're drowning in frustration.

Women's March on Washington via photopin (license)

For Millennials, this is the first taste of a rogue government in the States. One that doesn't represent the people and displays no desire to do so. I'm hearing the same things I felt during my first trip on this hellish roller coaster.

I can't take how horrible this feels. 
I need to do something but don't know where to start.
How do I deal with all this ugliness?

It's time to do more than self-medicate that churning puddle of frustration sloshing back and forth between irritation and rage, eating a hole in your stomach. As a member of the LGBT community, protests and demonstrations are part of your heritage. I mean, come on. Who hasn't heard of Pride? It might look like a tribute to spring break, but it's the grandchild of a movement of people who were as frustrated as you are now, marching through the streets, demanding to be recognized and respected.

It's time to get back to our roots, people! 

Let's start with step one:

Focus your passion

The most important thing I've learned as an activist is to maintain a narrow focus. Whichever issue you choose to make your own, you have to become an expert on the subject. You can talk out of your ass if you want, but when the other side starts doing the same thing you'll have a hard time refuting the nonsense unless you know the facts. Personal experience is one piece. Understanding the issues facing the rest of the LGBT community is the other. 

Not everyone has had your history or shared your pitfalls. Some had it worse. Some had it better. Many continue to struggle. You have to be able to speak to the issues of the general population of LGBTs. If you expand that focus to include women's rights, POC issues, immigration, etc., you'll need to be an expert on all of it. Unless you intend to sacrifice your social life (not a good idea) and annoy everyone by being unable to discuss anything but your chosen issues (an even worse idea) it's better to maintain a tighter focus. 

Pick one issue. The one that breaks your heart the most, and concentrate on that. We'll get into why that's important in the next part of the series, but for now, trust me. If you take on too much, you'll drown. This will be a relentless four years. Limit yourself to what you can shoulder for at least that long. 

Don't worry that choosing one leaves out so many others. You're not in this alone. There are millions of activists worldwide, each with their own passion for a cause. Nothing will end up ignored.

It's damn frustrating when so much is wrong, but you can't do everything. You're only one person, and unless you have celebrity status or a friend with a public platform, your opportunities to help will be small. So will everyone else's. That's how grassroots activism works. Pissed off people with small circles of influence combine their efforts into something bigger -- say a throng of thousands that brought JFK Airport to a standstill over the Muslim ban.

You can help change things. 

We all can. 

We have to because the other option leaves too many vulnerable people at the mercy of a cold and heartless administration. 

Check back next week for part two - plugging into the activist network.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Morning-After #Giveaway!

Friday was a grand, depressing display in the US.
What we need right now is a a bit of eager anticipation to smother the foreboding.

Welcome to the Morning-After Giveaway!

In celebration of the ginormous catalog of fiction we can use to escape reality for a few hours, I'm giving away a free ebook to five lucky winners! Here are the deets:

* The contest is open to international entrants *
* Each winner will be awarded one ebook *
* The winners can choose any of my titles as their prize *


a Rafflecopter giveaway