International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia
Today is the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. There’s a blog hop going on among authors and publishers for this event – and I’m not actually part of it. (Life got a bit complex and I just missed the chance to sign up officially. I put a link for you at the bottom of the post.) But I still wanted to write something today. And if you read down, there is a prize drawing for one of my books as well.
This day is a mix of the good and the bad. The good – that we’ve come far enough with acceptance of the LGBTQ community that discrimination is seen and not universally ignored or condoned, and that we have an international event for acceptance. The bad – that this day is necessary because those phobias, the fear and hate directed toward anyone “other” than mainstream heterosexual, is still so strong we need every resource to fight it.
We’re making progress, mind by mind, and place by place. Just this week, Minnesota Democratic Governor Mark Dayton signed same-sex marriage into law. Couples can begin marrying in Minnesota August 1. The bill was passed by the state senate and house, just six months after voters rejected a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Minnesota become the twelfth state in the United States to extend marriage to same-sex couples. As a Minnesotan, I’m proud of that (and may need to do a Mac & Tony short story after the fact… or maybe Simon and Paul should get married.) But the fight continues. And all of us can do our part, by writing, speaking, standing up.
The other day, I was in the grocery store parking lot and a nicely-dressed man came up to me. He pointed at my bumper stickers (things like “Celebrate Diversity” in rainbow colors, and “Vote No to Bigotry”) He told me he wanted to give me God’s word, and help me see how sinful being queer is and turn me to Jesus. In the past, I would usually say something inadequate like “Go away.” Because talking to people is not my thing. Writing, definitely. Talking, not so much.
But this time I managed to say, “I know a lesbian couple, both veterinarians, together twenty years and raising two special needs teens. I think God approves.”
He spouted something else about Jesus. I told him, “I think Jesus would rather see you helping animals and children than talking about hate in His name.”
He got very affronted about me telling him what Jesus would want. And I managed to just laugh and walk away. Did I change his mind? No. But maybe the cart boy, who paused to listen, heard being gay accepted and defended. Maybe that will make a bit of difference, if we repeat it over and over, publicly and widely. The tide is turning here. We can all help it move forward.
I sometimes get the boost of seeing that happen with my writing. I got a review of Lies and Consequences recently that said, “I read the summary and saw that the two main characters are gay. Since LGBT rights are an issue right now I thought it’d be a good idea to read the book, it’s an issue I don’t no a lot about…The characters are so in depth, after finishing I started to think about my opinion on LGBT rights because I didn’t have one before. This book caused me to look at an important issue in the world. I’ve decided that they should have the same rights as anyone else, I wouldn’t have an opinion at all if It wasn’t for the fact that I stumbled upon this book.” So a free story that I put out helped move someone’s opinion toward equal rights. That is so cool, and such an affirmation of the power of fiction to shape opinions. It’s not why I write – I write for love of the stories and to share them with other people. But it’s one hell of a great side effect.
So I’m going to link to the official Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2013 . (Although they may be having link problems – if so, you can do a search and find a lot of the blogs that way – there are many free books and prizes being awarded.)
And for those who made it down to here, I’m going to do a drawing from comments here and on my Goodreads blog, for one advance copy of Sole Support . Post a comment now through midnight Friday May 24th, and I’ll draw a winner on Saturday May 25th, ten days before the official release on June 4th.
So comment and then go out, look around and read the posts, and see what everyone else is doing today. Celebrate community and combat ignorance and prejudice. Shine a light on love of all kinds.
ETA – the winner of the advance copy of Sole Support is Debra (message 5) on my Goodreads blog.