Monday and back to the office with me this morning. Woo-hoo! The excitement never stops, does it? I slept pretty well last night–well enough to not want to get up this morning–and so feel a bit groggy this morning. I’m not certain how busy we’ll be at work today, but I am hoping it will be an easy day. Yesterday wasn’t a bad dat; I managed to make progress on the book, got some things done around the house, and we watched the new Arnold Schwarzenegger Netflix show FUBAR, which was entertaining enough. In some ways, the show almost feels like a sequel to True Lies, in which he played a spy whose wife had no idea what he actually did for a living. This show takes that premise to its next logical conclusion, should the wife never find out she’s married to a spy. It had some funny moments, has a really good cast, and high production values. This week the Vanderpump Rules final reunion episode airs, but some of my shows–Ted Lasso, sob–are completed. Not sure what we will be watching next–I imagine I’ll be watching the Randall scandal documentary (more Vanderpump Rules drama) at some point, but not terribly sure that’s something Paul will want to watch.
I didn’t read a lot this weekend; the little writing I was able to do, along with other miniscule irritations over the course of the weekend, managed to tire out my brain to the point where being able to focus on reading wasn’t likely. Progress is progress, after all, and maybe I’m a bit behind my usual schedule, or the one I was trying to keep with it, but it will get completed on time, methinks.
I have my dates and everything all screwed up again; I keep thinking it’s later in June than it actually is. Part of that has to do with the usual “working on a book so not paying attention to dates” thing I inevitably get caught up in, and I imagine the rest has to do with the year being very off-balance for me thus far. I handed over MWA in the middle of January, whilst in the midst of revising two of my own books while editing another, and then Mom died and then it was the festivals and then Malice and now suddenly it’s June, which doesn’t seem real–and I am going back up north the last week of this month. I’d wanted to take a week off this summer just to work on things around the house–purging the attic, for one, and doing a deep, thorough cleaning for another–but looks like that time is going to be burnt being there for my dad. There are, of course, worse things to burn off your vacation time with; and it’s nice feeling closer to my father. I just hate the reason behind it, you know?
At least the Internet is continuing to work for me at home. (Probably just jinxed that.)
It apparently rained overnight; part of the reason I slept so well, probably, and so today is one of those weird mornings where it feels cool because the humidity hasn’t fully recharged yet from the rain.
I’m also trying to decide what my next Pride month entry should be. I’ve got a couple already going–one about being confronted by homophobia within the mystery publishing community–but I find myself hesitant to post it because of not wanting to be “that gay”, which is stupid. If I don’t call out homophobia where and when I see it, I am contributing to the problem. I guess I should be a little less concerned with hurting people’s feelings, or something? I don’t know. But I am heading into the spice mines this morning, and will check in with you later. Maybe there will be a “homophobia in crime fiction” entry posted later, you never know…but one thing for sure, I will be back tomorrow morning.
The don’t say gay laws a rash of frightened sheep in red state legislatures have been passing, or trying to pass, lately are absurd on their face. “We don’t want our children learning about queer people! They’re too young to learn that!” This argument, of course, begs the question, how old is old enough to learn about alternate sexualities?
I say it’s when kids are old enough to start using slurs in a bullying way on their schoolmates.
For the record, I was only eight years old the first time I was called a gay slur, and I didn’t understand anything about it, let alone the word itself meant.
Why, my eight-year-old mind wondered, is he calling me a ferry? That doesn’t make any sense.
But what the older brother of the girl who lived down the street actually meant was ‘fairy,’ and now it amuses me to remember how naïve I was at age eight, how I had no idea what this older boy, who seemed so enormous and grown-up to my younger self (he was in high school) meant. Somehow, I knew he was insulting me, but eight-year-old me didn’t know what he meant.
But I did know, was very aware, that whatever he meant, it was a bad thing.
I already knew I wasn’t like the other kids on the block or in my grade at school. I was a boy who liked to read, who preferred to go off in my own mind on flights of imagination where I was writing stories and creating fictions, inventing characters and how they related to each other. I much preferred that to playing catch or catching bugs or any of the other, more traditionally masculine things little boys were supposed to be doing in their spare time. I liked to sit on our back porch in the shade of the big tree and read my library books or my recent Scholastic Book Club paperback treasures.
I was in the seventh grade when I first heard the word fag hissed at me contemptuously in the hallways of my junior high school, and even then, I still wasn’t sure what it meant, I could tell by the tone used that it wasn’t meant as a compliment, especially when followed by cruel laughter. That was the first time, but it was by no means the last—even now, in these more enlightened times, I doubt that I will go the rest of my life without someone saying it to me another time, because there’s always another time.
I don’t remember when I finally learned what they meant when they called me fairy or fag or faggot, but I do remember this: it was true, and it was something unusual, not normal, something I should be ashamed about. I did my best to change my camouflage, like a good chameleon, to hide it so no one else would know my shameful secret, what I had to disguise from the world: that I was, in fact, a homosexual. A fag. A fairy. A Mary. Faggot. Queen. Homo. Nelly. Pansy. Sissy.
I was ashamed of who I was, because I was taught by the world around me that my sexuality was suspect, wrong, bad.
So, when I see the words politically correct (or more commonly now, woke) used in a sneering way, as a methodology of trying to shut down honest conversation and derail discussion about the realities of what non-white, non-straight, non-cisgender, and non-male Americans experience every day, I get angry. Because none of those people, for one example, who sneered “well, this is just political correctness out of control” about the American Library Association’s decision to change the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award several years ago due to concerns about problematic racial overtones in her work were ever called a fairy when they were eight years old, or had the word fag hissed at them in the halls of their junior high school; were ever called any slur used for non-white people, or non-western European lineage, or been told to go back where they came from, or been called the n-word (which I can’t even bring myself to type out, even for a column about slurs).
Frankly, people who argue against “political correctness” are people I assume want to be able to use slurs with impunity–they aren’t arguing about freedom of speech as an abstract legal principle, but because they want to use slurs and not suffer consequences.
Merriam-Webster.com defines “politically correct” as the following: conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated. Wikipedia goes still further: The term political correctness (adjectivally: politically correct; commonly abbreviated to PC or P.C.) is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society. Since the late 1980s, the term has come to refer to avoiding language or behavior that can be seen as excluding, marginalizing, or insulting groups of people considered disadvantaged or discriminated against, especially groups defined by sex or race. In public discourse and the media, it is generally used as a pejorative, implying that these policies are excessive.
So, the next time you want to sneer something about “political correctness being out of control”, here’s what I want you to stop and think about before you say it: an eight year old boy being called a fairy by a high school kid, or a ten year old tomboy being called a dyke, or a seven year old kid told to go back where he came from, or a nine-year-old Native American reading a book where Native Americans are dismissed as “not people, just Indians”—and ask yourself, would I want something like that said about or to me?
I feel pretty confident that the vast majority would say no.
Words have power, and no one should know that better than a writer.
Sunday morning and things went about as well as could be expected yesterday. Friday evening I had some items delivered from Sam’s Club, but hadn’t noticed that one of the items ordered actually had to be shipped; it arrived this morning here at the Lost Apartment. And while I was waiting for my Cox cable technician to arrive (I rearranged the entire morning to accommodate their 10-12 am window), I got a text message at 11:30 informing me that my appointment was cancelled; then came the email stating we know things happen! Reach out and reschedule! I reached out, only to be told that the technician arrived, called, got voicemail, and departed DESPITE MY HAVING GIVEN THE SAME INSTRUCTIONS I ALWAYS GIVE: OUR BUZZER DOESN’T WORK SO YOU HAVE TO CALL OR TEXT WHEN YOU ARRIVE.
Also, I had my phone with me all morning, so I wouldn’t miss the call. No one called, I have no recents, and I have no voicemails.
This obviously threw me off my game yesterday for writing, but I did get some done. I am a bit behind on the schedule I’d given myself, but I think it’s going to go relatively easily from now on. I ran some errands, came home, got cleaned up, and dove into the writing. I wasn’t really able to shake off the mood, so after struggling for a few hours to get the chapter done, I called it a day and repaired to my easy chair. Needing to cleanse my soul, I did a rewatch binge of the first episodes of Ted Lasso, which are even more charming on rewatch because you get to see all the callbacks you might have forgotten about later in the run of the show, like Keeley acknowledging that she “dated a 23 year old footballer when she was seventeen, only now I’m thirty and I’m still dating 23 year old footballers” while talking to Rebecca. You can almost see the light come on in her eyes–what the hell am I doing–which kind of opens the door for her breaking up with Jamie later. Even though they don’t know each other well, she recognizes that it’s time for her to grow-up and start thinking about her own future, while talking to Rebecca–which is the first building block in their close friendship. Then later, when Paul was finished working for the day we watched Bama Rush, which was kind of disappointing. Originally focusing on four girls about to go through sorority rush at the University of Alabama–which I guess is this viral thing on TikTok–it got a bit derailed with the director started seeing similarities in behavior of the girls planning to go through rush as she went through being a lifelong alopecia sufferer…which could have been made a lot more interesting, but I always thought the point of a documentary was the director didn’t make themselves a part of the story? I think the point she was trying to make was valid, but the way the documentary was a edited together simply didn’t work. The focus shifted, and it derailed after that.
But Jesus God in heaven, those sorority houses in Tuscaloosa! The fraternity houses! They’re enormous. I had kind of figured Greek life at universities would be declining, given how old-fashioned and restrictive they can be, especially sororities–and this newer younger generation doesn’t seem as interested as preserving traditions and institutions as previous ones were, but Bama Rush showed me things I didn’t know…that “Rush Consultant” is actually a career, for one thing…and the documentary only briefly touched on the Machine, a supposedly secret society made up of representatives from every fraternity and sorority that controls everything at the University. (I kind of love that shit; I’ve long been an admirer of Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline, which kind of touched on that kind of thing.)
Today I am going to get shit done. Later this morning I am going to make a very brief and short grocery run to the Rouse’s in the CBD, and then I am coming home to spend the rest of the day writing and reading. I didn’t read yesterday, which was a bit disappointing; I’d hoped to finish reading my current book this weekend so I could move along to Megan Abbott’s new one; but anticipation is always lovely, and perhaps I can get along to that next week. One can always hope, can’t one?
But I feel rested and awake this morning. My back and legs are a bit tight and sore, so I think I’m to use that massage roller thing for my back and maybe do some stretching (which I should do every day) to see how it feels. I am planning on getting a chapter finished, maybe doing some reading, and then making my grocery run so I can come back and do more writing. I need to write most of the day, to make up for the last couple of days of irritation and aggravation that kept me out of the proper mindset.
My mind has been all over the place this week, which is weird, but also kind of normal for me. Whenever I am in the weeds with a book my mind goes off in all kinds of directions and produces all manner of thoughts and ideas. I started writing several other entries yesterday, specifically for Pride Month and specifically about being gay–sometimes about being a gay author and what that’s like; I always forget that people never really quite grasp or understand what it’s like to be a queer writer in an intolerant country, of what it feels like to be othered by every community in which you try to find a place where you belong. I’ve never wanted to be THAT gay; the one constantly having to remind people of what is and isn’t homophobia, and is always having to point it out and teach straight people about what it’s like. It’s exhausting, frankly, and sometimes the well-meaning ignorance is highly offensive, but you know they don’t mean it that way so you push down the offense and ignore it while calmly trying to explain to the person why they can’t say or do that…while also not trying to hurt their feelings (although had they put even the tiniest bit of thought into it, would have never said anything offensive in the first place). It’s exhausting having to see trash equate your sexuality with pedophilia and grooming on a daily basis. It’s exhausting having to constantly have to defend your right to exist, having to constantly prove you’re a human being worthy of being treated the same as everyone else…
The mental health of queer people is always under constant assault.
And on that note, I am going to get some more coffee and start working. Either on the book, or on one of these Pride entries. I can’t decide which. We’ll see. Anyway, enjoy your Sunday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow.
Every gay man of a certain age knows all the lyrics to that song–and can (and will) belt it out while on the dance floor. The minute that piano intro begins coming through the speakers is one of those moments when everyone in the bar pauses and makes the “wooooo” sound as the dance floor fills. One year during Southern Decadence we stopped into the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen for lunch. Every table had a rainbow flag on it, which was cool. One of my friends picked up the flag and started raising it while singing “I Will Survive” because it was, in his words, “the gay national anthem.” I laughed really hard–we all did–but it also stuck in my head. That was in 1995, and almost thirty years later I always hear the opening piano riff and think ah, the gay national anthem! All rise!
I also always smile when I remember it.
Being queer in America means surviving, adapting a protective coloring, as it were, so that you could pass without question during your work life (or people might question it, but not to your face). The one nice thing about being a gay man is the fact that, in theory, we can navigate through the world and “pass”; there are very few of us that someone can look at and think, definitively and definitely, without question oh he’s a homo. I have never thought i presented as particularly masculine; certainly when I was a child other kids sniffed it out about me. I don’t know if that means they had some sort of “bullying gaydar” operating at a high level, or if I was so obviously gay that it was noticeable. (I’ve always wondered.) The way we think other people see us is so vastly different from how they actually do see us; none of my friends were either surprised or shocked when I came out to them at long last. I think that’s part of the reason “I Will Survive” is a gay anthem; for one thing it’s extremely adaptable, for another it’s defiant–oh no, bitch, YOU’RE not bringing me and my life down–(has anyone ever done a study about why gay men are drawn to Black women singers with powerful voices?) and that’s a message all gay men can easily identify with: survival. Back in the day we used to have to develop powerful camouflage (no, I never did) and keep the gay personal life and the non-gay professional life divided by a clear line of demarcation.
That’s why going to gay bars was so important for so many of us; the ability to have a place where you could unabashedly be yourself amongst other people like you was so freeing, so life affirming. After I left the travel industry, I was tired of working for straight businesses and having to play down who I was. I was tired of two separate lives, so after I made the decision to leave that job, start working as a personal trainer and focus my energies on writing, I also made the conscious choice to not ever work in a straight office environment ever again. The gyms I worked at were different, despite being owned and operated by straight people, because I never spent a lot of time there. I came in, trained my clients or did my own workout, and then bailed to come home to write. I have not really had a job in the straight world ever since, managing to work in queer spaces most of my life since.
With the community so hatefully under attack again, it takes me back to those olden days before Lawrence v. Texas was decided; when our sex lives made us criminals. I cannot emphasize this enough–before Lawrence, any time any member of my community indulged in sexual relations, they were breaking the law. Our very existence was outlawed. Legally, it was okay to be gay so long as you never acted on it. Which was very similar to the “don’t ask don’t tell” thing, or the strictures passed along by religious hierarchies to their memberships about being queer–it’s okay, as long as you never act on it. Hate the sin, love the sinner–that whole nonsensical thing that automatically relegates all queer people to a lower level existence in society.
Last night we watched the Amazon Prime documentary series on the Duggar family and their entire religious cult (not based in anything scriptural or Christian, really), Shiny Happy People, and it’s actually very chilling. I never watched their show, but it was during the time that TLC went from The Learning Channel to Touching Little Children; the Duggars anchored the channel’s reality program about abusive religious cults that demeaned women and celebrated over-fertility; it was around this same time TLC began promoting and broadcasting shows about beauty pageants for little girls–essentially, the sexualization of little girls for trophies and checks and tiaras. So, on the one hand they had shows with the Duggars and other families like them–abusive cults where children are often molested and it’s covered up–while also promoting and publicizing the sexualization of little girls in shows like Toddlers and Tiaras. Add in the fact that Josh Duggar–the predator groomed by his parents to be a predator–was going to work for the religious zealots known as the American Family Association (long known for it’s homophobia and misogyny) and pursuing a career in politics as a right-wing zealot and homophobe with direct ties to the Huckabee family, including Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (An unholy alliance forged in hell that no one talks about at all anymore. I’d ask that bitch at every press conference if she and her father condoned the Duggars covering up their son’s molestation of children, including his sisters, and why they never spoke out against the Duggars, and just how close were the two families?)
The sheer misogyny of their beliefs and values–women have no value outside of the home and bearing children; if a male molests girls he is to be protected and the girls sacrificed–and women must obey their husband who is also their Lord and Master.
And they call queers perverts?
Take the sty from thy own eye, evangelicals. Seriously. But thank you, Amazon Prime, for releasing this documentary during Pride Month; let’s remind everyone of how foul homophobes are on every level.
The Internet saga continues. It was out when I got home from the office yesterday, and so Cox is coming out again this morning. If this continues to be an issue, we are definitely going to switch providers. There’s a local company our landlady uses that works well, and of course, since they’re local they are a lot easier to deal with–no text or on-line conversations with “support staff” needed. It eventually came back on after a couple of hours, but I am really getting terribly sick of this shit, you know? I have things to do today and messing with Cox isn’t helpful. Ah, well, there are worse things. I want to work on the book today, I need to run some errands, and I want to get some reading done–I want to finish the book I am reading and enjoying so I can move on to the new Megan Abbott, which I cannot wait to read.
And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday and I’ll check back in with you later.
I’d been feeling sour lately; the constant hate attacks leveled at me and my community relentlessly; the bigotry and hatred against us so naked in its hostile resentment. I was also feeling sour about Pride and its co-opting by corporations eager for queer dollars but who cower before the bigots (here’s looking at you, Target and Anheuser-Busch), and I actually started writing an A Charlie Brown Christmas-type diatribe about how the meaning of Pride has changed and been demeaned and devalued and lost over the last few decades. I may still write it, I don’t know. But last night it occurred to me the best thing I could do to fight the bigots this month is to celebrate my joy in who I am, in my community, and in my country. Because yes, it’s my country, too–and don’t you ever fucking forget it.
I wasn’t meant to have the traditional American male life trajectory. There was never going to be a wife or children, even if I had been born straight. I realized very early on in life that I would be a terrible parent–I don’t pay enough attention to be a good one–and so I ruled that possibility out. I also always wanted to be a writer, and I honestly think being one is the only thing that could have possibly made me happy in this life, gay or straight; but it was such an overwhelming piece of who I am that I could have never committed to a white collar salaried job for a corporation. For me, the day job just needed to be enough to cover life’s necessities; it was never going to get my entire attention and dedication and energy. But not being straight, and not seeing any kind of representation of people who were like me in any medium–television, film, books, comic books–and seeing only the dominant societal paradigm modeled repeatedly, and knowing I didn’t fit comfortably into that paradigm, made me believe there was something wrong with me, something dark and horrible and shameful that couldn’t ever be public knowledge. Couldn’t ever be admitted. The overwhelming shame at being something different, something unusual, was engrained deep into my soul. I was miserable for many reasons for a very long time, but the primary was denying who I was: a gay male writer. Recognizing, and accepting, that truth has gone a long way towards helping me heal, become a better person, a better adult, and has certainly brought me a great deal of joy.
I love my writing career. I do. I’m very proud of it, every last bit and piece of it, whether it was crime or horror or suspense or sports journalism or erotica or romance or whatever it may have been that I created, that I wrote, that I put a piece of myself into. I’ve had some absolutely amazing highs in my career, and I also know that I don’t actually give myself enough credit (any credit, usually) for what I have done and accomplished. I’ve been nominated for a shit ton of awards. I complain about it a lot–there are many days when I don’t want to do it, times when I have to force myself to do it, and yet…I am never happier than I am when I am writing, creating, getting my daily word count, and rereading the book when going over the page proofs..which is when I usually realize (for the first time since starting to write the damned thing) that hey, I’m not so bad at this as I always think I am and then of course, there’s the day the box of books arrives.
I also got to interview the marvelous Margot Douaihy for Saints and Sinners’ Pride Month celebration, which you can find right here: https://youtu.be/RQ2e22mRFqw. I think it went pretty well, and is yet one another example of how wonderful and lucky my life is and how I should always be grateful. My last three novels accounted for some of the best reviews of my career, and accounted for seven (!) award nominations for me over the last couple of years–mainstream awards, at that. (I supposed it’s really only six; one of the nominations is for an anthology I edited, and I don’t really count that as one of my books; editing an anthology is an entirely different animal than writing a book. It’s still work, it’s still a lot to get through, and I am proud of my anthologies just as I am of the novels…but I don’t think of those as being wholly mine; the anthologies also primarily belong to the contributors, really.
This last year or so has actually been, despite all the personal drama and trauma, has actually been lovely for me on many levels. Over the past year, I’ve reconnected with the queer crime publishing community. I walked away from it over a decade ago; tired of people pretending to be my friend while driving the knife in and twisting it, tired of always being made to feel like my work wasn’t worthy or meant to be taken seriously, and so on. As I moved into and toward the more mainstream mystery community and trying to carve out a space for myself in that world, there were setbacks and pitfalls…and homophobia. As tiring as it is to have to deal with that kind of shit every day, I also recognized that the only way queer crime writers were going to get their due in the mainstream is if some of us went out there and made room at the table for us. That was why I joined various mainstream mystery organization’s boards of directors, not only to do work that would benefit the entire crime writing community but also to make space for queers, too–if by doing nothing more than showing up and being noticed. Presence makes an enormous difference, and sometimes…it helps to have a queer face and voice there to pipe up every once in a while. Over the last two years, thanks to making some terrific new friends who are also queer crime writers, and amazingly gifted and talented at what they do (John Copenhaver, Marco Carocari, Kelly J. Ford, Robyn Gigl, and so many more), and they are looking to form a queer crime writing community to organize and help the organizations and conferences be more inclusive and welcoming. It was lovely spending time with other queer crime writers at Bouchercon in Minneapolis. John and Marco also went out of their way to include me in things at Left Coast Crime and Sleuthfest last year, which was also marvelously kind.
So, yes, I am proud. I am proud to be a gay American, and I am proud to be a queer crime writer. I’m sorry that my existence bothers you, but my life is also none of your fucking business. It’s hilarious to me that the people who obsess about sex lives and genitals are the “christians”–you know, I spend absolutely zero time every day obsessing about the sex lives and genitals of other people…because it’s none of my fucking business.
And I am going to continue to be proud here, every fucking day of this motherfucking month. Fuck you, homophobes and haters.
And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader, and I’ll talk to you again later.
And we have cycled around once again to work-at-home Friday. Huzzah? Huzzah.
I will be taking a short break from my work-at-home duties today to interview Margot Douaihy today for S&S’ Pride Month extravaganza. Ah, the terror of not sounding stupid when interviewing someone really smart and talented. Heavy heaving sigh. I will of course post a link to it when it goes live, so you can hear how smart she is and how much I fumble in interviews. Her Scorched Grace is probably the best debut novel you’re going to read this year, and I highly recommend it. It’s not too late to get a copy, either. (You can order it https://bookshop.org/p/books/scorched-grace-a-sister-holiday-mystery-margot-douaihy/18283014?ean=9781638930242–I don’t understand why this stupid site won’t let me do short hyperlinks like it used to, but it’s fucking annoying. Anyway, buy the book. It’s terrific.)
And it’s a three day weekend! Huzzah! I am looking forward to getting some rest, getting a lot of editing and revising done, and hopefully some cleaning and reading.
I was terribly tired yesterday, the way I inevitably am on Thursdays, and really didn’t want to run errands when I got off work, but I put on my big boy pants and did it anyway. I decided my brain was too mushy to work on the book–I went ahead and read the next few chapters I’ll be editing after work today, so I did do something, at any rate–while relaxing with a purring cat in my lap after I did some chores. I had to unload the dishwasher and reload it, plus fold the clothes in the dryer before moving the load in the washer (I started this on Wednesday night but completely forgot once I was in the clutches of Vanderpump Rules), and tried to do some things to straighten up the kitchen before the energy flagged and I was forced back to the easy chair by mental and physical fatigue. There are, after all, worse things. But I can get a lot of revising done this weekend, which is terrific. It would be great if I can get the whole thing finished by next weekend, wouldn’t that be marvelous? I slept deeply and well last night, too–and managed to sleep in all the way until seven thirty, which is when I usually get to the office. I was exhausted last night when I crawled up the stairs to bed, but as Paul noted, “it’s not that you’re old, you just get up really early every morning now” which is true. Funny how I managed to go almost my entire life without having a 9 to 5 job for very long, and now my body clock is adjusting to it at this late stage of my life. My body is now used to it; I just have to retrain my brain to stop thinking in terms of losing time by going to bed earlier since I get up earlier and thus have more time during the day.
We started watching Platonic these last few nights, a new Apple Plus show starring Rose Byrne and Seth Rogan. I do like Seth Rogan and think he’s funny, and of course love Rose Byrne since her days on Damages, which I feel doesn’t get nearly enough credit for how fucking good of a show it was, and its amazing cast, led by GLENN CLOSE, who was phenomenal as Patty Hewes, super attorney and all around horrible person. Platonic is quite funny, and the chemistry between the two as platonic former best friends who come together again after Rogan’s character gets divorced (the Byrne character didn’t like the woman he married) like no time has passed. Luke McFarlane is beautiful as always as her gorgeous husband, essentially the Ricky to her Lucy. I do recommend it, it’s clever and funny and well written, and, like all Apple shows, very high production values.
I also managed to proof my short story “Solace in a Dying Hour,” forthcoming in an Australian anthology titled This Fresh Hell yesterday, as well as reviewed a book contract for signing–and emailed the corrections necessary to the contract in order for me to sign it. I also spent some time doing research for this afternoon’s interview; I’ll spend some time reviewing the research and coming up with great questions for her, or at least ones that won’t embarrass me by being too stupid and the kind of thing she’s been asked a million times. We also started watching the Hillsong documentary, which is interesting because I really don’t know much of anything about that church; but it’s a megachurch which probably means the heresy of the prosperity gospel, and yes, it’s a heresy. Jesus was not about “believe in Me and you’ll get earthly treasures”; the promise was supposed to be about a wonderful afterlife. (It always has amused and saddened me that so many people miss that Christianity isn’t about life but death and the afterlife; the point is to be the best possible person in your human life to earn a good afterlife, so yes, the prosperity gospel is heresy–“it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven”–does that ring any bells? At some point I am going to have to talk about religion and how it’s been perverted from a guide to life to so many things that it isn’t supposed to be…)
I also rewatched the first part of the Vanderpump Rules reunion in its longer, no commercials version on Peacock, and that version is by far the best of the two. It flows better, is edited better, and the extra seventeen minutes of public shaming for the Toms (Sandoval and Schwartz) was worth every second. I really need to spend some time on that blog entry about reality television I started after the wrap of the last season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills; because those two shows are entwined; Rules was initially a spin-off of Beverly Hills, with Lisa Vanderpump going back and forth between the two shows (until she quit Housewives). So much has already been written about the Scandoval that what new or interesting thing can I find to say about it, or the layers to levels of cheating and adultery being laid out on the show by its cast? I am sure none of the players involved in this had the slightest idea how explosively this would go viral, turning the three players (Sandoval, his mistress, his enabling best friend) into pariahs. Not even Camille Grammer in her legendarily villainous first season on Beverly Hills got this kind of publicity or exposure–she did get the cover of People magazine–and of course, the legal troubles of Erica Girardi/Beverly Hills cast drama got some coverage in major papers because of the massive frauds perpetrated by her husband (and get the fuck out of here with the “she didn’t know” bullshit), but still–nothing in reality television prepared anyone, let alone Bravo, with how this affair within the cast would explode and become a worldwide fascination…while Andy Cohen and the network count their cash as the money keeps rolling in. The reunion episode got over two million viewers, which is huge for a reality show. The question is, do I finish my entry about reality shows and their appeal before the reunion episodes finish airing, or can I go ahead and do it now?
Always the question, really.
And on that note, I am going to make another cup of coffee and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely morning, Constant Reader, and I’ll be back with you again tomorrow.
Pay-the-Bills Wednesday has rolled around yet again, Constant Reader, and so later on during my lunch break I’ll take some time away from my food to start paying the bills due between now and the next time we get paid. I am also looking forward to this three-day weekend we have on the horizon; I’d completely forgotten about Memorial Day. Do gays from all over still congregate in Pensacola over Memorial Day weekend, to party on the beach and get sunburnt in places that usually never see the sun? I know there aren’t nearly as many circuit parties today as there used to be, back in the heyday of the 1990’s, when it seemed like there was one every weekend somewhere; Southern Decadence still happens, of course (I’ll be in San Diego for Bouchercon this year) but I don’t know about the others. I know Hotlanta died a long time ago; does the White Party still happen at Vizcaya? In Palm Springs? The Snow Ball? The Winter Ball? The Black and Blue Ball? Cherries in Washington? I suppose the time and need for these parties has passed for the most part–they wouldn’t be dying out, otherwise–but at the same time, it’s all a part of the history of our community, and I do hope it’s been documented somewhere. The circuit parties were easy to condemn and point fingers at, but anything that helped create a sense of community as well as provided a safe space during difficult, repressive times for gay men to be themselves and be as gay as possible deserves to be, and should be, remembered.
After all, that was the world that kind of spawned Scotty.
Hmmm, perhaps a future-Greg project? Yay! Because that’s just what I need, another project.
But the revision continues to progress quite marvelously, if I do say so myself. I should probably write more Scotty books because it’s so lovely to get back into his mind-space, you know? He’s so cheerful, and always so upbeat and positive…and even when he gets down because of whatever problem he’s gotten himself into, he doesn’t moan or whine, he just rolls up his sleeves and figures it all out. That’s why I like him, and why his readers do. I wish I could have that reaction to things…I don’t. I always have to curl up into a ball for a while before I can even consider getting on with things. Maybe someday that will change and I can absorb and handle shocks and surprises with Scotty’s flair and aplomb. I’m not holding my breath until that happens, either.
I slept really well last night–yet another good night’s sleep in the books, I think I am on a record streak now of sleeping well–and feel pretty rested this morning. I was awake before the alarm went off this morning, and then hit snooze a couple of times to give my mind and body the opportunity to wake up slowly. We watched the new Ted Lasso last night, which was more of a Jamie Tartt-centered episode, and my word, seriously: how did Jamie Tartt become one of my most beloved characters on the show? Last night he made me laugh and he made me cry; and I love his friendships with Roy and Keeley, who are also slowly (hopefully) inching towards a reconciliation. There’s only one episode left–after which I may have to do a complete binge rewatch, from start to finish. It really is quite a marvelous show, and I do love that the gay storyline ruined the show for the homophobes. The mark of a truly good show is you aren’t sure how you feel at the end of the episode, despite having enjoyed it. Was it good? Did the stories make sense? Were the performances good? How was the writing? It’s one of the reasons I watch every episode twice; once to enjoy and go along for the ride, the second to appreciate the acting and the writing and connect even further with the episode. This season I’ve noticed some bashing of the show on Twitter (and not just from homophobes), which was why I started rewatching; to see if the haters were right and I’d overlooked something out of my deep affection for the show (I can also watch more critically the second time). I am pleased to report that the haters are, indeed, always wrong. I am really going to miss this show, but I get the sense that the season finale will be incredibly sad yet satisfying. They have a long way to catch Schitt’s Creek for best series finale, but I suspect they will be able to do it.
I’m curious to see what spin-offs might twirl out of the show. I’m really hoping Jamie gets his own show; I’ve really developed a huge crush on Phil Dunster, who might just pry the supporting actor Emmy out of the death grip Brett Goldstein’s had on it these last two years. The development of his character arc has just been phenomenal–all of the characters, really, but Phil Dunster has really been given the chance to shine this season (and some of last) and I do sometimes think he might not be taken as seriously as an actor because–well, because he’s damned good looking.
Since Monday was an odd day, I am having trouble this week keeping track of days. I keep thinking today is either Tuesday (which makes no sense) or Thursday (which kind of does). I’m looking forward to getting some more good work done on the book tonight–and if Paul is late getting home, I am so watching the Vanderpump Rules reunion’s first part. I need to devote an entire entry to the insanity this reality show–which I actually stopped watching years (and I do mean years) ago–has spawned. I had started writing about Real Housewives of Beverly Hills after its season completed; I think I can easily do both shows in one entry since both have spawned scandals that became news (a sad commentary on the state of our news media, frankly), which brings up the question of audience enablement–if the ratings go up when people are really despicable on a reality show, aren’t we just encouraging more of the same?
And on that note I am off to the spice mines. Have a lovely middle of the week, Constant Reader, and I will be back tomorrow.
Well, I managed to survive not only getting up at five yesterday morning to be at Superior Honda (they simply ARE superior; I love my car dealership) but the almost six hundred dollars it cost me to visit. But I got my new tire, got new windshield wipers, and had the brakes flushed (it was one of this things marked “will need on next visit” the last time I had my car serviced) but overall, it could have been so much worse than it was. I’m grateful that I not only had the ability to absorb the cost, but without really having to plan it out or dip into savings. It was nice to authorize the work and not have to freak about the cost, or whether I had enough credit available, or needed to get cash out–all those things. It was kind of nice to have a financial situation that wasn’t a crisis of some sort (other than the flat tire, of course), and to just handle it. I guess that’s what other people do, I suppose. Is this what being an adult feels like? At almost sixty-two I finally know? I also got an email from Social Security yesterday, letting me know I’d completed all my requirements to qualify for both it and Medicare, along with a statement breaking down what I can expect from them monthly depending on what age I decide to retire.
Hmmm. That kind of just puts it right there in your face, doesn’t it?
But despite getting up early and despite the annoyance of the expense–both of which made the day kind of feel off-balance, slightly skewed on its axis– I wasn’t terribly tired after work. I made groceries, picked up the mail, came home and did a load of laundry and a load of dishes before sitting down to revise…and yes, doing it the way I usually do it does work better. Revisiting the openings of several of the later books helped as well–helped me plug into his voice, which is so crucial; Scotty’s voice is what makes these books work–and it went well. I feel confident again in my writing, which is a lovely feeling, and I feel like I am back in Scotty’s headspace, which is always a very pleasant and positive place to be. Life never gives you anything you can’t handle, it’s how you handle it that matters. I really wish I could be more like him in my real life as opposed to what I put onto the page. Ah, well.
We also watched the Donna Summer documentary on HBO; Love To Love You, Donna Summer, which was entertaining enough. The music was the most interesting thing about it, of course, and I don’t think it really had anything new to say about fame, or the public persona vs. the private person, but it was interesting enough. She was very intelligent, particularly when it came to what she was doing as opposed to who the real person actually was; the quote was something like “everything’s choices, not limitations” i.e. she was doing what she was doing musically because that was what she was choosing to do at that time, and she wasn’t limited to that type or style of music or singing. She certainly recorded some amazing dance music, and given what I have always thought were some of the stupidest lyrics ever written, she made “MacArthur Park” actually work. (“I Feel Love” is also one of the greatest recordings of all time, without question.) So, that was a fun and pleasant way to spend the evening as I wound down to go to bed.
I checked in on social media–the unpleasant doom scroll before bed–and saw that the Dodgers had apologized, and made amends with promises to learn and do better in the future. This brought out the usual ‘phobes everywhere, foaming at the mouth and swearing eternal hatred for the Dodgers, baseball, and of course, queer people–because our existence ruins everything for these people. I actually enjoy that aspect of homophobia, quite frankly. I don’t know these people, I’ve never met these people, and I don’t ever want to know these people. But the fact that they just hate me, want me outlawed if not outright publicly executed, for the crime of existing instead makes me relish the fact that my existence enrages them and spoils everything they in which they might find joy (Bud Lite, baseball) in their pitiful, meaningless, empty and sad little lives. I mean, imagine how miserable you have to be, in every aspect of your life, that you spend so much time and expend so much energy on hating people you don’t even know, letting them ruin the few pleasures you have (including, many times by now, your childhood), instead of focusing that energy on actually making your own life better for you and your family? I used to pity them, for their narrow-minded and heretical interpretation of Christianity and perversion of the actual teachings of the man they claim is their Lord and Savior. I am not a practicing Christian, but I was raised as one and I still remember what the message actually was. In fact, the reason I do not consider myself to be a Christian is because it is impossible to love Christ while having hate in your heart, and I carry hate in my heart.
For the people who laughed while my community suffered and died. For the people who think people like me don’t deserve a right to be happy, to work and live and embrace everything life and the world have to offer. Who think my relationship with Paul isn’t a real relationship, despite being together for going on twenty-eight years in July. Who don’t think I deserve equal rights under the law like every other American, simply because of who I love…which really isn’t anyone’s business but my own. For the people who don’t think I have a right to be happy and flourish. For the people who think they somehow have the right to say horrific, insulting shit to me, about me, and my community; vile despicable slanders that are nothing new but just the same recycled talking points and slurs and dehumanizations, lather rinse repeat, over and over and over again.
But thank you, Dodgers, for not bowing to the people with braces on their brains and blinders on their hearts, recognizing slander for what it was despite all of its hideous, pseudo-religious pearl-clutching dressing.
Overall, not a bad day yesterday. I hope that today follows suit. I am slowly but surely digging out from under the piles of everything around my desk here at home, the emails in my inbox, direct messages everywhere that are unreplied to, and of course I am so behind on my reading! But this is a three-day weekend coming up, which is a pleasant surprise I’d forgotten, and that should make book writing that much easier, which is a very lovely thing. I should also be able to get some good rest over the course of the weekend, and I am not going to beat myself up if my ambitions for said weekend aren’t met or matched by performance. I do want to finish reading my book this weekend–I’ve really got to get back into that reading for an hour to unwind after writing thing I was doing, that worked nicely–but in some ways I am still getting past everything. I feel good this morning, too–like my brain isn’t foggy, and I am alive and awake and rested and alert, which is a very pleasant change from the way things have been for months–so I feel like maybe, just maybe, I am going to have a good day today.
One can hope, at any rate. Hope you do the same, Constant Reader!
On my Agatha Award nominees panel for Best Children’s/Young Adult at Malice Domestic a few (has it been that long already?) weeks ago, moderator Alan Orloff asked me the following: Greg, your book tackles multiple contemporary societal problems. How do you balance writing about such tough topics with ensuring that your work is compelling and hits the right mystery/suspense notes?
It was a great question, and as usual, I hadn’t read the questions before the panel so I answered off-the-cuff (I don’t know why I do this rather than prepare; I guess it’s either a preference to try to think quickly in the moment or sheer laziness or a combination of the two) and while I do like the answer I provided on the panel, the question lodged in my brain and I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and thought, hey, this could make a good blog entry, so here we are.
On the panel, I said something along the lines of how it’s often very difficult for people to understand situations or experiences they haven’t had themselves; which is why it was important to write about these things–so that the reader can see and feel, even if peripherally, what it’s like to go through something incredibly hard and life-changing, and develop empathy and sympathy by being able to put yourself into that moment and situation and wonder how would I handle something awful like this? As much as we like to shield young people and children from problems and suffering and so forth (or at least pay lip service to it; think of the children is far too often used as a cudgel to bludgeon non-conformists with), the reality of life is bad things happen. Never think bad things can’t happen to you because they happen to everyone without rhyme or reason or provocation. If one person reads this book and it makes them change the way they think about the topics covered in it, or enables them to feel sympathy for someone else in that situation, then the book had the effect intended. I have always tried to include social issues in my work because it’s important to me. I write mysteries and crime fiction because I want to see justice in an unjust world–and that hatred of injustice drove me to write this book.
And it isn’t difficult to balance the mystery/suspense notes with a social issue; if you build the crime around the issue, you’re still writing a crime novel, just one illustrating a social issue.
Basically, I wrote this book because I was angry.
The Steubenville rape case–there was a parallel one in Marysville, Missouri, that didn’t get nearly as much attention as the Steubenville story–made me very angry. And the more I read about both cases, the angrier I got. It shames me to admit that it took these two cases to finally break through my own societal grooming as a male to finally understand what it was like to be female in our society. It shames me to admit because it shouldn’t have taken me so long to get it, to understand. It took me a very long time to finally wrap my head around feminism and feminist issues…mainly because I could never understand the mentality that women were somehow lesser than men. Women aren’t another species, after all, and yes, the mores and expectations of our culture and society do shape boys and girls in different ways, marking the differences with sexist and misogynist tropes and ideas. I never understood why a girl who had sex was a slut, while the boy was a stud. I remember when the story about the Spur Posse in the 1990’s (I collected a lot of articles about them; I had wanted to write a book called When Stallions Die based around that case) broke and how that also kind of changed my world-view a little bit. (I often say that I spent most of my adulthood unlearning everything I was taught before I was an adult.) When I was growing up a husband could rape his wife and not be charged; as her husband he had a right to her body, and even rape itself was rarely reported (women didn’t want to be shamed, understandably, and it was always her shame, not the rapist’s), if ever prosecuted. I remember when I was in college there were rumors about a campus rapist–the girls whispered about it amongst themselves, and of course, they talked to me about it–which I also always wanted to write about.
So, in the wake of Steubenville and Marysville, I decided that it was long past time to write about it.
I had been toying with something I called “the Kansas book” for years. I had created this town and these characters when I was actually in high school, and wrote a rambling, disorganized, really bad handwritten first draft between the ages of 16 and 23. When I finished it I knew nothing would ever come of it because it was beyond repair. However, I have borrowed characters, scenes, and storylines from that original manuscript numerous times over the years since; and I had been trying to write a newer, better version of it. I knew I wanted the story to start with the discovery of the dead body of a star football player at the local high school, but I never really could get any traction with it. I kept thinking, this is trite and tired and been done so many times already.
But after Steubenville, while also having conversations with my women friends, it clicked in my head and I knew how to make the story work: rip it from the headlines! And I knew the body was one of the players who’d been involved in the “she deserved it” rape of a cheerleader over the summer. I knew that I wanted to make it damned clear how misogynist and sexist our legal system is, as well as our culture when it comes to protecting young girls and women. I started remembering things from my own past, things that made me embarrassed and ashamed and angry at myself. I had participated in the culture of toxic masculinity myself. I’d indulged in petty gossip about girls, and slut-shamed. I remembered a story I’d been told about how a cheerleader in another town, when I was in high school, had gotten drunk and pulled a “train” on six football players–a story I still remember, over forty years later.
And I wondered about that. That story made the rounds–and I didn’t even go to the same high school. And everyone shook their heads and clucked their tongues in shame at this girl’s slutty behavior. Can you believe what a slut she is?
I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, they had gotten her drunk? Too drunk to resist, too drunk to know what was happening? And I began to think that was probably a much more likely story than the one I’d been told. No seventeen year old high school girl goes to a party thinking “I’m going to take on the football team tonight!”
I think it was 2015 when I decided to change how I wrote. I was on a treadmill back them, book after book after book, deadline after deadline after deadline. It seemed like my life was nothing more than a long series of deadlines, one after the other and I could never relax because I had another deadline. I was tired of the stress involved in producing and the shame of missing deadlines, which meant missing the next and the dominoes would fall, one after the other. I decided I was going to not sign contracts for anything until I had a completed manuscript, so I wasn’t starting from scratch every time I turned something in and started the next one.
And finally, in July of 2015, I sat down and started writing a book I was no longer calling ‘the Kansas book’ in my head, but rather #shedeservedit.
I wrote over 97,000 words in one month–that’s how angry I was–and there wasn’t even a last chapter because I didn’t know how to finish the book. I sat on it for years, pulling it out every now and then, tinkering with it some more, but never really feeling it was ready–and I still didn’t know how to end it. I finally signed a contract for it because otherwise I probably would have never finished it and just kept futzing with it until I died, and I thought it was an important book to get out there. Sure, I went around and around about it; am I the right person to tell this story? Should someone else be writing it? I started reading other y/a novels about sexual assault, but they always left me feeling unsatisfied; the endings never really worked for me, which was the same problem I was having with this book. But I finally decided the best thing for me to do was sign the contract and give my editor a chance to look it over and give me input…and I am incredibly blessed to have an exceptional one in Ruth Sternglantz. The book is much better than it ever could have been without her insights, her vision, and her sensitivity. I was also very proud of this book when it was released, and I still am. I was both honored and shocked when it made the Agatha shortlist; even more so when it made the Anthony as well.
Alex jogs down the gravel path, his rubber cleats making crunching sounds on the shiny, sparkling white stones. The field, still lit up from the game, looks forlorn and lonely. The sod is chewed up from impacts and cleats and falling bodies. Some debris blows around in the slight warm wind, heavy with coming rain—plastic bags, strands from purple and gold pom-pons on a stick, wrappers from cheeseburgers and hot dogs sold at the concession stands. State championship flags snap and crackle on their poles on either side of the scoreboard. The janitorial team works their way up from bottom to top, picking up trash carelessly left behind by the crowd who’d filled the iron rows of seats.
The scoreboard still reads HOME 48 VISITORS 7.
He’s forgotten his arm pads on the sideline by the bench. He took them off when Coach Musson pulled the starters from the game when the fourth quarter started because the game was already won. He didn’t realize he’d left them behind until Coach Musson’s short post-victory pep talk was over and he went to his locker to take off his pads. His mom always says he’d forget his head if it wasn’t attached. Maybe she’s right. He could just get new ones, sure, but he’s superstitious about these arm-pads. He’d worn them all season last year when they’d won State again.
He knows it’s stupid, but why risk jinxing things?
He’s coming down from the adrenaline rush of the game, beginning to feel tired. His arm pads are right where he’d tossed them, underneath the bench where the big orange coolers of Gatorade sit during the game. The pads are just lying there, graying gold, his name written in purple marker on them.
He’s thirsty but wants to just sit for a minute. Let the locker room clear out a bit before he goes back to shower and change.
The wind is picking up. The summer has been long and hot and dry, but it’s supposed to start raining around midnight. There’s a bruise on his right calf, purple outlined in yellow and orange. He doesn’t remember getting hit there. He never remembers the hits. The games go by so fast. He spends every Friday afternoon with his stomach knotted. The pre-game warm-up seems to last forever. But once the whistle blows and the ball is kicked off the tee, time flies. Later his muscles will ache, the bruises will come up, his joints will start hurting.
He knows he can’t sit for long. India, his girlfriend, is waiting for him. He’s hungry—he can never eat before a game. He wants to grab something to eat before he has to be home. He hates his stupid curfew, but as his dad likes to remind him all the damned time: my house, my rules.
This wasn’t the original opening; originally the book opened with the quarterback missing and Alex, his best friend, goes out looking for him only to find his body floating in the river. But my editor recognized that wasn’t where the story began; we needed to see the night before and not in flashback, to set up everything for the rest of the story. (I am very stubborn and often need someone else to say to me, this isn’t working and this is why for me to give up on trying to make something work when it never will no matter how hard I try.)
I’m very proud of this book. I think for once I actually succeeded in what I was trying to do–and that was, of course, thanks to my editor’s wisdom–and while I most likely won’t win the Anthony (a very strong field), I am so pleased that the book got some recognition.
I really didn’t want to get out of the cocoon of my bed this morning. The heavy blankets felt marvelous on top of me, and my body was completely relaxed into the mattress…and it was raining. Is there anything more lovely than being warm and snug and comfortable in a bed while it rains outside? I think not. I wasn’t even aware it was raining until I got up and came downstairs, where I could hear it clearly, and then ah, that’s why you stayed in bed longer this morning. Yesterday was a lovely day off from everything. I did pick up the mail and made some groceries at the Fresh Market. But when I went to the gas station to air up my tires–the light had come on–I noticed there was a small rip in the tire through which air was escaping. I came back home, got my Gorilla tape, and covered the rip before running the errands. When I got back home the tire seemed fine still…but every tire place was already closed for the day, which was terribly annoying. I had intended to make another stop on my errands yesterday but wasn’t able to from worry about the tire; I had been debating putting more air in it this morning and running the errand…knowing I have to get up super-early tomorrow to head to the dealer and buy a new tire and have it put on, making me late to work. At some point today I will be checking the appointment schedule for tomorrow morning to make sure it’s not an enormous hardship for me to be late coming in, but it has to be done. I can’t count on Gorilla tape to keep my tire from deflating, let alone having a blow out or something…so yeah, probably no errands today. My biggest fear is that the tire will be flat tomorrow morning, necessitating a tow truck or something.
Ah, well, at least I can afford the tire.
But obviously that was worrisome and frustrating, so I wound up not getting a lot of things I’d intended to do yesterday done. I had planned on not writing all day anyway, just having a nice relaxing day off from everything and everyone, but I never got around to reading my book, which was annoying. I did do a lot of filing and cleaning up my “sorting” folder (it’s where I put things temporarily to get them out of the way until I have the time to put them where they go), and I did some things around the house, but essentially almost the entirety of the day was wasted. Which is fine; I wanted to have a day where I didn’t do much of anything nor taxed my brain. We started watching an odd show last night, Muted, which stars two of the Elité cast (including my crush, the stunningly beautiful Manu Rios), but I couldn’t tell you much about the show because I kept falling asleep. I actually went to bed around ten last night–ten! On a Saturday night!–and slept super well, which was lovely. Friday night we watched Scream VI, which was fun, and Teen Wolf the Movie, which was pointless and stupid and completely made for fan service (and missing the Carver twins and the breakout star of the show, Dylan O’Brien), which was a shame. In some ways it seemed like a pilot for a reboot of the series with a new, younger leading man; which we would probably give a shot. (We really enjoyed the series for the first seasons; it eventually got so sloppy and confusing we did stop watching, but it was fun for a very long time, and definitely was one of the most homoerotic television series in history; I could write an entire essay about that aspect of the show alone–which would, of course, lead to the entire question of “queerbaiting,” which is a subject that often makes me tired. Then again, a lot of things make me tired.
The recent incident(s) at CrimeFest and the organization’s incredibly tepid response to the controversy (a moderator was inappropriate to a debut author before their panel; the toastmaster was a racist transphobic homophobic prick “but it was comedy” piece of shit) was deeply offensive. I don’t know what the ‘free speech’ laws are over in the United Kingdom, but I know what ours are, and I would like to think if someone got on stage as host at the banquets for either the Edgars, Anthonys, Agathas, or Leftys and started with “my pronouns are grammatically correct” yes, there would probably be some laughter, but there would also be boos and protests…and I’d like to think they would be pulled from the stage. But nothing surprises me anymore, really, when it comes to these sort of things. I saw yesterday a gay man expressing concern about the lack of action and the tepid public apology, only to have the usual response some a cisgender straight white woman saying you weren’t there and you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes–you know, the usual condescending pats on the head from a stupid straight bitch who thinks she’s a fucking ally while actually being a homophobic piece of shit herself. Let me put it to you this way: if you wouldn’t condescend or speak to a cisgender straight man the same way, guess what? You’re homophobicand need to do better.
I think that’s one of the worst parts of being gay, you know? The cisgender straight people who think they are allies and proudly state so, all of the time; but give them the opening and they will immediately treat you like someone lesser. Because Anita Bryant, Maggie Gallagher, and the Libs of TikTok skank aren’t all cisgender straight white women, or Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Marsha Blackburn–I could be here all day. It wasn’t gay men or queer people who put Donald Trump in the White House–it was straight white women. I can’t speak for anyone else in my community, but it’s extremely difficult for me to ever completely trust a cisgender straight white person, because they’re the ones who do all the damage and they’re the ones who choose to make us their villains. It’s incredibly easy to just sit around and say nothing homophobic, keeping all of your bigotries to yourself. But people are proud to be bigots; that’s the part I don’t get; there are people who can watch Mississippi Burning and think the FBI are the bad guys.
And then the public ignorance and cowardice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, caving into the demands of Marco Rubio (of all people) and the Catholic League, deciding to not give the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence an award recognizing all of their hard advocacy work going back decades and excluding them from the event of their Pride Night…only to be stunned, shocked and surprised when the other organizations being awarded at their so-called “Pride” Night pulled out and issued statements condemning them for their cowardice. I posted a rather lengthy (for me) thread about this on Twitter yesterday, explaining to the Dodgers and everyone else why this is so incredibly insulting and offensive to the entire queer community. For one thing, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were originally formed in 1979, got their habits from a group of progressive nuns (nuns can be surprisingly progressive; certainly far more so than their male counterparts) for all the charity work they were doing; flamboyance and silliness in the face of a hard world helping those no one else would. They were front and center during the HIV/AIDS crisis, helping people abandoned by society and left to die alone in shame. (The great irony that an organization of men in dresses, who have covered up and enabled the sexual abuse of thousands and thousands of children, complained about another organization of men in dresses who minister to the sick and poor–supposedly the mission of the first group–while accusing them of blasphemy, grooming, and pedophilia, should not escape anyone.)
Catholic Church, heal thyself.
And as I said on Twitter, the Dodgers essentially pissed on the graves of everyone we lost to HIV/AIDS, all the people currently living with the infection, and everyone who has done advocacy work. All to please MARCO FUCKING RUBIO and the Catholic League.
For years, critics of our pride events have complained about the commercialization of pride, going from a community event to one with corporate sponsors–corporate sponsors who also fund anti-queer politicians. The critics have stated that these corporations don’t see and support us because they think we deserve equality, but rather as a demographic with more disposable income than our straight counterparts (which I am never really sure is true, certainly for some upper middle class white cisgender gay men, it’s true, but I don’t know that it’s overall true for the entire community), and Pride is merely a cynical attempt for them to cash in on gay dollars. We’ve already seen Anheuser-Busch cower before our enemies, and now the fucking Dodgers.
So, yes, it appears that the critics were correct. Corporate Pride is merely a cynical attempt to build brand loyalty in what is seen as a key demographic, not actual support. We must never make the mistake of believing otherwise ever again. Corporations will abandon us in the snap of the fingers if challenged to actually put their money where their lying mouths are. It’s depressing that the critics were right all along.
I hate to break it to y’all, but the queer community has a much longer memory than the straight when it comes to this kind of thing, and it’s very hard for any company to come back from such a betrayal. I remember the Coors boycott, when it turned out both the company and the Coors family had funded the politicians that turned Colorado into what we called “the hate state”; and even though the family and company have since come around–good luck ordering a Coors in a gay bar. When your business betrays us we never forget. It just becomes a thing. Every time I see someone drinking a Coors to this day I think homophobe.
It’s astonishing to me how straight people, to this day, still think they can divide and split up our community and we’ll all go along with it. “Oh, we love the gays and want to have a Pride Night, but this part of your community isn’t welcome” always blows up in their faces, and yet…they never fucking learn. I was on the board of directors for the National Stonewall Democrats back in the mid-to-late aughts when our founder, Barney Frank, finally cobbled together enough votes in the House to pass the Employment Non-discrimination Act…but he only had the votes if protections for transpeople was removed from it. Barney was very excited about this…but the NSD saw it as a betrayal. “All or nothing” was our stance then, and we lobbied and called and sent emails–I believe we called the bill SPLENDA, because it was a substitute for the real thing–and killed it. That was in either 2007 or 2008. If we sacrificed a gain for gays, lesbians and bisexuals because of trans exclusion fifteen years ago, I can assure you nothing has changed; if anything, our inclusion insistence has gotten more deeply engrained into our consciousness.
So, we aren’t here for “conditional” acceptance. It really is all or nothing for us. I understand that principles and ethics most cisgender straight white people have a problem with, since they, as a general rule, have neither–but surprisingly enough, my community, always under attack from so-called Christians, actually do believe “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt.25:37–40.)
Seriously, Christians, read the Sermon on the Mount again and get right with your Lord. It’s not that hard.
I am going to dive back into writing the Scotty book today, so I am going to sign off now and head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader, and I’ll be back, as always, at some point.