Rant: Marginalization for Profit

Some of you, but not all, know I’m engaged to Kate Aaron, and because she’s English and I’m American, we have to go through the immigration process. I haven’t posted on it much because frankly, it’s a lot of handwringing, asking why the hell the government needs to know that, and a hell of a lot of loneliness. I don’t want to be a drag, so I don’t talk about it much. However, we’re nearing the end of all the requirements, and only one step remains: Kate’s interview at the US Consulate in London sometime in the coming weeks. Just thinking about it makes my heart pound in anticipation.

One of the discussions we’ve had centers around the question of the best place for her to fly in to the country once her visa is approved (because I cannot allow myself to think of what would happen if we get denied). Despite the possibility that Atlanta may have more flight options, that Delta, whose largest hub and HQ is located at Hartsfield-Jackson International in ATL,  is a better airline than American for those long hauls over the ocean in terms of comfort, and that the cost of the ticket might be cheaper, we’ve decided it would be best for Kate to fly in through Chicago, which likely means American Airlines. Why?

Because marriage equality wasn’t legal in Georgia until SCOTUS ruled it’s legal in all 50 states last month. And because even with a federally recognized marriage visa approval in her hands, she might not have made it through Atlanta’s customs checkpoint with such paperwork. Georgians didn’t have to recognize same sex marriages or any related paperwork.

Now? It doesn’t matter what airport she comes through with her approved marriage visa to make an honest woman out of me.

For obvious reasons, this elates me. But are our equality struggles over? Far from it. There’ve been a slew of articles discussing how we can’t let our momentum slow on helping keep LGBT students from getting bullied, how while the EEOC recently ruled sexual orientation is already a protected class in their handbook, it’s not federally mandated that LGBT people cannot be fired in all states for our orientation. There’s still a MASSIVE homeless problem for LGBT youth. We are nowhere near done with the equality fight.

So when I saw a couple discussions in the last few days from m/m authors asking if sales were likely to suffer (or already have been) because marriage equality renders the coming out rejection angst less of a struggle for gay people, and therefore less of interest to readers who might think such a plot line is now passé, I saw red.

(Warning: stop here if you aren’t ready for a rant of epic proportions, because I’m not going to censor myself this time.)

M/M has exploded in the last few years, going from 50 or so authors to hundreds, going from hundreds or thousands of readers to tens of thousands. (I can’t speak for F/F because I know nothing about that market, but if the acceptance of same sex relationships has a foothold in the growth of readership, it’s not a stretch to assume F/F is comparable.) We’re helping people see the struggles, and yes, one of the biggest in m/m fiction is coming out. To family, friends, coworkers, etc….

I’ve seen so many memes stating how people can’t wait until it’s not gay marriage, it’s just marriage. That there’ll be no need to come out anymore because a guy can casually mention his boyfriend or husband without people falling all over themselves to scream that he’s no longer human, the fucking sodomite! That the girl growing up thinking her fellow teammate on her softball team is hot and that maybe she’ll ask her to the homecoming dance won’t be so worried about getting beat up for doing so.

Will these idealistic ideas ever fully happen? Probably not in total. There will always be people who think two men together is upsetting. Or parents who don’t want their daughter doing more with a girl than being friends. Fine, as long as they’re not allowed to tell those individuals they can’t be with who they love in every way they want to be, including marriage, adoption or other ways to achieve parenthood, when both are in the end stages of life and in need of medical care that accepts their relationship, and finally, death benefits.

The whole point has been to end the marginalization.

So for someone to theorize the lack of marginalization makes LGBT characters no longer interesting, and worse, hits the writer personally in the pocketbook, strips us of our humanity once again. As if our only purpose is to come out in a fiery argument of bible verses and tears (and maybe some physical blows) so the readership can pop their popcorn and watch the trainwreck unfold.

 

So suppressing my rights as a human being if it jeopardizes your plot line wherein you make money off telling a facet of my story is okay? I don’t fucking think so. We need allies who are happy for us right now. Be glad future generations will be more likely to think same sex couples are no big deal when they see us on the street holding hands. Or when Kate gets here and I rush her at the airport to lay a kiss on her lips when I’ve spent the last six months without her, we won’t get scoffed at or called dykes. Be proud that the stories we all tell about LGBT struggles have possibly done good to make those struggles a little less necessary.

Don’t be sad your bank account is emptier because we are now more free.

As long as human beings have strong feelings both for and against each other, there are plenty of plot lines to explore. I’m an angst hoor, so I am a huge fan of plot lines involving inner turmoil, sexual tension, and pining for an unrequited/broken love. I know plot lines exist besides coming out, that LGBT people can be characters in books without the main premise being that they’re gay, and those books are still interesting. LGBT people aren’t one dimensional, and our only struggle isn’t our orientation. We have hidden depths, like bills to pay, and favorite foods and TV shows, and things everyone worries about, like the safety of our loved ones and the direction our careers take. Yes, we’re LGBT, but we’re human first.

Explore plots without relying on coming out rejection angst rather than lament the coming out plots are dying. But don’t you dare say it’s bad that we’re becoming more equal if it makes your bottom line suffer, because all I hear when you say that is my oppression is okay to you as long as you’re making money off my struggles. If you’re not creative enough to come up with something more to write about and move with the times, then shut down your computer and go find a different job. Society is evolving for the better, so either get on the train or get left behind. But don’t you dare say such evolution should slow down or stop so you don’t get stuck on the train platform with your head stuck up your ass.

Calling All LGBT Authors

You know what pisses me off?

People expecting me to tolerate them when they are intolerant of me. Being told that because I’m in a same-sex relationship, I’m somehow less than. That my voice matters less. That my choices hurt other people who literally have nothing to do with me, but their choice to minimize me is more important than my right to live in liberty and pursuing happiness.

I was born in the United States, land of the free. But I am not free.

I can’t go to every state in the country and have my soon-to-be marriage to a woman recognized. I can’t get a job anywhere in the country without checking first if I can be fired for being in love with my fiancée and willing to commit myself to her for the rest of my life.

And now, I can’t drive into the state of Indiana without fear that stopping for a bite to eat with my partner wouldn’t get me thrown out on my ass, legally. Well, until they put through an amendment saying it wasn’t okay to do so by business owners whose religious beliefs clash with my life.

In the wake of the passing of the Indiana Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, a fundraiser set up to support a family who own a pizza parlor and think it’s their “right” to refuse service to LGBT customers has raised almost $1 million.

Unfortunately, a pro-LGBT counter-fundraiser hasn’t got nearly the same traction. It’s one thing to tweet our outrage, or share a link on Facebook to an article. It’s another matter entirely to put our money where our mouths are. I think about whether or not I could walk into a business in Indiana (or any of the other 28 states considering such legislation without making LGBT people a protected class) and end up humiliated by being tossed out because I dared briefly hold Kate’s hand or otherwise make it obvious I’m in love with her.

Imagine that. Being told no, you’re not worthy of sitting at their tables, eating their food, no matter if you can pay for it, because the person sitting beside you is your partner and happens to have the same chromosomes as you. It would probably make a scene, right? It would definitely be enough to raise tempers. If my children were there, witnessing in action the active discrimination of their moms, my utter mortification would be complete.

What are we supposed to do, stay home? Not drive through this state and stop for a hotel room or gas? What if there’s a writer’s con there, a business reason for me to enter Indiana? It’s demoralizing, humiliating, and downright wrong that a country with religious freedom woven into the fabric of our constitution has places where they say it’s okay to use that religious freedom to beat a demographic of society down.

What does it say to our youth, who aren’t in their thirties and know how to stand up for themselves? It says sit down, shut up, and pretend to be our definition of acceptable or just go away.

THAT PISSES ME OFF.

So Kate Aaron, Meredith King, and I are gathering up as many authors as we can who write about love in whatever form it takes to take a stand as a collective community and try to counter the pizza place’s fundraiser. Together we can reach hundreds if not thousands of readers, and we’d like to offer them the chance to win an ebook if they donate $5 to a deserving LGBT charity or share charity links across their social networks.

We sent out a few very large PMs on Facebook to rally authors who want to shout love is love just as loudly as we are to our side in this. But one, those big PMs suck and to those who were cool about it anyway, thank you for being patient with us for the initial push on this. Two. We know we missed people, but we don’t want any author who is willing to join us in this effort to feel like they can’t. We want everybody who is able to hop on this wagon if you’re so inclined.

So what do you say? Can you spare a copy of an ebook (reader’s choice works best, but we know some authors have publisher restrictions) for a worthy winner as incentive for readers to donate? We need to hear back by Thursday, April 9th (to diversereader at yahoo dot com, author at kateaaron dot com, or ajrosefiction at gmail dot com), for a blog post going up on 18th April at http://diversereader.blogspot.com announcing the giveaway, the rules for readers, and the reason behind the fundraiser.

The day of the post, all we ask is that you share the post link on your various social media to alert your fans of the opportunity, and when the deadline for the giveaway passes, we’ll email you the name of your winner and their email so you can contact them about their prize. It’s easy, hosted in one place for readers to follow and enter, and will show that we mean business.

As of the writing of this blog post, we have 106 participating authors. ONE OH SIX. It seems like those we’ve been able to get in touch with are just as indignant as I am. Because we ARE ALL human beings, and no, I will not sit down, behave, and be someone else’s definition of acceptable when who I love hurts no one.

LGBT people aren’t going anywhere, and our allies have loud voices. Let’s use them.

*ETA, we’ve been contacted by some of the review site owners about adding in a gift card for the cost of a single book as incentive as well, and I’d like to say that’s awesome, if those sites are willing to do so. You’ll be emailed just as an author would to handle transfer of the prize to the winner, but we’d like to keep it to the cost of a book per gift card, so as to avoid a sort of lottery situation. Money for donations gets into potential legalities I’m not sure would help the cause. 

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Facebook Fuckery

Facebook has decided to enforce their real name policy and has suspended my author account.

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In a giant, idiot move, they have also suspended Kate Aaron’s account for not using her real name. (Which, dude, that is her real name.)

I am likely not going to comply with their demands in order to reinstate my author account. Many people use pen/stage/alternate/nick names for a variety of reasons. The teacher who enjoys reading erotica but doesn’t need her students looking at her goodreads reviews. The prosecutor who has put dangerous people behind bars. The drag queen who could lose her job or be evicted legally in 29 states in our lovely country.

The author of m/m who has been fired once before for her writing.

One of the safety tips we’ve heard from the inception of the Internet is don’t give strangers your real name.

Facebook doesn’t get to dictate my safety. They don’t get to force me to risk another job (my employer probably wouldn’t fire me this time, but I work in a state where they legally could) in order to continue using their site for my promotions.

Facebook doesn’t get to force me to tell more information than I am comfortable giving because I’ve chosen a public career and am not okay being that searchable. The phone company never forced people to be listed in the phone book just to have a phone number. We could choose to be unlisted for our own safety.

So I will not be returning to Facebook. To those who have followed me there, my contact page has the other places I can be found. I will be exploring Google + as an alternative and will be talking with a marketing friend about setting up a newsletter. My blogging needs to pick up. I’m in the thick of getting Consent to edits so it might be the weekend before I can get G+ set up. I will keep you all posted on where I end up.

Facebook lost a user today. I’m small potatoes to them. But I’m done. That is not how you treat your users who are doing nothing wrong. They suggest I set up a fan page, but unless I pay them money, they will suppress my fan page. Also, I have a fan page. I can’t fucking log into it without giving you my real name, asshole Facebook.

And don’t think I haven’t noticed it’s drag queens and other LGBT affiliated people who are getting threatened.

#byefelicia